Teachers unaware gifts unfit

Last updated 14:30 13/03/2014

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Teachers have accepted gifts of underwear, and invitations to students' birthday parties - and later claimed to be unaware such actions were inappropriate.

Now some in the profession are calling for the education minister to step in and provide better training on professional boundaries, after a rise in the number and seriousness of offences committed against students.

Patrick Walsh, a long-standing member of the Teachers Council's disciplinary tribunal, said it was clear after six years on the tribunal and speaking with principals and teachers around the country, that the quality of training around professional boundaries and student safety was at times non-existent.

Some teachers were so concerned with thinking they needed to be friends with students that they accepted inappropriate gifts and invitations because they were flattered, he said.

Texting and social media, including Facebook, had also contributed to the blurring of lines on what was acceptable behaviour between teachers and students, Mr Walsh said.

The disestablishment of the Teachers Council and transition to the new Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (Educanz) was a "window of opportunity" for Education Minister Hekia Parata to ask the new council to offer better training.

Post-Primary Teachers' Association president Angela Roberts said there were already many steps in place to ensure teachers were of a high standard, but any case involving an inappropriate teacher-student relationship was serious.

Initial education providers determined their own programmes, and there would need to be proper checks and audits to make sure any additional training was delivered effectively, she said. Fairfax NZ

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