Education Amendment Act 2019

The Education Amendment Act 2019 (the Act) came into force on 14 May 2019. Most provisions in the Act take effect from this date. Provisions relating to cohort entry policies take effect from 1 January 2020.

The Act makes changes to the following issues:

Cohort (group) entry for children starting school

4 year olds will no longer be able to start school as part of a school’s cohort entry policy. There will now be 2 entry points per term (one at the beginning of each term, and one at the mid-point of each term).

More information on cohort entry dates

Schools with a cohort entry policy(external link) (education counts website)

Registration criteria for private schools

There is a new registration criterion that requires private schools to be safe places for students. The Act allows for a 6 month transitional period where provisionally and fully registered private schools are treated as having met the new registration criteria. This allows existing private schools time to show they can meet the new criterion.

The introduction of a new registration criterion allows the Secretary for Education to take a range of actions if there is a concern that a private school is not a physically and emotionally safe place for students.  Under section 35J of the Education Act 1989, the Secretary for Education may:

  • issue the school’s managers with a notice to comply
  • require the managers of a school to inform parents of the students at the school that the school is not meeting the criteria for registration as a private school
  • impose conditions on the school’s registration
  • impose a requirement or requirements under any of the previous three actions, and suspend the school’s registration
  • cancel the school’s registration, but only after first taking one or more of the actions above.

Any action taken by the Secretary must be proportional to the seriousness of the school’s situation.

How will the transition arrangements work for private schools?

A school that is provisionally registered must meet the new registration criterion if:

  • the school’s provisional registration is being renewed; or
  • the Secretary has requested an additional Education Review Office (ERO) review because the school’s provisional registration has been renewed; or
  • the school is being fully registered.

After the transition period, a private school’s managers must be able to show that the school can meet the new registration criterion when they are reviewed by ERO or if a concern is raised with the Ministry of Education.

What is a physically and emotionally safe place for students? 

A safe place is one in which risks to student safety are regularly assessed and evaluated with a view to eliminating, or at least reducing, harm.  A safe place is one where clear policies exist and are acted upon to eliminate or minimise harm. 

Bullying-free website(external link) 

Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand decision-making

The Act requires the Teaching Council to:

  • consult with the Minister before making any changes to the criteria for teacher registration or the standards for qualifications that lead to teacher registration
  • have regard to any statement of Government policy issued in relation to the Teaching Council’s functions.

Consultation between the Minister and the Council

The Teaching Council needs to write to the Minister, outlining any changes it proposes to the criteria for teacher registration, or the standards for qualifications that lead to teacher registration. It must also seek the Minister’s comments or views. It must then take the Minister’s response into account before making any changes to teacher registration criteria or qualification standards.

Issuing a statement of Government policy

The Minister of Education may develop and publish a statement of Government policy at any time, including when responding to a particular Teaching Council proposal.  Before issuing a statement, the Minister must first consult the Teaching Council.  Following consultation, if the Minister decides to issue a statement of Government policy, the Minister must give the statement in writing to the Teaching Council, publish it in the New Zealand Gazette, and present it to the House of Representatives.

How will the statement of Government policy be communicated to the Teaching Council, schools, and the wider public?

The statement of Government policy is required to be given to the Teaching Council in writing, published in the New Zealand Gazette, and presented to the House of Representatives. These requirements serve to communicate the statement of Government policy to the Teaching Council and the wider public. 

Communities of online learning

Communities of online learning provisions, that were due to come into force on 31 December 2019, are repealed so that the future of online learning can considered in the context of wider education sector reviews.

The Education Amendment Act 2019 repeals the accreditation and accountability provisions in the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 that were set up to regulate online tuition through entities to be called communities of online learning. The repealed provisions were due to come into effect on 31 December 2019.

Online tuition will continue to be provided by Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (The Correspondence School) and by Virtual Learning Networks set up by groups of schools (for example, NetNZ; VLN Primary).

Planning and reporting for schools

The start date for the new planning and reporting framework is postponed from 1 January 2020 to 1 January 2023. The planning and reporting documents currently required for all State and State integrated schools consist of: an annual charter, an analysis of variance, and an annual report. These documents need to be sent to the Ministry annually.

What are the planning and reporting requirements for schools in 2020?

School boards planning and reporting requirements for 2020 have not changed. 

Information about schools’ planning and reporting

Process for changing university names

Prior to the Education Amendment Act 2019, a university’s name could be changed by the university’s council making a recommendation to the Minister of Education, and the Minister publishing the new name in the Gazette.

The Education Amendment Act 2019 changed this process by giving authority to the House of Representatives to decide whether to change a university’s name, rather than the Minister of Education. 

What is the new process for changing a university’s name?

The process for changing a university name under the Education Amendment Act 2019 is as follows:

  • the university must give written notice to the Minister of Education of the proposed name change
  • if notice is given to the Minister, the Minister must present the proposal to the House of Representatives
  • if the House of Representatives, by resolution, accepts the proposed name change, the Minister must change the name of the university by notice published in the Gazette.

Will the university name change process apply to other tertiary education institutions?

No.  The new process only applies to universities, not to other tertiary education institutions.

Regulatory Impact Statements

The following Regulatory Impact Statements (RIS) relate to the Education Amendment Act 2019.

If you have difficulty accessing these documents, please email

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