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Schools play vital role in children’s recovery and health

6 December, 2012

Schools play vital role in children’s recovery and health

Schools play a vital role in children’s wellbeing and recovery after a disaster, according to evidence from Canterbury District Health Board studies on the impact of disasters on children’s education and health.

Two documents, Community and Public Health, CDHB and The role of schools in communities and community recovery post-disaster: a literature review, completed just last week, reflect the importance of schools in children’s recovery after a disaster.

Christchurch schools know this and that view was strongly reflected at a meeting of more than 1000 primary school staff in the city yesterday.

Teachers, principals and support staff, who have given notice of strike on February 19 next year in protest at the lack of consultation over the Christchurch renewal plan for education, spoke passionately at the meeting of the role schools played for their communities and children post earthquakes.

The Canterbury DHB studies reflect this. For example, the literature review states:

“Schools have played a central role in providing a sense of normality for students and parents following disasters, including the Canterbury earthquakes. This is very important, as exposure to disasters can lead to mental health problems in children. Teachers can help monitor the ongoing mental health of children over time.” (page 4, The role of schools in communities and community recovery post-disaster: a literature review).

The literature review also said that schools had more than just an educational function, being a centre of identity for their community, providing a sense of social cohesion and ultimately contributing to better wellbeing for their community.

“Because of the important roles schools play in their communities, proposed school closures or mergers are likely to be perceived by their communities as threatening a range of losses.” (page 3).

At yesterday’s meeting teachers also said schools mergers and closures had children and their communities worried.

“The one thing that children in Christchurch need at the moment is stability,” said John Leadbetter, a teacher at Parkview School in Christchurch.

He said that after the February 22 earthquake teachers and support staff looked after the kids at their school.

“We hugged them and their parents, we were looking after them. That’s how communities work. The Ministry does not understand that.”


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