Banned for 'restraining' preschooler

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 00:01 28/05/2013

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A woman has been banned from a Wellington childcare centre after a Ministry of Education staff member saw her "inappropriately restraining" a child.

Even though the woman, in her 20s, was neither a parent nor a staff member at Miramar's A'oga Amata Childcare Centre, the ministry is continuing to monitor the Samoan community centre.

A ministry spokeswoman said a staff member saw someone "inappropriately restraining" a child during a visit to the centre on April 23. The child was not hit or hurt, but the ministry staffer immediately told the centre's head teacher and the woman involved was banned from the centre during opening hours.

The centre was not closed, and no further incidents had been reported, the ministry said.

"We are continuing to monitor the centre to ensure all children are safe."

The centre's management committee chairwoman, Tuitama Leaupepe, told The Dominion Post the incident was a "wakeup call".

The daughter of the centre's supervisor had been on the floor with the children and was seen "stopping" a 4-year-old boy from hitting another child by putting her hand on his arm, she said.

However, she did not see the incident, so could not be sure.

The woman was spoken to by the ministry staff member, asked to leave, and told not to come back again.

The centre had assured the ministry such an incident would not happen again.

"It was unlucky that ministry were here on the day," Mrs Leaupepe said. "Of all of the days she had to come in and do something like that. It does not put us in a good light."

The centre had a no-hitting policy, but staff usually told children verbally to stop if they were found to be "rough-playing".

There were 25 children enrolled at the centre, which had four registered and qualified teachers and one awaiting training, she said.

An Education Review Office report in March said A'oga Amata Miramar Inc "is not well placed to promote positive outcomes for children" after areas for improvement identified in 2009 had not been dealt with.

Although there were some good systems and processes in place, a lack of positive communication and cohesion between the management committee and teachers was evident, it said.

The ministry was aware of other issues identified in the ERO report, and it was now working to support the centre with additional help.

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