Ministry of Education welcomes independent report on the Lockdown by schools

The Ministry of Education welcomes the independent report from KPMG on the Lockdown by schools and early learning services that took place during the tragic events in Christchurch on 15 March 2019.

"The safety and wellbeing of our children and young people is paramount. All children and young people who were at a school or early learning service on 15 March went home safely,” says Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Education.

"We commissioned the review to ensure that any opportunities for improvement are identified and acted on, so we can strengthen any future response should a similar event occur.

“The KPMG report recognises that the Ministry of Education emergency guidance is effective and accurate, however we are committed to working with schools, early learning services, and NZ Police to respond to the opportunities for improvement identified through the review process.

"The independent review reflects input from a wide range of stakeholders, and it identifies a set of specific actions.

"The learnings from the Lockdown report are applicable nationwide and we will work with early learning services, schools and NZ Police to implement these over the coming months.

"One key improvement is already available. During the Christchurch event, we relied on email and telephone to communicate with early learning services and schools. Although this was largely effective, we now have access to Mataara, a new mobile phone-based tool that will enable quick and simultaneous communication with every school and early learning service in a given region. This is currently being rolled out across New Zealand,” Ms Casey says.

"As well as actions for the Ministry, the report also highlights the opportunity for all schools and early learning services to review their current Lockdown policies and procedures. Emergency plans need to be pragmatic, support adaptive leadership, and have child wellbeing at the centre of all planning and preparation."

KPMG Lockdown Review Report [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Further information

As a result of the events on March 15 in Christchurch, the Ministry contracted KPMG to provide an independent review of the education sector’s response on the day.

The review was based on input from a wide range of stakeholders, including leaders and staff from schools and early learning services in Canterbury, parents, children, young people, NZ Police and Ministry of Education.

Below you will find the key recommendations and actions for the Ministry as well as schools and early learning services. 

Ministry led actions in response to the Lockdown Review

  • Review current lockdown and broader emergency management guidance to reflect feedback provided by the sector and the experience of the March 15 event
  • Each Police region and the Ministry will have dedicated contact people who can liaise with each other in an emergency event.
  • The Ministry will use Mataara to communicate instantaneously and simultaneously with schools and early learning services in the event of a future emergency.
  • In order to ensure a consistent approach nationally, the Ministry is ensuring their FIRST database, which contains contact details of schools and early learning services, is accurate, so it can be used for future events.
  • The Ministry will work with the NZ Police to develop an emergency management guidance document for parents/caregivers (including how to respond to an incident).
  • The Ministry will consider the findings from this review and make any adjustments to policy (building design) as required.

Recommendations for Schools and Early learning services

Schools and early learning services know their own environment and context best and so are best-placed to plan accordingly, working closely with the NZ Police, Civil Defence and other emergency services.

Schools and early learning services need to ensure that appropriate local policies and procedures are in place for emergency management which recognise:

  • The school’s/service’s own unique context and environment including necessary provisions for longer lockdowns
  • The role of staff (including relief teachers) in supporting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people
  • The need for adaptive leadership to a range of dynamic potential situations
  • The role of parents and Whanau in a Lockdown event
  • The potential for a future Lockdown event to continue outside of normal school hours.

In order to develop the appropriate level of preparedness to a range of potential future events, schools and early learning services should ensure:

  • There is adequate communication and training of emergency management procedures and policies to staff and parents/caregivers.
  • Emergency management drills are practised at an appropriate level of frequency in line with good practice.
  • School/service leadership and staff, including relief teachers, have adequate emergency management capability.

Schools and early learning services should review the Ministry’s emergency management guidance and identify any opportunities to strengthen their emergency management policies and procedures.

Schools and early learning services should incorporate the voice of children and young people into their emergency management policies and procedures in order to mitigate some of these challenges.

If a Lockdown were to happen off-site (eg in a public library), schools and early learning services need to have a plan for how their staff can communicate back to the school/service regarding the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people.

In line with the Ministry’s guidance, schools and early learning services should consider alternate ways to cover windows and glass doors e.g. with sacking or brown paper.

We will work with Police and representatives from the education sector to implement the recommendations. The existing Ministry emergency management guidance remains fit for purpose and we encourage you to use this information and templates to support the review and development of your emergency management plans.


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