Ministry of Education Action's Needed
The information also provides a starting point for the Ministry of Education to begin to look at and evaluate its effectiveness in providing oversight to services on staff health and safety, as this has consequences for compliance with regulations for staffing and children’s health and safety and education outcomes.
The comments by some respondents that they had been injured by children, suggests that more work may need to done around ensuring small group sizes to reduce stress for children, settling children with behavioral or special needs, or children who have experienced recent trauma or upheaval, and staff training along with provision of adequate teacher aide support.
The Ministry of Education may already be aware of staff bullying occurring within the early childhood education sector and it could respond by rolling out professional development training to service providers (owners and operators) and managers in particular, on human relations skills and how to develop and ensure a culture that does not support bullying.
Further, it could require every service provider to read and sign as part of their statutory declaration of being a person who is ‘fit and proper’ to hold the license for a service that they have understood WorkSafe NZ best practice guidelines on preventing and responding to bullying in the workplace.
A Further Focus
Future research could look at whether there are differences in worker health and safety by physical features associated with the location for example, a separate but interesting point raised by one survey respondent who said: “Our kindergarten is on a hill and we get terrible hay fever, which everyone working here seems to notice, even if they've never had it before.”