The top priority for boards and the sector is ensuring that everything has been taken into account, and is being done, to keep students safe.
The board has the duty of care for students in schools and it is important that all risks are considered and minimised through application of appropriate processes and resources. As part of promoting and minimising student safety in schools, it is important to follow and apply robust and effective recruitment procedures.
The recently enacted Vulnerable Children Act 2014 aims to create a consistent approach to vetting and screening of people working directly with children, and support organizations working with children, on how to identify and manage risks that affect children’s safety. Additional information and resources are available from the Children’s Action Plan website.
There are resources on the website already relating to these matters and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) is currently collating material for this section of the site to assist boards in more easily accessing these resources.
Reporting of suspected or actual child abuse and neglect
Protocol between the Ministry of Education, NZSTA and Child, Youth and Family 2009
The Ministry of Education (the Ministry), NZSTA and Child, Youth and Family (CYF) are committed to ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for all students. The following protocol and guidelines will assist boards of trustees, principals and school staff in dealing with child abuse and neglect, and the management of child abuse allegations against board employees.
Section 15 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 (CYP&F Act) provides that:
- Any person who believes that any child or young person has been, or is likely to be, harmed (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treated, abused, neglected or deprived may report the matter to a social worker or a constable.
As part of its responsibilities CYF promotes, by education and publicity, awareness of child abuse, the unacceptability of child abuse, the ways in which child abuse may be prevented, the need to report cases of child abuse, and the ways in which child abuse may be reported.
Part of that work is through the development and implementation of protocols for agencies (both governmental and non-governmental) and professional and occupational groups in relation to the reporting of child abuse, and monitoring the effectiveness of such protocols.
Download a copy:
Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and Child, Youth and Family
The Memorandum of Understanding sets out, in detail, how the two agencies will work together to ensure the safety and education of vulnerable children. Child protection training for identifying at-risk children and potentially dangerous situations, is included, along with who to work with and what action to take.
The Memorandum of Understanding (pdf)
This protocol does not provide guidelines for addressing bullying in schools. That information can be found on the Ministry website. If further clarity around this is required a discussion with a CYF social worker is recommended.