Education Law

Chen Palmer has a team of public lawyers specialising in education policy, funding and legal frameworks ranging from universities to kohanga reo.

Chen Palmer has a long history of advising education organisations on public and employment law matters – ranging from early childhood to tertiary education. Chen Palmer’s education team is led by Leo Donnelly and Marina Matthews and specialises in education policy, funding and legal frameworks ranging from universities to kohanga reo.

  • Tertiary Education Organisations – We have acted for all types of tertiary education organisations including private training establishments, industry training organisations, wananga, universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics.
  • Discipline in schools – Chen Palmer can assist private clients, schools and boards of trustees in respect of learner suspensions, expulsions and fair processes; the implications of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the implications of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
  • Early Childhood Centres – Chen Palmer has acted for ECEs in relation to Education Review Office reports; internal policy development; and matters relating to the early childhood education curriculum, Te Whariki.
  • State and Integrated Schools – We have advised schools regarding statutory interventions including Limited Statutory Managers and Commissioners; National Standards data and reporting; Education Review Office reports; New Zealand Curriculum; issues specific to special character schools.
  • Working with the Tertiary Education Commission – Chen Palmer has experience in providing clients with assistance on many aspects of TEC’s work, including Investment Plans, and funding; mergers; education performance indicators; fee setting; and funding conditions.
  • Working with New Zealand Qualifications Authority – Some of the NZQA processes that Chen Palmer can assist clients with include External Evaluation and Review processes and the Targeted Review of Qualification.
  • Working with Immigration New Zealand – Chen Palmer can assist export education providers regarding student visa processing issues and maintaining compliance with other Immigration New Zealand requirements.
  • Working with Maori and Pasifika – Chen Palmer has worked for many Maori education organisations including wananga, kohanga reo and kura kaupapa. We also specialise in providing advice on Pasifika education issues.
  • Advising on a broad range of education issues – Chen Palmer can assist clients across the education spectrum including: regulatory compliance investigations; secondary-tertiary transitions; Youth Guarantee; National Standards; Export Education and Immigration New Zealand; governance appointments on Tertiary Education Institution boards; boards of trustees; Quality Management System development; internal policy development.
  • External Evaluation and Review – assistance to Private Training Establishments (PTEs) and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) for external evaluation and reviews (EER), including undertaking Mock EER Review and Reports.
  • Organisation structures – Chen Palmer’s education and employment teams can provide cost effective advice on improving organisational structures for tertiary organisations.

Previous work

Some of the previous work of the Chen Palmer Education Team includes:

  • Successfully challenging the outcomes of quality assurance reports undertaken by the NZQA and the Education Review Office.
  • Successfully seeking a judicial review of the decision of the Minister of Education to close Phillipstown School in Christchurch. Judgment confirmed illegality under the Education Act 1989.
  • Successfully bringing a judicial review in the High Court on behalf of Salisbury School regarding the decision of the Minister of Education to merge the school.
  • Successfully appearing for te Kohanga Reo in Waitangi Tribunal proceedings regarding the Crown’s inequitable treatment of kohanga reo.
  • Advising tertiary education organisations on mergers including Auckland Insitute of Technology becoming AUT University; Wellington Polytechnic merging with Massey University; and Dunedin College of Education merging with the University of Otago.
  • Representing successful claimants in Waitangi Tribunal proceedings concerning the Crown’s intervention at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
  • Appearing for Unitec in the High Court and Court of Appeal regarding their bid to become a university.
  • Advising on the Office of the Auditor-General inquiry into Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Chen Palmer is a member of the Australia New Zealand Education Law Association. Marina Matthews is a committee member of the New Zealand chapter of ANZELA.