EDUCATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1997

  • Wyatt Creech
Education

Background Information

Enrolment Schemes - to avoid overcrowding or the likelihood of overcrowding in schools.
With regard to enrolment schemes the Bill will:

Ensure greater co-ordination of enrolment schemes and enable students to attend a reasonably convenient school.

Ensure consultation, by the board of a school which is developing an enrolment scheme, with the school's community, the local community and neighbouring boards.

Require that all schemes be agreed to by the Secretary for Education, to ensure greater co-ordination in the provision of school places and that fair processes are being put in place.

Provide that a board in developing a scheme, and the Secretary in agreeing to a scheme, shall have regard to:

students being able to attend a reasonably convenient state school
and

the capacity of the existing network of schools.

Require boards annually to review the need for a scheme, but with a discretion available to the Secretary to waive this requirement for a period of up to three years.

Suspensions - the Bill gives schools more flexibility in sanctioning of students and makes the suspension process fairer.
With regard to suspensions the amendments will:

Achieve greater procedural fairness in suspension procedures in particular the right to speak and to be represented.

Give greater flexibility of response to student needs, in particular the introduction of a power to suspend 'with conditions' aimed at facilitating the return of the student to the school.

Introduce two new concepts to the suspension process:

stand-down - to be available for a specified period and reduce the likelihood of early recourse to a suspension. The stand-down replaces the specified suspension. A student may be stood down for up to five days in any school term, but not for more than ten days a year.

exclusion - with a clear and short timeline to ensure prompt follow up action to have the student enrolled in another school, and for a report by the principal to the Secretary.

Reduce the complexity of present legislation.

Give the Secretary of Education the power to publish rules, after consultation, that will require principals and boards to comply with principles of natural justice.

Curriculum
With regard to curriculum, the requirements in state schools will all be brought into one Act - the Education Act 1989. The Act will then provide for:-

A statement of foundation policy on learning and assessment.

Appropriate flexibility for the New Zealand curriculum, or elements of it, to be gazetted by the Minister of Education to apply to particular years, particular state (including integrated) schools, or particular groups of students and to allow phasing in.

Truancy

The Secretary for Education will be able to make rules designed to keep a track of students throughout the school system.

A new mandatory and nationally consistent enrolment record will be created which can be transferred wherever the student goes.

Student Allowances

The Ministry of Education will have power to investigate fraud by past holders of student allowances.

Creates a new offence for failing to provide information or notify a change of circumstances.

Integrated Schools

To allow a Ministerial discretion to decline to accept applications for integration from private schools.

To allow integrated schools to use leased land or premises.

Delete some obsolete references.

The following other matters are included in the Bill:

Exemption from personal liability for commissioners.

Corrections to technical deficiencies in certain boards of trustee elections.

Allowing flexibility in the length of time a Commissioner can be appointed to a school if it coincides with school trustee elections.

Greater flexibility in the length of the school half day. This should allow the Government to respond positively to a range of proposals already being advanced by communities, in particular in rural communities and which impact only on a defined group of schools.

Updating of existing powers of officials of entry and inspection.

A reserve power will be created for the Secretary to be able to require a board of trustee to engage specialist support to assist it in meeting its statutory obligations. This intermediate level intervention was discussed some years back with school sector organisations and was approved as an alternative to the very heavy step of dismissing a board and appointing a Commissioner. It will complement the present thrust of the School Support initiative.

More flexibility is needed in the procedures for establishing and modifying schools. In particular the two stages of consultation required to establish a middle school or a new contributing primary school will be reduced to one. This enabling legislation will permit the adoption of new structures such as senior high schools.

Alterations in the appointments procedures for members of the boards of the central Education agencies (such as the Education Training and Support Agency) and the ability for the names of those agencies to be changed from time to time as appropriate by Order in Council.

Clarifies the powers of the Education Review Office to review home schooling.

Disclosure of course costs to students before they complete enrolment at tertiary institutions.

A minor wording change to align the requirements for financial reporting by Private Training Establishments with the requirements of the Public Finance Act 1989.

Remedying an oversight concerning replacement of a Commissioner at a school where because of its special role the membership of the board is gazetted.

A provision for an exemption from enrolment to expire when

the student reaches the school leaving age; or

enrols at a registered school;

three property issues which will:

correct an oversight which technically excludes schools which are not on Crown land, e.g. integrated schools, from complying with codes governing the use of property in all state schools;

allow greater flexibility to boards of trustees to lease surplus school accommodation to early childhood centres;

allow leases of school property to third parties for longer than the ten years that is currently the case. This is desirable when there are community buildings such as a gymnasium or swimming pool on school property;

amendments to the Ngarimu VC and 28th (Maori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Act 1945 to

widen the pool of appointees eligible to serve on the board;

give membership to the Minister of Maori Affairs; and

clarify that the Maori Members of Parliament eligible to join the board are those from the electorate seats.

exemption from enrolment at a registered school for certain students in DSW residences;