Kids’ safety comes first

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

It is a shame you did not ask the Teach­ing Coun­cil for com­ment be­fore pub­lish­ing your item ‘Who wants to be a teacher?’ (Fe­bru­ary 12).

The item quotes a lo­cal prin­ci­pal dis­miss­ing as ‘ab­so­lute rub­bish’ two re­cent de­ci­sions by the coun­cil’s Com­plaints Ac­tion Com­mit­tee to re­fer mat­ters to the in­de­pen­dent Dis­ci­plinary Tri­bunal, rather than let­ting the schools’ prin­ci­pals deal with them.

Had you asked us we could have ex­plained that we were legally obliged to act in the way we did.

In one case a child hurt his head af­ter a teacher pulled his arm, caus­ing him to fall to the floor. Any case in­volv­ing an in­jury to a child may con­sti­tute se­ri­ous mis­con­duct, and the com­mit­tee is re­quired by law to re­port it to the tri­bunal.

In the other case a teacher caused a child to cry af­ter push­ing him to his desk. This case did not in­volve se­ri­ous mis­con­duct, and could have been dealt with by the com­mit­tee had the per­son who made the com­plaint agreed. How­ever, agree­ment was not pos­si­ble, so the case had to be re­ferred to the tri­bunal.

Our pri­mary con­cern is the safety of chil­dren. These cases in­volved very young chil­dren, and the teach­ers con­cerned agreed their be­hav­iour fell be­low the high stan­dards ex­pected of a pro­fes­sion en­trusted with their care. Par­ents and fel­low teach­ers would agree that chil­dren should be safe from harm when they go to school.

It is worth point­ing out that the ma­jor­ity on ev­ery panel of the tri­bunal are ex­pe­ri­enced se­nior mem­bers of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion.

You do your read­ers a dis­ser­vice by not pre­sent­ing both sides in im­por­tant sto­ries such as this.

JEREMY FRANCE Deputy Chief Ex­ec­u­tive

Teach­ing Coun­cil of Aotearoa New Zea­land

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