Our Council has published the “Guidelines on Crisis Management in the VTC”, which provides a detailed framework and guiding principles for different operational units. In addition to the guidelines, the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) has prepared three tips for handling a crisis that may happen. They are as follows:
1. Forming a school crisis management team (CMT)
The forming of the school crisis management team (CMT) at operational unit level can facilitate the formulation and implementation of a crisis management plan; and also coordinate all resources, in and outside school for support. The CMT should include members who are familiar with the school community, the staff and the students. Moreover, the members should have the knowledge and skills of handling crises. The crisis management team may involve teaching staff, the Head of Operational Unit (HoU), and someone in-charge of the Campus Secretariat or the General Office. The diversity of the group members would help suggest a broad-based approach for planning and implementation. For example, when a crisis situation occurs, the CMT would coordinate response to the media and control the flow of the information in order to eliminate the spread of rumour.
2. Being sensitive to potential crisis
As front-line teaching staff, we should be observant and alert to any abnormal behaviours of students and fellow colleagues. The following behaviours and emotional appearances may be symptomatic of potential crisis. For example, changing from being quiet and obedient to loud and impulsive, or from outgoing to shy and afraid, appearing to be very teary and depressed, not being able to control emotion, excessive anger or self-blame. Besides, unusual personal actions, such as eating problems, being cruel to others, self-hurt or self-abusive, isolating self from others, may be signs of having problems before the crisis and need particular attention.
In the event of any emergency, or upon observing or receiving information that a person is threatening to commit an act which may lead to violence, injuries or fatality, we should make immediate report to the Designated Person (someone serves as the first point of contact on urgent reports of emergency or crisis incidents), the Principal or the HoU.
Although we have planned and prepared for crisis, in the midst of crisis and emergency, we should respond immediately and flexibly. To do this, it is effective and efficient to make use of mobile technology.
3. Using mobile technology
With the surge of technology in learning and teaching, as well as school management, school crisis management could take advantage of the technology to disseminate and communicate messages to students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders. Paper-based documents are useful and essential for training and documentation purposes; yet, when it comes to actual emergency and crisis, time is the most critical factor and resource. Other than using email for communication and mass notification, text message or mobile apps (e.g. CrisisManager) could also be used for streamlined and instant communication.
However, we should be reminded that when using mobile device to prevent crises, it may create excessive communication or emotional dependence. Especially for teenagers and people with vulnerable personality, they may be highly hung up on the responses by someone pays extra attention and care to them during their difficult times. Some wordings and expressions may trigger them and consequently cause negative affectivity or even suicidal ideation.
The proper handling of a crisis can minimise the negative impact on students and the institution. Despite using the guidelines for helpful reference, it falls to each individual to prevent crises. In sum, be proactive, well-planned and well-prepared are the key concepts of crisis management.
Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (CSRP). (2015). World Mental Health 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015, from
Chang, S., Kwok, S., Cheng, Q., Yip, P., Chen, Y., Kwok, S. M., & Yip, P. F. (2015). The association of trends in charcoal-burning suicide with Google search and newspaper reporting in Taiwan: A time series analysis. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 50(9), 1451-1461. Retrieved October 8, 2015, from
Education Bureau (EDB). (2015). Student Suicide and School Crisis Management. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from
Vocational Training Council (VTC). (2007). Guidelines on Crisis Management in the VTC. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from