22 Aug 2012

Fear volunteers could slip through teacher vetting net

4:50 pm on 22 August 2012

School principals say recommendations to improve the way teachers are vetted need to go further.

A ministerial inquiry has revealed how a sex offender, Te Rito Henry Miki, taught at six schools for years despite having more than 60 convictions. He conned schools and the courts by using multiple false identities.

The inquiry's report recommends introducing photo ID for teachers and urgently reviewing the law under which people can change their names.

However the Secondary Principals' Assocation says none of the recommendations apply to non-teachers who volunteer to help with school camps or sports coaching.

"There's no checking on them at all, in some cases," says association president Patrick Walsh, "and unfortunately people in the community volunteer to take on positions such as coaches of sports teams, and volunteer to go on camps. Those people are sometimes attracted to students for inappropriate reasons."

Review of Teachers Council under way

Mr Walsh says the Government should investigate whether people in that category should also be regulated by the Teachers Council.

He also says principals want to be able to report a reasonable suspicion that a staff member is engaged in fraudulent activity, rather than having to gather evidence.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says boards of trustees should be checking the backgrounds of all teachers and volunteers, and she's considering whether boards need more resourcing support.

Ms Parata told Morning Report the inquiry's recommendations will be included in a review - now under way - of the Teachers Council.