Circular 2014/33 - Mandatory reporting to the New Zealand Teachers Council
Circular about mandatory reporting to the New Zealand Teachers Council by schools and early childhood providers
Date | 14 February 2014 Circular | 2014/33 Category | Governance/Employment
Mandatory reporting to the New Zealand Teachers Council by schools and early childhood providers.
This circular is about mandatory Reporting to the New Zealand Teachers Council.
There are no previous circulars on this subject.
The action needed is to ensure that current practice is consistent with the information provided in this circular.
It is intended for the following employers:
- Boards of Trustees, Principals of all state and state-integrated schools.
- Managers of all independent schools.
- Sponsors, Principals of all Partnership Schools kura hourua.
- Early childhood providers.
- Appointees to statutory appointments under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989.
For more information
Direct general inquiries about this circular to the National Office of the Ministry of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boards of Trustees with specific inquiries about mandatory reporting should be directed to the New Zealand School Trustees Association 0800 782 435 or contact the New Zealand Teachers Council.
For enquiries about the mandatory reporting requirement for ECE teachers contact the Ministry of Education ECE Information mailbox at email@example.com or call 04 463 8000 or contact the New Zealand Teachers Council.
This circular provides information on the mandatory requirement for all Boards of Trustees, Early Childhood Providers and Sponsors of Partnership Schools to report to the New Zealand Teachers Council (Teachers Council) under certain conditions. This includes:
- Sections 139AK to 139AN of the Education Act 1989 which set out under what circumstances it is mandatory to report a teacher or principal to the Teachers Council;
- Section 139AO which details the offence committed by not reporting and a possible defence;
- Section 139AP which sets out every teacher’s duty to report certain convictions to the Teachers Council.
- The Teachers Council also has Rules that are additional to the requirements of the Act.
As the employers of Teachers, Boards, Principals, Sponsors and Early Childhood Providers (employers) must know and understand their responsibility for child safety and employment, the requirements for mandatory reporting to the Teachers Council, when this needs to occur and the process for reporting.
While reporting to the Teachers Council is focused on adults, the reasons for it are focused on keeping children and young people safe. Reporting is one of the checks and balances in the system for this.
Employers cannot opt out of the requirement to report to the Teachers Council. If there are any doubts about whether a particular situation fits the criteria for reporting, further legal advice should be sought.
Support and advice is available from a number of sources.
Teachers are required to report certain convictions to the Teachers Council.
Teacher the mandatory reporting requirements apply to:
- a registered teacher or former registered teacher
- an authorised person (being a person who holds a limited authority to teach given under Part 10 of the Act) or former authorised person.
Employers must immediately report to the Teachers Council if:
- a teacher is dismissed for any reason.
- a teacher resigns from a teaching position and within the 12 months before the resignation the employer has advised the teacher that it was dissatisfied with, or intended to investigate any aspect of the teacher’s conduct, or the teacher’s competence.
- a complaint is received about a former teacher’s conduct or competence while they were an employee, provided:
- the complaint is received within 12 months after they ceased to be employed; and
- the employer is satisfied that the complaint is not malicious, vexatious or without foundation; or does not meet the Teachers Council criteria for reporting competence issues.
- the employer has reason to believe that the teacher has engaged in serious misconduct.
- the employer is satisfied that, despite undertaking competency procedures with the teacher, the teacher has not reached the required level of competence.
Employers or former employers who fail to report (without reasonable justification) commit an offence and face a possible fine of $5000, unless they can prove they believed on reasonable grounds that they were not required to report.
Teachers must report to the Teachers Council within 7 days if they are convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for 3 months or more. Failure to report such an offence is misconduct and may result in disciplinary proceedings.
Making a report
All reports to the Teachers Council must be in writing and include specific information as required by the legislation. For specific advice and guidance on how to make a mandatory report and what to include in it, contact the Teachers Council or go to their website.
The Teachers Council Rules govern the process for making complaints and set out the criteria for reporting serious misconduct (Rule 9) and competence issues (Rule 10). The New Zealand Teachers Council (Making Reports and Complaints) Rules 2004 are available at: http://legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2004/0144/latest/DLM261106.html?src=qs(external link)
The mandatory reporting requirements can be found on the Teachers Council website at this link: Teachers Council Making complaints and reports(external link)
A Conduct and Competence Process Guide can be found at this link, along with the criteria for reporting serious misconduct - Criteria for reporting serious misconduct | The New Zealand Teachers Council
The Mandatory Report form can be found at Mandatory Report Form | The New Zealand Teachers Council
Roles and responsibilities of employers
Employers must be well prepared for their role and be prepared to use external support in employment matters to ensure that correct processes are followed. Employers, and those advising them, need to put the safety of students first by meticulously complying with the legislation.
Policies and procedures
Employers should have clear policies and procedures to ensure they are prepared if and when a situation arises. These policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that the school or early childhood centre maintains a strong focus on the safety of the children and young people in its care.
Employers need to ensure that principals and managers understand the need to report on employment matters so that the employer has the information it needs to properly carry out its statutory responsibilities.
Employers balance the obligations of being a good employer with the duty to ensure student safety. However, the confidentiality of the employer/employee relationship or the provisions of the Privacy Act do not override the mandatory requirement to report to the Teachers Council.
Settlements/agreements with employees
Employers might be tempted to enter any agreement or settlement with an employee in which the employer agrees not to make a mandatory report to the Teachers Council, perhaps to secure a resignation or to settle a personal grievance. Employers must not do this, as it is not lawful. Any employer that fails to make a mandatory report is committing an offence.
If the Ministry of Education discovers that a mandatory report has not been made, it will insist that it is done. If that means that the employer is then breaching the terms of a record of settlement, that could result in further litigation by the employee against the employer.
Employers should take up professional development opportunities to ensure they understand the legislation and the Teachers Council Rules and criteria for mandatory reporting. School Boards of Trustees should contact the New Zealand School Trustees Association about professional development on the recruitment and management of staff.
Provision of information for staff
Employers should ensure that all staff are made aware of the requirements for mandatory reporting and the circumstances under which it will be required. Staff should be advised where they can go to get further advice.
National Administration Guideline 5 requires boards of trustees of state and state integrated schools to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students and comply in full with any legislation currently in force or that may be developed to ensure the safety of students and employees.
National Administration Guideline 3 on employment and personnel matters, requires each board of trustees of state and state integrated schools to develop and implement personnel and industrial policies, within Government policy and procedural frameworks, which promote high levels of staff performance, use educational resources effectively and recognise the needs of students; and be a good employer as defined in the State Sector Act 1988 and comply with the conditions contained in employment contracts applying to teaching and non-teaching staff.
State Sector Act section 77A(3) applies to state and state integrated schools, and free kindergartens under Association, and makes it clear that employers must ensure that all employees maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest and the wellbeing of students attending the institution.
Privacy Act section 7 states that Privacy Principle 11 (about the disclosure of personal information) does not override any provision in an Act (such as the Education Act) that authorises or requires personal information to be made available.
Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 Regulation 46(1)(a) requires every licensed service provider to whom this regulation applies to take all reasonable steps to promote the good health and safety of children enrolled in the service.
Education Act 1989 s 158G Sponsor's duties A sponsor of a partnership school kura hourua must provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students.
Note 1: Independent schools are not covered by the National Administration Guidelines or the State Sector Act. However, under section 35K of the Education Act an independent school may have its registration suspended if the Secretary has reasonable grounds to believe that the welfare of its students is at risk.
Note 2: Partnership Schools are not covered by the National Administration Guidelines or the State Sector Act. However, Clause 7.5 of the Partnership Schools Agreement states that Sponsors must provide a safe physical and emotional environment for their students.
Ahead of opening their Partnership School, Sponsors are required to prepare and provide to the Minister their school’s policies for ensuring a safe physical and emotional environment for students. Once approved by the Minister they form part of the Agreement and the Sponsor is required to act in accordance with it.
Further advice and guidance
New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA)
The NZSTA provides guidance free of charge for all boards of trustees on employment matters. Contact the helpdesk on 0800 STA Help (0800 782 435) or the local NZSTA Industrial Adviser - see www.nzsta.org.nz(external link)
Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education website includes information on employer obligations and links to further resources.
People and Employment
Sector Enablement and Support
Ministry of Education, National Office, 45 – 47 Pipitea Street, Thorndon
P O Box 1666, Wellington, New Zealand, Phone 04-463 8000, Fax 04-463 8001
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