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We stand with all New Zealanders at this awful time.

Within our Matipo School Community, we will help our own Tamariki to build shared understanding and security,  whilst reaching out to offer any support and warmth we can.  Over time we will learn any lessons that might help make the world a safer and better place.

I thought it might help just a little,  to set out the way we will respond at Matipo School in the next few days. I also expect helpful advice from the Ministry of Education. I will keep everyone updated.

On Monday morning when children come to school, our teachers will acknowledge that the tragedy has happened, remind them that they are safe at school and at home, and let them know we will talk a little bit more about it at our assembly in the afternoon.

Also on Monday morning I will meet briefly  with our senior students and their teachers, and ask them to be kind, supportive and respectful for our younger children at school, and not to talk about it too much when younger children are present.

We will all come together in a whole school assembly at 1:40 for a karakia and waiata. I will acknowledge what has happened but will not go into detail, to make it ‘OK’ for children to talk about it and to ask questions of their teachers. This will be difficult because we cannot answer some of the questions they might ask, especially the ‘why?’question.  We will tell them that we are safe at school and that we will do some things to offer support for the victims.

At times like this I think it’s probably best to answer questions honestly but to give as little detail as the child requires. Younger children will not want or need as much information. We have to be prepared to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t understand myself’ but always to finish by saying that we are lucky to be safe with our families, at Matipo School and in Te Atatu, so we should not be worrying for ourselves at this time, but for the people who have been hurt.

Please let us know if you would prefer for your child not to attend this assembly. We will keep it short, and we welcome any parents and whanau we can fit in.

Over the next few days we expect more details to emerge. The initial shock will pass and it will be a better time to decide how we can show our support wth messages and perhaps some fundraising.

Our own school security and safety processes have been under constant review over the last 12 months, and we have done our best to ensure we know who is coming onto our site. Bharat or Carl are on site every day from 7:30am – 4:30pm. We will again review our lock-down processes in the next few days. We have just ‘signed’-off’ on the installation of the new school wide PA systems to be fitted in the next few weeks, which will make all this much safer and easier.

This is yet another painful lesson about the dangers of social media. We will do all we can to help our students understand that social media should never be used to try to hurt or upset people, and to encourage and model kindness and respect in all we do, especially on social media.

We do not allow students to access Facebook at school and consent/permission forms for safe use of devices are always required at our school.

I will keep you updated.

Ka kaha