Education Law Seminar 2018 – the highlights

Principals, Human Resources Managers and Business Directors from over 17 independent schools across New Zealand convened at the Wharewaka Function Centre in Wellington last month to attend the inaugural ISNZ Education Law Seminar.

The event was developed in partnership with the New Zealand Legal Research Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organisation associated with the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland. The seminar aimed to assist Member Schools with the understanding of key pieces of legislation that apply to the private school sector.

Experienced lawyers John Hannan and Gretchen Stone delivered an outstanding programme covering the key legislation issues independent schools are challenged with. Real case studies and examples of court decisions helped the delegates to understand how to navigate the legal implications that misconduct can provoke in a school environment.

The seminar started with a brief overview of the regulation and legal structure of independent schools, the role of the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office as well as the NZQA oversight related to national qualifications. Also, the speakers delved into the parts of the Education Act that apply to independent schools.

The rest of the morning saw an interesting discussion about key employment law issues for private schools. Delegates had the opportunity to share real situations from their schools.

Finally, the key principles around health and safety and how to manage employees’ stress or long-term illnesses were discussed.

In the afternoon, the key topics addressed were social media, privacy, the Human Rights Act and related discrimination issues. Several attendees shared some examples of misuse of social media by staff members, and some suggestions for potential remedies were considered.

The Privacy Act and best practice around sensitive information management held the attention of the audience for a good part of the afternoon, and there was a discussion about discrimination issues that some schools have faced when discussing the applications of special needs students. Ideas and suggestions were shared on how to handle these situations.

Presentations from the day are available in the members’ area of the ISNZ website. Independent Schools of New Zealand and the New Zealand Legal Research Foundation thank all the Member Schools who supported the event.

Feedback from delegates included:

“I really enjoyed the variety of the topics covered and the depth and expertise of the subject matter.” 

“I loved the opportunity to explore specific examples from the different schools connected to the content that was being delivered. Very knowledgeable presenters."