Christchurch shooting: Parents assaulting staff, lack of communication among weaknesses identified in school lockdown review

Parents or caregivers assaulting and threatening school staff is just one area which has been identified for improvement to school lockdown procedures in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings.

About 59,000 school students were forced to huddle together for four hours during the terror attacks, when a lone gunman allegedly killed 51 people and injured another 50 at two mosques.

Some students had to lie on the classroom floors, while others had to use buckets as toilets.

With a report into lockdown procedures released on Monday, the Ministry of Education says while its emergency guidance is "effective and accurate", it was committed to helping the education sector respond to opportunities for improvement.

"The independent review reflects input from a wide range of stakeholders, and identifies a set of specific actions," ministry deputy secretary Katrina Casey said.

The report says a number of respondents to the survey witnessed irrational behaviour from parents or caregivers; including banging on doors, and threatening or assaulting staff.

Such behaviour resulted in some schools and pre-schools breaching their lockdown procedures, the report says.

"Additionally, large numbers of parents waited outside of schools/early learning services until their children were released, which was seen by some respondents as increasing the risk."

Communication was another identified area for improvement. The report describes the effectiveness of it as "mixed".

"A number of respondents noted that communication was done on the day given the circumstances receiving regular updates through a range of mechanisms including text, application and emails. Conversely, others heard little to nothing from their school/service, often because they could not access the communication mechanism, which they found confusing and stressful."

The review was conducted of all aspects of the four-hour lockdown, including school building designs, toileting, school policies and procedures, and make recommendations for changes and improvements.

"One key improvement is already available," Casey said. "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."

Other concerns noted in the review, by audit company KPMG, include:

  • An inability to address the needs of children and young people with learning support needs
  • concerns regarding emergency supplies if the lockdown went on for longer
  • some staff thought the lockdown was a hoax, as police were contacting school receptions directly
  • a lack of training in emergency management resulted in some staff feeling uncertain regarding what to do.


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