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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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The Department of Education

The Department of Education, a Department of State under the control of the Minister of Education, is charged with the administration of the Education Act of 1964 and its amendments and the regulations made under the Act. All expenditure on public, primary, and post-primary education, except for a very small amount of endowment income, is from funds provided by the central Government through the Department. The amounts of the grants to the local boards for maintenance of buildings, administrative expenses, and the like are, in general, determined by regulations. In the case of grants for the salaries of teachers, these are determined in part by the regulations and in part by orders under the Government Service Tribunal Act 1948.

The Department is responsible for the inspection of all State schools and of registered private schools, and for the assessment and classification of teachers in public schools; and it employs a staff of inspectors for the purpose. It has under its direct control teachers in Maori schools and in the Correspondence Schools but not those in ordinary primary and post-primary schools, who are the employees of the local authorities. It controls also the Child Welfare Division (under the Child Welfare Act 1925), and the Vocational Guidance Service. In addition to the teachers and officers just mentioned, and to its administrative and clerical staff, the Department employs groups of specialist officers concerned with physical education, art and crafts, school publications, special and remedial education, and the like. Through its inspectors and professional officers, the Department offers teachers help and guidance on all school problems.

The Department has very wide functions that extend over all levels of education from the kindergartens, to the universities and over private as well as public institutions. It shares administrative responsibilities with other statutory bodies including the university authorities, primary and post-primary school boards, and with many voluntary agencies. In addition to administering the provisions under which grants are made to other authorities, the Department

  • is responsible for the inspection of all State and registered private schools, and for the assessment (or grading) of teachers;

  • takes the major responsibility for the recruitment of teachers, regulates their training, issues teachers' certificates, exercises a measure of control over appointments, and carries out a wide range of duties concerned with staffing, salaries, superannuation, and the like;

  • issues syllabuses of instruction for schools, and conducts examinations (e.g., the School Certificate Examination);

  • makes recommendations to Government for educational buildings, including university buildings, shares in the responsibility for the operation of the approved programme, checks plans, and prepares codes of practice for primary and post-primary buildings and briefings for special buildings (e.g., a teachers' college);

  • authorises school conveyance systems proposed by the boards, and provides and maintains a school bus fleet of its own;

  • awards bursaries and boarding allowances;

  • publishes the Education Gazette, Education (a magazine for teachers), and a range of textbooks and brochures for schools;

  • carries out the functions vested in the Child Welfare Division, and directly controls the Maori schools, the Correspondence School, the Technical Correspondence Institute, the National Film Library, vocational guidance centres, a psychological service, an in-service training centre for teachers, some special schools, and certain specialist services (e.g., a physical education service);

  • conducts in-service training courses, and offers teachers help and guidance on all school problems through the inspectors and other officers;

  • provides services for schools in the Pacific Islands and engages in international cooperation in education within the framework of UNESCO and other agencies;

  • advises the Government on policy matters, ranging from the care of intellectually handicapped children to the development of senior technical work, and on legislation concerned with education.

The basic organisation of the Department of Education is shown in the plan. There is also a table showing the total number of people employed in the State education service. Not all however, are employed directly by the State, and the great majority of the teachers (for instance) are employed by local education authorities in the form of education boards or boards of governors. Both plan and table give an appreciation of the size of the service and of the relative numerical distribution of teachers and administrative officers of various types and levels of seniority and responsibility.

The Director of Education has two assistant directors to help him in carrying out his responsibilities as permanent head of the Department of Education. One is concerned mainly with professional matters and the other with administrative. The Assistant Director (Professional) has three senior officers of chief inspector status responsible to him — the Chief Inspector of Primary Schools, the Chief Inspector of Post-primary Schools, and the Superintendent of Technical Education. Together they control the inspection of schools and various specialist services, and they are particularly concerned with such professional matters as the development of the curriculum and teacher training. Under the chief inspectors are the field inspectors stationed in the various centres, and the Vocational Guidance Service, the School Publications Branch, and Maori education.

Under the Act of 1964, which became effective on 1 August 1965, certain changes were made in the designation of the permanent head and senior offices of the Department of Education.


  • Director

  • Assistant Director

  • Chief Inspector of Primary Schools

  • Chief Inspector of Post-primary Schools

  • Superintendent of Technical Education

  • Superintendent of Child Welfare


  • Director-General of Education

  • Assistant Directors-General (2)

  • Director of Primary Education

  • Director of Secondary Education

  • Director of Technical Education

  • Director of Child Welfare

On the administrative side, there are three broad groupings of the various services, each controlled by a chief executive officer: (a) general administration and finance; (b) administration of the regulations governing teachers' conditions of service, of examinations, and of school transport; and (c) school buildings administration and architectural services.

Each of these groups is staffed by a number of officers organised at various levels in sections and divisions. Their duties, in almost all cases, involve close liaison between the professional and administrative sides of the Department. A similar general pattern of organisation is followed in the Department's regional offices at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, each of which is under the control of a regional superintendent.

Linked to the Department, but not closely related structurally, is the National Library Service. Although the National Library Service was established as a branch of the Department, it operates under Cabinet directive as a separate functional unit with direct access to Government and other Departments of State.

Next Part: Education Boards