Education Amendment Bill (No 2) passed its third reading

The Education Amendment Bill (No 2) received its third reading in Parliament on 9 May 2019.

The Bill ensures that:

  • There will be a new registration criterion that requires private schools to be safe places for students. This will ensure that the requirements for private schools to be safe places are equivalent to those of state and state-integrated schools.
  • The Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand’s decisions on matters relating to the teaching profession will be made within the context of Government policy.
  • Communities of online learning provisions, due to come into force on 31 December 2019, will be repealed so that the future of online learning can considered in the context of wider education sector reviews.
  • The start date for the new planning and reporting framework introduced by the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 will be postponed from 1 January 2020 to 1 January 2023. All of the current planning and reporting settings will remain the same until 1 January 2023. That will mean that in 2020, 2021 and 2022, boards will continue to be required to develop a school charter and to report against their charters at the usual time.
  • The process by which New Zealand universities can change their names has been made clearer and more robust. Currently, the Minister of Education may, on the recommendation of the council of a university, change the university’s name by publishing a notice in the Gazette. The law change will mean that approval must be sought from the House of Representatives, rather than the Minister, in order to change a university’s name.
  • Four-year-olds will no longer be able to start school as part of a school’s cohort entry policy, and there will be two cohort entry points per term (one at the beginning of each term, and one at the mid-point of each term). This is consistent with the position taken by the Advisory Group on Early Learning in 2015, when it reported on ways to improve learning pathways for children transitioning to primary school.

The Bill will become law once it receives the Royal assent. All provisions of the Bill, except changes to cohort entry policies, will come into effect the day after the Bill receives the Royal assent.

Cohort entry

The cohort entry provisions will commence on 1 January 2020. The Minister of Education is required to set the mid-term dates by 1 July each year to apply to the following year. For the 2020 mid-term start dates, the Minister of Education will Gazette the mid-term start dates by 1 July 2019.

Cohort entry policies developed before 1 January 2020 continue until that date. This means that schools that currently have a cohort entry policy in place can continue to accept 4 year olds in line with their existing policy until 1 January 2020.

Existing cohort entry policies will automatically be updated on 1 January 2020 to reflect the new legal requirements. Schools that currently have a cohort entry policy are not required to redevelop their policies or to undertake further consultation if they wish to continue with cohort entry. However, consultation with school communities will be required if a school wishes to return to a continuous entry policy.

Schools which do not currently have a cohort entry policy, will be required to consult with their wider community including local early learning services, before they can adopt a policy of cohort entry.

 

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