Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP)


The Education and Training Act 2020 (the Act) allows the Minister to issue a statement of national education and learning priorities (NELP) for early learning childhood, primary and secondary education. Boards of state and state-integrated schools and kura are required to have particular regard to this statement. This not totally new; it was added to the Education Act 1989 in 2017.

A Statement of NELP has now been issued and takes effect from 13 November 2020.

It is consistent with the education and learning objectives set out in section 5 of the Act, and gives boards a set of priorities which every school and kura in the primary and secondary education sector will be working towards achieving for a period of five years, unless withdrawn or replaced earlier.

The priorities are:

Learners at the centre: Learners and their whānau are at the centre of education

  • Ensure places of learning are safe, inclusive and free from racism, discrimination and bullying
  • Have high aspirations for every learner and ākonga, and support these by partnering with their whānau and communities to design and deliver education that responds to their needs, and sustains their identities, languages and cultures

Barrier free access: Great education opportunities and outcomes are within reach for every learner 

  • Reduce barriers to education for all, including for Māori and Pacific learners, disabled learners and those with learning support needs
  • Ensure every learner gains sound foundation skills, including language, literacy and numeracy

Quality teaching and leadership: Quality teaching and leadership make the difference for learners and their whānau

  • Meaningfully incorporate te reo Māori and tikanga Māori into the everyday life of the place of learning
  • Develop staff to strengthen teaching, leadership and learner support capability across the education workforce

Future of learning and work: Learning that is relevant to the lives of New Zealanders today and throughout their lives

  • Collaborate with industries and employers to ensure learners have the skills, knowledge and pathways to succeed in work

World class inclusive public education: New Zealand education is trusted and sustainable

  • Enhance the contribution of research and mātauranga Māori in addressing local and global challenges (Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) only)

What does this mean for boards?

There is no expectation that the NELP need to be fully implemented immediately.

From 2021 schools and kura will gradually incorporate the NELP and TES priorities into their plans and practice.  Boards need to ensure these priorities are specifically considered and incorporated into their strategic planning. For more information about planning and reporting view here.

How do these priorities align with the board’s primary objectives?

The board’s key task is to set the scene and provide a planned supportive environment that enables the school to put the Statement of NELP into effect.

The board’s primary objectives are set out in section 127 of the Act. They are to ensure that:

  • Every student at the school is able to attain their highest possible standard in educational achievement
  • The school:
    • Is a physically and emotionally safe place for all students and staff
    • Gives effect to relevant student rights set out in this Act, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and the Human Rights Act 1993
    • Takes all reasonable steps to eliminate racism, stigma, bullying, and any other forms of discrimination within the school; and
    • The school is inclusive of, and caters for, students with differing needs
    • The school gives effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, including by:
      • Working to ensure that its plans, policies, and local curriculum reflect local tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori, and te ao Māori
      • Taking all reasonable steps to make instruction available in tikanga Māori and te reo Māori
      • Achieving equitable outcomes for Māori students

The NELP priorities will help create education environments that are learner centred and where more learners are successful. Therefore, they encourage all schools and kura to focus on:

  • Ensuring that they are safe and inclusive and free from racism, discrimination, and bullying  
  • Strengthening the quality of teaching our learners receive to giving our learners the skills they need to succeed in education, work and life 
  • Collaborating more with whānau, hapū, iwi, employers, industry and communities
  • Taking account of learners’ needs, identities, languages and cultures in their practice, and
  • Incorporating te reo Māori and tikanga Māori into everyday activities.
More information

Education website:

  • More about the NELP and the TES here

Education and Training Act 2020:

Published November 2020

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