Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Bills to vet school boards, contractors pass first reading

Bills to ensure non-teaching employees and contractors at schools, and unlicensed childcare services are vetted by police, and provide safeguards for school board appointments have passed their first reading today.

The Education and Training Amendment Bill (No. 3) and the Regulatory Systems (Education) Amendment Bill have now both been referred to the Education and Workforce Committee for consideration.

The Education and Training Amendment Bill (No. 3) changes school board eligibility requirements so that all those convicted of an offence, under Schedule 2 of the Children’s Act 2014, are ineligible to serve on a school board unless an exemption is approved by the Secretary for Education.

The Bill also allows the Secretary for Education to conduct an audit on current board members to make sure eligibility requirements are met.

“Over the last few years, I have heard concerns from various community members about the eligibility requirements for school board members. The proposed changes enable school leaders, teachers, students and whānau to be more confident about board representatives,” Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti said.

“In parallel to these changes, an amended code of conduct for school board appointees has been consulted on and is currently in development.

“The Bill also clarifies that schools and licensed early childhood services must assess Police vets for non-teaching employees and contractors prior to them either beginning work or having unsupervised access to children. This coincides with the Regulatory Systems (Education) Amendment Bill, which ensures Police vets for workers in unlicensed services like crèches in gyms and malls, are assessed before the person starts work.”

The Education and Training Amendment Bill (No. 3) has other functions too, permitting the Ministry of Education to access and use more accurate and up-to-date early childhood service-level data held by Statistics NZ.

“We want to make certain equity funding is allocated to learning services with children who need it most, through the Equity Index,” said Ms Tinetti.  

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