Legislation

Legislation that governs New Zealand's education system and legislative changes affecting schools, kura and early learning services.

We work to make sure that everyone in the New Zealand education system is aware of and meets their legal responsibilities under the education legislation.

Key Legislation

Education and Training Act 2020

The Education and Training Act 2020 establishes the legal framework for our education system, including early childhood education, compulsory schooling, international education and tertiary education.

Recent Acts passed

Education and Training (Teaching Council Fees, Levies, and Costs) Amendment Act 2021

The Education and Training (Teaching Council Fees, Levies, and Costs) Amendment Act 2021 (the Act) came into force on 20 November 2021.The Act broadens the Teaching Council’s existing power to set fees, and authorises the Council to impose levies, for teacher registration and the issuing of practising certificates and Limited Authorities to Teach for early childhood, primary, and secondary school teachers. It also validates some fees set previously and the receipt of fees payments.

What does the Act do?

  • Part 1 of the Act separates the Council’s functions into mandatory and optional functions and enables the Council to set fees and impose levies to recover the costs of undertaking all its mandatory functions and exercising related powers.
  • The Act provides that fees and levies can only be used to recover costs related to mandatory functions, which are functions focussed on teachers. Optional functions are professional leadership functions focussed on growing and improving the capability of principals and other education professionals. Optional functions can only be undertaken with the approval of the Minister and will continue to be funded by the government.
  • The Act also confirms that the Council is able to charge fees and levies in the manner it prescribes (e.g. by instalments), and to recover unpaid fees as a debt due to the Council. These measures are necessary for the Council to operate on a fully self-funded basis in relation to its mandatory functions.
  • Part 2 of the Act retrospectively validates the receipt of payments for fees that took effect from 1 February 2021 and have now been quashed by the High Court. Payments received for the now-quashed fees will be credited to the teacher toward other fee payments. The Act does not, however, validate the quashed fees.
  • The Act also validates any previous fees set (with the exception of those set by the quashed fees order) and payments received by the Council or its predecessor organisations.
  • The Act places a requirement on the Council to:
    • ensure that fees and levies only cover the actual and reasonable costs of performing the Council’s functions; and
    • consult with the teaching profession and to receive views presented to it with an open mind and to give due consideration to those views when making decisions about fees.

Why is the Act necessary?

  • The Act is necessary because a 2021 High Court judgment overturned Council decisions about practising certificates and fees related to a 2020 fees notice and this created uncertainty about the Council’s ability to set fees to cover the costs of all its statutory functions.
  • This deficiency in the legislation was problematic because Government expects the Council to operate on a fully self-funded basis in relation to its mandatory statutory functions.
  • The Act gives effect to this policy.

Why does the Act have retrospective effect?

  • This is necessary because the Court’s finding that the Council is not mandated by the Act to charge for all of its statutory functions may have raised doubt as to the validity of the previous (and now current) 3-yearly fee, as well as any fees charged prior to that by the Council and its predecessors.
  • The Act does not validate the annual certification and fee decisions that were overturned by the High Court, but it does allow the Council to retain payments received for that fee and to credit these in part-payment of the three-yearly fee that now applies (the annual certificates have been reissued as three-year certificates). This avoids the Council having to refund annual fee payments to affected teachers and then collect the three-yearly fee from the same teachers.

Further information:

Education and Training (Teaching Council Fees, Levies, and Costs) Amendment Bill – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Education and Training (Teaching Council Fees, Levies, and Costs) Amendment Act 2021 No 47, Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Supplementary Analysis Reports

The Education and Training Amendment Act 2021

The Education and Training Amendment Act 2021 (the Amendment Act) came into force on 16 December 2021.  The Act can be found here:

Education and Training Amendment Act 2021 No 58, Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

The Amendment Act amends the Education and Training Act 2020 to:

  • keep some prescriptive detail in the Act rather than have these provisions automatically expire after a set period of time. It was intended to replace these provisions, which relate to National Student Numbers, school enrolment schemes and school boards, with regulations, but the Bill ensures they stay in the Act to recognise their importance;
  • ensure that the Police vetting requirements work more effectively with the safety checking provisions in the Children’s Act 2014, so that children are safe when engaging in education;
  • ensure tertiary education providers can’t charge trainees a fee relating to student services when they transfer to Te Pūkenga, the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, for another year. This is to allow the Ministry to complete work relating to the fee that was disrupted due to COVID-19;
  • specify the five education agencies that must comply with a statement of expectations relating to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The agencies are not named in the Act which has resulted in some uncertainty; and
  • make a number of other minor and technical amendments to provisions in the Act.

Education and Training Act 2020

The Education and Training Act came into force on 1 August 2020. It incorporates and replaces the Education Acts of 1964 and 1989.

The Act is intended to make education legislation simpler and more user-friendly than the previous framework.

In addition to being a consolidation and refresh of education legislation, the Act also institutes some of the government’s major education reforms including:

  • key aspects of the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms
    • improving oversight and leadership of schools
    • amending the roles, responsibilities, and duties of school boards
    • ensuring schools give better effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    • enabling independent dispute resolution panels to help students, parents and whānau resolve serious disputes with schools
    • moving responsibility for enrolment zone development and consultation to the Ministry of Education
  • stating the right of students to attend school fulltime
  • introducing additional licensing requirements for early learning services
  • amending the law regarding the use of physical restraint in schools
  • shifting participation in religious instruction for state primary and intermediate schools from an opt-out process to an opt-in process.

The Act also includes changes introduced during the legislative process to respond to COVID-19 and future emergencies and pandemics.

Further information:

Education and Training Act

Proposed new regulations relating to the operation of school boards, and the pastoral care codes for international and domestic students

Education and Training Act Regulatory Impact Assessments and Supplementary Analysis Report

Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020

The Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020 came into effect on 1 April 2020. It has been incorporated into the Education and Training Act 2020 and is part of the reform of vocational education announced on 1 August 2019. It repeals the Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act 1992 and the Education (Polytechnics) Amendment Act 2009. The Act:

  • establishes a new regulatory framework for vocational education and training
  • enables workforce development councils to be established
  • establishes the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology
  • provides transitional arrangements to enable a smooth transfer of functions and responsibilities from the current to the new system.

Further information about the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020

Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019

The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019 came into effect on 20 December 2019. It has been incorporated into the Education and Training Act 2020 and enables the Minister of Education to issue a code of practice for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary students. The Act:

  • enables an interim code to be put in place for the 2020 academic year
  • brings together a new regulatory regime for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary students with the existing regime for the pastoral care of international students
  • sets out arrangements relating to code administration, monitoring, compliance and enforcement, offences and penalties, and dispute resolution.

Further information about the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019

Education (School Donations) Amendment Act 2019

The Education (School Donations) Amendment Act came into effect on 22 October 2019. It amends the Education Act 1989 in order to support the school donations scheme announced as part of Budget 2019.

This Act:

  • creates a new category of grants called discretionary grants
  • provides that the Minister of Education may pay discretionary grants to boards subject to the condition that a board does not solicit voluntary payments from parents, and any other condition as determined by the Minister
  • enables funding provided as discretionary grants to be effectively recovered from boards that have failed to comply with the conditions of that funding.

Education (School Donations) Amendment Act 2019 further details

Current Bills

Bills are drafts of proposed new laws. Once a bill passes through the House of Representatives, and receives the Royal assent, it becomes an Act.

The Education and Training Amendment Bill (No 2) was introduced on 30 November 2021. Click the link below to find out more on the Education and Training Amendment Bill (No 2).

The Education and Training Amendment Bill (No 2)

International Student legislation

Two regulations cover the care and wellbeing of international students studying in New Zealand. These are the:

  • Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code Of Practice 2016
  • International Student Contract Dispute Resolution Scheme (DRS).

Regulations to better support international students

There is also legislation that outlines the definition of a domestic student for schools and tertiary education.

Definition of a domestic student in New Zealand

Disclosure statements

Disclosure statements provide development and content information about legislation that is being proposed by Government.

Disclosure statements relating to education bills since 2013 are available on the New Zealand Legislation website.

Disclosures – New Zealand Legislation website(external link)

Regulatory Impact Statements

Regulatory impact statements (RIS) support all bills that are being introduced to House of Representatives. They also support all proposed regulations.

RISs include:

  • a high-level summary of the issue that is being addressed
  • the options and associated costs and benefits of each option
  • details of consultation regarding the issue
  • proposed arrangements for implementing and reviewing the legislation.

Regulatory Impact Statements – Treasury website(external link)

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