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Government Formalises Hostel Safety

The Government is investigating the need for a set of consistent safety standards within boarding school hostels, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

The move follows new provisions in the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) – due to be passed in Parliament by the end of the year – which will allow the Government to introduce safety regulations such as a code of best practice or a set of minimum standards. The bill also gives the Education Review Office authority to inspect hostels, ensuring they provide a safe physical and emotional environment that supports learning.

"ERO raised the issue in a 1997 report. That report expressed concern at the uncertainty around responsibility for student safety in hostels," Trevor Mallard said.

“Boarding schools generally provide an excellent standard of care for students. We need to make sure those standards are applied consistently in all school hostels. The safety of the students in those hostels is paramount."

The Ministry of Education will this term be surveying schools, parents and students on safety issues and on options for government regulation. It is also consulting with the New Zealand Boarding School Association, the Independent Schools Council, the Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools, Maori Boarding Schools, Special Schools (Residential) and the Office of the Commissioner for Children.

There are currently about 10,000 students who reside in the 110 boarding school hostels throughout New Zealand.

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