Ed Act Update - the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017

The Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 (the Act) came into effect on 19 May 2017.

The Act is the most comprehensive update of New Zealand’s education legislation in almost 30 years. The Act's changes will take effect gradually between 19 May 2017 and January 2020 - see the quick guide for more information

About these pages

If you are a teacher, a board member, a principal, an early childhood service, a school, ngā kohanga reo or kura kaupapa leader, a parent, a student, or a family or whānau member, or are simply interested in education, then these pages are for you.

Here, you’ll find out all you need to know about:

  • What the Act is designed to do
  • How the Act works (its main provisions)
  • When the Act’s various provisions become law 
  • How we will be supporting you with the implementation of the Act’s various provisions
  • Your rights as a parent, family or whānau member under the Act 
  • How you can help build the future education system for all our children and young people by taking part in the consultations and discussions scheduled on some of the Act’s provisions.

How the new Education Update Act 2017 fits together

Download This Guide to the new Education Update Act 2017 [PDF, 85 KB] to see how the various parts of the Education Update Act combine to meet the education challenges of the 21st century. 

Overview of the new Act

The new Act introduces changes to put the progress and achievement of children and young people at the heart of the education system.

The Act does this by setting clear objectives for the early childhood and compulsory education system, and through a new stand alone document called the statement of National Education and Learning Priorities, or NELP, through which the Government of the day will set its education priorities. Both the NELP, and how schools should plan and report to their parents and communities, will be subject to consultation in the very near future, before being finalised.

To help ensure that Communities of Learning| Kāhui Ako and schools are delivering a great education for New Zealand’s children and young people, the Act introduces a range of ways that the Ministry of Education can give quicker support to schools to help get them back on track.

The Act also gives more education choice to students and parents, enhances the options for collaboration between education providers, and modernises our education system to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Working with the education sector

The Ministry is working with the sector on the implementation of the Education Act update.

Quick guide to the changes in the new Act

Enduring objectives for the education system

Make the desired outcomes for early childhood and compulsory education system clearer and more visible.

Establishing enduring objectives for the education system

From 19 May 2017
Prohibiting seclusion and creating a legal framework for physical restraint

Clarify that seclusion of a child or young person is not an acceptable tool in behaviour management strategy. Clarifies how and when teachers and authorised staff members can use physical restraint.

Ed Act Update: Banning seclusion and creating framework for physical restraint

From 19 May 2017
Clarifying boards of trustees’ roles and responsibilities

Make it easier for boards to know what to focus on to raise students’ achievement.

Ed Act Update: Clarifying board of trustees' roles and responsibilities

From 19 May 2017
Creating a more graduated range of interventions

To enable struggling schools to get quicker and more tailored support from the Ministry so they can get back on track.

Ed Act Update: Creating a more graduated range of interventions

From 19 May 2017
Enabling Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako to work together more collaboratively

To support the growing collaboration of Communities of Learning to share expertise and resources.

Ed Act Update: Enabling Communities of Learning Kāhui Ako

From 19 May 2017
Improving the management of enrolment schemes 

Allows the Ministry to put an enrolment scheme in place where a school or kura refuses, or is slow to do so.

Ed Act Update: Improving the management of enrolment schemes

From 19 May 2017
Adding a Purpose Provision for Part 12 of the Education Act 1989 (the Act)

Guide the Minister’s decisions when establishing, disestablishing and making other changes to the structure and type of schools.

Ed Act Update: Adding a Purpose Provision for Part 12

From 19 May 2017
Streamlining the process for establishing designated character schools

Creates a single process for establishing these schools that is accessible and easy to follow.

Ed Act Update: Establishing designated character schools

From 19 May 2017
Giving the Minister absolute discretion on decisions around schooling provision

To make it clearer in that the Minister has absolute discretion to make all the decisions around schooling provision. 

Ed Act Update: Absolute discretion around schooling provision

From 19 May 2017
Improving the processes around closing or merging schools after an area strategy

To ensure schools and communities are effectively consulted without having to face repetitive and drawn out processes.

Ed Act Update: Consultation with schools affected by closure or merger proposal

From 19 May 2017
Enabling the Minister to combine school boards of trustees in certain circumstances

To give the Minister more authority when there are serious governance issues at more than one school.

Ed Act Update: Combining school boards of trustees

From 19 May 2017
Providing education at off-site locations

Make it clearer who is responsible for the education, safety and welfare of students receiving education at an off site location.

Ed Act Update: Providing education at off-site locations

From 19 May 2017
Updating the legislative framework for state integrated schools

Create a more flexible and modern regulatory framework for these schools.

Ed Act Update: State integrated schools

From 19 May 2017
Establishing a Competence Authority for teachers 

To speed up the resolution of competence complaints.

Ed Act Update: A competence authority for teachers

From 19 May 2017
Attending a board meeting about suspension

Changes allow students and their parents to request to attend a board meeting about suspension via a telephone conference or video link. 

Ed Act Update: Attending a board meeting about suspension

The changes will come into effect no later than 31 December 2019
Alternative constitution when combining boards

Collaboration through Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako may lead to schools deciding to share governance through a combined board. The Minister must consult to ensure a combined board represents the community.

Ed Act Update: Alternative constitutions for boards

From 19 May 2017
Creating a refocused careers service within the Tertiary Education Commission

To make pathways into further study and work clearer for students; to strengthen connections between education and employers; and to reduce fragmentation and duplication of effort and information across government agencies.

Ed Act Update: Creating a refocused careers service within TEC

From 1 July 2017
Requiring compulsory attendance at school for under sixes

To support the development of positive attitudes to learning and provide a sound foundation for future learning and achievement.

Ed Act Update: Requiring compulsory attendance at school for under sixes

3 July 2017
Enabling schools to introduce cohort entry

The Minister of Education has said that, in 2018, he will amend the Act to limit cohort entry to children over 5 years of age. See the Changes in Education page for further information and updates.

Supporting transitions to school by allowing new entrants to begin their schooling together, after consultation with parents and communities.

Ed Act Update: Enabling schools to introduce cohort entry updated September 2017

From 3 July 2017
National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP)

To set out the Government of the day’s priorities for education in the early childhood and compulsory schooling sectors.

Ed Act Update: Enabling Minister to issue a NELP

Public consultation during late 2018 and early 2019 prior to publication of a NELP in November 2019

Improving planning and reporting

Make planning and reporting for state and state integrated schools more focused on what’s important for raising students’ achievement. The requirements will also be less complex.

Ed Act Update: Improving planning and reporting

Currently from 1 January 2019. The Education Amendment Bill, once passed, will extend this by one year, until 1 January 2020
Establishing a regulatory framework for Communities of Online Learning

Enable any school, tertiary education provider or body corporate to be accredited as a Community of Online Learning (COOL).

Ed Act Update: Regulatory framework for communties of online learning

From January 2020 after the development of an appropriate regulatory framework to protect the education, safety and wellbeing of students

Find out more - ask the Ed Act team

These are your pages. And so we want to hear from you.

You can ask our Ed Act Update experts anything you want to know about the Act  EdAct.Update@education.govt.nz.


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