Education Minister suggests ‘external review’ at Teaching Council

Source: 1News

The Minister of Education has “suggested” an external review at the Teaching Council, after highly sensitive information about dozens of teachers and principals was accidentally published online.

Empty classroom.

The massive privacy breach included details about complaints and investigations into teacher conduct, and even named students involved in what are described as “inappropriate relationships” with teachers.

It appears a spreadsheet containing the information was accidentally uploaded to the internet and then indexed by Google, where it could be found thousands of different ways by any member of the public.

It was only removed when 1News inadvertently stumbled across the document in a Google search result while researching an unrelated story and alerted the authorities.

The Teaching Council has apologised “unreservedly” and announced an internal investigation on Thursday.

But Education Minister Chris Hipkins has now recommended the work is done by someone from outside the organisation.

“I have suggested they conduct an external review into the breach, which will identify any shortcomings and whether any processes need to be improved,” he said in a statement this afternoon.

“I am pleased to learn they will adopt that recommendation.”

The full document contained hundreds of pieces of correspondence received by the Teaching Council in 2020 and 2021, including things like emails and Official Information Act requests sent by members of the public.

Dozens of those listings name teachers, principals and schools in connection with complaints, investigations and mandatory reports. Many also appear to name the complainants themselves.

It also included police inquiries about teachers and discussion about everything from historical abuse at schools to the mental health of students.

1News alerted the Teaching Council and the Privacy Commissioner last week and waited until the link was removed, before running the story.

Its chief executive Lesley Hoskin has previously said it was “human error” and has written to 43 people to apologise.

“We're still investigating exactly how far it went and what happened, we've removed the data and the spreadsheet,” she said yesterday.

“I unreservedly offer an apology for the mistake that occurred, of course every member of the public and every teacher should be able to trust us and in this instance we have let ourselves down and we've let the profession down.”

1News has approached the Teaching Council again today for comment on terms of the new external review.