Monday, 1 February 2021

Education and Training Act

Last year was an intense and busy year for us in education. We’ve all had to learn to work from home, become far too familiar with Zoom, and then get used to commuting to work again. All in the same year that saw the Education and Training Bill become an Act.

The Act was the biggest change in education legislation since the Education Act in 1989. This of course means we’re making changes to your SchoolDocs content. The first round of changes focused on areas that were changing immediately. These changes were mostly around inclusive education.

The release of the Education and Training Act closely coincided with the release of the refreshed Ka Hikitia and the Action Plan for Pacific Education. We used these and the Act as the basis of our updates to topics such as:

  • Changes signTe Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Inclusive Education
  • Recognition of Cultural Diversity 
  • Māori Educational Success (formerly Improving Educational Outcomes for Māori Students)

The changes we made not only cover legislative requirements but also reflect the Government’s commitments to improving educational outcomes and eliminating discrimination, while keeping the topics flexible to include your school-specific information. Check out the What’s New page on your SchoolDocs site (there's a link on your site’s Welcome page).

You can access the Model site from your Dashboard. This is where we show generic versions of our topics with the yellow highlighting that wording we can easily change. You can contact us at any time to make school-specific changes.

TKI has a fantastic resource with guidelines for helping students feel included. One consistent theme throughout these resources, and in the Ka Hikitia and Action Plan for Pacific Education, is building interdependent relationships with students and their whānau. The key to building this relationship is open and clear communication. Learners thrive in an environment where their background and identity is valued.

Future Education and Training Act updates

Another stated aim of the Education and Training Act was to consolidate the major Acts about education into one act. This means that many of the legislative requirements haven’t changed or have only had minor changes. We’ll be rolling out further changes to content as the new Act is implemented.

We’ve also been reviewing our Enrolment, Performance Management, and Appraisal topics as the next step in our updates.

Written by Chris Boyce. 

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Prevention of Bribery, Corruption, Fraud, and Theft



Cultures of Fraud and Corruption


We recently had some schools ask about our policies on bribery and corruption, and decided to update our existing Theft and Fraud Prevention policy. We've compiled content from the SchoolDocs site with other resources and renamed the topic to Prevention of Bribery, Corruption, Fraud, and Theft.

The two main ways to help prevent fraud are having the right controls in place and a culture within your school that removes the temptation to commit fraud.

Financial controls

The Finance and Property Management section of your SchoolDocs site includes details of the financial controls that should be in place at your school. At the last scheduled review of this section, we consulted with school financial auditors to ensure best practice and compliance.

The SchoolDocs Finance and Property Management Policy, and its supporting policies and procedures, has its scheduled review in term 1 2021. This is your chance to review your implementation of these very important policies and procedures.

When speaking with RNZ in December last year about financial controls in schools she'd analysed, Louise Mackenzie, a senior lecturer in auditing and assurance from the Eastern Institute of Technology, said “not a single school actually followed its complete internal control policy”.

Culture

Your school’s culture starts at the top. The board and senior leaders can create a clean culture within the school that filters down to your staff members and community. A good way to do this is to encourage and be open to talking about fraud. You should let your staff know that you have a strong commitment to preventing and have zero tolerance for
any kind of fraud or corruption.

People are less likely to attempt fraud when your staff members know what to look for and feel comfortable speaking up about their suspicions. Staff members will likely only come forward if they feel that the school leaders are open to talking about fraud and corruption, and take it seriously.

Influences and red flags

Knowledge is key to preventing fraud and corruption at your school. There are three general influences that may signify fraud and corruption.

  • Motivation – There may be pressures to commit fraud such as blackmail or personal financial trouble.
  • Opportunity – Lax use of financial controls might lead to situations where fraud is easier to commit, such as a staff member approving their own travel costs.
  • Frame of mind – People can find ways to justify committing fraud such as saying “anyone in the same position would do it” or “the chance was there so I took it”.

International Fraud Awareness week starts on the 15th of November. The website has a number of resources, including an infographic on behavioural red flags. The biggest warning sign is someone living beyond their means. The website has a nice collection of information, tips, and guides about preventing and identifying fraud.

Written by Chris Boyce 


Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Sun Protection

It was great to see so many school communities engaging with the Sun Protection policy as part of the term 4 2019 SchoolDocs review. Board members, staff, and parents were invited to send review feedback, and we heard from a wide range of reviewers. Most reviewers were very happy with the policy and their school’s implementation of it, but we also received lots of good ideas for improvement, and we’ve updated the topic with these suggestions in mind.

When the policy applies – The Cancer Society offers feedback on our policy, and this year they suggested making it apply not only during terms 1 and 4 but at any time the UVR levels are above 3. This means the ‘no hat no play’ policy (if a school has this) and other sunsafe practices would apply throughout the year, on days that are identified as high in UVR.

Sunscreen – We received overwhelming feedback from reviewers that the policy needs to be clearer in how the use of sunscreen should be implemented. Many schools have sunscreen available for students, and schools can add details about how it should be used. See our Model site for some sample wording, and tell us what wording you’d like about sunscreen management.

Hats – While many primary schools have a ‘no hats, no play’ rule (requiring students to sit/play in the shade or inside if they don’t have a hat during terms 1 and 4) some schools noted difficulty enforcing this rule, with students not having hats, forgetting or losing them, having them blow off during active play, or not having a school culture where wearing a hat was the ‘norm’. Based on the review feedback, schools that have the hat as part of a uniform seemed to find this easier.

Other points of note – Educating your school community about your sun protection policy and the risks of excessive UVR is key, and schools that felt they were successful in this area shared their policy annually and put regular reminders in their newsletters.

SunSmart Schools – If you’re a SunSmart accredited school, do you have the optional statement to show this on your SchoolDocs policy? If not, let us know and we’ll add it. If you do have the statement about being a SunSmart school, are you still meeting their minimum criteria to stay accredited? See the SunSmart website for more details.

What’s next? – Read your updated policy on your SchoolDocs site and compare it with the Model site version to see what parts can be easily changed, and our suggested wording for best practice. Got questions about your sun protection policy, or need to make a change? Contact SchoolDocs.

We understand a change in the timing of the policy may be difficult for schools to implement, so we haven’t made a change to our generic wording at this stage. However, let us know if your school wants to extend your policy timing.
Schools would need to consider how a change in timing would work – could the duty supervisor check the UVR levels daily and make a call on whether hats/sunscreen should be worn or not, in the same way that a ‘rainy day’ decision is made in winter? Some schools have a UVI board where they mark the levels, or a flag they put up when it’s a day that requires sun protection. What might work for your school?

A number of reviewers also queried the best kind of sunscreen to use. We follow the Cancer Society’s recommendation of a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30.

We’d like to point out that the wording about hats in your Sun Protection policy is completely tailorable. Schools that don’t require students to wear wide brim hats can say they allow caps, or if hat wearing is only encouraged rather than required, then the policy wording can be changed to reflect that. It’s important that your policy say what your school does, rather than an ideal, so let us know if your policy needs updating to match your school’s practice.

It was great to see some schools thinking about how to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the policy by tracking the numbers of students who are wearing sunhats and sunscreen, and/or encouraging students to report sunburn, perhaps by recording sunburn at school as a minor-moderate injury.
Lots of schools are also clearly working on ways to increase their shading and giving thought to this in their property planning. Others also showed thought going into their uniform development. While the recommendation to wear long-sleeved tops on sunny days seemed excessive to some reviewers, as something outside the cultural norm, others are beginning to consider how they might introduce a thin long-sleeve shirt into the school summer uniform, which would also reduce the need for sunscreen.