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Student Safety a priority for a thriving Future

Annika Jisu Psychology Teacher, School Counselor & Member of Child Safeguarding Team GEMS Modern Academy Dubai, United Arab Emirates

When an infant enters into the world, they are greeted by the protective arms of their parents and caregivers. Learning and making sense of the world around them, in a protected space, enables them to truly soak in what the world has to offer for those young developing minds. They explore the environment, manipulate materials, interact with others, develop bonds with their primary caregivers which helps develop their cognitive and emotional skills. Soon, children move from home as their primary learning space to a school, an establishment for teaching and learning. Here, the child learns to develop social relations, experience conflicts and experiment with ways to resolve them and take steps towards emotional awareness. Schools provide a guided avenue with multiple learning opportunities for the development of sociable skills like empathy, developing friendships, negotiation as well as resilience.

Education is the pathway to life, opening doors to a world full of knowledge, awareness, empowerment, and opportunities. Establishing a secure educational setting is crucial for fostering student involvement, active participation, and overall achievement (1). A student who is nurtured and supported in a safe environment will thrive and establish themselves as confident, sensitive human beings of tomorrow. Sensitizing teaching as well as support staff, as well as incorporating child safeguarding training in initial teacher education, by using existed thoroughly evaluated training programs will go a long way in creating a safe learning environment (2). Alfie Kohn once said, “If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” To provide such a secure learning setting, here are a few suggestions that educators and leadership teams may keep in mind:

1. Implement comprehensive policies: Develop and promote strategic policies and procedures on emergency response, risk assessment, anti-bullying, child protection and safeguarding, lockdown wellbeing policy, to name a few. In my role, we observed that shifting from school policies on paper to child-friendly versions of these policy documents, created for the students and by the students had a huge impact. In a school-wide survey, 87% of students opined that they know what to do and who to talk to regarding safeguarding and child protection concerns.

2.Safeguarding teams and Mental health support- Establish safeguarding teams whose primary role would be to monitor, address and coordinate with relevant resource persons to promote child safety while providing access to in-house counselors or mental health professionals to promote emotional and psychological well-being.

3Staff training – Ensure that all school personnel have the relevant training to identify signs of distress, basic first aid, promote mental and emotional wellbeing by reinforcing a culture of care at school. Staff training on child safeguarding concerns and submitting reports resulted in more frequent and reduced delay in raising concerns to centralized portals. These referrals are reviewed daily by the Safeguarding Leads as well as the Safeguarding Manager at the School Support Center. New teaching and support staff undergo training on Child safeguarding which has resulted in more awareness and further confidence among staff to spot behaviours of concern.

4.   Awareness Programs – Teach students on online safety, digital footprint and raise awareness around issues of bullying and segregations to foster a spirit of respect and trust within the community. Teaching social skills, appropriate conflict resolution and restorative behaviour in students through direct instruction or indirectly through integrating in curriculum will further help to develop a safe environment (3). Strategically implemented digital safety programs have resulted in over 89% of students reporting that they are confident to use privacy and security settings on their device and social networks.

5.   Encourage open communication – Create a space where students are able to share their concerns as well as be aware of whom to approach in times of need.

6.  Involve parent community – Parental and community engagement in discussions and initiatives around student safety will ensure that further stimulating conversations are had in the safety of the home.

Physical safety, protection and wellbeing is essential to a student's success in school. By developing a culture of safety, developing a school vision statement that keeps the wellbeing of the students in mind, it will allow the students not only be more engaged in the present school community but also empower them as citizens of tomorrow.


Sayfulloevna, S. S. (2023). Safe Learning Environment and Personal Development of Students. International Journal of Formal Education, 2(3), 7–12. Retrieved from

Walsh, K., Ey, L., Hand, K., Smith, R., Howard, S., Fenton, A., Whiteford, C., Brown, M., Pinnock, R., & Rodier, L. (2023). Child protection and safeguarding in initial teacher education: A systematic scoping review. Children and Youth Services Review, 150, 106951.

Dwyer, K. and Osher, D. (2000). Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, American Institutes for Research.