The Education Review Office (ERO) has written this booklet for boards of trustees. It is one of many tools available to help you in your role as a trustee. It focuses on student achievement and wellbeing, and the role the board plays in these two areas. The booklet includes questions and information that will guide you in your discussions with school leaders and as a trustee.

Boards of trustees have a stewardship role that involves planning for, and acting in, the interests of the school and its community. Student learning, wellbeing, achievement and progress are the board’s main concern.

This booklet emphasises trustees’ important role in asking about student achievement and ensuring improved outcomes for all students. It also includes a section on student wellbeing – ERO recognises that a safe learning environment also supports students’ learning.


Updates to the Education Act 1989           

Some of the boards’ roles and responsibilities around responding to student achievement and wellbeing may be changed under the proposed update of the Education Act.


Successful boards work in partnership with school leaders and staff for the benefit of students. Each have their respective roles and responsibilities but are dependent on working cooperatively with  the other to be able to carry out their responsibilities  effectively.

Good communication is an important part of being on a board. As trustees need to be able to talk to one another, share information, ask questions, and discuss important issues. In doing so, you develop relationships based on trust and work effectively together as a board.

Where does ERO fit in?

The Education Review Office reviews all schools in New Zealand and publishes education reports on its website:

As part of its review process, ERO looks at how effectively school governance contributes to student learning, wellbeing, achievement and progress.

Trustees need information

A board’s main responsibility is to ensure that all students at their school are achieving well. This includes making sure that the principal and staff are supported and resourced to achieve high-quality teaching and learning. To do this, trustees need reliable and detailed information from school leaders about the learning and wellbeing of children at their school.

As a trustee, this information will help you  understand:

  • what is working and what is not
  • which groups of students have particular needs
  • what the school is doing to address those needs
  • if students are safe
  • if the curriculum suits all students
  • if the agreed outcomes are being achieved for all students
  • which groups of students are missing out
  • what resources are needed to teach effectively
  • where money needs to be spent.

Trustees should ask questions

As a trustee, your role is to scrutinise information – what’s going on, does it make sense, what other information do I need? If you do need more information to understand how well children at the school are achieving, ask the principal. Your focus on improving student outcomes should be explicit and relentless.

Students on stairs