Education Act Update passes first reading

A legislation update to New Zealand’s education system has passed its first reading.

“The Education (Update) Amendment Bill is the biggest update to education in this country for nearly 30 years,” says education minister Hekia Parata. 

“This Bill is about putting the achievement of our children and young people at the heart of the education system. It’s about making clear the expectation on every publicly funded education provider that they will raise the achievement of every New Zealand child.”

The Bill provides for a new statement, called the National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP), to be made periodically, setting out the government’s objectives for educators. This will establish a clear strategic direction for educators, focusing on the educational achievement of children and young people.

“This Bill is also about maintaining choice, both for parents and schools so that they have the flexibility to choose what works for their students and what will get great results for their kids.”

There is an option for parents and schools to enrol new entrants on the first day of the term closest to the child’s fifth birthday. This means at the earliest children could start up to eight weeks before they turn five, although parents will still have the option to delay their child starting school until their sixth birthday. There is also the proposal to develop Communities of Online Learning (COOLs) which would see some students working remotely.

Other key proposals include an option of shared governance for a Community of Learning, as well as expanding the current power for school boards to work for others. For example, a board could provide accounting services to an ECE or kohanga reo or another school or kura in their Community of Learning.

Under the proposed Bill, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will be able to intervene in low-performing schools much sooner than under the current Act. And the process by which complaints about teacher competence will be much faster. 

Having passed the First Reading the Bill is now referred to the Education and Science Committee for its consideration.

“Anyone with an interest in the future of our education system will get a chance to comment on the provision in the Education (Update) Amendment Bill, through the Select Committee process.

“This is an important opportunity for us to look ahead to the next thirty years in education, to ensure that young New Zealanders now and in the future are getting the best support they can to achieve and to leave school with the skills and qualifications for their next step in life,” says Ms Parata. 

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