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Major education changes in new legislation

12 December 2000 Media Statement

Major education changes in new legislation

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said a bill introduced to Parliament this week signalled the most significant change in education legislation in the last decade.

The Education Amendment Bill #2 includes:
 the establishment of an Education Council;
 more comprehensive planning and reporting requirements for schools;
 a greater range of help and intervention for poorly performing schools;
 a code of practice for schools hosting international students;
 regulations for boarding school hostels;
 inclusive delivery of the health curriculum; tertiary governance changes.

"At the heart of these changes are standards in schools and student safety," Trevor Mallard said.

"The Education Council will be a professional body to monitor and advise on standards among teachers. I believe the standard of the teacher is one of the most integral factors to the standard of learning. The council's role will extend to what students are learning on teacher education and cover both the early childhood and compulsory sector.

"The new reporting requirements on schools will be changed to make them more useful in improving educational outcomes. The new system of public planning and reporting for schools will be simpler, more coherent, provide better information to parents, communities and government, while reducing much of the administrative drama of the current system.

"Increasing the range of interventions to schools is designed to allow government agencies to step into schools where education is being threatened at a much earlier stage than is currently possible. We'll be looking at preventive interventions rather than the 'ambulance at the bottom of the cliff' approach.

"The code of practice for international students and the increased regulations for boarding school hostels are in response to a demand that the law allow for greater protection for these two groups of students.

"I hope to have the bill passed by Parliament before the middle of next year," Trevor Mallard said.

Background information attached

The Education Amendment Bill No.2 is currently going through the legislative process. It includes several proposals to lift New Zealand’s education performance, including:

Education Council to be Set Up in Second Half of 2001

The Government is committed to ensuring both the safety of students and high standards of professional conduct across the schools and ECE sectors. The Education Council has the potential to play a major role in developing and maintaining the capability of the teaching profession and enhancing teaching quality.

Background to the Changes
 The development of an Education Council and universal registration of all school teachers and ECE teachers was flagged by Government parties. The changes have followed widespread consultation with the education sector;
 The TRB has limitations in its structure and powers e.g. all members are Ministerial appointments; it is funded solely from teachers’ fees; it has limited authority to receive and deal with complaints about teachers;
 Direct representation of teachers and other key groups will enable the Council to raise the profile of the profession and play a greater role in providing leadership in teaching;
 Government will contribute to the start up and annual costs of the Council.

The Proposed Changes
 The Education Council will take over from the Teacher Registration Board but with wider sector representation, additional functions, and additional powers;
 Of its 11 members, six will be elected from practising teachers and teacher organisations;
 The chair and three other members will be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the relevant groups;
 The Council will be funded from teacher registration fees, plus $100,000 annually from Government;
 The Council structure will include statutory advisory groups for early childhood and Maori-medium education;
 All teachers, including kura kaupapa Maori and early childhood teachers, will be required to be registered;
 Police checks will be introduced for all non-teaching and unregistered staff employed in schools and early childhood education services;
 The Council will have a wider range of powers than the TRB, including the authority to impose sanctions such as deregistration, suspension of registration, conditions, fines and supervision;
 It will also be responsible for promoting professional development and best practice in teaching and for developing a code of ethics for teachers.

The Education Amendment Bill No.2 is currently going through the legislative process. It includes several proposals to lift New Zealand’s education performance, including:

Updated Requirements for Planning and Reporting by Schools

Getting better information is the key to maintaining public faith in the public education system. By providing parents and taxpayers with good information they, like the Government, are in a better position to influence their neighbourhood school – both as parents and as trustees.

Background to the Changes
 The changes reflect Government intention to reduce the administrative burdens on schools;
 There is a need for a simpler more coherent way for schools to provide information to parents, communities and the Government;
 Current public reporting systems from schools has a focus on financial information, but not on the thing that matters most – the educational progress of the school’s students;
 The Government and the community need to know about the success of new policies aimed at raising the quality of schools and educational achievement. Government needs better information so that future changes to policy are responsive to the realities of schools;
 The new framework will stem from existing best practice.

The Proposed Changes
 At the core of the new system will be a single coherent plan that incorporates the schools goals and purposes for the coming year, including objectives and targets for student achievement;
 Workload for school will be reduced because end of year reporting will only be required where the outcomes differ significantly from the targets;
 The new system for planning and reporting will use the internet and computer technology to simplify the transfer of information between schools and parents, and schools and the Government. Schools will be given templates – a framework for planning and reporting – so that they are not re-inventing 2700 different ways of packaging the information, as they do at present;
 The new system requires school boards to include objectives and targets for student achievement in their school plans and reports. For the first time school boards will place the same emphasis on non-financial reporting as they previously have on financial reporting;
 Guidelines for developing schools plans will be set, by the Minister, in the National Education Guidelines;
 The new planning and reporting framework is to be phased in, the first school plan being required by the beginning of 2003. Schools will be assisted into the new framework routines but until then existing charters stay in place;
 School plans will be devised and updated in consultation with parents and the community.

The Education Amendment Bill No.2 is currently going through the legislative process. It includes several proposals to lift New Zealand’s education performance, including:

Ensuring that Help is Available for Poor Performing Schools, by Increasing the Range of Possible Interventions

The Government is determined that where students access to high quality education is threatened by ineffective governance or management, early and useful intervention will be allowed for in the law when other forms of assistance are not being successful.

Background to the Changes
 Statutory interventions are one way of addressing problems that occur in schools. There are a number of ways that schools boards can get assistance, including from the Ministry of Education’s school support project;
 There is a very high threshold before the Government can use its current powers and this means that problems may be intense and long-standing before intervention occurs;
 There is a need for preventive interventions, not just for those which are an “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”;
 There are currently three forms of intervention into poorly performing schools: (a) dissolving the board and appointing a commissioner; (b) appointment of a financial manager; (c) requiring a board to appoint an adviser if they are not complying (or likely not to comply) with their legal obligations;
 Currently, schools can be meeting their legal obligations, and thus be immune from statutory intervention, but still be performing poorly.

The Proposed Changes
 Changes in the Bill will allow the Government to intervene more easily in poorly performing schools. The Bill provides additional powers of intervention;
 Where the Government has concerns about a school, that school may be required to supply additional specific information, so that any risks to the school, its students, and/or their educational progress can be assessed;
 Where a board does not appear to be managing those risks, the board may be required to develop an Action Plan or to employ a specialist adviser;
 In additional to being able to dismiss a board and appoint a commissioner, the Minister will have a new power to appoint a limited statutory manager to control specified functions on behalf of the board of trustees;
 School boards will be allowed to request an intervention;
 The Minister will be enabled to set conditions when making supplementary grants to schools.

The Education Amendment Bill No.2 is currently going through the legislative process. It includes several proposals to lift New Zealand’s education performance, including:

A Mandatory Code of Practice to Protect the Interests and Welfare of International Students

The Government is determined to protect the welfare of students who travel to this country to study.

Background to the Changes
 International students are at risk of unwittingly enrolling with poor providers;
 There have been cases where international students have been mistreated and further cases would undermine the “safe destination” reputation of New Zealand’s $545 million per annum export education industry;
 There is currently a voluntary code of practice to protect international students with over 250 signatory institutions. However, there is no incentive for signatories to comply with the Code, nor any strong sanctions with which to enforce it;
 International students are vulnerable because they are in a new and very different cultural context, and they are cut off from their natural support base (friends and family);
 Australia is introducing a compulsory code from early 2001. Without similar protection for foreign students, New Zealand would risk losing market share to Australia;
 The safeguards in the code of practice will complement New Zealand’s other educational quality assurance mechanisms such as the controls and assurance offered by agencies such as the New Zealand Qualification Authority and the Education Review Office.

The Proposed Changes
 The current voluntary Government Code of Practice for the Recruitment and Welfare of International Students will be replaced with a new mandatory code that sets out minimum standards relating to the recruitment and pastoral care of international students;
 The New Zealand Immigration Service will issue student visas to only those students seeking to enrol with providers who are signatories to the Code.

The Education Amendment Bill No.2 is currently going through the legislative process. It includes several proposals to lift New Zealand’s education performance, including:

Regulations to Ensure the Safety of Students in Boarding School Hostels

The Government is committed to ensuring students are safe in all aspects of their education and this includes the safety of students who are in boarding schools.

Background to the Change
 There have been several high profile incidents concerning the safety of students in school hostels;
 In 1997, the Education Review Office reported that 11 hostels attached to state schools could not guarantee student safety;
 When parents have a son or daughter enrolled in both a state school and its hostel they expect the state to ensure a minimum standard of safety;
 When the Austin Committee reviewed the ERO in 1998, it concluded that the ERO should have power to enter and review boarding school hostels. No such power exists where the board of trustees does not administer their school’s hostel;
 New Zealand has over 100 schools with attached boarding facilities. The management of these hostels is often in the hands of a trust board, or, in the case of integrated schools, the school’s proprietors;
 The current Education Act does not mention school hostels or boarding schools;
 Once the clause is enacted, schools, hostel managements, and parents will be consulted before any regulations or standards are set.

The Proposed Change
 The addition of an enabling clause to the Education Act so that regulations can be made for: (a) minimum standards for boarding school hostels; (b) licensing of hostels which meet minimum standards; (c) procedures by which hostel students, or their caregivers, can lay complaints; (d) complaints adjudication procedures; (e) procedures for monitoring and inspecting school hostels; and (f) penalties for hostels that don’t meet minimum standards.

The Education Amendment Bill No.2 is currently going through the legislative process. It includes several proposals to lift New Zealand’s education performance, including:

More Inclusive Delivery of Health Education

The proposed change will enable more students to benefit from the full health curriculum.

Background to the Changes
 The Health and Physical Education curriculum is an “essential learning area” within the New Zealand Curriculum. Sexuality education is a key component of that curriculum document;
 Section 105C of the Education Act, 1964, makes it possible for either the principal or board to over-rule the curriculum statement and reduce, or remove altogether, the amount of sexuality education in their school;
 The Ministry of Health is concerned that the removal of sexuality education from a school’s health programme may run counter to its proposed adolescent sexual health strategy;
 New Zealand has high rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion. Teenage abortion rates increased 56% from 1989 to 1999 (from 13.9 abortions per 1000 teenagers to 21.7);
 The laws to do with sexuality education in schools reflect a different age. They enable some schools to avoid their responsibility to contribute to higher standards of adolescent sexual understanding and health.

The Proposed Changes
 Section 105C of the 1964 Education Act will be amended so that school principals and boards of trustees will no longer have the discretion to remove the teaching of sexuality education from their school’s health education programme;
 Schools will implement the health curriculum in the same way that they implement the other sections of the New Zealand Curriculum, according to the directions set out in the National Education Guidelines and the national curriculum statements;
 School boards will be required to inform and consult parents on the school’s proposed health programmes;
 Parents retain their right to withdraw their children from classes that include sexuality education.


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