Circular 2010/09 - Changes to Police vetting requirements

Education Circular
Student support circular is about changes to Police vetting requirements for non teaching employees, and contractors and their employees, at schools and licensed early childhood education services (ECE), and adult members of households where licensed home-based education and care services are provided.

Date 21 May 2010 | Circular Number 2010/09 | Category Student support

Changes to Police vetting requirements

This circular is about Changes to Police vetting requirements for non teaching employees, and contractors and their employees, at schools and licensed early childhood education services (ECE), and adult members of households where licensed home-based education and care services are provided.

This circular replaces 2002/02

The action required is Note the contents of this circular and commence implementation of the new Police vetting requirements from 20 May 2010.

It is intended for Boards of trustees and principals of all state, state-integrated and registered private schools, and all licensed ECE services.

Further information is available from:

Introduction

The Education Amendment Act 2010 has changed the requirements contained in the Education Act 1989 ("the Act") around Police vetting in schools and ECE services for non-teaching employees, contractors and their employees, and adult members of households where home-based education and care services are provided.

Key changes

  • From 20 May 2010 all vetting for these people will be done through the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Service Centre.
  • Employers will no longer be required to vet staff who do not work during normal school hours or service opening hours.
  • Contractors and their staff will need to be vetted if they have, or are likely to have, unsupervised access to students at the school or children at the ECE service during normal school hours or opening hours.

    Note: The definition, as defined in the Education Act, is as follows:
    Unsupervised access to students, in relation to a school, means access to any student on the school's premises that is not access by, or supervised by, or otherwise observed by, or able to be directed (if necessary) by, any 1 or more of the following:

    (a) a registered teacher or holder of a limited authority to teach:
    (b) a an employee of the school on whom a satisfactory Police vet has been conducted within the last 3 years:
    (c) a parent of the student.
  • Every person over 17 years of age who lives in a home where a licensed home-based education and care service operates will need to be vetted.
  • The Police vet must be obtained before staff and contractors have, or are likely to have, unsupervised access to students or children.

What has not changed?

  • Teaching Staff, ie registered teachers with a current practicing certificate or a limited authority to teach, are not affected by these changes1
  • The vetting process is confidential and adverse action may not be taken against the subject of a vet without the person being given an opportunity to validate the vet information.
  • Boards, managers and ECE service providers may choose to vet persons, such as volunteers or visitors, who do not have to be vetted under the Act.

How have the requirements changed?

  1. Currently all persons appointed to a position at a school or ECE service, contractors who regularly work at a school or early childhood service and employees of contractors, have to be Police vetted through the New Zealand Teachers’ Council.
  2. Under the Education Amendment Act 2010 the requirements for Police vetting in schools and ECE services of non-teaching employees, contractors, and adult members of households where licensed home-based education and care services are provided have changed as outlined below :
For SCHOOLS AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION SERVICES: Non-teaching employees of school or licensed ECE services (employees who are not a registered teacher or holder of a Limited Authority to Teach (LAT))
Prior to 20 May 2010 After 20 May 2010
Every person who is appointed to a position at a school or ECE service must be vetted. Every person who is appointed to a position at a school or ECE service, who is not a registered teacher or holder of a limited authority to teach2 and who works at the school or ECE service during normal school hours or service opening hours must be vetted.
(This means that a non-teaching employee who does not work during normal school hours, for example a cleaner who works after school, does not need to be Police vetted. It is important that the board or management considers whether any new non-teaching employee will in fact be working at the school or ECE service during normal school or opening hours.)

For SCHOOLS AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION SERVICES: Contractors, or the employee of a contractor
Prior to 20 May 2010 After 20 May 2010
Contractors, or the employees of a contractor, who regularly work at the school or ECE service during hours of operation.
Every contractor or the employee of a contractor, who has or is likely to have unsupervised access to students at the school or children at the ECE service during normal school hours or service opening hours.
(This means that a contractor who is not going to have unsupervised access to students no longer needs to be Police vetted. It is important for the board or management to consider whether, as part of their work, any contractor may have unsupervised access to students at the school or children at the ECE service.)

For HOME-BASED EDUCATION AND CARE SERVICES: Persons over 17 years of age who live in a home where a licensed home-based education and care service is being provided
Prior to 20 May 2010 After 20 May 2010
No vetting required. Every person over 17 years of age who lives in a home where a licensed home-based education and care service is being provided, must be vetted.
(No vetting is required if the home concerned is the home of every child to whom the service is being provided.)
  1. Schools or ECE services may still choose to Police vet other non-teaching staff. For example schools may choose to have Police vetting carried out on volunteers or parent helpers in the classroom or attending a school camp.

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Timing of vets and unsupervised access

  1. In all cases a Police vet must be obtained before a person who is required to be vetted has, or is likely to have, unsupervised access to students or children.
  2. It is important that the board or management considers whether, as part of their work, any contractor may have unsupervised access to students at the school or children at the ECE service.
  3. A Police vet must be applied for non-teaching staff who work at the school or ECE service during normal school hours or service opening hours no later than 2 weeks after the person begins work at the school or ECE service. It is important that non-teaching staff are prevented from having unsupervised access to students or children until a vet has been supplied to the school or ECE service.
  4. All vets must be repeated at least every 3 years unless the person concerned is no longer in a role that means they need to be vetted, eg a staff member who no longer works at the school or ECE service during normal school or opening hours does not need to be vetted again.

Changes to the process for obtaining a Police vet

  1. From 20 May 2010 the Teachers’ Council is no longer the conduit for Police vetting of non-teaching employees, contractors and their employees.
  2. From 20 May 2010 the board or management/employer of the school or ECE service must go directly to the New ZealandPolice Licensing and Vetting Service Centre.
  3. There is currently no administrative fee attached to the Police vetting service.
  4. Any applications that are received by the Teachers’ Council after 20 May 2010 will be returned to the school or ECE service as the Teachers’ Council no longer has jurisdiction to process these.

Process for boards or management of schools or early childhood services

  1. It is the employer’s obligation to make the application for the Police vet. The Police vet must be requested by the board or management of the school or ECE service. A Police vet obtained by a previous employer or supplied by the person concerned cannot be used to satisfy the requirement of the Act.
  2. To use the Police Vetting Service, schools and ECE services require an individualised agency code.
    • Schools and ECE services that have previously used the Police Vetting Service will have already been allocated this code and will have been provided with copies of the vetting forms.
    • Schools and ECE services that are not familiar with the Police Vetting Service should read the information about the service as follows: (www.police.govt.nz/vetting-guidelines)
      • To receive an individualised agency code and the Consent to Disclosure of Information Form, schools and ECE services should email QueryME@police.govt.nz [no spam].
        When requesting an individual to complete the Consent to Disclosure of Information Form please ensure: the applicant has listed their full name, other known names, address, date of birth, place of birth, and driver's license if applicable.
        It is your responsibility to verify the identity of the individual(s) concerned ie drivers licence or passport.
        Only send in the original form to the Police Vetting Service, but remember to take a photocopy of the form before sending. Send the applications in bulk, where at all possible. A stamped, self-addressed envelope must accompany all requests.
  3. The board or management of the school or ECE service then sends the completed vetting forms to the address below:
    New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Centre
    P O Box 3017, Wellington 6140
  4. On receipt of the completed vetting forms the Licensing and Vetting Service Centre search the Police database for any information held about the subject of the vet.
  5. If convictions are present and the subject is ineligible under "Clean Slate" legislation3, the information will be attached to the request. Where there is information indicating violent or sexual behaviour (other than convictions), a "red stamp" or flag may be placed on the request.
  6. In order to improve the efficiency of customer service the Police are progressively working towards providing an alternative IT based process. This system will enable schools and ECE services to send vetting requests electronically. Only those agencies that have signed a formalised agreement to comply to certain terms and conditions as listed in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be provided with access to this system. The MOU can be requested by emailing QueryME@police.govt.nz [no spam].

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Results of Police vetting

  1. All completed vetting requests are returned to the designated person at the school or ECE service.
  2. It is IMPORTANT to note that Police vetting is not a complete background check. It should be used only as part of a robust recruiting and screening process.
  3. For information and advice regarding employment matters, schools and early childhood education services may contact the following:
    • The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) on 0800 782 435 or via www.nzsta.org.nz (Note that this is for state and state-integrated schools only).
    • The Department of Labour's Workplace Contact Centre on 0800 20 90 20 or via www.ers.govt.nz.
    • A legal, employment or human resources adviser of its choice.
  4. Applicants should be given the opportunity to view any information provided by the Police and have the opportunity to correct this if necessary. Where the subject of a vet is concerned about the accuracy of information, the subject of the vet should follow up with the Police.
  5. Under the Act, it is the obligation of the board or management of schools or ECE services requesting information to establish internal procedures for processing and storing Police vet requests. The Act requires that those procedures must:
    • ensure that strict confidentiality is observed for Police vets
    • not take adverse action in relation to a person who is the subject of a Police vet until the person has validated the information contained in the vet.
    (For example: information may be incorrectly recorded or a mistake may have been made over the identity of a person. It is important that employers satisfy themselves about the identity of the person being vetted. This could be done by way of sighting two formal documents bearing a photograph, eg a drivers licence and a passport, and one or other of a birth certificate or a bill with the person’s name and address on it.)
  6. Please note the confidentiality of the information contained in the Police vet. The information should be stored in such a way that only those required to access the information are able to do so and destroyed when no longer required.

Transitional arrangements

  1. The changes to Police vetting requirements take place from 20 May 2010. For any staff that must be vetted, but have not been vetted in the last three years, schools and ECE services will have a 4 week period (commencing 20 May 2010 plus 4 weeks) to apply for a Police vet.

Issued by

Marilyn Scott, Senior Manager - Schools and Student Support
Early Childhood and Regional Education
Rose Cole, Senior Manager – Implementation Planning
Early Childhood Education

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

Footnotes

1 Registered teachers are police vetted when they apply for registration or are renewing their Practising Certificate. Applicants for Limited Authority to Teach (LAT) are Police vetted through the application process for the LAT.

2 Registered teachers and applicants for a Limited Authority to Teach (LAT) will continue to be Police vetted through the registration and application processes currently in place.

3 Criminal conviction information is released in accordance with the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004.