The Ministry of Education is providing support to schools, kura and early learning services in the wake of Friday’s shocking event in Christchurch.

“This is a really tough time for New Zealanders and it’s critical our children and young people get the support and care they need as they return to schools and other learning institutions,” says Secretary for Education Iona Holsted.

The Ministry has 200 staff in Christchurch working with schools, including those experienced in working with refugee and migrant communities. They are working closely with Canterbury DHB staff to ensure all support is co-ordinated. Additional staff are on standby across New Zealand in case they are needed.

Traumatic Incident support has been offered to all schools, kura and early learning services as the Ministry works to assess their needs. Traumatic Incident teams will begin visiting those who need immediate support this morning. These teams are made up of psychologists and special education advisors and may also include education advisors, kaitakawaenga or other Ministry or external agency staff. They are trained and able to provide advice and support to schools and early learning services who experience traumatic events.

“This is to support them to respond, recover and renew. We will provide support for as long as it is needed,” says Holsted.

“A number of schools have Mana Ake support or other services already working with them, but we will be checking in with these schools again to see if they need additional support.”
Holsted acknowledges that the ramifications of Friday’s attacks extend well beyond Christchurch. All regions have Traumatic Incident teams on standby to provide support today.

“While we remain very focused on Christchurch schools, kura and early learning services, we know children and young people around the country have been impacted by Friday’s events and we will also ensure they are provided with the support they need.”

The Ministry has also provided some tips and guidance  for parents and educators on supporting conversations with children and young people have been circulated to all New Zealand schools and early learning services and our regional offices around the country are in contact with them to see what support they might need.

Holsted says it’s important to look after teachers and staff working with students.  The Ministry is working with the School Trustees Association to see how boards of trustees can help with this.

Students in our tertiary institutions may also be impacted – as may international students in our schools and tertiary institutions.”

Agencies like NZQA, Tertiary Education Commission and Education NZ are all working together to make contact with tertiary providers and are providing them with after-hours contacts and offers of help where needed.

Holsted says overseas family members who may be concerned about a student’s safety should go to the Red Cross family links page where you can register an individual’s details and see if family members are safe.
“We will make daily assessments about ongoing additional resource requirements and will continue to provide support for as long as it’s needed.”

Traumatic Incidents teams can:

  • Help schools develop appropriate processes for dealing with an incident to ensure the safety and well-being of their children/young people and staff and to return the ECE centre/school to normal operations as quickly as possible
  • help schools understand the emotional and psychological impacts of a traumatic incident and the effects such impacts can have on how people behave and advise on things schools can do to support people who have been involved in a traumatic incident
  • advise schools on how to communicate about the incident appropriately with their children/young people, staff, parents and the community – including the media
  • link schools with other appropriate services where necessary.
  • Mana Ake was established in the Canterbury area after the earthquakes to provide support to teachers, families and whānau when children are experiencing issues that impact on their wellbeing

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