Student Rights

Free legal help for students, parents & caregivers

Teachers and staff

What gives teachers the right to discipline their students?

Education Act 1989, s 75

The Education Act gives a board of trustees complete discretion to control and manage the school, so long as they act consistently with the Act and other New Zealand law. This means that boards have the authority to make reasonable rules, and the teachers they employ can exercise reasonable disciplinary powers and enforce these rules.

How can I make a complaint about my child’s teacher?

If you’re having a problem with a teacher, it’s usually best to start by talking to them directly.

If that doesn’t resolve things, or if you can’t speak to them for some reason, the next step is to talk to the principal. If you’re still unhappy with how it’s being handled, you can go to the school’s board of trustees. You can get the details of the chairperson from the school office, and write to them confidentially. If you like, you can ask to be present at the meeting where your issue is discussed.

Can I take my complaint any further?

Yes, in some circumstances you can make a complaint to the Education Council (formerly the Teacher’s Council). You can do this if:

The Education Council is responsible for investigating the competence and conduct of teachers. Competence is about whether the teacher meets the criteria to do their job, and is an employment issue. Conduct is about behaviour that is unsafe. Serious misconduct includes things like physically abusing students, inappropriate relationships, neglect and fraud.

To make a complaint, you need to fill out their complaint form. You can find this on their website at www.educationcouncil.org.nz

Some important things to note: