Adult and Community Education in Schools

Adult and Community Education in Schools

Last updated 11 January 2022
Last updated 11 January 2022

Adult and Community Education (ACE) in Schools funding is for informal, community-based education provided by schools. 

ACE in Schools funding supports:

  • achievement of Tertiary Education Strategy priorities
  • re-engagement of learners in education, and
  • provision of foundation skills development and pathways into other learning opportunities that meet community needs (including further education or the workplace).


Please refer to the ACE in Schools funding conditions for details of eligibility criteria. 

School eligibility

Schools must continue to be a state or state-integrated school, and must continue to be quality assured by the Education Review Office.

Programme eligibility

From January 2021, the priorities of ACE in School funding are for programmes that:

  • Improve employability
    • Courses focused on employability
    • Life skills such as financial literacy
    • Introductory ‘taster’ courses
  • Promote social and cultural inclusion and participation
    • Languages, including Te Reo Māori, New Zealand Sign Language (including ESOL), Pacific languages (especially Realm languages) and Asian languages
    • Courses supporting digital inclusion
  • Raises foundation skills
    • Courses in literacy, numeracy and/or digital literacy
  • Improve health and wellbeing
    • Courses such as parenting, mental health and resilience, or conflict resolution/anger management.

ACE funding does not prioritise provision broadly classed as hobby courses (e.g., arts, crafts and music, personal fitness and recreation, and home maintenance). Any funding requests for ACE provision must demonstrate how it meets one of the programme priorities listed above, as well as how the provision addresses community learning needs.

ACE in Schools programmes must also prioritise learners with the highest need and those who have been traditionally underserved, such as Māori, Pacific peoples, and learners with disabilities.

Learner eligibility

TEOs must ensure that learners are domestic students. They must also be aged 16 years or over and not full-time secondary school students unless they met specific criteria set out in the funding conditions.

TEOs and schools are required to verify a learner’s identity before enrolling them in an ACE programme. The funding condition outlines the following methods on how TEOs and schools can verify a learner’s identity:

a) You must verify the identity of each learner enrolled in a programme or programmes of study or training and confirm the learner is who they say they are by doing one or more of the following:

         (i) confirming that all data fields match the student’s NSN; or

         (ii) receiving an assertion through the Department of Internal Affairs’ RealMe® online identity            verification service; or

         (iii) sighting the original or certified copy of a current passport; or

         (iv) sighting the original or certified copy of one or more of the following documents:

1. a birth certificate; or
2. a certificate of identity; or
3. a New Zealand certificate of citizenship; or
4. an expired passport that has not been cancelled; or
5. a current New Zealand driver licence; or
6. a current New Zealand firearms licence; or

     (v) if a learner is unable to obtain a birth certificate for the purposes of Condition 4(a)(iv)(A), you may contact us to confirm whether a whakapapa statement signed by both the student and a kaumātua is acceptable evidence of identity.

b) You must follow the process set out in Condition 4(a) unless we are satisfied that there are special circumstances that justify using an alternative process, and we authorise you in writing to follow a different process specified by us.

There will be situations where a learner may not have a one of the forms of identity listed above.

Alternative method to verify identity

TEOs and schools may use an alternative method to verify a learner’s identity for ACE enrolment in exceptional circumstances where the learner does not have access to one of the documents outlined in the funding condition. We do not require TEOs or schools to request our approval of their approach if it meets the guidelines provided below. These guidelines and website text can be taken as our approval for TEOs to use this alternative method of identity verification.

This does not mean TEOs and schools apply an alternative method for all ACE learners. It should only apply to learners who cannot provide a form of identification outlined in the funding condition.

Our guidelines for using an alternative method to verify an ACE learner’s identity

TEOs and schools must provide the learner with a self-declaration form to sign, if no formal documentation outlined in the funding condition can be provided. An example of a self-declaration form TEOs and schools will need to give to the learner is provided below.

As well as providing a self-declaration form to the learner, TEOs and schools should also use other forms of documentation to assist with verifying a learner’s identify where appropriate. This is to minimise the possibility of a learner falsely declaring their identity. Examples of documentation they may use as part of their due diligence when using the self-declaration form are:

  • a  Work and Income benefit letter;
  • a Community Services card;
  • a letter from their doctor; or
  • other documents that confirm the learner’s name and address.

TEOs must have a written policy and process in place for applying the alternative method of identity verification. The written policy and process must be made available upon request from TEC to conduct audit checks, including any copies of the form of documentation used to verify the learner’s identity.

Example of a self-declaration form TEOs and schools can use to verify an ACE learner’s identity and eligibility.

Declaration for verification of learner eligibility and identity (Word, 29 Kb)

TEO Responsibilities

Schools are required to work with Regional Skills Leadership Groups, local iwi, local organisations, peak bodies, local industry, local employers, and communities, including other TEOs involved in ACE, to identify and meet community learning needs, when appropriate for their overall portfolio of ACE provision.

Each school must ensure that its funded ACE programme will:

  • address the needs of target learner groups (including the priority learner groups set out in the Tertiary Education Strategy,
  • target ACE provision in foundation skills to learners who have low or no formal qualifications, and
  • target ACE provision in English language/ESOL to learners who identify as having English language needs.

Please refer to the ACE in Schools funding conditions for details of your responsibilities. 

Funding and payments - Updated

The Adult and Community Education funding mechanism is issued by the Minister responsible for tertiary education. The funding mechanism outlines the general form and essential components of the fund. It provides the mandate for us to allocate the funding and what the funding can be used for, and details how we administer the fund.

Funding is agreed through a school's Investment Plan (Plan) unless exempt.

A school that receives ACE funding is required to:

Please refer to the ACE in Schools funding conditions

Funding rate

From 1 January 2022, the funding rate for ACE in Schools will increase to $10.00 per hour. This gives schools the flexibility to allocate funds by course and allow duration to vary according to content and learner needs. The minimum course duration is six hours.

Co-ordination funding

We are announcing a new opportunity for schools to apply for Adult and Community Education (ACE) in Schools Coordination funding in early 2022.

  • The purpose of this funding is to help expand ACE in Schools delivery, either by having more schools delivering, expanding the number of classes available, or expanding into different provisions.
  • The total coordination funding is up to $500,000 per year; some funding for 2022 has already been distributed through the investment plan round.
  • Schools will be required to apply for funding each year and funding will be targeted to support the initial administration costs involved to either set-up a new school's provision or to expand provision.

Target areas for investment

  • Target 1 - New schools: as part of the government’s goal to grow the number of ACE in School learners, we would like to see more new schools be funded in ACE. The coordination funding would help new schools with setup and administration costs.
  • Target 2 - Expanding existing school’s ACE in school delivery in the ACE priority areas: funding will support schools, particularly smaller and rural schools, to either expand current delivery or to grow ACE delivery into other priority areas.
  • The priority areas can be found at the following web page:

We will provide additional detailed guidance in the New Year

In early 2022 you can expect to receive information on the application process for ACE in Schools Coordination Funding. This will include:

  • information about the fund and how it is to be used
  • an application form and instructions as to how to apply
  • a timeline as to when an allocation decision will be made
  • guidance as to how applications will be assessed, including criteria
  • guidance as to how you will be expected to report to us on this funding.

Want to deliver ACE Schools for the first time in 2022?


We pay funding for ACE provision in monthly instalments on the first banking day of each month.

Payment amounts are equal from January to June, and equal from July to December.

Funding allocations

2021 ACE in Schools indicative allocations

Purpose of ACE in Schools funding

The purpose of the ACE in Schools is to purchase provision that provides adults with community-based education foundation skills, and pathways into other learning opportunities which meet community learning needs.

How we calculated your 2021 indicative allocation for ACE in Schools

The information below provides a summary of how your indicative allocation was calculated. For more details regarding your specific allocation, please contact or your Relationship Manager.

Your prior performance information was used to calculate your 2021 indicative allocation.

Starting point

To determine the starting point for calculating your 2021 indicative allocation we compared your 2019 actual ACE in Schools delivery with your 2020 allocation.

Note: Your 2019 actual delivery has been adjusted for any additional funding provided (including flexible funding), funding rate increases, and significant policy changes. Your reviewed 2020 allocation includes plan changes and excludes one off adjustments. We make these adjustments to ensure we are accurately comparing your 2019 actual delivery with your 2020 allocation, in dollar terms.

If your 2019 actual delivery was below 100%, we used the lesser of either your:

  • 2019 actual delivery, or
  • 2020 allocation

If your 2019 actual delivery was 100% or above, we used your:

  • 2020 allocation

If you delivered ACE in Schools for the first time in either 2019 or 2020, we used your:

  • 2020 allocation

Determining your final 2021 funding allocation

To determine your final 2021 allocation and Plan approval, we will consider the following information in our assessment and/or engagements with you:

  • Your actual delivery volumes as submitted through Workspace2/IPI. and
  • Your year to date 2020 delivery and any further rate increases.

Key changes to our approach for 2021

Previously the starting point was calculated using actual delivery and was not adjusted based on whether delivery was below or at 100%. Further plan increases or in-year adjustments were not accounted for.

We will now take into account if delivery volume was at or below 100% and will make in-year plan adjustments where necessary.

Funding wash-ups

2020 Adult and Community Education in Communities (Schools) Recovery Methodology

We will write off and not be recovering any under-delivery of 2020 ACE in Communities (Schools) funding approved prior to 1 April 2020 from Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs).


Additional Funding approved since 1 April 2020 will be recovered if there is under-delivery.

Recoveries and write offs are based on:

  • a TEO’s most recent 2020 actual delivery data (measured by Expected Total Learner Hours), as submitted through Workspace2;
  • we will calculate your actual delivery at an hourly rate of $7.40 (GST exclusive).

How we will calculate any Recovery of Additional Funding

We will recover under-delivered Additional Funding approved since 1 April 2020, at the fund level.

  • We will calculate the difference between the dollar value of delivery and 2020 funding.
  • The Recovery will not exceed the value of Additional Funding approved.

How we will calculate any Recovery, for write off purposes

We will write off the dollar value of any Recovery that exceeds the value of Additional Funding approved since 1 April 2020.


Schools are required to submit a final report to us for each calendar year (the full year Actuals report).

The school must report on each ACE course in its MoP, including recording demographic data about learners. The school must submit the completed full year Actuals Report (using the template provided) through Workspace 2 by 31 January of the following year.

Please refer to the ACE in Schools funding conditions

In the report we require collated data for all courses that were approved for delivery through the Plan approval process (i.e. before the delivery took place), and any additional and substitute courses, as follows:

  • number of learners and hours of delivery (contracted and delivered)
  • hours of learner attendance
  • region of delivery
  • gender of learners
  • ethnicity of learners
  • English language status of learners
  • number of learners with low or no qualifications
  • number of migrants
  • number of refugees, and
  • age of learners.

Individual learner data

Schools must collect and retain accurate data on each learner enrolment, including demographic information at the time of enrolment, and up-to-date records of learner attendance. This data is required for audit purposes, but does not need to be submitted to us with the full year Actuals Report.

Schools should also collect and retain learner outcomes data for each course, including in relation to the outcomes that the school intended to achieve, and whether or not these outcomes were achieved.


We monitor school performance to understand school performance in the sector, and to inform our decisions about future funding a school may receive.

We monitor schools funded through ACE against the following:

  • commitments:
    • number of learners and hours of delivery (contracted and delivered)
    • hours of learner attendance
    • delivery sites, and
  • performance indicators:
    • course completion rates – whether learners attend on average at least 80 percent of tuition time across funded courses, and
    • priority learner groups 

From January 2021, ACE in Schools programmes must prioritise learners with the highest need and those who have been traditionally underserved, such as Māori, Pacific peoples, and learners with disabilities.