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School alerts procedure

Version number 1.1 | Version effective 27 May 2019
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School alerts procedure

Audience

All state schools

Purpose

This procedure provides steps for state schools and regional offices to notify senior executives about critical incidents affecting Queensland state schools via a school alert.  

Overview

A critical incident is an event that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of one or more individuals in the school community and impacts on or directly disrupts the operation, educational program, environment and/or reputation of the school. The Department of Education (DoE) is notified of a critical incident via a school alert.

School alerts ensure relevant departmental senior executives are promptly informed of critical incidents that may seriously affect the health and safety of school staff, students and/or the school community and/or draw adverse media attention.

A school alert does not replace or diminish other reporting or notification requirements, including those to external/regulatory agencies. A full report and/or investigation of a critical incident may be required to meet other obligations, including but not limited to student protection, workplace health and safety, health, safety and wellbeing incident management and infrastructure incident management (DoE employees only) reporting.

Instances of staff misconduct or code of conduct breaches are not covered by this procedure and should be reported to Integrity and Employee Relations (DoE employees only) (intake@qed.qld.gov.au).

Responsibilities

Principals

  • Ensure the immediate safety and wellbeing of staff, students, parents, contractors, volunteers and other visitors.
  • Notify senior executives of critical incidents through school alerts and provide updates to close off the issue or if the impact of the critical incident escalates. 
  • Nominate a delegate to action critical incident notifications, if required.
  • Ensure recovery processes are enacted following a critical incident in order to facilitate a return to the normal school routine as soon as possible and ensure persons involved are supported.
  • For those schools accredited under the Education Queensland International student program, ensure an officer is available outside of school hours if a response is required involving an international student.

Regional Directors

  • Ensure that schools and regional offices have procedures and delegated staff in place to notify senior executives of critical incidents as soon as possible.
  • Take responsibility to support schools to manage incidents where required.
  • Assess, approve and progress school alerts.
  • Confirm any other required reporting has occurred.
  • Provide appropriate support to the principal and school as required.

State Schools Division

  • Notify nominated DoE senior executives of all school alerts and updates.
  • Record and report school alert data to DoE senior executives.
  • Regularly review state-wide incident reporting and refer recommendations for policy or procedure reviews to the relevant area of DoE.

Assistant Directors-General

  • Follow up any school alerts relevant to their portfolio as required.
  • Respond to any emerging themes or state-wide issues notified in school alerts, relevant to their portfolio.

Process

Principal or their delegate

  1. Ensure the safety and wellbeing of all persons involved, including action to prevent further injuries or incidents.
  2. Assess individual incidents to determine if they meet the threshold for a school alert. Additional assessment may be based on:
  • whether the situation can be managed by the school/region using usual processes (non-critical incident) or
  • whether there is potential for a minor situation to escalate to a critical incident due to additional factors.
  • Note: Mandatory reporting is required for all incidents categorised as bomb or armed threats, abduction or attempted abduction or where a lockdown or evacuation has occurred.
  1. Advise the regional office of a critical incident as soon as possible but always on the same day the incident occurs via phone, email or the School alert notification template.
  2. Provide school alert updates to the regional office to close off the issue or when the impacts of the critical incident continue. For example, ongoing media interest occurs requiring school and/or regional management, or if there are further updates on student or staff health after an injury or illness.

Regional Director or their delegate

  1. Review and approve a school alert when received to ensure it captures all information required and has been de-identified to protect privacy. If a school alert has been received by phone or email, complete the school alert notification template.
  2. Ensure a clear regional process is followed. Refer to the School Alert – school and regional processes as an exemplar.
  3. Report incidents to Strategic Communication and Engagement media mailbox (media@qed.qld.gov.au).  
  4. Progress school alerts to State Schools Division via email (school.alert@qed.qld.gov.au) on the same working day it is received from the school.
  5. Provide updates on the initial school alert via email if the impacts of the critical incident escalate.

State Schools Division

  1. Notify nominated senior executives of school alerts the same working day the school alert is received.
  2. Ensure all school alerts are recorded in the school alert register for reporting purposes.
  3. Review school alerts related to areas of responsibility and action assistance or support, if required.

Flowchart

  1. The flowchart outlines the process for school alerts.

Definitions

Term

Definition

Non-critical incident

An incident affecting an individual in a negligible way or isolated area(s) of a school and does not pose any additional threat or risk to staff, students, parents, contractors, volunteers, visitors, property, or affect the school’s operations and/or reputation. The incident, which is managed using normal school operating procedures, can be contained and is unlikely to escalate in severity, impact or media attention.

Critical incident

An event that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of one or more individuals in the school community and impacts on the operation, educational program, environment and/or reputation of the school. A critical incident requires a school alert.

School alert notification

Process to inform regional and central office (State Schools Division) that a critical incident has occurred at a state school. Reporting is done via the template with appropriate approvals.

Delegate

A member of school or regional staff that the principal or regional director requests to assist with the school alert process at the time of a critical incident, including escalation as appropriate.

Legislation

Delegations/Authorisations

  • Nil

Other resources

Superseded versions

Previous seven years shown. Minor version updates not included.

1.0 School alerts

Review date

15 February 2020
Attribution CC BY
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