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Government To Modernise Independent Schools Laws


Heather Roy                                    14 May, 2010

Government To Modernise Independent Schools Laws

Associate Minister of Education Heather Roy today confirmed that the Government is committed to modernising the laws that regulate Independent Schools in New Zealand and will implement a number of the recommendations made by the New Zealand Law Commission in its report published last year.

\"Laws must be routinely reviewed to ensure their continued relevance, and those governing independent schools are out-dated.  The Commission\'s report makes recommendations to address weaknesses in the laws and the Government will ensure the quality of regulation is improved,\" Mrs Roy said.

\"Those recommendations cover a number of areas, including: updating registration criteria and introducing tougher sanctions on independent schools that breach the law, particularly where children\'s welfare is seriously at risk.  The report also sets out proposals that will clarify a range of other provisions in the 1989 Education Act.

\"Although there are recommendations the Government will not accept - as they would over-regulate schools or do not address any problems - the Commission has done an effective job in identifying the issues.  It has produced a useful report, and the Government\'s response will balance private and public interests while also respecting freedom of choice and parental autonomy.\"

\"Independent schools offer parents and families wider choice when educating their children.  The Government will modernise and streamline the laws governing independent schools to ensure that the rules are clear and easy to understand for both schools and parents,\" Mrs Roy said.


There are currently 97 independent schools in New Zealand, about four percent of the total number of schools.  This figure has remained static over the past 10 years. Around four percent of students (31,000) are educated in independent schools.

  • All independent schools must be registered and can only employ registered teachers.  They must also comply with a limited number of statutory requirements - such as police vetting of employees and keeping enrolment records.  In most other respects, independent schools enjoy considerable freedom: they may choose their own curriculum, qualifications and assessment methods, and they may offer an educational environment of their own design.

  • Independent schools range in size from approximately 14 students to more than 1,500.  They have different approaches to education and often have a particular focus or philosophy.

The Law Commission was asked to review the legislation affecting independent schools and identified three main focus areas:

  1. A lack of any means to decline applications.

  2. The absence of any sanctions, bar deregulation, if an independent school breaches the law or its registration criteria. 2012