There are 14 areas of change in the Act. The Regulatory Impact Statements (RISs) are available to read here:
Education (Update) Amendment Bill Regulatory Impact Statements
Some of the more significant changes that are immediately obvious are described below. There will be other implications that will emerge as we further consider the areas of change.
Objectives for education
The Bill includes a statement of the objectives for the education system, an overarching statement that is supposed to capture the essence of what the education system is for. While this is a list rather than a pithy statement, it seems reasonable, while also getting in a statement about preparedness for work.
Changes to Second and Third Tier Regulation
The government will be able to set priorities for the education system on a periodic basis that will be called the Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities (SNELP). The process for this is in the Act, but it will be second tier regulation rather than in the Act itself. This will replace the NEGs and NAGs – i.e. setting what it is that boards of trustees have to plan for and report against. The process is supposed to be consultative, and the ministry envisaged it being reviewed and updated every three to four years. The curriculum will continue to be separate from this, as second tier regulation of its own.
Changes to planning and reporting for Boards
Instead of annual plans submitted to the ministry, boards of trustees will be able to submit a strategic plan every four years, which is longer than the cycle of a board election. Each year they will need to publish an annual plan which shows actions towards the strategic plan. This seems a good idea, as currently the annual planning process comes around too quickly, and the ministry often does not give any input into these plans.
Zoning and enrolment schemes
The ministry is getting some more teeth in regard to enforcing enrolment schemes and making boards act to adjust or implement a zone. Currently some schools have been flouting the ministry’s wishes on this, often with predatory behaviour in encouraging students to come to their school from other schools’ logical catchment areas. This is another welcome change.
Putting the Private School Conditional Integration Act into the Education Act
This does not seem to be making substantial changes to the situation of integrated schools, but simply brings the provisions under the main Education Act. There do seem to be some changes relating to property settings, in particular for making integrated schools have regard for the network of schools in an area, which they don’t have to do currently, and some extra interventions.
Communities of Learning (CoLs) into law
Until now CoLs have only been a feature of the collective agreements, policy documents and the orders in council that establish the staffing for them. This Bill will put them into the Education Act as well. The one change that leaps out from this is that ERO will be able to review a CoL as well as individual schools.