13 Mar 2014

Teachers 'need training' in appropriate relationships with students

3:11 pm on 13 March 2014

A leading school principal is urging the Government to make appropriate relationships with students a mandatory part of teacher training.

The principal of John Paul College in Rotorua, Patrick Walsh, who's also a member of the Teachers' Council's disciplinary tribunal, says there are too many cases where teachers cross professional boundaries.

He says teachers' initial training in child safety and the boundaries between themselves and their students is inadequate. says the tribunal sees teachers who have inadequate training in child safety and student-teacher relationships.

Mr Walsh says there are basic rules to guide teachers' behaviour.

"They don't need to be a friend of a student - and there's a distinction between that and being friendly. Secondly, use of social media: it's not appropriate for a student to join your Facebook page, to text students late at night in the weekends, to accept gifts and whether it's a good idea to attend a 16th or 18th birthday party of a student."

Mr Walsh says other principals share his concerns and he has written to Education Minister Hekia Parata asking her to consider standardised training for all trainee teachers.