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Schools’ ability to keep students safe from some staff

28 January 2014

New ERO report looks at schools’ ability to keep students safe from some staff

A new report from the Education Review Office (ERO) has found that two-thirds of schools reviewed had satisfactory practices for appointing and managing staff which were designed to keep students safe.

However, the practices of one-third of schools meant they were unlikely to recognise situations when students could be at risk from staff and respond appropriately.

The report, ‘Student Safety in Schools - Recruiting and Managing Staff’, publishes the findings of an evaluation completed in 2013. ERO undertook the evaluation at the request of the State Services Commission and the Ministry of Education following two recent inquiries into the employment of sex offenders. (The inquiries were The Ministerial Inquiry into the Employment of a Convicted Sex Offender in the Education Sector; and the Report to the Commissioner of Pamapuria School on Review of the Employment and Offences of James Parker.)

ERO’s Manager Evaluation Services, Stephanie Greaney says school boards and leaders have a key role to play in making sure students are safe.

“Our findings highlight that although all trustees and school leaders agreed that student safety is paramount, some schools need to increase their commitment to students’ safety when employing and managing staff,” says Mrs Greaney.

“In addition, education agencies need to actively support schools by making sure advice and regulation about what is required is easy for school trustees to find and understand,” she says.

“We have made recommendations for schools and education agencies in our report, and included questions which boards can use to review and improve their own employment practices.”

One-third of the schools ERO investigated had robust practices and closely followed procedures that focused on child advocacy when appointing and managing staff. The report includes examples of these practices, and information about resources boards can use when employing staff.

Information for the report was gathered from online surveys completed by principals and boards of trustees’ chairpersons, from scheduled reviews of 173 schools with primary age students, and from focused reviews of 27 schools with years 9 to 13 students.

The full report is available online.

ENDS

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