Safe physical and emotional environment for students
The National Administration Guidelines require schools to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students – NAG 5 (i).
Recent news reports have prompted the Prime Minister to call for a national conversation around bullying. Here is the letter to all boards of trustees and principals from the Minister of Education as part of this discussion.
4 April 2011
Board of Trustees
Recent news reports of bullying have been disturbing and have raised questions in the minds of parents and the public regarding the safety of our schools. This has prompted the Prime Minister to call for a national conversation around bullying.
Bullying, in whatever form it takes, is clearly damaging for children and young people. It impacts on their wellbeing and consequently their learning. I am also aware that these issues often have their origin outside the school gates but need to be responded to within the school environment.
I am confident that many schools are proactive in their approach to this issue, and since 2009 the Government has taken a range of actions to support schools in dealing with bullying, in particular with the work of the Positive Behaviour for Learning Action Plan. However, the graphic examples of bullying in schools portrayed in the media have led me to underline not just my expectations, but the legal requirement of boards of trustees to provide a safe environment at school for all students.
The National Administration Guidelines require schools to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students – NAG 5(i). All boards should be fully aware of their obligations in this regard, but this is an opportunity for you to talk to your school principal and staff and the wider school community to check that your school has the appropriate policies and practices in place and more importantly that they are effective.
Positive Behaviour for Learning is a programme designed to support New Zealand schools with behaviour, including bullying. The programmes have a budget of $60 million over five years and complement other initiatives that are already in place, such as the Ministry's Severe Behaviour services and the Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour service transformation work.
The programmes in the portfolio support families, teachers, and schools, and are of direct benefit to children and young people, they include:
- The Incredible Years Parent Programme
- The Incredible Years Teacher Programme
- School-Wide Positive Behaviour for Learning
- The Intensive Wrap Around Behaviour Service
Further information about Positive Behaviour for Learning is available on the Ministry of Education website.
As I have said, I am aware that bullying does not occur solely on school grounds, but I do believe that schools have a leadership role to play in their communities on this issue. This is why I am convening a meeting of school and education leaders as well as representatives from the Police, Child, Youth and Family and other social agencies to ensure we are doing everything to help you deal with bullying issues.
In closing I would like to reiterate my expectations, and the expectations of parents, that all students can learn in a safe environment. I look forward to your whole-hearted commitment to ensuring this can happen.
If your school needs assistance or information, contact your local regional office of the Ministry of Education. A copy of this letter will also be available in the mail.
Thank you for all your efforts on this issue to date and I look forward to us making progress on this issue together.
Hon Anne Tolley
Minister of Education