School boards responding to child safety concerns

Like many organisations, New Zealand schools rely on contractors to perform work that is of a more casual nature or that demands skillsets that aren’t required on a permanent basis. While permanent teaching staff are closely vetted by the Department of Education, it is the school’s responsibility to ensure that the contractors they employ are properly vetted and screened.

The importance of due diligence for contractor hiring was highlighted by a recent investigation into a school employee. In this case, the investigation led to the resignation of the entire school board.

Responding to increasing concerns over the safety of children, the New Zealand Ministry of Education has made it mandatory for any contractor working with children to obtain a Children’s Worker Safety Check (CWSC).

The new requirements have created some significant problems for schools as they seek to:

  • Understand and apply the requirements of the legislation.
  • Implement efficient and effective screening that integrates with normal hiring practices.
  • Ensure visibility and accountability of these practices from management up to the board level.

These issues are compounded by surging demand for children’s worker screening in recent months, leaving schools to search for more timely completion of checks to ensure that hiring and resourcing don’t affect service delivery.

The onus for much of this administrative effort has fallen on contractors who seek to ensure their hiring eligibility. Contractors themselves have also noted that the process of applying for a CWSC can be difficult and time-consuming, which creates additional roadblocks to the fulfillment of school programs.

Our experience is that organisations benefit from a simplified process to administer police vetting of their workers. It’s hard to overstate the importance of establishing a safe status for workers whose employment will have them on site at schools, medical, or aged care facilities.

James Sutherland

Why we screen

Despite the inconvenience and administrative overhead, the importance of properly vetting contractors is self-evident. A failure to effectively screen these employees could lead to serious risks of abuse for students and reputational and financial damage to schools or their management.

Conversely, a well-managed screening and reporting regime have the potential to systematically minimise or eliminate these risks – providing peace of mind for parents and reducing potential liability for both employers and contractors.

Improvements in accountability and visibility in this space help to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence because all parties understand that safety is prioritised, and a uniform code of practice is in play.

What are the potential risks of not screening contractors?

The risks associated with inadequate screening of contractors who work with vulnerable people are significant and wide-ranging. Without proper background checks and document verification, there is a risk of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of students.

Furthermore, legal ramifications that would be faced by the school board should it be found to be negligent in this area would likely result in reputational and financial losses.

The solution

Fortunately, there are well-established practices for conducting Children’s Worker Safety Checks that can be rapidly implemented and assimilated as part of school hiring processes.

These practices have proven simple to implement across a range of different public and private sectors where many of these measures have been in place since the introduction of the Children’s Act in 2014.

CVCheck has been a government-gazetted provider of children’s worker screening services since 2017. In that time, our expert advice and streamlined online screening platform have been trusted by government, medical, and educational providers to address their CWSC requirements so that they can hire with confidence.

Our solution simplifies the police vetting process, provides timely reminders ahead of the 3-year expiry mark, and makes it easy for contractors to work across multiple sites.


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