The Education and Training Bill: Information for principals and teachers

The Education and Training Bill aims to give all learners a more high-quality, culturally responsive, seamless and inclusive education, from early learning, through schooling, and into tertiary education, vocational training and employment. The Bill is not yet law.


The Education and Training Bill aims to give all learners a more high-quality, culturally responsive, seamless and inclusive education, from early learning, through schooling, and into tertiary education, vocational training and employment. The Bill is not yet law.

The Bill is the biggest rewrite of education legislation in decades. Much of its content gives effect to the Government’s plans to transform the education system, following the Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation and the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce report.

The Bill incorporates and replaces the Education Acts of 1964 and 1989, and also incorporates the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act and the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill which is currently before Parliament.

The Bill has been referred to the Education and Workforce Committee for public submissions. These close on 14 February 2020.

Education and Workforce Committee – New Zealand Parliament  (external link)

Proposed changes

Right to attend

The Bill explicitly states the right of all enrolled students, including those with learning support needs and disabilities, to attend school whenever the school is open. Some students and their parents and whānau have found that schools only allow them to attend part time.

Education and Training Bill: All students have the right to attend school fulltime

Physical force

Teachers have raised concerns that the existing framework is confusing and makes them feel unable to intervene in potentially harmful situations. Proposed changes in the Bill make it clear that physical force can be used, as a last resort, to keep people safe from harm. Seclusion remains prohibited. 

Updating the physical restraint framework (external link)

New eligibility criteria for principal appointments

The principal role is demanding, complex and critical to the success of a school and the educational outcomes of learners/ākonga.  The only legal requirement for appointment as a principal is being a registered teacher who holds a current practising certificate.

The Bill proposes new eligibility criteria for appointment as a school principal to be set by the Minister of Education (or delegated authority). The criteria are to be designed in consultation with a range of relevant national bodies.  The new criteria will assist in ensuring consistency in the skills, competencies, knowledge and expertise of principals.  School boards will still be responsible for appointing principals.

School principal appointment criteria (external link)

Renewing practising certificates

Teachers are currently unable to renew their practising certificates if they cannot demonstrate satisfactory teaching experience five years prior to their application.

The Bill allows teachers to renew their practising certificates if they agree to a refresh process, such as a return to a teaching plan or pathway approved by the Teaching Council, to ensure their knowledge and practice is up to date.

Allowing teachers without satisfactory recent teaching experience to have their certificates renewed if they agree to a refresh process (external link)

New complaint and disputes resolution panels

The Bill enables the establishment of new local complaint and dispute panels to hear serious disputes where these cannot be resolved at the school level.

Decisions made by Boards on these matters can be referred by students, parents, families and whānau for resolution. The panels will have mediation, recommendation and decision-making functions, and will hear disputes relating to:

  • rights to education (including enrolment and attendance)
  • stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions
  • learning support, racism and other types of discrimination
  • physical and emotional safety and
  • physical force on a student by a teacher or other authorised employee.

Enabling new dispute resolution panels to hear complaints about school board decisions

School board objectives

The Bill revises the objectives for school boards of trustees to:

  • ensure school governance is underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and relevant student rights
  • refocus boards on a wider range of objectives including educational achievement, requiring schools to ensure the physical and emotional safety of students and staff, that they are inclusive and cater for students with differing needs and that they give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • make it clear what boards have to do to meet the revised objectives.

These changes are intended to strengthen school governance and refocus schools on what matters most for learners and their whānau.

Amending school board objectives

The requirement for school boards to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi requires boards to work to ensure their plans, policies and local curriculum reflect local tikanga, mātauranga Māori and te reo Māori, take all reasonable steps to make instruction available in tikanga Māori and te reo Māori, and to achieve equitable outcomes for ākonga Māori .

School boards to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

School rules or bylaws

The Bill provides that boards must consult their students (where appropriate), staff and school community when making rules (bylaws). This is to ensure that a school’s rules are appropriate for, and supported by, its community.

Boards to consult on rules/bylaws

Enrolment schemes

The Ministry of Education will take over the development of, and consultation on, enrolment schemes. It will administer each school’s enrolment scheme from a regional perspective, based on community need.

The Ministry will be required to consult schools boards when developing an enrolment scheme and must take all reasonable steps to consult the relevant school community and affected parties in the wider local community on the developed enrolment scheme.

Development and consultation of school enrolment schemes

Religious instruction to become opt-in

The Bill provides that if the board of a State primary or intermediate school chooses to close their school for religious instruction to take place, they must have students “opt-in” and ensure that the other conditions currently in the Education Act 1964 are met.

This change ensures that children are only attending religious instruction with their parent or caregiver’s consent. Currently, parents and caregivers need to write to the principal if they do not wish their child to attend religious instruction.

Requiring State primary school boards who choose to close for religious instruction to use an “opt-in” process

Supporting principals and teachers

The Government will further support principals and school boards, at regional level, through the establishment of a new Education Service Agency (ESA) as part of a redesigned MOE.

The ESA will deliver more responsive and accessible local support to principals around school leadership and for school boards around governance. Specialist Leadership Advisor positions will be created within the ESA to assist principals and school boards on these and other education issues.

The Teaching Council has been invited by the Government to establish a Leadership Centre to support its activities in relation to educational leadership, including the Leadership Strategy and Educational Leadership Capability Framework.

In addition, the Government proposes establishing a Curriculum Centre to provide curriculum leadership and expertise to help principals and teachers gain the skills and confidence to support curriculum delivery and development at both national and regional level. 

The above proposals are all part of the Government’s response to feedback, from participants in the Korero Mātauranga | Education Conversation, and to the report of the Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce.

See the Supporting all schools to succeed for the full details of the Government’s response.

Supporting all schools to succeed (external link)


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