Police vetting for school property contractors

Every contractor who is likely to have unsupervised access to students at a school during normal school hours must be Police vetted. The school board of trustees is responsible for determining the conditions of access for contractors.

Overview

Boards are required to obtain a Police vet of every contractor and sub-contractor, including their employees, who "has, or is likely to have, unsupervised access to students at the school during normal school hours".

See the Education Act section: 78CA Police vetting of contractors and their employees who work at schools (external link) .

Contractor, sub-contractor, their employee’ covers all property project workers including project managers, architects, planners, surveyors, other consultants providing professional services, as well as all construction workers and supervisors.

Likely’ means more than a 50% chance of unsupervised access to one or more students.

Unsupervised access’ means access to any student at the school during normal school hours when the worker is not directly supervised by a school employee or the student’s parent.

This applies to every school-managed or Ministry-managed construction project, and any contractors that require access to the school during school hours, such as those carrying out Building Warrant of Fitness (BWoF) inspections.

It is strongly recommended that the board develops a School Access Plan (SAP) in conjunction with construction project contractors before any Police vets are sought. The SAP will explain how worker access to the school will be managed and therefore which workers (if any) need a Police vet.

Where workers are engaged to work directly with students (e.g. teachers), see the Police vetting for schools and kura webpage (external link) for the Police vetting requirements.

Developing a School Access Plan (SAP)

The purpose of the SAP is to set out how contractor access to the school will be managed to avoid or minimise the likelihood of them having unsupervised access to students at the school during normal school hours.

As a result of preparing a SAP, the board will know with some confidence which workers will require a Police vet and which workers might not. Additionally, the supplier and contractors will know how to conduct themselves in a manner to minimise the likelihood of unsupervised access to students.

The SAP process

Upon awarding a contract, the board and the supplier (and the Ministry for Ministry-managed projects and Ministry engaged consultants) liaise to develop and agree the SAP.

The school board should download and complete the SAP template [DOC, 62 KB] as follows:

  1. Complete the parties and contract details.
  2. List the actions to be taken to minimise the likelihood of workers having unsupervised access to students during normal school hours. Possible actions may include:
    • workers only access the school outside normal school hours
    • isolating or controlling the project work site and its access from students using fencing
    • direct supervision.
  3. Where Police vetting is required, name the workers requiring a Police vet.
  4. Set out each party’s responsibilities and document their agreement to the SAP.
  5. The board should implement the SAP by:
    • having it signed by all involved parties
    • requiring the project manager/supplier to brief/instruct all workers in regard to the SAP and its access limitations
    • requiring the project manager/supplier to provide Request and Consent forms for each individual requiring a Police vetting
    • providing for the identification of those contractors that are Police vetted - or alternatively by identifying those that don’t need to be
    • briefing school staff/students about the project, the SAP, and the expected behaviours of the students (e.g. not communicating with contractors, respecting their need to focus on work, not engaging with contractors before and after school and during lunch whether on or off the school grounds etc.), and making access limitations clear
    • briefing school contract overseers/supervisors about the project, the SAP, and the expected behaviours (e.g. no smoking, not talking to students, not taking shirts off, not hanging around the school gates, not engaging with students before and after school and during lunch whether on or off the school grounds etc.), making access limitations clear and by only approving access in accordance with SAP, such as ensuring supervision arrangements are in place, if required.
    • ensuring that there are arrangements in place for monitoring compliance with the SAP
    • ensuring the SAP is updated as required.

Obtaining Police vets

The board may identify situations where a Police vet of a contractor(s) is required. The board may delegate the task of obtaining a Police vet to a suitable staff member, but the board remains accountable for the decisions taken in terms of access and supervision. Suppliers facilitate the police vet by providing any required information (e.g. names and details of people to be vetted).

Police vetting reviews a contractor’s information held by the New Zealand Police Service about convictions and non-convictions information held by the Police relevant for an infrastructure contractor having access to students.

A board will use the Police vet to help decide whether to grant a contractor access and whether or not direct supervision is required.

Under section 78CB of the Education Act (external link) , the Police vet must be obtained before the person has, or is likely to have, unsupervised access to students at the school during normal school hours. It is therefore important to note the processing times below.

The Police vet process

The board, or their delegated staff member, must follow the following steps:

  1. Obtain Police vets directly from the NZ Police Vetting Service. To do this your school must be registered as an Approved Agency. Online application forms are available from the NZ Police Vetting Service website (external link) .
    As of October 2018, Argest and Network for Learning are in the process of becoming Approved Agencies. If the contractor coming onto the school is an Argest or Network for Learning contractor, the board will soon be able to obtain the Police vet directly from Argest or Network for Learning if they wish.
  2. Ensure each contractor requiring a Police vet provides a signed consent on a NZ Police vetting service request and consent form (external link) (VSRC form).
  3. Submit the VSRC form to the NZ Police Vetting Service.
    Police vetting applications normally take 7 to 10 business days to be processed but may take up to 20 business days.
  4. Review the Police vet when received, to determine whether to approve or decline access or determine what conditions will be placed on access (such as direct supervision by a school staff member). Note any ‘flags’ in the information i.e. relevant non-conviction information held on the Police database such as investigations, acquittal information in relation to sexual offending, violence, drug use, dishonesty, assault etc.
  5. Before declining access, give the person being vetted the opportunity to validate or otherwise contest the Police vet (and follow up with NZ Police Vetting Service if appropriate) – see 78CD Procedures relating to Police vets (external link) .
  6. After the final decision is made, advise the vetting subject that access has been approved or declined, and on what conditions.
  7. Verify the worker’s identity before allowing them unsupervised access in order to ensure that they are the person who was vetted and approved.
  8. Keep Police vet information confidential and store the documentation securely with the contract.

Important notes about Police vetting

  • A Police vet is valid for up to 3 years – after 3 years a new Police vet must be obtained and access approved/declined
  • A Ministry of Justice vet is not an acceptable substitute for a Police vet as it is less thorough and does not meet the requirements of the Education Act
  • Because property-related projects do not involve working directly with children, Police vetting requirements of the Education Act 1989 apply, not the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (external link) .

Audit

The arrangement for monitoring and auditing this system, includes:

  • On-site monitoring and reporting of any breaches by the Construction Observer for Ministry led construction projects
  • On-site monitoring and reporting of any breaches by the project manager for board led construction projects
  • Periodic audit by the Ministry of Education, Education Infrastructure Service.

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