A board of trustees may decide that a school is no longer educationally viable and on that basis, it may apply to the Minister of Education for voluntary closure. This is usually done when a board, after careful consideration of the available options, comes to the conclusion that the students would have better educational opportunities in a different setting.
The final decision to close a school is made under section 154 of the Education Act 1989 (the Act) and after consultation under section 157 of the Act.
Any board that is considering this possibility is urged to make the earliest possible contact with the Ministry of Education.
Note that a different process applies to integrated schools. This requires that the integration agreement is cancelled by the mutual agreement of the Minister and the proprietor. If your school is integrated and the board wishes to have closure considered, consult your proprietor.
What to think about
- Why do we want to consider closing this school?
- What other options are available for our students?
- Are parents of the students likely to support the closure?
- How far away are the neighbouring schools?
- What travel would be involved for the students?
- Would these schools provide the education the parents are seeking?
- What are the educational benefits for students that we'd hope to achieve?
- What would be the likely reaction of our wider community to the proposed closure?
- How will we handle any opposition to the closure?
What you should do
Contact your local Ministry of Education office for information about the process and options that may be available.
- consulting with the school's staff (including non-teaching staff) about the proposal and what it would mean for students and for employees of the board of trustees
- consulting the school community about the proposal and its implications for students
- seeking advice on staff employment issues from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (or the board of trustees' employment advisor)
- informing the relevant employees' unions about your proposal
- keeping documentation of all your consultation actions and responses.
If the board decides to proceed with the closure request it should write to the local Ministry of Education office with a formal request for the school to be closed.
Other relevant information
You'll also need to consider whether the proposed closure will require changes to school transport provision arrangements. If students are entitled to school transport assistance, the closure will change the Transport Entitlement Zone (TEZ) for neighbouring schools. For information about this, contact your Ministry of Education School Transport Agent or read our section on school transport.
The Education Development Initiative (EDI) policy provides funding support for schools that receive students from a closing school. The funding comes from the savings to the Crown that are generated by a school closure. Discuss with Ministry staff what your board would want to achieve with this funding, which must be used for the educational benefit of students and to enhance schools' education delivery.
The process of change
The Ministry will:
- undertake consultation, required by section 157 of the Education Act 1989, and
- prepare a report for the Minister of Education seeking a decision about the proposed closure.
The board will receive a letter from the Minister announcing the decision and giving a closure date.
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