Education Amendment Bill

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Education Amendment Bill

Government Bill

15—1

Explanatory note

General policy statement

The Education Amendment Bill (the Bill) amends the Education Act 1989 and the related Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017. The public policy objectives of the Bill are to—

  • strengthen the quality of school education by removing the provisions relating to national standards and the partnership school model from legislation:

  • improve the governance of tertiary education institutions by restoring places for staff and students on their councils:

  • support the introduction of free tertiary education by creating a new offence of making a false representation in relation to an application for free tertiary education:

  • improve the new strategic planning and reporting framework for State and State integrated schools and enable a smooth transition to the new regime:

  • resolve errors and omissions in the Education Act 1989 and the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017, and to address minor and technical issues in the Education Act 1989.

The Education Act 1989 allows the Minister to set national standards for student achievement through a Gazette notice. Schools have been required to report against these to parents and the Secretary for Education. Reporting beyond a focus on literacy and numeracy would include student progress and development of competencies and provide a richer and more accurate picture of a student’s education. Although the relevant Gazette notices have been revoked, the Bill amends the Education Act 1989 so that national standards cannot be reinstated in future. This amendment paves the way for work with experts and stakeholders to develop a new system.

The Bill removes the ability for the Minister and sponsors to contract to establish partnership schools kura hourua (also known as charter schools). This is in line with the Government’s pre-election commitments. The New Zealand State school system, especially the curriculum, already has the flexibility to allow the creativity and innovation that were part of the rationale for allowing the establishment of partnership schools kura hourua.

The Bill provides transitional arrangements to allow time for negotiations about the future of those schools that are already operating.

There is no requirement under the Education Act 1989 for staff and students to be represented on the councils of universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), and wānanga. To reinstate the important role of staff and students in institutional decision making, the Bill provides guaranteed staff and student representation on the councils of all tertiary education institutions. Because ITPs have a smaller total council size, the Bill increases the maximum number of their council members from 8 to 10.

There are transitional arrangements to allow for the amendment of the constitutions of tertiary education institutions and the development of appointment and election processes.

Under current settings, the Tertiary Education Commission requires some students to make statutory declarations that they have not previously accessed tertiary education above a certain level, in New Zealand or overseas. A statutory declaration can be a high compliance burden for students. In future, these students will be able to make an ordinary declaration. The Bill introduces a new offence provision for making a false representation, without reasonable excuse, in relation to an application to be considered eligible for free tertiary education. The penalty is a fine of up to $5,000.

The Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 introduced a new strategic planning and reporting framework for State and State integrated schools. The Bill makes improvements to that framework, including—

  • requiring school boards of trustees to develop a strategic plan at least once every 3 years, or, if the Secretary for Education determines, at more frequent intervals, rather than the current 4-year cycle. This amendment will ensure that the time frames are more aligned with board electoral and accountability cycles:

  • enabling school boards of trustees to ask the Secretary for Education to approve significant amendments at any time:

  • addressing minor technical issues, including reinstating reporting requirements that were inadvertently removed through the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017.

Under the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017, the provisions establishing the new strategic planning and reporting framework are to come into force no later than 1 January 2019. To enable a smooth transition to the new framework, including the development of associated regulations, the Bill postpones the commencement date to no later than 1 January 2020.

The Bill also makes miscellaneous minor and technical amendments to the Education Act 1989, including the correction of cross-references.

Departmental disclosure statement

The Ministry of Education is required to prepare a disclosure statement to assist with the scrutiny of this Bill. The disclosure statement provides access to information about the policy development of the Bill and identifies any significant or unusual legislative features of the Bill.

Regulatory impact assessments

The Ministry of Education produced regulatory impact assessments on 16 January 2018 to help inform the main policy decisions taken by the Government relating to the contents of this Bill.

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title clause.

Clause 2 is the commencement clause. It provides that the Bill comes into force on 1 August 2018.

Clause 3 identifies the Education Act 1989 as the principal Act being amended.

Part 1Amendments to principal Act

Clause 4 amends section 60A(1)(ba) to remove the requirement that the Minister publish national standards.

Clause 5 amends section 61A(4)(a) so that a school charter is no longer required to include the board’s approach to assessing students against national standards.

Clause 6 amends section 71A(4), which relates to the use of off-site locations by schools. The change provides that a board may use an off-site location or host an off-site location for another school not only where the use is approved under that section but also where it is provided for under another provision of the Act.

Clause 7 corrects a cross-reference in section 75A(1).

Clause 8 changes the definition of special institution in section 92 to remove a reference to health camp institutions.

Clause 9 inserts new section 146(5) so that the Minister may approve an alternative constitution when establishing a school without having to follow the procedures set out in section 98 or 98A.

Clause 10 repeals Part 12A, which provides for the approval and operation of partnership schools kura hourua (commonly called charter schools). These schools may no longer be established, but there are transitional arrangements for existing schools (see clause 18, new Part 6 of Schedule 1).

Clause 11 amends section 159(1) to add, in relation to the teaching or general staff of an institution, a definition of permanent member.

Clause 12 inserts new section 171B(2A). In summary, the new subsection—

  • requires a tertiary education council to appoint at least 1 member of the teaching or general staff and 1 student to the council; and

  • provides that staff and student members must be elected by staff and students respectively.

Clause 13 amends section 222AA(1)(b) to increase the size of a polytechnic council from 4 members appointed by the Minister and 4 members appointed by the council (8 members in total) to 4 members appointed by the Minister and 6 members appointed by the council (10 members in total).

Clause 14 inserts new section 222AD(4). In summary, the new subsection—

  • requires a polytechnic council to appoint at least 1 member of the teaching or general staff and 1 student to the council; and

  • provides that staff and student members must be elected by staff and students respectively.

Clause 15 inserts new section 292A(1A). The new subsection makes it an offence for a person to make, without reasonable excuse, a false representation in relation to an application to receive free tertiary education. A person who is convicted of the offence is liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000.

Clause 16 replaces section 310(2)(f), which excludes children’s health camps from being early childhood and education and care centres. The new paragraph replaces an outdated reference to a named organisation with a general reference to an organisation funded by a state service that provides educational services to health camps.

Clause 17 replaces section 319B(1)(a), which provides that authorised persons may, without a warrant, enter and inspect the premises of early childhood and education and care centres. The new paragraph gives authorised persons the same powers of entry and inspection in respect of offices of a service provider associated with those premises.

Clause 18 covers transitional arrangements. It inserts new Parts 6 and 7 into Schedule 1.

New Part 6 of Schedule 1 provides that partnership schools kura hourua that are already in existence may continue as if the provisions in the principal Act and other enactments relating to them were not amended by this Bill. This transition period ends for a particular school when its partnership contract expires or is terminated.

New Part 7 of Schedule 1 provides that—

  • councils of tertiary education institutions must update their constitutions to reflect changes made by the Bill to their required membership; and

  • they have a 6-month period from commencement to do this; and

  • if they do not draft a new constitution and have it approved by the Minister in this time, the Minister may establish a new constitution anyway; and

  • councils must then appoint new members if necessary to give effect to their new constitution; and

  • councils must make the appointments as soon as practicable after their new constitution comes into effect and no later than 6 months after the end of the transition period; and

  • a council continues as the same body after the changes come into effect; and

  • there is no compensation for loss of office as a result of a new constitution taking effect; and

  • the Minister may give directions during the transition period that the Minister thinks are reasonably necessary for a council to deal effectively with its business after the end of the transition period.

Clause 19 updates a cross-reference in Schedule 5A to reflect changes made to new section 87 relating to the Crown Entities Act 2004.

Clause 20 and Schedule 1 consequentially amend the principal Act as a result of the repeal of Part 12A, which relates to partnership schools kura hourua.

Part 2Amendments to other enactments

Clause 21 amends the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 (the Update Act), which itself amends the principal Act. Some of the amendments in the Update Act are not yet in force. In summary, the amendments to the Update Act—

  • move the commencement date for changes to planning and reporting requirements from 1 January 2019 to 1 January 2020; and

  • change the duration of strategic plans from 4 years to 3 years and allow the Secretary to require new plans at more frequent intervals; and

  • provide that a strategic plan expires at the end of 3 years but, if there is no replacement plan, the plan continues to have effect for a period of time determined by the Secretary; and

  • enable a board to amend a strategic plan or an annual implementation plan; and

  • require a board to get approval from the Secretary for any significant amendments to a strategic plan; and

  • allow the Secretary to require a board to consult before the Secretary approves a significant amendment; and

  • insert a number of subsections from section 87 relating to the Crown Entities Act 2004. These subsections were inadvertently omitted in new section 87; and

  • provide that if a board has a charter approved for the 2019 year at the time of commencement, the charter is treated as the board’s first strategic plan; and

  • make minor and technical corrections.

Clause 22 and Schedule 2 amend other enactments as a result of the repeal of Part 12A, which relates to partnership schools kura hourua.