Students: various

When can the parent of a child or a young adult ask to be released from tuition on religious or cultural grounds, or to be exempted from the sexuality education component of the health curriculum?

Religious or cultural beliefs

The parent of a student under the age of sixteen, or a student sixteen or older, may ask a principal of a state school to be released from classes due to religious or cultural beliefs. The principal should take all reasonable steps to ascertain the student’s view on the matter.

The parent or young adult must give a minimum of 24 hours notice in writing prior to the relevant class.

The principal must be satisfied that:

  • the beliefs are sincerely held
  • the student will receive adequate supervision in or outside the school while released from tuition. 

If, after considering the student's age, maturity, and any views the student has expressed, the principal thinks it would be inappropriate to release the student, s/he may decide not to grant release.

Education and Training Act 2020, section 50 – Legislation website

Sexuality education

A parent of a student enrolled at any state school may ask the principal in writing to release the student from tuition related to sexuality education.

Where such a request is received, the principal must ensure that the student is released from the relevant tuition and supervised during that time.

There is no requirement to shield the released student at any other time, for example, if a question is raised about sexuality education in a class outside of the specified part of the health curriculum relating to sexuality education.

There is no requirement here for the principal to regard or obtain the student’s opinion, regardless of the student's age, maturity, and ability to formulate and express views, and any views the student has expressed.

Education and Training Act 2020, section 51 – Legislation website

You can seek more specific information or advice from NZSTA about your situation.

Religious instruction and observances

Religious instruction or observances are not compulsory in any state school.

State primary and intermediate students

Religious instruction: State primary and intermediate boards that choose to close their school to allow religious instruction must have signed consent from a parent or caregiver placing a child in religious instruction. Processes must be explicitly “opt in”.

Religion observances: Schools may not require a child to attend or take part in any religious observances if a parent of the student does not wish the student to take part and makes this wish known in writing to the principal. 

Education and Training Act 2020, section 58, 59 – Legislation website

Updated: August 2020

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