RESPONDING TO CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN SCHOOLS – eLearning Course Information
RESPONDING TO CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN SCHOOLS – eLearning Course
Information Note for Stakeholders
This information note is to advise stakeholders of a new initiative of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) to begin using eLearning courses as part of our service delivery to schools.
The potential of eLearning within the educational sphere has been widely recognised for some time. The restrictions imposed on services by COVID-19 has further highlighted its potential.
NEPS recognises that eLearning can add a worthwhile, complementary element to the support that it normally provides to teachers and schools. In this regard, ‘Responding to Critical Incidents in Schools – eLearning Course’ will be available in early 2022.
Description of eLearning course Critical incidents are complex and challenging situations that can overwhelm the usual resources of a school. While thankfully they occur infrequently, they happen without warning and can have a devastating effect on entire school communities. Our research and past experience has repeatedly demonstrated that in the wake of a tragedy, advance preparation is key to a school regaining its equilibrium and responding effectively to support the wellbeing of all students, teachers, parents and everyone else involved. Therefore, this eLearning course guides and supports teachers in how to prepare for a Critical Incident in their school.
NEPS hopes that the eLearning vehicle will greatly increase our reach to schools with this important training. Already, through our pilot phase, we have confirmed that teachers and other school staff welcome the flexibility that eLearning affords, enabling staff to participate at a time of their choosing, either in school or at home.
Who is this Critical Incident eLearning course for?
The eLearning course is designed for members of a school’s Critical Incident Management Team in Primary, Post Primary and Special Schools in Ireland.
What are the goals of the eLearning Critical Incident course?
Using an engaging mix of text, graphics, short videos and audio clips, the course aims to:
o Support teachers to develop and embed strong protective measures in their school, particularly those that are focused on enhancing student wellbeing
NEPS Critical Incident eLearning Course
Available: Q1 2022 Course length: 10 modules – approx. 3-4 hrs in total
Location: Online Mode of study: Self-guided, online learning
Access will be offered to all Primary, Post Primary and Special Schools during 2022.
o Allow teachers to learn from the experience and knowledge of other teachers, who have recently experienced a critical incident in their school
o Facilitate the establishment and/or review of the Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) in their school
o Provide step-by-step guidance on ways to respond effectively to a Critical Incident – on the first day, subsequent days and into the longer term
o Address more specific concerns such as suicide, violent death, the media and state examinations
o Provide resources to support self-care and planning
o Encourage schools to generate ‘follow up actions’ for their school and to share their school’s Critical Incident Management Plan with their whole staff
Outline of Critical Incident Course Modules
The course consists of 10 modules, of varying length, often with an associated quiz that is designed to embed new learning. The course can be completed in single or multiple sittings.
Module 1: Critical Incidents and the Role of NEPS
Module 2: Preventative Measures and Promoting Wellbeing
Module 3: Preparation and Planning for a Critical Incident
Module 4: Initial Actions following a CI – Interventions on Day1
Module 5: Medium-Term Actions – Day 2 and Beyond
Module 6: Suicide/Suspected Suicide – Overview and To Do List
Module 7: Responding to Major Road Traffic Accidents and Violent Deaths
Module 8: Dealing with the Media
Module 9: Critical Incidents during State Examinations
Module 10: Self-care, Resources and Planning for the future
We anticipate that most course participants will comfortably complete all of the core modules within 3-4 hours. However, each module also includes links to additional, albeit optional resources – e.g. articles, research, videos, which most participants will find interesting.
The flexibility of online learning will enable NEPS to regularly update the course to reflect ongoing research, the experience of teachers and NEPS psychologists responding to critical incidents in schools, as well as feedback from course participants. In this way, we expect the course to improve iteratively, reflective of the evolving needs of teachers and the school communities we all serve.
It is not envisaged that eLearning courses will replace the many face-to-face training inputs that NEPS psychologists currently provide to schools, but instead it represents an additional, innovative extension of the NEPS service. Teachers who complete the critical incident course may also register for a follow up live webinar where queries and questions can be addressed by a NEPS psychologist. A school’s assigned NEPS psychologist is also available as further support.
On completion, participants will be issued with a ‘Certificate of Completion’ by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), stating that they have successfully completed the Critical Incident eLearning course; which staff can add to their CV or education portfolio.
Feedback from Pilot of Critical Incident eLearning Course
During May 2021, just over 50 teachers completed a pilot version of the Critical Incident eLearning course, after which they provided helpful and constructive feedback. Nearly 98% of teachers found the course either ‘Very Satisfactory’ or ‘Extremely Satisfactory’, and their comments included the following:
o ‘I feel more confident if we ever have to deal with a Critical Incident.’
o ‘I am now aware of the importance of preparation and the key tasks involved in preparing for a Critical Incident.’
o ‘The videos and audios were compact and to the point. The course was also very user-friendly.’
o ‘The audio inputs were great as they were from real life situations.’
o ‘I found I could do it at my own pace. I liked being able to do some during the school day and some from home in the evening. I didn’t have to travel, make child care arrangements or anything else. If I needed a break, I could walk away and come back when I was ready.’
o ‘I could access it in my own time. I liked the use of video, audio and quizlets helped to keep it interesting.’
o ‘With the online course, you have the flexibility to take breaks or to revisit certain sections.’
o ‘I have found it very helpful and the fact that so much information and access to the relevant resources is all in one place is invaluable both to me personally and as a teacher to students that have recently had a critical incident.’
Teachers will register for the eLearning course with their email address and roll number. Quizzes are embedded within the course. Teachers are also invited to develop a ‘Follow-up Action Plan’ for their school.
NEPS plans to roll out our Critical Incidents eLearning course to all schools over the coming year. In trialling this approach, we will keep you posted on its outcomes. In the interim we welcome your feedback, ideas or suggestions regarding this or other potential eLearning courses: NEPSelearning@education.gov.ie
NEPS Critical Incident Working Group
Regional Director, NEPS Dublin Mid Leinster Region
Floor 1, BIM Building, Crofton Rd., Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.
An tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Síceolaíochta Oideachais
National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)
An Roinn Oideachais
Department of Education