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Carter announces new initiatives for safer schools

Hon Chris Carter
Minister of Education
Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office

3 July 2008 Media Statement

Embargoed: 11am 3 July 2008

Carter announces new initiatives for safer schools

Education Minister Chris Carter today launched a range of initiatives aimed at making schools safer for students and to ensure schools have anti-bullying programmes in place.

“These initiatives are aimed at focusing schools on this issue and changing school culture to encourage zero-tolerance to bullying,” said Chris Carter.

“Following a number of recent high profile incidents involving bullying, I instructed officials to come up with a range of initiatives that involve new resources for developing strategies to combat bullying in schools. These initiatives include web-based resources, student materials and new action by the Education Review Office.

“ERO will now focus attention on individual schools to ensure that they have strategies in place to combat bullying.

“A practical resource has been developed by students to raise awareness of the importance of creating a safe environment at school.”

Primary and secondary students have designed resource cards called Step Up, Be Safe, that the Ministry of Education will distribute to all state and state-integrated schools.

“Every student from Year Three will receive this personal information card informing them about ways to keep safe in their own school environment.

“This resource can be used by teachers to discuss with students the negative impacts of bullying and what can be done about it,” said Chris Carter.

From Term 3 this year ERO will ask schools whether incidents of particular types of bullying have occurred in their school. By specifically asking about bullying, as part of the formal review processes that schools undertake every three years, Chris Carter is confident that schools without targeted anti-bullying programmes will now be encouraged to develop processes and procedures that make their schools safer places for all their students.

The Ministry of Education has looked internationally at anti-bullying programmes developed in the UK, Canada, Australia and elsewhere that could be useful resources for New Zealand schools. These international resources have been included in a list of successful New Zealand programmes on the MoE Supporting Positive Behaviours website.

The government also supports and funds NetSafe, which provides information and resources about preventing and dealing with cyber bullying in our schools and communities.

Parents and families will now be able to access information on how to deal with instances of bullying through the Ministry of Education’s TeamUp website (www.teamup.govt.nz). The new pages will help parents to connect the Step Up, Be Safe resource with action they can take to support their children.

The Minister also welcomes an independent evaluation on school safety by the Children’s Commissioner. The report will investigate the nature and extent of school violence and experiences of bullying for New Zealand students.

“These new initiatives are about ensuring that our schools are safer places for students. As Minister of Education I know that all parents want their children to be safe at school and not subject to bullying or harassment,” Chris Carter said.

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• Information for parents of secondary school students www.teamup.co.nz/secondary/helpful/Bullying/default.htm
• Information for parents of primary and intermediate school students www.teamup.co.nz/primary-int/helpful/Bullying/default.htm
• Information for Schools www.tki.org.nz/r/governance/positive_behaviours/index_e.php
• ERO's May 2007 report Safe Schools: Strategies to Prevent Bullying is http://ero.govt.nz/ero/publishing.nsf/Content/safe-schs-strats-bullying-may07
• Information on cyberbullying, free phone 0508 638723 or www.netsafe.org.nz.
• Younger children experiencing problems with bullying can call Kidsline on 0800 543 754
• Older students experiencing problems with bullying can call What’s Up on 0800 942 8787

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Keeping Safe at School Q+As

General

Q. What has been announced today?

A. The minister has announced:
• For students - a resource written by students for students
• New processes for ERO to review schools' anti-bullying strategies
• For teachers and principals - Supporting Positive Behaviours - Information website (www.tki.org.nz/r/governance/positive_behaviours/index_e.php)
• For parents and families - finding helpful tips online at Team Up website (www.teamup.co.nz/default.htm)

Q. What is the relevance of these four work programmes?

A. Tackling bullying behaviour requires a partnership approach between teachers, parents, students, community and government. The government provides resources to help schools, parents and communities develop effective responses to bullying behaviour.


Students – Step Up, Be Safe (Be Proud)

Q. What is the purpose of the Step Up, Be Safe (Be Proud) pocket cards?

A. The pocket cards have been developed by young people for young people and give information on what bullying is (including the role of technology), tips and strategies, who to talk to and information on keeping safe. There is a focus on victims of bullies, the bullies and the witnesses.

The cards give young people an opportunity to read information written by their peers and encourage interaction and discussion about ways to keep safe. The Step Up, Be Safe (Be Proud) pocket cards complement the many positive actions being taken by schools, the ministry, community groups, government agencies, and individuals to educate and inform young people about these issues.

Q. Who developed this resource?

A. The pocket card was developed with two groups;
• one primary school (Rangikura Primary School, Porirua) and;
• one secondary school (an Upper Hutt Secondary School).

The ministry has also consulted with key interested parties: Out There! Queer Youth Development, Ministry of Health, Police, Office of the Children’s Commissioner, The National Network of Stopping Violence Services, Human Rights Commission, New Zealand School Trustees Association, CCS Disability Action, Te Puni Kōkiri, IHC New Zealand and SS4Q - Safety in Schools for Queers.

Q. What is the resource based on?

A. Although this pocket card has been developed by students, the ministry have also relied heavily on evidence and research to validate the content.


Q. Who is the target audience?

A. One card has been produced for secondary school students and another for primary school students. Every student from Year 3 upwards will receive a copy of the pocket card during July 2008.

ERO - new processes for reviewing schools' anti-bullying strategies

Q. What will ERO be doing differently?

A. As well as its customary investigations into safety in every school review, ERO will include two new questions in the Health, Safety and Welfare section of its Board Assurance Statement:

The board:
1) currently provides anti-bullying programmes
Please circle: Yes/No/Unsure

2. Anti-bullying programmes include a focus on:
(i) racist bullying
(ii) bullying of students with special needs
(iii) homophobic bullying
(iv) sexual harassment
Please circle: Yes/No/Unsure

Where a school checks 'no' or 'unsure' in either of 1) or 2) ERO follows this up with the school.

Q. How will ERO report on what schools are doing?

A. ERO would report in the Compliance (safety) section of the school's public ERO report:

"In order to improve current practice the school should provide anti-bullying programmes that include a focus on ....."


Teachers and principals - Supporting Positive Behaviours –Information website

Q. What is the purpose of the Supporting Positive Behaviours – Information website?

A. The aim of Supporting Positive Behaviours – Information website is to provide boards of trustees, principals and senior staff with information about behaviour including bullying. This information is intended to help address problem behaviours in all aspects of school life and develop positive school environments. The content is collected in one place for easy access and use.

The ‘Bullying’ section of the Supporting Positive Behaviours – Information website has recently been updated. The Bullying section now includes a definition of bullying, expectations of schools to tackle bullying behaviours outlines the different types of approaches that schools could adopt and gives details of programmes, toolkits and initiatives being used in New Zealand schools and internationally.

Q. Who has contributed to this resource?

A. The Supporting Positive Behaviours was developed by the Ministry in consultation with education sector organistaions and others with an interest in this issue.

Those Groups included: IHC, NZ CCS, Ministry of Health, Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Youth Development, NZ Police, Children’s Commission, Education Review Office, Ministry of Social Development, Safety in Schools for Queers, Donald Beesley Institute, Netsafe, Children’s Issues Centre, New Zealand Association for Adolescent Health and Development, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Families Commission, The New Zealand Peer Support Programme, and Promoting Youth Non-Violence.

Q. What is the resource based on?

A. Research shows that behaviour should be viewed as a whole school issue requiring a whole school solution. Supporting Positive Behaviours – Information promotes a whole school approach to help structure a positive and challenging learning environment throughout the school.
Principals are charged with managing complex institutions, in partnership with boards of trustees. Boards have a legal responsibility to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students and staff. Principals and boards develop and instil the values that underpin their school’s philosophy and culture.
Q. Who is the target audience?

A. Supporting Positive Behaviours – Information website is a resource for boards of trustees, principals, and senior staff. It will give them easy access to information about behaviour including bullying.


Parents and families - Team Up website

Q. What is the purpose of the Team Up website?

A. The purpose of the Team-Up website is to provide accessible, engaging online information and tools that support parents and whānau to be involved and contribute to their children’s educational journey, from early years right through secondary school and beyond.

The Team-Up website will inform and equip parents to help support their children to understand the issues of bullying and how to more effectively manage incidences of bullying should they occur.

Q. What is the new information on Team Up?

A. The new information on the Team-Up website will make links to the new bullying card for students.

Q. Why have you developed this information?

A. The information has been developed to:

- Support the student bullying card by making parents aware of this resource and what they can do to support its use.
- Link parents to existing information on the Team-Up website.
- Assist parents to help them understand bullying and how they can help their child deal with it.
- In response to parent demand - the bullying topic is one of the most frequently accessed areas of the Team-Up website.

Q. Who is the target audience?

A. The specific target audience for bullying information on the Team-Up website are parents (as well as wider family, whānau and caregivers) of school aged children. The Team-Up website also serves a wider audience of teachers, principals, and staff of other support agencies who find this information valuable in supporting them in their interactions with parents on the topic of bullying.

Q. How does it help parents with bullying?

A. The new information helps parents by drawing attention to the student bullying card and gives advice on what they can do to support its use.

The new information supports existing materials by:

- Building awareness of the types of bullying and helping them to identify if their child is being bullied.
- Showing how they can help their child deal with bullying and regain their confidence.
- Giving advice on what to do if their child is bullying others.

ENDS

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