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Key responsibilities of Boards

Boards govern

The Board governs the school; the Principal runs it on a day-to-day basis, in accordance with Board policies. The Board has three main sets of responsibilities. These are to:

  • ensure an overall operating framework for the school that:
    • sets out the school’s aims and values (including how it manifests the school’s Catholic Character)
    • incorporates these in policies
    • allocates resources
    • monitors the outcomes;
  • employ the Principal (the school’s chief executive), agree on the Principal’s goals and priorities, and hold the Principal accountable for the management of the school.
  • engage with the parents and the school’s Proprietor.
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Make up of the board

Effective governance begins with well-defined roles and responsibilities, and clear parameters around how these relationships will work. All Board members have responsibility for the protection of the Special Character of the school as set out in the school’s integration agreement and charter.

Board of Trustees

A board is a crown entity and body corporate. It consists of between three and seven parent trustees and up to four Proprietor Appointees. There must be fewer proprietors’ appointees than parent trustees. The ratio is 5:4, with change only being made with the approval of the Proprietor. The board also includes the Principal and a staff trustee. A school with year 9 students and above, will also have a student trustee. The board chair can be either an elected or appointed trustee.

Proprietor’s Appointees

Proprietor’s Appointees on the Board are full members of the Board with all the same rights and obligations of other Board members. These trustees assist in preserving the Special Character and property of the school and are required to report to the Proprietor.


The principal is the board’s chief advisor and the professional leader of the school. The day to day management of the school is delegated to the principal within a clear policy.


Although they do not sit around the board table it is important to know your Proprietor and understand what responsibilities they have. The Proprietor‘s Appointee is their appointment on the board.

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Catholic Character safeguarded and preserved

Everyone in the school community has a role to play in the safeguarding and strengthening of the Special Character. The board has key responsibilities in relation to integration and in particular must safeguard:

  • Religious Education
  • Staff Appointments
  • Property
  • Student Enrolment

In addition to these key areas the board is required to communicate any issues and report annually to the proprietor. The board ensures the charter, policies and plans reflect the philosophy of Catholic schooling.

Safeguarding and Preserving – the key responsibilities of the Board

Catholic Character

The Board ensures that:

  • the school’s charter, policies and plans reflect the philosophy of Catholic schooling, and the special Catholic character that its Proprietor requires it to uphold
  • the school supports staff and Board members’ professional development in Religious Education,
  • the Board shows its support of Catholic Character through its leadership of the school and its engagement with the local Catholic community
  • the school carries out an annual self-review of its Catholic Character
  • the Board communicates promptly on significant issues and reports annually to the Proprietor in relation to its legal obligations.

Student enrolment

The Board ensures that:

  • preference and non-preference enrolment requirements are observed
  • the maximum roll is managed (the Board can request the Proprietor to consider increasing the maximum roll)
  • the payment of attendance dues is monitored and managed in consultation with the Proprietor; however, no student who is entitled to a Catholic education is turned away
  • the preference/non-preference ratio is maintained, including for international students.

Staff appointments

The Board ensures that:

  • the school uses its entitlement to special character (tagged) positions correctly (for an explanation of tagged and non-tagged positions, see resources below)
  • the process for appointing staff to tagged positions is observed
  • the requirements of ‘acceptability’ for tagged positions are observed
  • the legally correct processes are used for job advertisements and letters of appointment.

School property

The Board works closely with the Proprietor on:

  • the condition of the school’s buildings and grounds
  • joint priorities for the annual and 10-yearly maintenance plans (for an explanation of maintenance plans, go to Property section)
  • the health and safety of all persons on the school premises during Proprietor-commissioned works.
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Role of the Chair in a Catholic school

The Chairperson of the Board has a key role in a Catholic school. The Catholic school is an evangelising faith community; therefore, the Board Chairperson is expected to focus the Board on sustaining and developing the Catholic Character of the school.

Responsibilities of the Chairperson

In particular, the Chairperson is expected to:

  • promote Catholic character and the particular charism of the school
  • develop a personal understanding of the nature of the school’s Religious Education and evangelising functions
  • attend and promote professional development for Board members in Catholic Character
  • ensure that the Principal’s performance agreement includes Catholic Character goals
  • ensure that teacher certification in Catholic Character and Religious Education) is promoted and enabled
  • ensure that the Catholic Character is a standing agenda item at Board meetings
  • ensure Catholic character is preserved and maintained. This could be through a group including members of the board whose role is to oversee, develop and promote the special character of the school.
  • work with the Proprietor’s appointees to review and develop the Catholic Character of the school
  • work with the Proprietor’s appointees to ensure good communications with the Proprietor
  • ensure that the school’s strategic plan covers Catholic Character, and that the school conducts an annual self-review of its Catholic Character
  • when speaking on behalf of the Board, reflect the Catholic dimension of the school.
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Proprietor’s appointees to the Board

The Proprietor can appoint up to four members of the Board. These appointees are full members of the Board, with all the rights and obligations of other members, including the right to be elected as Chairperson of the Board.

If a Board considers that a change in the number of Proprietor’s Appointees would provide a better balance, it must request the Proprietor’s formal agreement to a change. The Board does not have the right to change the number of Proprietor’s appointees.

Special responsibilities of Proprietor’s appointees

In general, Proprietor’s appointees are asked to:

  • ensure that the school’s Catholic Character is strengthened and enhanced, and that the school fulfils the primary objective for which it was founded
  • act as a channel of communication between the school, the Bishop and/or the Proprietor
  • ensure that the property of the school is kept in good order and repair
  • report in writing to the Proprietor on the progress of the school, at least annually (more often if requested or if the need arises). See checklist and example report for more information
  • submit annual report to the Proprietor at the date of annual meeting or a time specified by the Proprietor
  • send copies of board minutes to the Proprietor, their agent, or Diocesan Education Office.

The Proprietor may ask the appointee to sign a statement of responsibilities on accepting the appointment. If a Proprietor’s appointee on the Board resigns, he or she must inform the Proprietor of this and then inform the Board Chairperson. The Proprietor will appoint a new Board member.

Consultation with the Proprietor

If any one of the Proprietor’s appointees is concerned that some action by the Board might have a detrimental effect on the Catholic Character of the school, the matter needs to be referred to the Proprietor so that the Proprietor’s comments, advice or determination can be conveyed to the Board. In the case of diocesan schools, the Proprietor is normally contacted through the Vicar for Education or the Diocesan Education Office, as appropriate.

Similarly, any unusual matter concerning the Catholic Character of the school – for example, if it is not being maintained and preserved, or if the Proprietor’s appointees consider that there are issues that could harm the school (e.g., questionable staff appointments, poor management, enrolment issues, disharmony within the school or its community) – needs to be referred to the Proprietor for information and guidance. It is important to seek such advice early, before the situation escalates to crisis level.

In certain situations where the educational or financial wellbeing of the school or the wellbeing of its students may be at risk, the Ministry of Education has the legal right to intervene. In such a situation the Proprietor should be alerted immediately.

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Student and staff health and safety

Health and safety are concerns common to all schools. This handbook gives only a very brief overview of the two Acts Boards need to be aware of – the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Children’s Act 2014. The Ministry of Education and the
School Trustees Association have both issued comprehensive guides to these Acts.

This section focuses on the features and requirements that specifically affect state integrated schools.

Requirements for Proprietors

For state-integrated schools the major difference is in the shared responsibility for health and safety resulting from the Proprietor’s ownership of the land and buildings. Proprietors have to ensure that their buildings, plant and grounds are constructed and
maintained to a standard that is safe for all who work at or visit the school premises.

Requirements for Boards

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 the Board has the prime duty of care to ensure that:

  • the school is safe for all who work there or visit
  • actual and potential risks are identified
  • all practical steps taken to eliminate, isolate or minimise them.

The Board should have a comprehensive health and safety policy, ensure that it is implemented in the school, and monitor its effectiveness. The Act emphasises the collective nature of responsibility for health and safety. Real engagement with health and safety is most likely to come when the whole school community has a heightened awareness and appreciation of its importance.

Under the Act, the Board’s responsibility is broadened to keep safe all people who are at or visit the school. The Act puts greater emphasis on:

  • staff and student participation and engagement with health and safety
  • active consultation and collaboration with other organisations such as
    construction companies to ensure a cooperative approach to health and safety at the school, or at school events beyond the school.

The Ministry of Education advised that many aspects of the 2015 Act are similar to the former Health and Safety in Employment Act of 1992. Boards that already have effective health and safety policies and practices in place will find that the required changes are easy to accommodate. Other schools may need to carry out a full review of their current health and safety policies, practices and procedures – a process they recommend all schools undertake.

The Ministry’s comprehensive practical guide to the Act is available on their website.

Shared responsibilities at state-integrated schools

As in a state school, the Board of a state-integrated school has the prime duty of care for health and safety at the school. Since the Proprietors own the integrated buildings and grounds, however, they are responsible for health and safety on the
school premises in relation to:

  • capital works projects undertaken by the Proprietor that involve construction and
  • the safe condition of the Proprietor’s buildings, grounds and associated plant.

Board’s responsibilities

The Board is required to monitor health and safety at the school premises. The principal and staff are in the best position to identify risks to health and safety, both day to day and through periodic inspections. When these risks result from unsafe buildings, plant and other fixtures, the principal should act immediately to remedy this by commissioning repairs under the school’s minor maintenance policy or alerting the Proprietor to the need for remedial capital works, as appropriate. However, the principal must take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of all on the school premises while the school awaits action by the Proprietor. The Board should ensure that its health and safety policy provides appropriate guidance and delegation to the principal for such situations.

When the Proprietor commissions capital works on integrated premises, the Board or the principal must at an early stage coordinate health and safety measures with the Proprietor and with the contractors carrying out the works. The principal should ensure good overall safety standards on the school premises during the works. There should be close collaboration between the respective 10-year maintenance
plans of the Board and the Proprietor, with an emphasis on health and safety. The Ministry of Education’s Policy One funding of the Proprietor’s capital works must be prioritised for health and safety matters.

Board members are encouraged to walk around the school every few months to ensure that they understand the level of safety and risk management that the school is carrying out in the Board’s name.

Proprietor’s responsibilities

The Proprietor is responsible for maintaining the integrated buildings and the associated plant to the required code. It is also the Proprietor’s responsibility to ensure that any Proprietor-commissioned works on school premises are carried out safely.
This means that when commissioning and carrying out capital works the Proprietor must coordinate health and safety measures with the Board or the principal. Likewise, it is the Proprietor’s responsibility to require the contractors that carry out the works to coordinate their actions with the school and to monitor the safety practices of their contractors.

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The Children’s Act 2014

The Board is responsible for ensuring that all employees and contractors are safe and competent to work with children. From 1 July 2015 the Act placed increased responsibilities on Boards to protect students.

The Act affects all schools equally; there are no special responsibilities that relate to integrated schools. Proprietors, however, are expected to take particular interest in how well Catholic schools meet these responsibilities, in the values they promote and in their practices.

The Ministry of Education and the School Trustees Association have published comprehensive guides to the Children’s Act 2014 and these can be found on their websites.

Requirements of the Act for all schools

The key requirement of the Act is the safety checking of all staff before they are appointed and Police vetting every 3 years thereafter. It is recommended that volunteers (e.g., sports coach or chaplain) are also safety checked, particularly if they are in contact with children without a school staff member being present.

From 1 July 2019 all existing non-core children’s workers must be safety checked by this date.

Anyone convicted of a specified offence cannot be employed or engaged as a core children’s worker, unless they have an exemption.

The Act requires increased safety checking of prospective staff, consisting of:

  • confirmation of the employee’s identity by the school
  • Police vetting of all staff (not only teachers) and of any other person likely to have unsupervised access to children during normal school hours (e.g., contractors and the staff of other agencies)
  • risk assessment by the school, based on interviews and referee checks.

Boards are also required to adopt a child protection policy with provisions for identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect in accordance with the Children and Young Persons and their Families Act 1989.

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The Education and Training Act 2020 allows both Proprietors and Boards to carry out fundraising activities an optional basis and in accordance with the separate responsibilities of each party.

Two key principles guide fundraising:

  • Proprietors may raise funds for the private interests they represent in relation to school property
  • Boards may raise funds to supplement the Crown funds they receive for the
    benefit of their students.

The purpose and beneficiary of any fundraising must be specified from the outset. This will determine which party should be responsible for the collection and holding of any locally raised funds.

Voluntary contributions by parents

The Board needs to ensure that information provided to parents and information on the school’s website complies with Ministry of Education requirements. The requirement applies to both state and state-integrated schools.

Please refer to the Ministry of Education website for information on donations. The website sets out the requirements and provides guidance for schools and parents about what schools can charge for and what parents need to pay for.

The advice includes information about fees, charges and donations and what the difference is. It also includes information about attendance dues as follows:

  • These are compulsory for students attending state-integrated schools and kura, regardless of whether the school or kura has opted in to the donations scheme.
  • Payment can be enforced and GST is payable. A tax credit cannot be claimed.
  • State-integrated schools and kura cannot increase attendance dues without the approval of the Minister of Education.

Funds raised by Boards

Funds raised by Boards are Crown funds, and therefore cannot be used to fund buildings that belong legally to the Proprietor. Any funds derived from Board fundraising activities must be deposited as soon as practicable into an account in the name of the school, which can be opened and used only by the Board.

Any funds raised by the Board cannot be used to pay for any of the responsibilities of the Proprietor.

Grants from community organisations

Schools sometimes seek funding grants from community organisations for items such as the provision of an asphalt netball/basketball court. The resulting structure or infrastructure is owned by the Proprietor, not the Crown. NZCEO has a template for a formal letter explaining this situation. Boards can use this template to draft a letter to accompany their grant application.

Lending money to the Proprietor

It is illegal for Boards to lend Board money (which is Crown money) to the Proprietor to help provide a school building.

Funds raised by Proprietors

School communities may wish to participate in fundraising carried out by (or on behalf of) the Proprietor. Schedule 6, Cl 35 of the Education and Training Act states that the Board, staff or students of a state-integrated school may not take part in any fundraising for the benefit of the Proprietor during normal school hours. However, the Board, staff or students of state-integrated schools may choose to participate in fundraising carried out by (or on behalf of) the Proprietor outside of school hours.

In any fundraising activity it is crucial that schools make clear to all concerned on whose behalf the money is being raised. They must follow the statutory requirements for fundraising.

Money raised on behalf of the Proprietor may be used for buildings that are owned by the Proprietor, not by the Board or the community. Further advice on using money gained through fundraising activities is available from the property offices of Proprietors.
More information can be found on the Ministry of Education website.

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Proprietor Appointee special character report

It is a condition of appointment as a Proprietor’s appointee that the appointee submit a report to the Proprietor at the date of the Annual Meeting (i.e., between 31 March and the third Tuesday in May) or at a time specified by the Proprietor. See checklist and example report for more information.

The report should:

  • cover both the strengths of the school and any weakness observed.
  • attach copies of other documents that will help the Proprietor get a good picture of the school, such as a recent ERO report, the Board’s annual report, self-review findings, etc.

Please note:

  • this report is a different document from the Board’s annual report, and it is good practice for the two reports to be written in collaboration.
  • the report of the Proprietor’s Appointees is their own report and contain their own views, even if these are not shared by the rest of the Board.
  • Good practice would be to send a copy to the Principal and the Board, so that all members know what is being reported and can make any comments before the report is sent to the Proprietor.

Annual Compliance Attestation

The Board must also provide the Proprietor with an Annual Compliance Attestation that shows how it complies with its legal obligations in the area of special character. The attestation form is also available from the NZCEO website and the Resources tab.

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Board prayer

It is expected that Board meetings will begin with prayer, which may include a reflection. Meetings will also end with prayer.

Resources and Appendices

Legislative Framework

Governance Framework


Catholic Character Compliance

Treaty of Waitangi


Please see the Ministry of Education site for information on donations and fundraising.