Teacher vetting campaign lagging

Police checks on thousands of Victorian private school teachers are yet to be completed, despite expectations they would wind up last year.

The Age reports that checks in the Catholic school system began a year ago, but about 500 out of more than 12,000 teachers have not had their checks finalised.

In the independent sector, where checks began in October, about 3500 teachers 30 per cent of the workforce have not completed the procedure. The criminal records checks of non-government school teachers have not revealed anything that required disciplinary action.

The Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT), which had expected the checks would be completed by the end of last year, now estimates they will be finished by the middle of this year. Chief executive officer Andrew Ius said the process was "a substantial workload", and the institute could not compel independent schools to accept the service offered. But he also assured parents of their children's safety.

"The likelihood of teachers having serious criminal convictions in their past, especially those involving sexual offences against children, is extremely remote," he said.

Across government schools, about 10,000 police checks were carried out by the Education Department in the lead-up to the 2005 school year. It found two teachers with sex offences and nine staff convicted of non-sexual crimes.

The Catholic Education Office, which had said all checks would be finished last year, said most of those left were teachers who were on long-service or maternity leave. "The safety of kids in schools is paramount," said director Susan Pascoe. "We respect the work of the VIT but this has taken longer than anyone anticipated."

Since 2003, all teachers entering or returning to the profession are required to have criminal records checks. Teachers are required to have a police check every five years in order to renew their registration.

Teacher vetting campaign lagging (The Age 14/3/06)

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14 Mar 2006