This page includes information about:

  • considering the school or college environment 


Schools and colleges should be safe environments for pupils and staff, and should be places that promote respect and diversity. 

When thinking about safety in your setting, consider emotional safety alongside physical safety.  

We know from Headstart research that improving young people’s access to supportive relationships in schools can help to support their wellbeing.  

When a child or young person feels safe and supported, they are more likely to be able to engage in their learning, manage their emotions and ask for support when they need it.  

Considering the physical environment in your school or college

When it comes to creating a safe environment for pupils and staff within your school or college setting, you should consider: 

  • designating a quiet corner of the classroom that is removed from classroom activity. Make self-care activities available for pupils to do in this space 
  • designating a wellbeing room for staff that is separate from the staff room. Encourage staff to donate self-care items or books for colleagues to use in this space 
  • designating a time-out area for pupils outside the classroom to provide space to decompress and reflect – a wellbeing space as an alternative to an isolation room 
  • the physical boundaries of where school/college spaces end, and how these boundaries are staffed to encourage a welcoming environment and promote safety 
  • making sure that all signage around the school or college is clear and accessible. Clearly signpost areas where staff and pupils can go for additional support and advice 
  • creating processes for new pupils, families and staff to familiarise themselves with their school/college environment. This is particularly important at key transition points, like the beginning of secondary school or further education. 

The impact of the pandemic 

Many children and young people will have experienced increased worry, stress, anxiety, and depression since the start of the pandemic, and may continue to do so 

They may have missed out on key milestones and experiences, and have uncertainty for the future, so prioritising their wellbeing can help them through this challenging time.  

In light of this, it is even more important that schools and colleges feel like safe and supportive places for pupils. 

Hannah Woods, Head of Service for the Schools and Colleges Early Support Service at the Anna Freud Centre, looks at the importance of creating a safe environment in schools and colleges and practical ways that staff can help students feel safe.

My self-care plan: primary

This self-care plan walks primary-aged children through a series of steps, helping them create a simple self-care plan that works for them.

My self-care plan: secondary

This resource walks young people through a series of steps, helping them create a detailed self-care plan that works for them.

Teaching curriculum topics linked to racism and handling racist world events

A lesson planning guide for teaching a curriculum topic that is linked to race and racism, or for when a potentially traumatic racist incident occurs in the wider world.

Classroom wellbeing toolkit

A toolkit for secondary school staff, sharing practical steps to promote and support mental health through every day interactions with students.

Moving Up! The transition to secondary school animation and toolkit

This animation and accompanying teacher toolkit is aimed at supporting pupils who have recently started Year 7 or who will be preparing to transition to secondary school later in the year (Years 6 and 7).

Relational approaches for supporting children and young people training [PAID]

A relational approach puts relationships at the heart of every aspect of school life. Learn more about the evidence behind the approach and implementing a whole-school approach to prioritising positive relationships.

Create an account and login to access and update your personalised 5 Steps action plan

New or Existing user Register or Login

More information about 5 Steps and easy to follow instructions

User Guide

Find out more about our trainings for Schools and FE Colleges


Schools that successfully implemented the 5 Steps Framework

Practice Examples

Access videos and materials from our 5 Steps seminars



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