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Digest No. 1781

Education Amendment Bill (No 2) 2010

Date of Introduction: 17 June 2010
Portfolio: Education
Select Committee: As at 28 June, 1st Reading not held.
Published: 29 June 2010byJohn McSoriley BA LL.B, Barrister,Legislative AnalystP: (04) 817-9626 (Ext. 9626)F: (04) 817-1250 Caution: This Digest was prepared to assist consideration of the Bill by members of Parliament. It has no official status.Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, it should not be taken as a complete or authoritative guide to the Bill. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Purpose

The aim of this Bill is to amend the Education Act 1989 (the Act) to:

  • "introduce secondary-tertiary programmes to give greater opportunities for secondary students to spend time learning in a tertiary environment or in the workplace";
  • "exempt limited attendance centres from early childhood education licensing standards to make it easier for recreation facilities, shopping centres and similar organisations to provide short-term childcare";
  • "change the refund provisions for international students enrolled in private training establishments to improve the financial sustainability of New Zealand’s export education market";
  • "update and clarify the law affecting private schools".

"Minor policy changes to school enrolment scheme priorities for offering places to out-of-zone students are designed to give some priority to children of board members and of former pupils" [1]   .

Background

The regulatory impact statement relating to this Bill can be found at:

Main Provisions

Secondary-tertiary programmes

The Bill provides that students enrolled in school may participate in a recognised full-time programme offering secondary and tertiary education that may also involve apprenticeship training and work experience. The Minister may approve a number of organisations, which must include at least 1 school, forming a provider group to co-ordinate secondary-tertiary programmes. A school board of trustees, a registered private school, a tertiary institution, or an industry training organisation may be approved by the Minister as a lead provider of secondary-tertiary programmes.

The elements of this reform are as follows:

  • the requirement to attend school applies to students participating in secondary-tertiary programmes only for any part of the programme during which the students are required to attend school (Part 1, Clause 7, amending Section 25 of the Act);
  • in relation to the employment of school-age children, it is made an offence for a parent or employer if a participating student is undertaking paid employment that interferes with his or her ability to undertake the programme (Part 1, Clause 8, amending Section 30 of the Act);
  • the provision obliging students to attend school is amended so that the obligation, in relation to students participating in secondary-tertiary programmes, only applies to any portion of the programme during which the student is required to attend school (Part 1, Clause 9, amending Section 31 of the Act);
  • secondary-tertiary programmes are provided for as to their nature, the setting up of "provider groups" (which must have at least 1 secondary school and at least 1 tertiary member organisation), their functions, reporting obligations, obligations to follow government policy directives, the rights of secondary students to apply to participate, obligations of provider groups to notify parents, and a requirement to give priority to domestic students for entry into secondary-tertiary programmes over entry by foreign students who are not exempt students (Part 1, Clause 10, inserting New Sections 31A-31L into the Act);
  • Section 17 of the Education (Polytechnics) Amendment Act 2009 is repealed (this was " .... an interim measure to allow the Manukau Institute of Technology to provide a secondary-tertiary programme" [2]   (Part 2, Clause 20, repealing Section 17 of the Education (Polytechnics) Amendment Act 2009).

Private schools

The Bill proposes to "update and clarify the current registration criteria for private schools and to establish a 'fit and proper person' requirement for managers of private schools" [3]   .

The elements of this reform are:

The Bill provides for how private schools may be provisionally or fully registered (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35A into the Act). The Secretary for Education may require managers of unregistered private schools to apply for registration (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35B into the Act). The criteria a private school must meet (such as suitable premises, 9 or more students, suitable staffing and equipment and "suitable tuition standards") for registration are prescribed (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35C into the Act). The meaning of the term "suitable premises" for private schools is defined (i.e. " ... suitable for a school of its description and [for] the number of students ...") (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35D into the Act). The approval of the Secretary must be obtained for additional or different premises (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35E into the Act). Suitable tuition standards for private schools are described (i.e. no lower than at State schools "of the same class levels" (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35F into the Act)

The Bill provides for those things which must be taken into account when assessing whether a person is a fit and proper person to be a manager of a private school, and also requires the new management of a registered private school to be assessed in the same way. These things include: whether they have any convictions, health problems that may affect ability to meet obligations, any adjudication of bankruptcy or prohibition of being a company director, any cancellation of the registration of a school of which the person was a manager or any breach of the statutory duties of a school manager (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35G into the Act)

The Bill also provides that:

  • the managers of a private school must advise the Secretary if the school is about to cease operation (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35H into the Act);
  • the Chief Review Officer must review private schools when they are provisionally registered and while fully registered (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35I into the Act);
  • private schools with a significant number of foreign students must contribute proportionally to the costs of such reviews (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35J into the Act);
  • the Secretary may take corrective action (including suspension of a private school's registration) in certain circumstances (such as not meeting prescribed criteria) (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35K into the Act);
  • the Secretary may suspend a private school's registration at any time if the welfare of the students at the school is at risk (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35L into the Act);
  • the duration of suspension under New Section 35K or 35L is provided for (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35M into the Act);
  • the process for the cancellation of a private school's registration is provided for (mainly related to fairness) (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Section 35N into the Act);
  • the Minister may make grants to private schools (this corresponds with the current Section 35C) (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Sections 35O-35Q into the Act);
  • amendments relating to suspensions and expulsions from private schools and offences largely carry over existing provisions (Part 1, Clause 11, inserting New Sections 35R and 35S into the Act);

Limited attendance centres

The Bill proposes to exclude from the meaning of an early childhood education and care centre those premises that are used to provide care for three or more children under the age of 6 and where no child attends for more than 2 hours on any day and a parent or caregiver is in close proximity to the child and able to be contacted and to resume responsibility for the child at short notice (Part 1, Clause 18, amending Section 310(2) of the Act).

Refund provisions for international students at private training establishments

The Bill proposes that the Minister of Education will, by notice in the Gazette, set the period during which international students on courses of 3 months or longer can withdraw from the course and receive a refund of their course fees. Private training establishments will still be required to refund the course fees paid by an international student who withdraws during the set period. The Bill proposes that the notice in the Gazette will also set the proportion of course fees that the private training establishment may retain (Part 1, Clause 16 (amending Section 236A) and Clause 17 (amending Section 236AB).

Enrolment scheme priorities amended

In relation to the order of priority when selecting applicants from outside a school's home zone, the Bill creates a new fourth priority for children of former students of the school. The current fourth priority, for children of employees of the school's board, becomes the fifth priority and is shared with children of board members (Part 1, Clause 6, amending Section 11F of the Act).

Copyright: © NZ Parliamentary Library, 2010
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  1. Education Amendment Bill (No 2), 2010 No 169-1, Explanatory note, General policy statement, p.1.   [back]
  2. Education Amendment Bill (No 2), 2010 No 169-1, Explanatory note, General policy statement, p.2.   [back]
  3. Education Amendment Bill (No 2), 2010 No 169-1, Explanatory note, General policy statement, pp. 2 and 3.   [back]