The responsibility of keeping tamariki safe while in the care of their school, kura, and early learning service is the responsibility of every adult.
In the education system, ERO plays an integral role in their protection by reviewing and having an oversight of effective child protection policies and processes. We aim to provide schools and early learning services with the ability to quickly identify any gaps in their policies and processes.
Our role forms one part of the broader system to ensure tamariki are protected and that they thrive. ERO does not have the authority or specialist expertise to investigate complaints about abuse of children. Should ERO learn of allegations of neglect or abuse, we will inform the most appropriate entity for action, depending on the specific circumstances.
The Education Review Office requires schools and early learning services to attest, through our Board Assurance Statement and Centre Assurance Statement, to having in place a Child Protection Policy, and Children’s worker safety checking in accordance with the Children’s Act 2014; and that the school/service has the systems and processes that ensure this policy is embedded within practices and systems.
At the heart of a Child Protection Policy is the commitment to the wellbeing of tamariki in your care and ensuring that they are safe.
All staff, volunteers and programme providers working in or with your school/service should be safety checked by way of a police vet.
It’s also about ensuring that all who work within your school or early learning service have clear guidance:
- in respect of ensuring safe practices and behaviors by staff, volunteers and others who may work with your school/service
- to ensure that children are free from abuse, bullying and harm from other learners; and
- how they are expected to respond to concerns.
This includes training and support, along with systems to ensure the effective induction of new staff, programme providers or volunteers who work in or with your school/service. There are a range of organisations who can provide training and support to schools/services in your area.
The Children’s Act 2014, sets out very clear requirements and expectations for identifying and reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. These expectations are core to your school/service’s operations.
Having clear guidance about what staff, providers or volunteers should do if they have concerns about the practices or behaviour of another staff member, contractor or volunteers working with children is a critical part of any policy.
Ensuring that those who disclose concerns are themselves supported and protected is also a critical element in any policy, systems or practices operated by a school or service.
Child safety and wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility, but allocating responsibility for the leadership of child protection to one or more staff can support a school/service in maintaining ongoing vigilance and promotion of your Child Protection systems. It’s also a way to ensure that staff are supported when they are dealing with concerns. It is important that should someone in your team have a designated leadership role, they should receive adequate training and their responsibilities should be clear to all.
A cornerstone of your policy should be making this available to whānau and parents, including outlining your obligations to share information with appropriate agencies if this is seen to support the health, wellbeing and safety of tamariki.
Ensuring that there are supportive, safe and trusting arrangements for the disclosure of abuse, including victimization and bullying, is a critical part of the arrangements that you should have in place, as are genuine opportunities for tamariki to report on their general wellbeing and safety.
Records management and the documentation of concerns and observations is a critical part of a good Child Protection system. Record keeping requirements should be accompanied with processes for regular review and are an important aspect in any Report of Concern that might be used by Oranga Tamariki or the NZ Police.
What we do in cases of allegations of neglect or abuse
Any person who believes that a child has been or likely to be harmed, ill-treated, abused (whether physically, emotionally or sexually), neglected or deprived, or who has concerns about the wellbeing of a child should report the matter to Oranga Tamariki (OT) or the NZ Police. While it is appropriate to ask of a child “are you OK?”, it is the Police and OT that have the training and mandate to investigate matters when a child has made a disclosure, or you have a level of concern.
A Report of Concern can be made by calling 0508Family (0508326459) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call the Police on 111.
Self-audit checklists can be found here:
- Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists
- Whānau Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists
- Te Poumarumaru Self-Audit Checklists - January 2022
- Private School Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist
- Self-Audit Checklists For Services Licensed under 2008 Regulatory Framework
- Licensed Kōhanga Whānau Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists
- Home-Based Education and Care Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists
- Hospital-based Education and Care Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists
Reviews to improve safety
Our reviewing role includes the assessment of the quality of education provision, including matters such as bullying or abuse that can adversely impact on a child’s education.
In our reviews of schools and early learning services, our review officers look for and at:
- regular reporting to the school board, and any attached hostels about safety
- indicators of quality relationships between students, boarders, care providers, parents, and teachers
- complaint procedures and policies, and adequate staffing ratios
- the suitability and fairness of sanctions and rewards used in management of students and boarders
- access to support, counselling, and health services
- the physical environment, including provision and management of private spaces and suitable physical access controls.
- Meeting requirements for children’s safety and wellbeing in ECE | Education Review Office (ero.govt.nz) – February 2016
- Student Safety in Schools Recruiting and Managing Staff | Education Review Office (ero.govt.nz) – January 2014
- The Ministry of Education, alongside Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand and Safeguarding Children, has a digital child protection resource specifically for the early learning sector - Early learning sector welcomes new child protection resource – Education Gazette
- Promoting wellbeing through sexuality education | Education Review Office (ero.govt.nz) – Sept 2018
- Wellbeing for Young People's Success at Secondary School | Education Review Office (ero.govt.nz) – Feb 2015