Understanding the difference between charging fees and asking for donations

Section 3 of the Education Act 1989 states that every person who is not an international student is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any State school during the period beginning on the person's fifth birthday and ending on 1 January after the person's 19th birthday. This means that schools or kura cannot charge domestic students a fee for enrolment or attendance, or for the delivery of the curriculum (MOE).

It is unlawful for a state school or kura to "charge" or compel any payment for anything associated with delivery of the curriculum. However, it has been common practice for schools to charge fees for some curriculum activities such as attending camps or EOTC trips, this is unlawful.

School Donations Scheme for Decile 1 to 7 schools

By now schools have opted in or opted out of the Donations Scheme. For our members who work with schools, we expect you are having many conversations through this period about implications for EOTC and school camps. Information is available from the Ministry of Education concerning charges (fees), donations, the new Donations Scheme and the schools that have opted in to the scheme.

Camps are exempt from the Donations scheme so have exactly the same requirements regardless of whether the school has opted in or not, or is a Decile 8 -10 school.

  • Families and whānau may be asked to contribute towards the cost of the camp, including accommodation, camp staff, food and travel to and from a camp but not teacher relief
  • Such a request is a request for a donation
  • Families and whānau can choose to pay the donation in full, in part or not at all
  • Students cannot be excluded from attending based on the payment of their donation.

What is a school camp?

A school camp is any curriculum-related activity where students are expected to stay overnight as part of that activity.

Examples of activities covered by this definition include:

  • Education Outside the Classroom camp
  • Year 9 induction camp
  • Senior school leadership camp
  • Overnight field trip as part of senior secondary assessment (eg Year 12 Biology field trip)
  • An overnight trip to Wellington to visit key places such as Te Papa, Parliament, and the Carter Observatory

Examples of activities NOT covered by this definition include:

  • Swimming lessons
  • Day trip to the museum
  • Day trip as part of senior secondary assessment.

Recreation Aotearoa is conscious of the impact this awareness and new scheme may have on our members. In response, we encourage our members to clarify their understanding of the scheme and support their schools to manoeuvre through this period. November is often peak period for end of year planning and the kick start of high season in the outdoors.

It may be worth considering speaking with your schools, teachers and communities of the value of EOTC to their curriculum and learning; to support schools to provide quality information to their parents on why donating to school camps (be it a science, technology, arts or PE & Health based school camp) should continue. With the exemption from the Ministry around overnight school camps being able to continue to ask for donations, they are in a way recognising and supporting the work our members do. Therefore, we can take this lead and continue the collaborative work we do with schools for their students.

EOZ is keen to understand any changes providers see in the amount of EOTC and number of camps provided. Information can be sent eotcsupport@eonz.org.nz .

See EONZ's position statement at https://www.eonz.org.nz/about-us/

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