Proposed changes to the priority categories for school enrolment schemes

Closed 16 Jun 2021

Opened 21 Apr 2021


Consultation is now closed

Consultation on proposed changes to the priority categories for school enrolment schemes took place from 21 April 2021 to 16 June 2021.

We asked

We asked whether we should amend the provisions in the Education and Training Act 2020 to change the priority categories for out of zone enrolments in state schools.

The enrolment scheme policy is intended to ensure all ākonga are able to attend a reasonably convenient school.  Many schools in New Zealand operate an enrolment scheme to manage capacity constraints. They are designed to ensure that current students living within the enrolment zone of a school can attend that school. 

If a school with an enrolment scheme has capacity to enrol additional students from outside their home zone, the school must offer those places to students using the balloting priority categories laid out in Schedule 20 of the Education and Training Act 2020.  Balloting criteria ensure the selection of out-of-zone applicants for enrolment at the school is carried out in a fair and transparent manner. 

The balloting criteria, as provided in the Act, give priority to siblings of current or former students and children of former parents of the school, and then the children of school board members or employees.  If there is no connection to the school via a parent or sibling or current employee, students may still gain a place at the school if space permits.

As part of the review of Tomorrow’s Schools, Cabinet asked for advice on whether the current balloting criteria used for the selection of out-of-zone students for enrolment are fit for purpose [SWC-019-MIN-0153 refers].

We consulted on options that would re-order the priority groups for out of zone enrolments. The following three proposals were consulted on:

  • Option 1 status quo – retain the current priority categories;
  • Option 2 - increase the priority of children of board employees (teachers and other staff) and board members to priority three; lower the priority of siblings of former students, and remove the children of former students as a priority group; and
  • Option 3 - retain current priority groups one and two (i.e. those enrolled in a special programme and siblings of current students), increase the priority of children of board members and employees to priority three, and establish an “all other applicants” category as priority four.

We heard

Public consultation garnered significant interest with over 2,800 submissions received on this proposal. 82% of submitters supported retaining the status quo because former students and their whanau were considered to be an important part of their school’s community.

The main reason given in support of maintaining the status quo was the desire to retain consideration for children of former students as a priority category group. Many submitters noted the importance of intergenerational connections to a school to maintain traditions, school community, and family legacies. Many submitters also stated there is no evidence of significant issues, and therefore no compelling reason to change the system.

Submitters indicated strong opposition to lowering the priority of siblings and children of former students. When asked “Do you agree that siblings and children of former students should be given a lower priority?” 79% opposed and 12% supported this statement.

As a result of what submitters told us, we decided not to progress the proposed changes.

Key documents and a summary of feedback on this issue is available in the Cabinet Paper and Education Report.

Further background

For more information on these previously proposed changes to out of zone enrolment priority categories, see Proposed changes to out of zone enrolment priority categories -