Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

One third of schools too trusting - report

Disgraced Northland former deputy principal James Parker. Photo / Greg Bowker
Disgraced Northland former deputy principal James Parker. Photo / Greg Bowker

One third of schools are too trusting and are putting students at risk of exposure to sexual predators, a new report has found.

The Education Review Office (ERO) report was ordered after two instances last year of sex offenders being employed by schools, including disgraced Northland former deputy principal James Parker.

Its review found that one third of schools were unlikely to recognise situations where students could be at risk from staff and respond appropriately.

ERO manager, evaluation services, Stephanie Greaney, said school boards and leaders needed to make sure students were kept safe. That included having robust standards and practices around hiring and monitoring of staff.

"Our findings highlight that although all trustees and school leaders agreed that student safety is paramount, some schools need to increase their commitment to students' safety when employing and managing staff," Mrs Greaney said.

"In addition, education agencies need to actively support schools by making sure advice and regulation about what is required is easy for school trustees to find and understand."

ERO has made recommendations to school boards which it hopes will improve employment practices.

Information for the report included scheduled reviews of 173 schools with primary-aged students, and from focused reviews of 27 schools with years 9 to 13 students.

- NZ Herald

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