Enrolment schemes roles and responsibilities

All New Zealand schools aim to offer the best quality education for every child and young person.

Note: The Education and Training Act 2020 is making some changes to the way enrolment schemes are developed and operated. These changes will be in effect from 1 January 2021, and the advice on this page will be updated. Until the end of 2020, the enrolment scheme provisions in the Education Act 1989 (ss11A-11Q) still apply. For more information about the changes, see development and consultation of school enrolment schemes.

Enrolment schemes help by making use of all space available, balancing all students across all schools, and managing overcrowding. There’s a few of us involved in making all of this happen.

Parents and caregivers

As a parent or caregiver, you’ll want a child or young person you care for to be able to access the education opportunities they’re entitled to, and need to learn and achieve.

Through your enrolment decisions, you play a crucial role in influencing whether schools are able to provide access to the education opportunities everyone expects for our children and young people. Perceptions about some schools can have flow-on effects for other schools – resulting in overcrowding in areas where space isn’t available, and plenty of space for students in others.

The uneven distribution of students across schools can result in the need for a change to a school, or group of schools, in order to restore the balance. Parents and caregivers have a responsibility to ensure their enrolment decisions are made based on fact, not perception, and that they are genuine when applying for a child’s enrolment at a particular school.

Boards of Trustees

Boards of Trustees have obligations under section 11 of the Education Act in relation to enrolment schemes. Guidelines and Instructions issued by the Secretary for Education also explain their responsibilities[1]. They should:

  • monitor their school rolls and capacity to manage the risk of overcrowding
  • develop an enrolment scheme to manage overcrowding, when directed by us to do so
  • ensure the development and operation of their enrolment scheme complies with the requirements of the Education Act 1989, and that formal consultation processes and pre-enrolment procedures such as balloting are fair, transparent and consistent
  • consider the type, roll size, capacity and location of other schools in the local network when developing an enrolment scheme proposal, and work with Boards of Trustees of neighbouring schools to ensure a whole-of-network approach
  • ensure the community is aware of any enrolment scheme or change proposal so that everyone understands what the implications will mean for them, the school and the wider community.

The Ministry


Rather than looking at schools in isolation, we monitor enrolments and the space available across all schools, to identify areas where any enrolment scheme might help reduce pressure. We collect a range of demographic data from high and low growth areas and map it in relation to the whole network. We want to get the balance right between resources and investment in areas of growth, and understand possible causes of enrolments slowing down in other areas, to be able to apply the right solutions.


We analyse enrolment figures, population projections, data for new housing, transport and roading information, and the space available in schools, to understand where an enrolment scheme might be needed. We provide the analysis to Boards of Trustees to help them explore options as they’re developing their scheme, including where their home zone might be located.


We support Boards of Trustees in conversations with their communities about what’s happening at their school, help them prepare enrolment scheme proposals including home zone written descriptions and maps, and can assist when they hold their formal consultations. We also provide direct support to Boards who might be experiencing other types of issues such as declining rolls and spare capacity.


We’re responsible for enrolment scheme decisions such as whether one is required, can start to be developed, is approved, or needs to be reviewed or amended. When we make our decisions we always take a community-focused, network-wide approach. What’s best for all students and all schools underpins the decisions we make.


When an enrolment scheme is approved, we’re available to help Boards of Trustees with any aspect of its implementation, including advising on any of its processes such as ballots, reviews and amendments.

[1] Education Act 1989, Part 2 Enrolment schemes, and suspension, expulsion, and exclusion of students, ss11A-11Q Enrolment schemes

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