School structures and governance

Schools provide effective and relevant education for their students. This is governed by the board and managed by the principal and staff. There are state, state-integrated and Maori Medium schools and schools can choose to have standard or an alternative board constitution.

School Structures and types

School structures found in New Zealand

Year

Known as a:

1-6

Contributing primary school

1-8

Full Primary School

7-8

Intermediate School

9-13

Secondary School (Year 9-13)

7-13

Secondary School (Year 7-13)

7-10

Middle School or Junior High School

11-13

Senior High School

1-10

Composite School (Year 1-10)

1-13

Composite (Year 1-13) or Area School

Types of schools

State Schools. Most of the schools in New Zealand are owned and funded by the state. They teach the national curriculum. They are secular (non-religious).

State integrated schools are state schools that provide education through their 'special character'. They may have their own sets of aims and objectives to reflect their own particular values. They may teach a specific philosophy or religion..

Designated character schools are state schools that provide education through their particular 'designated character'. This is often a particular iwi tradition, language and culture, or a particular educational approach.

Māori-medium education (Kura Kaupapa Māori) are state schools that adhere to the philosophy, principles and practices of Te Aho Mātua (external link) . These kura are established under section 155 of the Education Act 1989.

Governance of schools

Constitutions of boards of trustees at a glance

Boards of trustees are made up of elected parent representatives, staff, principal and student representatives and they can appoint and/or co-opt members.

Most elected parent representatives are elected for a 3 year term.  Schools may also choose a mid-term lection option. This option allows a board to have half of its parent representatives elected every 18 months.

The standard constitution of a board of trustees is:

  • 5 parent elected representatives;
  • principal;
  • staff representative;
  • student representative (in schools with Year 9 students and above);
  • co-opted trustees; and
  • up to 4 proprietors' representatives (in integrated schools only).

This standard constitution does not always meet the needs of all schools and their communities and so there is some flexibility for alternative constitution 

A board of trustees can alter the number of parent representatives

A board can alter the number of parent representatives. . Before a board finally decides to alter the number of parent reps to anything between 3 and 7, it must first give its parent community reasonable notice of the time, date and place of the meeting this option will be discussed. Once this is done the board is then free to make its final decision on numbers of parent reps. The board then needs to advise its local Ministry office so that records of the board membership can be updated. 

School governance options

Alternative constitutions

A board can have an alternative constitution to give a school more flexibility where the standard board of trustees' constitution hasn't been the most effective governance form. The Minister can approve an alternative constitution if they believe it is in the school's best interests. A board may request it, 20% or more of the parent community may request it, or ERO may recommend it.

Examples of some alternative constitutions are where a board is made up of:

  • up to 21 members of the community/whanau, the principal and 1 staff representative
  • one person appointed by the Minister with community-based committees that feed into it
  • two ministerial appointees with specific skills, one is the board chair, up to three trustees appointed by the runanga, the principal, three parent-elected representatives, one staff representative, one student representative and up to two other people co-opted by the board.

An alternative constitution allows:

  • the school community's particular character or identity to be recognised
  • ongoing partnerships between a school and other parties are recognised
  • a workable or different mix and/or number of trustees.

Combined boards of trustees

Boards of 2 or more schools may combine if the Minister agrees. Before the Minister considers approving a combined board, the boards need to consult with their parent communities.

An example of a combined board of trustees comprises:

  • 5 parent-elected trustees (if 2 schools)
  • 6 parent-elected trustees if more than 2 schools
  • the principal of each school
  • one staff-elected trustee
  • one student-elected trustee (if the board governs at least one school with students above Year 9).

A combined board offers these benefits:

  • each school keeps its separate identity and separate funding entitlements. This also promotes economies of scale
  • policies and procedures are aligned between the schools
  • encourages schools to be shared learning communities rather than competitors
  • where a combined board governs a primary and a secondary school, it helps to facilitate a seamless transition for students
  • increased pool of potential people for election to the board
  • resources are pooled.

Go to the effective governance publications and resources information on NZSTA's website (external link)

Boards of state-integrated, designated character schools or Kura Kaupapa Maori

Boards of state-integrated schools

In addition to other responsibilities, trustees on the board of a state-integrated school have special responsibilities related to protecting the special character of their school.

In an integrated school the proprietor, who has an agreement with the Government through a deed of integration, determines that special character.

The board can have up to 4 proprietor's representatives. This ensures that all members of the board share a common understanding of the special character and its consequences for the administration of the school. Eg, there may be restrictions on staff appointments, under some circumstances, and boards need to be aware of these.

Boards of designated character schools

In a designated character school, the special character is defined when establishing the school through a notice in the Education Gazette. The special character is also reflected in the school's charter. Boards will need to consider how they foster that special character through the learning programmes and ethos of their schools.

Boards of Kura Kaupapa Māori

The role of the board of Te Kura Kuapapa Māori is to ensure that the principles of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (external link) are met along with the national curriculum framework (external link) .

Support for boards

Support for Te Aho Mātua is available through Te Rūnanga Nui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa (external link) .

Go to the effective governance publications and resources information on NZSTA's website (external link)

 

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