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Information for: Teachers/Education

Why am I so important in protecting children?

Most children access some form of education. Education professionals in early childhood centres, home-based child care, play centres, kindergartens, kohanga reo and schools are the adults that see children the most outside their families, and provide a safe place for children to be able to talk about what is happening for them. It is really important that education settings are safe environments for children. Creating a safe environment for children involves the establishment of a culture of child protection, with the successful implementation of an effective and robust child protection policy, the safe recruitment of staff, and meaningful training so that staff have the ability to recognise signs of abuse, and the knowledge and confidence to appropriately respond to protect children.

Those working in the education sector can play a key part in New Zealand’s response to addressing child abuse. The Vulnerable Children Act, 2014 has introduced specific requirements on those services and schools funded through the Ministry of Education. These involve the requirement to have a child protection policy and robust safety checking procedures. Child Matters can support all education providers and professionals in ensuring all aspects of creating a safe school are successfully implemented.


An important part of developing competency when working with children is the provision of training. It is important for this to occur at all levels, from the Board of Trustees to the School Leadership and for staff working with children on a daily basis. Having a good understanding of roles and responsibilities alongside recognising signs of abuse and how to respond effectively are all important elements in creating environments for children to flourish.

Creating a Safe School workshop

Child Matters has developed a one day workshop specifically for schools in ‘Creating a Safe School’. This workshop focuses on creating a safe school environment by providing teachers with information about how to recognise children who may be in need of protectiong and what to do when they are concerned about the welfare of a child or young person. Participants will gain the knowledge and tools to be able to identify when children or young people are at risk and confidently take action to promote their safety and well-being.

Topics covered:

  • The concept of vulnerability and factors that contribute to vulnerability, risk and child abuse
  • The context of child abuse in New Zealand
  • The different types of child abuse and neglect
  • The indicators and signs of child abuse and neglect
  • Understand the Vulnerable Children Act and implications for Schools
  • The importance of effective Child Protection Policies, procedures, and safety check requirements for schools.
  • Collaborative approaches to child protection
  • The impact of child abuse on educational outcomes

Click here to download a flyer for this workshop.

Designated Person for Child Protection

It is recommended that every service, centre or school has a Designated Person or Champion for Child Protection. This role provides advice and support to staff on child protection concerns and drives the culture of child protection creating a safe environment for children. Download the factsheet for more information on this role. To support the Designated Person or Champion in their role further professional development can be achieved by attending the 5-day Child Protection Studies Programme.


Under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 it is a requirement from 1 July 2016 that all schools and education providers have a child protection policy and safer recruitment procedures in place. Child Matters offers a range of Policy Advisory Services to schools to support them in implementing an effective and robust policy.  click here for more information on Child Matters Policy Advisory Service

Child Protection Policy Template

Child Matters has a child protection policy template available for schools to download free of charge and adapt for their unique school environment.

Child Protection Policy template download for schools



Ministry of Education Resources

Implementation of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 in schools

Safety Checking under the Vulnerable Children Act

What checks do I need to undertake for adults coming into my school or kura?

Planning Tool: Implementing changes

Protocol between the Ministry of Education, the New Zealand School Trustees Association and Child, Youth and Family 2009

Further Resources

Child Matters has further resources available to support schools with creating a culture of child protection.


The Vulnerable Children Act, 2014, and associated regulations have introduced new requirements for schools to ensure that children are safe and protected.  Click here to download a factsheet that provides some key considerations to schools about The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 and implications for schools.

Self-assessment Tool

Child Matters has developed a tool to help schools work through the new requirements and assess whether the policy and procedures already in place meet the new standard and what aspects may need to be strengthened or further developed. Download the assessment tool here.

Policy Development Guide

Child Matters has developed a guide Creating a Safe School to support schools in creating a child protection policy and ensuring that all aspects are considered.


Child Matters has developed a leaflet called Child Protection Advice. This leaflet has been developed to support the school in providing information to volunteers, parent helpers, staff or visitors. The leaflet is designed to incorportae the school's logo and design, and to be adapted with school specific information.



Words from the Education Sector…

... about Policy Advisory Services

"the policy has been invaluable and we have been able to use it in a variety of situations - the flow chart has enabled us to deal with all issues that have arisen with knowledge and confidence. The input from Child Matters has been invaluable."

School Principal, Flaxmere

... about the Child Protection Studies Programme

"I think that this course would be of enormous benefit to other beginning teachers or teachers in general. Our training in no way prepares us for the realities we face in the line of work we do. We are often the first port of call and our action or inaction can have huge consequences. When I am now faced with situations I feel more reasoned and able to look at all possible explanations before making a balanced and informed opinion."
Teacher, Te Awamutu

"At my current school, the Management Team, of which I am a part, meet weekly to discuss the welfare of children across our school. We now have six (out of 8) of us who have completed the CPS course. This has ensured our team is pro-active about not accepting any form of abuse. As a group we make the decision to report incidents. We find the group approach is powerful in that the weight and responsibility does not fall to one person. I believe this is because we share a common understanding which attending the CPS course has enabled us to have. If we are in any doubt – we report."
Senior Teacher, Hamilton

"I found the CPS 5 Day course to be extremely informative and to the point. As a teacher I feel this type of course should be a mandatory part of teacher training as teachers are one of the only professionals children will have access to without the presence of an adult family member. Knowing the signs/symptoms of child abuse would be an incredible asset for teachers, enabling them to advocate confidently and competently for children who are being abused or may be at risk of abuse.

This course will benefit me as a teacher as I am in contact with many children on a daily basis and the best interests of children is of paramount importance in my teaching practice. I now have the security of knowing 'when', 'how' and 'why' to handle any child abuse, or suspected child abuse that I may encounter. By going through the correct process with the necessary support in place."
Early Childhood Teacher, Lower Hutt

"Since the course I have on a couple of occasions come across one “red flag” and so I have looked deeper and found things I had otherwise not noticed, more red flags that painted a different picture to the one I had expected. I would recommend this course to others working with children, because I am coming to realise that we can notice things at the lower end of the continuum, recognise what they can potentially mean, and deal with it before it gets too big."
Teacher, Hamilton

It made me challenge my own view of what I can do.  I am just one person. I know now that I can ask for help and that I can make a difference just by doing something as simple as sharing my concerns with another. I feel confident that I can now deal with problems that may arise with a child that I come across in not only my work as a teacher aide but also children in my community. I now know when to act and how."
Teacher Aide, Rotorua

"Your course is one that I think should be part of every trainee teachers study programme." 

"I would recommend the Child Protection Studies Programme to all Early Childhood Educators. I even feel that it should be compulsory for anyone that is doing their early childhood diploma. I look back now and think of some of the children that I have taught over the years and that I have had concerns about and that nothing was done for them, as I didn’t have the knowledge or the confidence to be able to help them."
Early Childhood Centre Supervisor, Cambridge

"The study undertaken is particularly relevant to my work as manager of an early childhood centre working with around 90 families and 100-120 children. In my day to day dealings with children and families I am sometimes exposed to situations that before attending this course I felt uncomfortable and uncertain about. This course has been of great value to me in clarifying the signs and actions I may be witnessing and in making me aware of the cultural perceptions that I may be seeing situations through. After attendance on the Child Protection Studies Programme I feel more skilled and confident in taking action about any situations where I feel a child’s safety may be compromised. I also have a better understanding of the regulations and laws that surround child protection and about my own role and protection in taking any action that is needed."
Manager Early Childhood Centre, Blenheim

"For me personally it provided an insight as to what could be happening under our own noses, that people often tend to turn a blind eye, to stand back and hope someone else will intervene. I can look back and think of incidents that I came across that I may have handled differently if I had the knowledge that I now possess from attending this course."
Teacher Aide, Hamilton

"I am currently serving my second term on the Board of Trustees at my daughters school and I now take particular interest in the policies associated with children and abuse. I am of the opinion that school teachers are very uneducated about the signs of abuse and what can be done about it when it is observed."
Whanau Worker and School Trustee, Dunedin

"I have spoken at length to colleagues, teachers and peers and stressed to them that if the opportunity arises, attend CPS training. This is not only due to the work they are involved in, but what they will gain both professionally and personally from a course such as this."
Social Worker in Schools (SWIS), Gisborne

"Over the last two months we have had involvement with legal authorities and a couple of suspected abuse ‘cases’ at the centre. Being able to discuss with the Director what I learnt from the programme, and implement these accordingly, we were able to deal with them professionally and confidently knowing what we were doing, which diffused any unnecessary stress."
Early Childhood Senior Teacher, Hamilton

"I would highly recommend this course to every teacher of children from kindergarten through to secondary school. I believe that a lot of abuse could be detected earlier if kindergarten and primary school teachers had more training in this area (A CPS course maybe!)"
High School Student Support, Paeroa

"The knowledge gained from attending this course helps guide me when working with children in my school cluster. I have already made recommendations to other work colleagues and to the principals and staff at schools I work with. I believe they will greatly benefit from the course and its content especially as they all work with children of various ethnicities, age groups and backgrounds that are represented as medium to high risk."
Social Worker in Schools (SWIS), Hamilton

"A concern was brought up at one of our (BOT) meetings where there were a large amount of Maaori pupils being stood down behavioural issues therefore myself and a few other members planned a 3 day trip where we were able to take the majority of Maaori students to a marae to stay and learn about tikanga – the ideals and skills learnt during the CPS programme enabled us to identify reasons for some of our tauira having problems and gave our social worker the opportunity to help the families we identified – as a result fewer stand downs, our social workers standing in the community was uplifted and the school has received a glowing report for their commitment."
Intermediate School Trustee, Hamilton

"So how has it changed the way I do things? Where do I start? On the Monday back at school I shared with my fellow colleagues insights into my new learning which brought about interesting conversations about abuse. The perceptions of fellow colleagues varied and humour was often used to minimalise their own personalise experiences. I was honest in my approach as I shared that I had done nothing over the years in teaching when I had a suspicion of abuse of as child. Funnily enough many of my colleagues shared this same sense of guilt."
Teacher, Hamilton

“The Child Protection Studies Programme was a very valuable course, both personally and professionally. The course took place over a week. There was not one minute or one hour during that week where I was not focused and engaged in the programme. I have studied extensively and I have never been able to say that about any other course or learning study I have been involved in.”
Kindergarten Programme Manager, Invercargill

“I would love to see more schools be involved in, and experience this programme which is something I continue to advocate for within my community.”
Health Camp Team Leader, Alexandra

"Our organisations child protection policy has been reviewed due to all managers attending this course from around New Zealand.  I have adopted a saying “I am happy to offend an adult to protect a child”.
Regional Manager Early Childhood Centre, Gisborne.