Education Amendment Bill (No 2)

The Education Amendment Bill (No 2) was first introduced into the House of Representatives in September 2018. The Bill amends the Education Act 1989, the Education Act 1964, and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017.

This Bill is intended to:

  • protect the public interest in Teaching Council decision making
  • make student safety a registration criterion for private schools
  • ensure only children who are 5 years of age and older can start school as part of a cohort entry policy
  • repeal provisions relating to communities of online learning.

This Bill was reported back to Parliament by the Education and Workforce Committee on 5 April 2019. It received its third reading in Parliament on 9 May 2019.

On 8 May 2019 Hon Chris Hipkins, the Minister of Education, announced that two more policy changes would be given effect through the Bill. The changes are:

  • postponing the start date for the new strategic planning and reporting framework for schools from 1 January 2020 to 1 January 2023; and
  • making the process for changing the names of New Zealand universities clearer and more robust.

The following is an overview of the key proposed changes.

Protecting the public interest in Teaching Council decision making

The Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (the Council) has significant influence over the quality of teaching, and the supply and diversity of the teaching workforce. This creates a substantial public interest in its work, which affects all New Zealanders, and children and young people in particular. For this reason, it is important that Council decisions are made in the context of the Government’s policy for the wider education system.

The Bill requires the Teaching Council to:

  • consult with the Minister of Education before making changes to the criteria for teacher registration, or the standards for qualification that lead to teacher registration
  • have regard to any statement of Government policy issued in relation to the functions of the Teaching Council, as set out in section 382(1) of the Education Act 1989.

Student safety a registration criterion for private schools

The Bill amends the Education Act 1989 to include a new registration criterion for private schools which requires that they are a safe physical and emotional place for students. This means that, for new private schools, students’ physical and emotional safety must be considered as a criterion when the Secretary for Education assesses a private school’s application for registration. The proposed change means that a private school’s registration can be cancelled where the school is not providing a safe physical and emotional place for students and is not likely to do so within a further reasonable time. Before a registration can be cancelled, the Secretary must advise the school of any concerns and give school managers the opportunity to respond.  

The new criterion will also enable the Education Review Office to review private schools’ safety policies and procedures. Private schools already registered will not need to reapply for registration, but will need to able to demonstrate that they meet the new criterion 6 months after the provisions come into force.

Cohort (group) entry

The Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 enabled schools to adopt and enforce a cohort entry policy starting from Term 1, 2018. These changes allowed 4 year olds to start at school.

The Bill changes the requirements for cohort entry so that children can still start school in groups, but only after they have turned 5. This is in line with the recommendation of the 2015 Advisory Group on Early Learning. 

The Bill enables schools to adopt and enforce a cohort entry policy for students over 5, with two start dates per term — students can start school on the first day of term, or at a mid-point during a term, after they have turned 5. Students can start in groups up until they turn 6, at which age school enrolment is compulsory.

If a school has a current cohort entry policy on 1 January 2020, the new law will automatically apply to that policy.  Schools may wish to inform their communities of the changes in the Bill: that children beginning school as part of a cohort must be 5, and that there are two cohort entry points per term (start date and mid-term date). Schools adopting cohort entry for the first time under the new settings will need to consult with their communities.

Repealing the start-up of communities of online learning

In 2017, the Education Act 1989 was amended to introduce a new system for distance education, communities of online learning (COOLs). This would have enabled the Minister of Education to accredit providers from the public and the private sectors to offer online tuition to full-time and part-time school students. This system was due to come into force on 31 December 2019.

The Bill repeals these provisions. This will provide time for the issues to be considered in the context of the wider education sector reviews.

Existing providers such as Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (The Correspondence School) and the Virtual Learning Networks will continue to be able to offer distance education on the same basis as they do now.

Postponing the start date for the new strategic planning and reporting framework

The Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 introduced a new planning and reporting framework for school boards of trustees for State and State integrated schools. The new framework was due to commence on 1 January 2020. Under the Bill, the start of the new framework has been postponed from 1 January 2020 to 1 January 2023, or such earlier date as set by the Governor-General. 

The Government is considering fundamental change to the education system. In June 2019 the Tomorrow’s Schools review Independent Taskforce will be reporting back to the Government on its report Our Schooling Futures, Stronger Together | Whira Ngā Kura Tuātinitini. The Government has decided that it is better to wait for any changes to the education system to be made before requiring schools to develop a new approach to their planning and reporting.

This Bill will mean that in 2020, 2021 and 2022 school boards will continue to be required to develop their school charters as they currently do. They will also be required to report against their previous year’s performance through their annual reports. The timeframe for submitting their charters and annual reports remains the same. School boards will not need to adjust to the new strategic planning and reporting framework as prescribed in the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 (and in regulations that are yet to be developed) until 1 January 2023.

The Ministry of Education will continue to support schools and kura by providing guidance and advice about charters so that these contribute to great educational outcomes for our children and young people.

Process for changing the names of New Zealand universities

Under the Education Act 1989, the Minister of Education has authority to change the name of a New Zealand university on the recommendation of the relevant university council, by notification in the Gazette. 

The Bill gives decision-making authority for a university name change to the House of Representatives rather than the Minister of Education. The process for a university name change will be clearer and more robust by giving decision-making authority to the House.

The change will apply to all universities regardless of how they were established. This will ensure consistency across the university sector. It will not apply to other tertiary education institutions.

Regulatory Impact Statements

The following Regulatory Impact Statements relate to the Education Amendment Bill (No 2).

Cohort entry RIS [PDF, 3.2 MB]

Communities of online learning (COOL) RIS [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Education Council RIS [PDF, 3.5 MB]

Private schools RIS [PDF, 2.6 MB]

If you have difficulty accessing these documents email:

info@education.govt.nz

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