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Trustees Association welcomes ERO report on student safety

Trustees Association welcomes ERO report on student safety

The President of the School Trustees Association, Lorraine Kerr has welcomed the ERO report on recruiting and managing school staff to ensure student safety.

“NZSTA is already well down the track in responding to the issues this report has identified. It’s an area we are very aware of, and have been working on proactively for some time” she says.

“Our children’s safety and wellbeing should always be the first priority for every adult in New Zealand, and student safety and wellbeing should always be the first priority for every board of trustees. This is precisely why NZSTA successfully lobbied the government for more funding and more flexibility to

provide proactive employment support for every board of trustees in last year’s Education budget.

“In her radio interview this morning Judith Aitken is quite correct in saying that NZSTA needs to be taking a lead role in this, and we certainly intend to do so. In short, we are very happy that boards of trustees are at last being taken seriously, and it’s heartening to hear Judith acknowledge on radio

today that in her words, ‘Responsibility and accountability are lodged by law with school trustees, nobody else. Everybody else is a surrounding cast or a groupie’. For most of the past 25 years, policy makers and politicians have carried on as if the board of trustees is just a token nod to community involvement, and this has made it very difficult for some boards to actually exercise their statutory responsibilities.”

In spite of this, Lorraine noted that ERO found “far more strengths in board knowledge and skills than gaps or weaknesses. Fewer than five percent of boards were not well prepared for their role as employer.”

“NZSTA is not going to shy away from the responsibility for ensuring that every student is safe from predatory or neglectful or unprofessional behaviour from adults employed in our schools, and we would hope and expect that every other education stakeholder, including our member boards and the communities they serve, will accept their own part of that responsibility and start thinking about how to raise their game, if they haven’t already,” Lorraine says.

“We are not in the business of defending the indefensible, and predatory behaviour by school employees or any other adult in a position of trust – which is basically all of us – is indefensible,” she says. “This is the kind of thing we would like to be doing yesterday, but unfortunately we have to settle for as quickly as possible.”

Ends

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