The Board of Trustees is in charge of running the school and making any major decisions.  Learn more about the Board of Trustees in our article.

 The Board of Trustees (BOT) is a group of elected people who are responsible for the governance, control and management of the school. The board of a school is responsible for determining the direction in which the school is heading. This occurs only after a great deal of consultation with parents, staff and students of the school to ensure that the school is providing the highest quality of education possible and a safe place in which students can learn.

In simple terms, the BOT is in charge of running the school and making any major decisions.

All state and state-integrated schools in New Zealand have a BOT  (for more information on state and state-integrated schools see Glossary).

What does the BOT do?

While the ultimate authority for the school system rests with the Ministry of Education, others have key roles in the delivery of education. Parents and caregivers, students, principals, and staff all contribute as members of the education partnership through the BOT.

Every Board must prepare and maintain a School Charter. The purpose of a School Charter is to establish the mission, aims, objectives, directions, and targets of the Board in relation to the Government’s national education guidelines (NEGs), national administration guidelines (NAGs) and the Board’s local priorities.

The school board has the overall responsibility for the school, including meeting certain legal obligations, responsibility for property, personnel, financial management, reporting to the Ministry and school community, and meeting national requirements set by the Ministry of Education.

The BOT has authority over all areas of the school. It is their responsibility to set the direction of:

  • the curriculum in the school
  • staffing – issues and appointments
  • school property
  • health and safety within the school
  • the school’s finance and administration.

The BOT makes decisions that the Principal and staff then put in place. It must also monitor and report annually on its progress towards those goals.

Who is on the BOT?

Boards are made up of:

  • The principal
  • A staff representative
  • Three to seven parent representatives
  • Up to four proprietors’ representatives (for integrated schools only)
  • Co-opted trustees (optional)
  • A student (only in schools with Years 9-13, i.e. secondary)

Trustees are elected by parents and staff members. At schools which cater for Year 9 – 13 students, students elect their student representative to the board.

Can I get involved?

Standing for the BOT is a great way to get involved in your child’s education. For people who have not been a part of a board before, training and support are available to make carrying out this responsibility easier.

Elections are run every three years and in order to stand for the board you must confirm that to the best of your knowledge you are eligible to be a school trustee. The Education Act 1989 covers the criteria you need to meet in order to do this. The Ministry of Education has some information about boards and trustee eligibility, but the best resource we have found is the New Zealand School Trustees Association, see link below.

If you are interested in standing for election, but first you would like to know more about what goes on at the meetings and about the responsibility involved, you should attend a couple of meetings at your school. The BOT meetings are almost always open to the public. Meetings will only be closed if the board is considering confidential matters. This way you’ll know what to expect and what you can commit to.

You might like to read about Dame Susan Devoy’s views about the value of being on a school Board of Trustees here.

Useful Websites


The New Zealand School Trustees Association has an excellent website with lots of information for Trustees.  Check out their “Resources” section – it’s great!

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Kylie Valentine is a qualified secondary school teacher, trained journalist, and the mum of two fabulous children.

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