Bill has biggest education changes in decades

The Education and Training Bill 2019, introduced in Parliament today, proposes the biggest education changes in decades and is an important step towards improving success for all our learners, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“The Bill’s rewrite of education legislation is long overdue. Indeed one Education Act, parts of which are still in force, dates to 1964 - when the Beatles toured New Zealand,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The Bill will bring all legislation on early learning, schooling and tertiary education into a single statute.

“New Zealanders told us, in the Kōrero Mātauranga |Education Conversation, that they want a learner-focused, high-quality, culturally responsive, and inclusive education system. The Bill turns many of their ideas for the future of education into reality.

“Many of the changes underpin the Government’s plans to transform schooling, following the conversation and the Tomorrow’s Schools taskforce report.”

These include:

  • Making it clear that school Boards’ primary objectives include, alongside achievement, ensuring that schools are safe and inclusive, are free from racism, discrimination and bullying, and that schools are giving effect to Te Tiriti
  • Establishing a Code of Conduct, setting minimum conduct standards for board members
  • Introducing minimum eligibility criteria school Boards will have to follow when appointing school principals to ensure schools have the highest standards of leadership
  • Ensuring more local children can attend their local schools by shifting responsibility for enrolment schemes from Boards to the Ministry of Education. Boards will continue to have input into enrolment schemes
  • Strengthening the rights of whānau and students by creating independent complaint and disputes resolution panels. These would investigate serious disputes, such as stand downs or learning support provision, where matters cannot be resolved with the school
  • Requiring Boards to consult with their students (as appropriate), their staff and school communities when making school rules.

The Bill proposes changes to strengthen the quality, viability and supply of early learning services. Proposals include:

  • Introducing a two stage application process for early learning licences. This would allow a Minister, in the first stage, to assess an application against current network capacity, the applicant’s suitability and licencing history, and the financial position of the organisation applying
  • Requiring police vetting for all adults living or present in a home where home based early learning and care are offered
  • Increasing the fine for early learning centres operating without a licence to a maximum of $50,000
  • Giving the Education Review Office (ERO) more powers to review the quality of home based early learning services.

Other proposed changes result from Cabinet decisions on recent consultations. These include: 

  • Renaming  special schools as  “specialist schools” to focus on the skills and resources needed for their learners
  • Changing restraint requirements so teachers know that physical force can be used, as a last resort, to keep students safe. Seclusion remains prohibited
  • Clarifying that the right to education includes a right to attend for all hours a school is open for instruction. The change will mean that students needing learning support in particular can no longer be excluded from schools for all the hours that they are open
  • Requiring state primary and intermediate schools and kura that allow religious instruction to do so on an ‘opt- in’ basis. This will ensure parental consent for a student’s participation.

“Boards, educators, learners, and whānau will be well supported as we transition to our new education system,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The proposed Education Service Agency (ESA), for example, will support boards with any changes to their roles. And the planned Leadership Centre will grow school leadership to further improve learner progress, wellbeing and achievement. Support for the Bill’s changes will also come from 620 new Learning Support co-ordinators in schools, replacing deciles with equity funding, increasing te reo teacher numbers, and boosting funding for early learning services.”

The (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill, and the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Bill, will both be incorporated into this Education and Training Bill.  It is intended that the Education and Training Bill will be updated to reflect the final version of these two Bills when they are enacted.

“The Education and Training Bill will help ensure a stronger, higher quality and more responsive education system for all our learners. I look forward to people giving their views during the Select Committee process,” Chris Hipkins said.

More information can be found here - .: https://www.education.govt.nz/our-work/legislation/education-and-training-bill/.