The findings presented in this report, Student Safety in Schools: Recruiting and Managing Staff, are organised into five sections. 

Please click on each section to read.

Balancing students' needs with concerns about staff 
Recruitment and appointments that emphasise keeping students safe
Robustness of attestation, registration and police vetting 
Boards’ knowledge and preparation for their role as employer 
Resources to support trustees and principals

Each section sets the context for the findings, including the relevant background information, and highlights why the findings are important. A discussion about school policies, procedures and practices provides the basis for examples of good school practice and identification of improvements needed across the system and within schools.

Overall findings

ERO evaluated four key elements of how schools ensure student safety, particularly in relation to appointments and ongoing monitoring of teacher competence through attestation and registration. These elements were:

  • how effectively schools balanced the needs of students and staff when dealing with concerns about staff
  • how appropriate appointment processes were
  • how robust identity and qualification checks were
  • how robust processes for both attestation and registration were.

Key finding

Two-thirds of schools had robust practices for ensuring student safety when recruiting and managing staff.

ERO found that one-third of schools had very robust practices for all four elements. A further one-third had very robust practices for three of the four elements.

Without robust practices, the remaining one-third of schools could be vulnerable and either not recognise if they are employing a staff member who may not be safe with students, or not have enough guidance to deal with a concern about staff while keeping students safe. There was little difference between primary and secondary schools as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The percentage of schools that had robust practices for key aspects necessary for ensuring student safety when recruiting and managing staff

figure 1

Figure 2 shows a strong relationship between the timing for the next ERO review and ERO’s judgements about the robustness of practices in the four aspects in the primary schools reviewed. All schools with a Term 1 2013 review report that stated their next review would be in four-to-five years had robust practices for either three or four aspects.

Schools whose next review was to be in one-to-two years demonstrated variable quality across the four aspects. Thirty-eight percent had robust practices for three or four aspects and 31 percent did not have robust practices for any aspects.

Figure 2: ERO return time by overall quality of appointments and safety for primary schools

figure 2

Comparable information was not available for the secondary schools as the investigation was not part of a regular review. However, analysis of the return time stated in their previous review reports show that schools with a four-to-five year return were twice as likely to have robust practices for all four aspects as schools with a three-year return.