Risk assessments for Police vets under the Education and Training Act 2020
Changes to the Education and Training Act 2020 enacted in August 2023 include clarification of requirements for Police vetting of non-teaching and unregistered employees at schools, as well as contractors and their employees who work at schools.
This information explains the changes and provides the guidelines that school boards must take into account when completing risk assessments.
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- August 2023 changes to Police vetting requirements
- Guidelines for risk assessments of school staff and contractors
Changes to the Education and Training Act 2020 enacted in August 2023 include clarifying Police vetting requirements for non-teaching and unregistered employees at schools, as well as contractors and their employees who work at schools.
Schedule 4 of the Act already required that school boards obtained a Police vet for staff who are not children’s workers, and for contractors who may at times have unsupervised contact with children. The vet must be obtained before the person carries out work at the school. Further Police vets must be obtained every three years for as long as the person is employed at the school.
The changes clarify that boards must consider the information contained in the Police vet to assess whether the person would pose a risk to the safety of children if the person were to carry out work at the school.
In carrying out the risk assessment, the Act now requires that boards ‘must take into account any guidelines on risk assessments issued by the Ministry’.
These changes will ensure that there is no ambiguity about the requirement to complete a risk assessment, and the use of guidelines will support consistency of risk assessments.
Your school will already have policies and procedures for how you use information in the Police vet to support employment decisions. You should review the changes and the guidelines for risk assessments, and ensure that your policies and processes take into account the guidelines. The guidelines, along with other information about Police vetting, can be found below.
Boards can take into account other factors in their decision-making, but must be able to demonstrate that the content of the guidelines have been taken into account.
Staff who are children’s workers
For staff who are children’s workers, the Children’s Act 2014 requires a full safety check. It is important that you are clear about the definition of a children’s worker so that you can apply the correct process when checking staff and contractors.
Find out more about the requirements for children’s workers.
If you have questions about the requirements that apply to schools, you can:
- email School.GovernancePracticePathways@education.govt.nz, or
- discuss with your local Ministry contacts.
These guidelines are intended to support decision-making under Schedule 4 of the Education and Training Act 2020 when assessing whether a person would pose a risk to the safety of children based on the information contained in a Police vet.
Who the provisions apply to
The Police vetting provisions in the Act apply to:
- non-teaching and unregistered employees (who are not children’s workers) who work at the school during normal operating hours.
- contractors and their employees who may have unsupervised access to children during normal operating hours.
The information returned in a Police vet is not limited to charges or convictions. The Police Vetting Service(external link) review all information about an applicant held by the Police, and will release any information that has been deemed relevant to the role being vetted, with a level of substantiation based on to the level of risk that the role may pose.
What you must take into account
Your risk assessment of information returned in a Police vet must take into account the following:
- First and foremost, you should prioritise the safety of ākonga.
- If you are unsure whether the information provided in a vet indicates that the person is safe to work in your school, we recommend that you should investigate further, including discussing any concerns with the person in question.
In reviewing the results of the Police vet, you must take into account:
- relevance of the information and risk to the role being vetted for (e.g. whether there are any matters relating to children or other vulnerable people),
- the nature and severity of the information (e.g. whether the individual was charged, acquitted, convicted or required to complete an educational program),
- whether there is a pattern of similar information,
- the individual’s age at the time the relevant matters occurred,
- the amount of time that has passed since the relevant matters occurred,
- the individual’s conduct since the relevant matters occurred,
- any other aggravating/mitigating factors.
A person who has been Police vetted must be allowed to see the results and have the opportunity to correct anything that isn’t accurate.
There are no changes to the safety checking process for children’s workers. Guidance regarding children’s workers can be found on Children’s Act 2014 requirements for schools and kura.
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