The biggest update to education in New Zealand in nearly 30 years took a step forward in Parliament today.

“The Education (Update) Amendment Bill is about creating a platform for achieving educational success. It puts the achievement of our children and young people at the heart of the education system, and gives us the flexibility to respond to their current and future needs,” says Education Minister Hekia Parata.

“The Bill will also ensure there is stronger accountability throughout the education system; enhance collaboration between education providers; establish a future-focused legal framework for online learning; improve the way the Government provides careers services; and overall, modernises and gives flexibility to the legislation.

“Student and staff safety and wellbeing are central to this law change. Following the Education and Science Select Committee hearings, a further amendment prohibiting the use of seclusion, and regulating the appropriate use of physical restraint in schools and early childhood services has been included in the Bill.

“We know that most schools and early childhood services are doing a good job of managing challenging behaviour safely and effectively. When a student is exhibiting inappropriate or dangerous behaviour, it’s important that other students and teachers are protected from harm and that learning can continue to happen,” says Ms Parata.

The Committee has also recommended a number of other changes that will ensure the legislation better supports high performance, collaboration and flexibility throughout the education system.

“This Bill is about maintaining choice, both for parents and schools so that they have the flexibility to choose what works for their students and what will get great results for their kids.”

There is an option for parents and schools to enrol new entrants on the first day of the term closest to the child’s fifth birthday. The development of Communities of Online Learning will provide another option that will work better for some students.

“We know that a good education is a passport to the future and we are committed to modernising our education system to meet the challenges of the 21st century. This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a student-centred, future-proofed education system that is focussed on lifting the achievement of all young New Zealanders,” Ms Parata says.

Having passed second reading, the Bill is set down to be debated in the Committee of the Whole House stage on Thursday this week.

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