Traumatic incident management support

As part of its responsibilities to students and the greater community the Ministry of Education, in partnership with individual schools, has a responsibility to ensure that learning environments are emotionally and physically safe for children and young people - National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) 5.1.

In the event of a traumatic incident involving a student at school the Ministry of Education is available to work closely with the school to manage the incident and to reduce any possibility of further harm to others by assisting the school to continue its day-to-day operations.

Traumatic incidents in New Zealand schools and early childhood education settings have been broadly defined as events that:

  • cause sudden and/or significant disruption to the operation or effective operation of a school, early childhood service and/or community
  • have the potential to affect a large number of children, young people and/or staff
  • create significant dangers or risks to the physical and emotional well-being of children, young people or persons within a community
  • attract media attention or a public profile for the early childhood education service or school as a result of these incidents.

National Administration Guideline 5.1 states that ‘a Board of Trustees is required to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students’. Ideally schools should develop a Traumatic Incident Plan before an incident occurs. The following outlines steps that schools can take in the development of such a plan.

  1. The Ministry’s Special Education Group runs annual Traumatic Incident Response Plan workshops to support schools, early childhood services and their associated community agencies to collaboratively develop school-based/Early Childhood Education-based Traumatic Incident Response Plans and Teams.
  2. Once a plan is in place it needs to be regularly reviewed by staff who have been designated as part of the traumatic incidence response team at the school.
  3. Schools should ensure all staff are familiar with the response action plan and know what to do in the event of a traumatic incident.

Traumatic incident coordinators from the Ministry of Education can assist you with the preparation of policies and traumatic incident planning. Contact can be made with Traumatic Incident coordinators through the 0800 service 0800 TI Team (0800 848 326).

A link to resources and information on suicide prevention can be found on the Emergencies and traumatic incidents page.


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