Biggest education reform in decades passes final reading

Education Minister Nikki Kaye has welcomed the passing of a Bill that puts the achievement of children and young people at the heart of the education system, and provides the flexibility to respond to their current and future needs.

“The biggest reform to education in nearly thirty years was significantly boosted today with the passing of the third and final reading of the Education (Update) Amendment Bill,” says Ms Kaye.

“This Bill is a significant milestone for our education system. It will ensure that New Zealand has a dynamic education system fit for the 21st century and beyond.

“It also represents the incredible drive and determination of the previous Minister of Education Hekia Parata to enact real change that will benefit generations of young New Zealanders.”

The Bill establishes a clear strategic direction for early childhood services and schools, focusing on the educational achievement and learning of children and young people. It introduces objectives for the education system which will inform a new statement of National Education and Learning Priorities, setting out the Government’s priorities for education.

“These priorities will make it clearer to our educators what success for students looks like. To move the education system from delivering education, to one focussed on raising student achievement with clear accountabilities for all.

“The Bill also sets out a new framework for online learning, reflecting the impact of digital technology on the delivery of education.

“Communities of Online Learning will increase the education options available to young New Zealanders.

“Students will be able to choose from a greater number of education providers and have more access to more subjects if they and their parents think online learning is right for them.

“Before any Communities of Online Learning can be established there will need to be consultation on the regulatory framework.”

An important amendment to the Bill prohibits the use of seclusion in schools and early childhood services, and creates a legislative framework for the appropriate use of physical restraint in schools.

“Making this legislative change sends a clear signal to educators that in today’s world there is no situation where it is acceptable for children and young people to be secluded,” says Ms Kaye.

“We want parents, families and whānau to be confident that schools, kura, early childhood services and ngā kōhanga reo are safe places for children, young people and staff, and provide inclusive learning environments.”

One of the flexibilities that the Bill provides for is the choice for schools to introduce a policy for new entrants to start them in a group at the beginning of each term.

“We know that some schools are already encouraging children to start as part of a cohort on set days during the year,” says Ms Kaye.

“These schools believe cohort entry enables them to support better transitions to school, simplifies school and classroom planning, and minimises disruption for existing students.

“Schools will need to consult with school staff, parents, and local early childhood services before introducing cohort entry. Parents will still have the option of not starting their child in school until their sixth birthday.”

Other key proposals include encouraging collaboration between education providers, improvements to the way the Government provides careers services, and changes to the statutory interventions framework so schools get quicker and more tailored help to get back on track.

“This Bill represents a once in a generation opportunity to create a student-centred, future-proofed education system that’s focussed on lifting the achievement of all young New Zealanders,” says Ms Kaye.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for children, parents and teachers. The possibilities this legislation opens up will ensure we have an education system that offers the very best to future generations.”

Once enacted, the Ministry of Education will work with the education sector on implementing the changes made through the Bill.

More information on the Bill is on the Ministry of Education’s website: https://education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/legislation/the-education-update-amendment-bill/

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