Major overhaul of New Zealand schools to set system up 'for the next 30 years'

A major overhaul of New Zealand’s school system is on the way, resetting the governance, management and administration of the way schools are run.

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Education Minister Chris Hipkins released the Government’s decision today.

It looks to pull some powers from school boards, placing it in the hands of new departments.

A to-be redesigned Ministry of Education will bring in more frontline support for schools, more oversight will be placed on Board of Trustees, new independent dispute panels for schools will be created and enrolment zones will be managed locally rather than by each school.

Management of school property will be transferred from boards to the Ministry in some cases.

The Government described its response to the Our Schooling Futures: Stronger Together recommendations as "pragmatic and workable improvements".

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the changes were not about "more centralised decision-making or smothering schools that already perform well".

"The support and services some schools rely on – including from each other – has been variable, and the ability to intervene early on when a school is struggling has been limited.

He said the changes address the "limiting factors, inconsistencies and inefficiencies in administration, governance and management that have built up over time, drives excellence and sets the compulsory schooling system up for the next 30 years".

National labelled the moves a step too far, with spokesperson Nikki Kaye saying it put "ideology before the needs of students".

"Parents will have real concerns about the changes proposed around school enrolment zoning which will have a significant impact upon parental choice."

Ms Kaye said she was also concerned for staff at Ministry of Education who could face uncertainty around their jobs.

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees will have professional oversight and support through new ‘Leadership Advisors’, working with boards and principals. ‘Governance’ training will be mandatory for board chairs.

"Central government should take a much more active role in the management of school property and the operation of school enrolment schemes," the response report said.

Enrolment schemes are set to be taken out of the hands of boards and given to the local Education Support Learning Network (ESLN) "so that the best interests of all learners and their whānau are taken into account".

A national code of conduct for boards will also be established.

Enrolment zoning decisions will also be taken out of the hands of schools and made the decision made locally.

A Education Service Agency (ESA), that will be based within the Ministry of Education, will oversee zoning as some schools can change zones based on areas where it wants students from.

A Education Support Learning Network (ESLN) will also be in control of enrolment schemes and to manage out of zone enrolments.


A new Leadership Centre, within education’s professional body the Teaching Council, will be created to develop "national eligibility criteria and guidelines for principal/tumuaki appointment and performance review".

The Government is also looking at bringing in incentives to attract skilled principals to work in schools and kura with "more complex" issues.


A workforce strategy is set to be brought in to ensure population diversity is reflected in the teaching force.

Resourcing schools

A recommendation to develop extensive wraparound services in low socio-economically communities in schools was put to the side, with more analysis required, the response said. 

New independent panels are going to be created to resolve disputes and complaints that cannot be resolved by the school.

The workforce strategy is also aimed to prioritise the use of Te Reo Māori in the classroom.

Equity funding will be brought in, funding up to 10 per cent of total school resourcing based on the ’concentration of disadvantage’.

The Government want to look further into the recommendation of overhauling the Ministry of Education – with the taskforce suggesting a change to prioritise "well-founded policies, strategies, curriculum expertise, and provision of resources, data analysis, and research for continual system improvement".