Ministerial Inquiry: Employment of a convicted sex offender in education sector
The Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for all learners.
The Ministerial Inquiry into the employment of a convicted sex offender in the education sector has presented its final report and recommendations to the Minister of Education. You can download a copy of the report to along with the recommendations and actions.
Here we also provide advice and guidance following revelations a convicted sex offender was working as a teacher in a number of schools.
If you have a concern about the safety of your child at school, please call the Ministry's helpline on 0800 637 082.
Ministerial Inquiry reports, recommendations and actions
Follow the announcement of the Government’s response to the Ministerial Inquiry into the employment of a convicted sex offender in the education sector. For a copy of the Ministerial Inquiry report click 'related documents' on that page.
Specific response to concerns about [Person A] scenario
On 21 August the Government responded to the findings of the Ministerial Inquiry into the employment of a convicted sex offender in the education sector.
The Inquiry highlighted a number of areas where the system needs to be strengthened and action is being taken to address these.
The Inquiry findings also highlighted the importance of schools having robust processes and practices. In particular, it is essential that boards of trustees have high quality recruitment and staff management systems in place. This is so your school appoints and retains the best staff and provides a safe physical and emotional environment for learners.
The Effective Governance section on the NZSTA website provides information and advice to support school boards of trustees.
Key points this guidance covers:
- Legislation and regulations
- Recruiting staff tips
- Use a standard application form that covers all necessary sections and provides you with the necessary authority to seek further information as needed;
- Ensure applicants complete a declaration form confirming that the information they have provided is true and that they have provided all relevant information;
- Verify the applicant’s identity and qualifications using photographic ID and original documentation;
- Always do reference checks, including the applicant’s current employer (you can also seek a reference from their training institution);
- Contact referees directly and ask searching questions;
- Complete a Police vet and review any findings carefully (for teachers police vets are maintained by the New Zealand Teachers Council as part of the registration process);
- If it’s an applicant for a teaching post, check online that they have a current practising certificate and follow up any questions with the applicant and the Teachers Council;
- Carefully select your appointment panel – manage conflicts of interest.
- Managing misconduct and serious misconduct tips
- Ensure your policies and procedures align with the Employment Act 2000;
- Involve your board of trustees early;
- Listen to all complainants sensitively and report back on action taken;
- Gather information;
- Act quickly and with respect to all parties and take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of children and young people whilst the complaint is being investigated;
- Have a dedicated media spokesperson;
- Seek guidance from New Zealand School Trustees Association;
- If required, notify the New Zealand Teachers Council;
- Liaise with your Ministry senior advisor;
- If the matter is in relation to sexual misconduct, contact Jim Greening, Group Manager Schools & Student Support on: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 04 463 7593 or 027 220 7326
Setting out policies and procedures at board level now will provide you with the guidance and reassurance you need in the event of a complaint or incident. As well as considering how a staff member who is subject to a complain will be dealt with, policies should include measures to protect the interests and needs of the parents and children involved in making the complaint (whatever its outcome might be).
In some circumstances, actions or conduct outside the school can also have a bearing on the employee’s employment and may be viewed as misconduct or serious misconduct by the board. It is a good idea therefore if policies also cover these type of circumstances.
For information regarding the vetting of teachers go to the Education Council website
Ensuring your child is safe at school
This is a concerning time for everyone and we want to assure you that the Ministry of Education is committed to supporting the schools affected by this and ensuring you the parent/caregiver have access to the support and resources you need.
We are meeting with the affected schools to discuss their needs, the needs of their communities and supports and resources for parents/caregivers.
We realise some of you are thinking about what to say to your child, or wondering how things are for your child/young person and you may not be sure of the best thing to do or say.
If your school is aware they employed or had contact with [Person A], your school will have released information to you. Using this information you can tell your child/young person the truth, that a teacher has been employed at a/your school but there was a problem with this as he was not allowed to be. As a result the police have arrested the person and he has gone to court where a judge is making decisions about this person.
If you have a concern about [Person A] or the safety of your child at school, please call the Ministry's Helpline on 0800 637 082.
Talking to your child or young person
After you have talked about [Person A] to your child, if this news meant something for your child, usually your instinct will tell you if something is wrong, especially if this news distressed or worried your child.
You know your child best, if the news distressed or worried your child you can ask ‘What is upsetting/or worrying you’.
- Listen and be reassuring
The main thing you can do is listen to your child, take notice and be reassuring about anything they may tell you. You can be reassuring by listening and accepting what they say.
- If your child talks to you about a person
It’s best not to question them about the person or their experience, just listen and be reassuring. The best response might be “thank you for telling me about that”.
- Write it down
If you are worried about anything they tell you, write it down as soon as possible, using the same words they say, and how you responded.
- Don’t question or interview the child
Make sure you don’t question the child further, as this may interfere with the information they have given.
- Call 0508 Family (0508 326 459) or the Police as soon as possible
You can ask for whatever advice, assistance and support you need.
- Keep the child safe
Make sure the child knows they are safe, they are not in any trouble and they have done the right thing in telling you.
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