Student Rights

Free legal help for students, parents & caregivers

Making a complaint to an outside organisation

Note that many of these organisations will only look at complaints if you have tried to resolve the issue through the school but are unhappy with the outcome. If you haven’t talked to your school first, they’re likely to send it back to you (unless you’ve got a good reason why you can’t talk to the school, like a safety concern).

Many will also not respond to anonymous complaints.

Office of the Ombudsmen

Complaints about decisions by boards of trustees and official information complaints

The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about decisions made by your board of trustees. If the Ombudsman decides the board acted unfairly, it can make a recommendation to the school. The Ombudsman can’t make the school accept its recommendation, but most are accepted.

This is also who you can complain to if a school denies your request for official information.

Education Review Office (ERO)

Complaints about the running of the school

ERO reviews the running of each school about once every three years. Generally, ERO doesn’t deal with individual complaints. However, if several parents make similar complaints, ERO will make a note and look at the issue when they next visit. In extreme cases, they can bring the next review forward or organise a special review.

All complaints are noted, and could affect the school’s ERO report, which is a public record.

If your problem involves

Who can help

A serious issue with a teacher

Education Council

The curriculum or teaching and learning

Ministry of Education or the Education Review Office

Safety of school equipment or school buildings

Ministry of Education or the Education Review Office

Decisions of the board of trustees

Office of the Ombudsmen

Privacy complaints and breaches

Privacy Commissioner

Official information complaints

Office of the Ombudsmen

Counsellor issues

New Zealand Association of Counsellors


Human Rights Commissioner

Legal issues affecting children and young people under 25


Education law issues (like the ones in this book)

Student Rights Service

General issues concerning the welfare of children and young people

Children’s Commissioner

Safety or protection or children and young people

Child, Youth and Family

Physical or sexual harm at school

New Zealand Police