Legislation that governs New Zealand's education system and legislative changes affecting schools, kura and early learning services.

We work to make sure that everyone in the New Zealand education system is aware of and meets their legal responsibilities under the education legislation, especially the Education Act 1989 and the Education Act 1964 (external link) .

We also work on new education-related proposed Government bills and Members’ bills (external link) .


Key legislation - Education Act 1989

The Education Act 1989 (external link) establishes the legal framework for our education system, from early childhood education to compulsory schooling to international education and tertiary education.

Updating the Education Act 1989

We recently consulted on updating the Education Act 1989. The consultation (which closed in December 2015) suggested ideas for change to help bring the Act up to date and reflect New Zealand now, and for the future.

The Education (Update) Amendment Bill (the Bill) amends the Education Act 1989 (the Act) to make the achievement and learning of children and young people central to the early childhood education and compulsory schooling Parts of the Act.

The Bill was introduced on 22 August. The Bill can be found here (external link) .

The Education Act 1989 also sets up the Crown entities and the independent statutory bodies in the education sector, for example:

Next steps

The Education and Science Select Committee will announce the timing and process for its consideration of the Bill shortly. Further information can be found on the Parliamentary website (external link) .

Compulsory schooling legislation

Read the compulsory schooling ‘legal toolkit’, the National Education Guidelines (NEGs).

Information about The National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) - statements of desirable principles of conduct or administration for specified personnel or bodies.

The National Education Goals (NEGs)

Special education

The Education Act 1989, the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, all guide our Special Education policy.

International students’ legislation

Two regulations cover the care and wellbeing of international students studying in New Zealand - the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code Of Practice 2016 and the International Student Contract Dispute Resolution Scheme (DRS). 

There is also legislation that outlines the definition of a domestic student for schools and tertiary and information on the Export Education Industry Development Fund and Levy.

Tertiary education legislation

Important legislation for tertiary education includes:

Legislative changes affecting schools, kura and early learning services

There are new legislative requirements which have recently or are about to come into effect. These are the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, Food Act 2014 and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
Go to legislative changes for schools, kura and early learning services to see what you need to do to meet the requirements of these 3 Acts.

Amendment bills

Bills are drafts of proposed new laws. Once a bill passes through Parliament, it becomes an act. There is one current amendment bill:

We have catalogued passed bills (external link) for your reference.

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