Teachers at NZ broadcasting school did not bully or discriminate against students

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
May 05, 2022 |

Teachers at New Zealand’s broadcasting school in Christchurch did not harass, bully or discriminate against students, according to an independent report.

The investigation was commissioned by Ara Acting Chief Executive Darren Mitchell, and was led by Richard Raymond QC.

The review covered the period from February 2019 – October 2021.

It found no evidence of bullying or harassment, including sexual and racial harassment, by tutors towards students, and any public perceptions to the contrary have no foundation.

However, the investigator found, in some streams, there had been a prevalent and poor culture of behaviour, predominantly amongst some students, which had a significant negative impact on the wellbeing of other students in the school.

“These behaviours included instances of bullying, harassment, including sexual harassment and the making of sexist, racist and inappropriate comments.”

One student described their experience at the NZBS during the relevant period as traumatic.

This student summed up the NZBS as a group of “really young people” who are “essentially out of high school and who are expected to be professionals”.

However, because of a lack of pastoral care, the NZBS lends itself to sexual harassment and bullying to grow within the student community, because students are all “stuck together in such an intense environment”.

This student likened the experience to the “Lord of the Flies”.

Another student described a culture of unnecessary and unhealthy competition.

It created an atmosphere ripe for bullying behaviours and sexual harassment. This student, as with many others, also referred to the significant drinking/boy’s club culture. Young men (primarily) in the class of one stream tend to “run in a pack” with the result that if another student, particularly if the student is female, “offends one then you offend all”.

There was a concern expressed by some students that tutors felt “too intimidated” or “too timid” in front of a group of up to 12 “boys” to “call them out and shut the inappropriate comments down”.

Independent report criticised the New Zealand Herald on its reporting

Raymond criticised the New Zealand Herald for its reporting on the allegations.

“A further article was published by the New Zealand Herald on 29 September 2021. That article revealed that Ara would be commencing this investigation. The article also detailed several accounts of inappropriate conduct that former students had allegedly been subjected to.”

“I note that the majority of these accounts had not been detailed by the New Zealand Herald in its email to Ara sent on 27 September. I record this because the article infers that Ara was privy to all of the alleged issues being raised prior to the article being published. It was not.”

“The New Zealand Herald published a further article about the NZBS on 14 October 2021. The headline stated that the “NZ broadcasting school confirms multiple bullying and harassment allegations against staff”.

“The article then commenced with the statement that “a top broadcasting school has confirmed multiple official complaints of bullying and one of sexual harassment have been raised by students against staff members in recent years”.

“This was not an accurate statement,” the record said.

In an article published today, Herald said the independent review was sparked by its own reporting, but omitted the criticism observed by Richard Raymond QC in its latest article.

“Ara has subsequently confirmed to me and I am satisfied from the information available that there has, in fact, only been one formal complaint of bullying by a student against a staff member and one formal complaint of sexual harassment by a student against a staff member, in the past five years.”

“The article has understandably caused considerable stress to staff members, who have felt unfairly targeted as a result of these accusations.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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