Newsletter 208 - Psycho-social Support Directorate hosted a Professional Assault Response Training (PART)

This newsletter appeared on the DBE website.

Many South African schools, teachers and learners are faced with the reality of violence, substance abuse and bullying on a daily basis. Many of these negative behavioural patterns have psychosocial origins, and severely disrupt the learning and teaching process whilst causing trauma and anxiety among learners and teachers alike.

The Psychosocial Support Directorate hosted a Professional Assault Response Training (PART) workshop from 25 to 28 June 2019, under the theme “Safety and Dignity through Problem-Solving”. The workshop was facilitated by Prof Nicholas Smiar from the University of Wisconsin in the United States of America, a renowned and well published expert on the subject with over 55 years' experience. Participants included officials responsible for Psychosocial Support and School Safety at the DBE and across all Provincial Education Departments (PEDs).

The aim of PART is to teach self-control and critical thinking during emergency response situations. The training aims to equip participants with the skills to facilitate safety and dignity through problem-solving, including in dangerous situations. The training methodology is mainly experiential in the form of role playing, and is aligned to the relevant legislation on youth justice in South Africa.

PART focusses on preparation in attire; mobility; precautions; observation; and self-control (AMPOS) in an attempt to reduce avoidable risk. Other topics covered include identifying triggers and alternatives; crisis communication and intervention; evasion from attacks and safe response to high danger; as well as the capturing of reports to accurately reflect the assaultive incident and the interventions used. Restorative Conferencing is a section in PART that focusses on debriefing after an incident. It is an approach which considers the views and behaviour of all involved in a dispute, and attempts to resolve problems in a calm and positive way.

“The implementation and roll-out of PART in the Sector will assist in addressing the pressing challenge of safety in our schools, which is a necessary pre-requisite for optimum teaching and learning. We are indebted to Prof Smiar for freely sharing his vast knowledge and insights with us,” says Dr Faith Kumalo, Chief Director for Care and Support in Schools.

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