Raising concerns and making complaints

Some key terms

Ākonga, learner, student

These terms are used interchangeably in this guide to describe someone attending school.

Reasonable steps

“Reasonable steps” means taking actions that are appropriate and achievable in a certain situation.


An ombudsman is an independent person appointed by the Governor General to investigate complaints from individuals about actions and decisions of central and local government departments and organisations. These include schools.

Student Rights Service (SRS)

A nationwide, free phone service providing information to learners and whānau about your legal rights in the school system: 0800 499 488.

Parent, guardian

In this guide, parent means the guardian, mother or father of a learner at school. This is the definition in the Education and Training Act. A guardian has all duties, powers, responsibilities that a parent has in bringing up a child. This includes making decisions about a young person’s schooling.

Privacy Commissioner

A person appointed by the Governor General to educate people about the provisions of the Privacy Act 2020 and to investigate complaints about possible breaches of the Privacy Act.

Private Schools

Private schools do not have to teach the New Zealand Curriculum but must follow a learning programme of the same quality. Private schools charge fees but also receive some funding from the government.


This term is used in integrated schools and means the person or body of people who have the primary responsibility for determining and supervising the special character of the school.

Learning Support, Ministry of Education (GSE)

Specialists employed by the Ministry of Education. They work in teams which provide services for students with ongoing resourcing needs, severe behaviour difficulties and those with a high need for communication support.

State school

A school that is required to follow the New Zealand Curriculum and is funded by government. In most contexts in this guide, this includes integrated schools.


A national Community Law Centre with special expertise in legal matters affecting children and young people.

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Raising concerns and making complaints

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