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Mon, 7th Dec 2015
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The Ministry of Education has introduced a new Education Legislation Bill, aiming to improve administrative and governance arrangements in educational entities and funding organisations, including a clause that will enable the use of the national student number to support student participation in online learning,

The Bill gives schools the ability to vary opening hours, allows principals to manage more than one school, and enables licensed home-based ECE providers to offer ECE and out-of-school care services for children aged 13 years and under, at the same time.

The bill includes the tertiary education sector.

Under the bill, school principals will have the ability to manage more than one school, if the school boards agree. Principals have been able to manage more than one school since 2000, but only when the schools have a combined Board of Trustees. The new bill gives schools with separate boards the same opportunity.

Schools taking up this option will be able to seek support from New Zealand Schools Trustees Association (NZSTA) and the Ministry of Education.

Schools will now have the ability to vary their opening hours under the bill. Currently, a school must be open for instruction for a minimum of 4 hours, consisting of a two-hour block before noon and a two-hour block after noon.

School boards, after consultation with parents, staff and the community would be able to vary when the two blocks of two hours can be taken without seeking the Minister of Education's prior consent.

The Ministry says this recognises that schools are increasingly seeking more flexibility to fit in with the wider range of learning options available to their students. “Before making a change, boards would need to be satisfied that it would not result in students spending less time in school than other students in comparable and other local schools,” the Ministry explains.

The bill will also allow licensed home-based education and care (ECE) services to provide early childhood education and out of school care services for children aged 13 years and under, at the same time.

According to the Ministry, this change is subject to limits on the number of children, the delivery of a quality curriculum, the maintenance of stringent adult to child ratios and existing regulations around safety and the provision of quality learning environments.

The bill makes a number of other amendments, including:

  • enabling the use of the national student number for the purpose of establishing and maintaining student identities to support student participation in online learning
  • enabling the State Services Commissioner to approve terms and conditions, in addition to, but not inconsistent with, those in a collective agreement; with this power then able to be delegated to the Secretary for Education
  • the removal of unnecessary operational specifications relating to the Secretary for Education's provision of a payroll service for school boards
  • enabling tertiary education institutions to sponsor partnership schools.

The Ministry of Education says the bill updates the Ngarimu VC and 28th (Maori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Act 1945, to ensure the Fund's board can continue to support and celebrate Māori educational achievement, and the Pacific Islands Polynesian Education Foundation Act 1972, to ensure the Foundation can operate more flexibly and efficiently.

The Education Legislation Bill amends some parts of the Education Act 1989, the Ministry says. “People will be invited to make a submission to the Select Committee on these, and other, matters in the Bill, once a date is confirmed,” it explains.

For more detailed information about the bill, visit the Education Legislation Bill page.

The Ministry says the changes in the Education Legislation Bill are different to the proposals being consulted on to update the Education Act 1989. No decisions on the update will be made until after the consultation closes on 14 December.