Safe to learn

Safe to learn

We support schools and education settings in Northumberland to improve the life chances of all pupils by ensuring that they are safe to learn.

Safe to learn

Here you will find out about factors that contribute to a safer learning environment for all pupils.

Support for schools to deliver best equalities practice aims to keep all children safe from harassment and discrimination and ensure that we address any inequalities.
If you require support in your school to develop published equality information and objectives, please get in touch.

Protecting children from discrimination
Every child has the right to learn and flourish in a safe, discrimination-free environment. Children and young people are more likely to fulfil their potential in education when they feel safe.

Schools contribute significantly to improving the life chances of all young people by taking steps to ensure they are all safe to learn. There is statutory guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding children, including safer recruitment.

All schools should challenge, record and tackle all forms of bullying or discrimination, including:
  • homophobic biphobic or transphobic incidents and language
  • bullying relating to race, religion and belief
  • discrimination that relates to disability
Hate crimes and incidents can be the precursor to radicalisation and extremism. It is important that schools recognise this and can demonstrate how they work to eliminate any form of discrimination.
Useful links
External and internal web links with useful resources to help schools keep children safe in education

Forced marriage

This section provides forced marriage guidance for schools.

Forced marriage as defined by the government
A marriage where one or both people do not (or cannot) consent to marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women/men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, physical violence and sexual violence), or emotional and psychological (when someone is being made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse can also be a factor.

There are a number of issues for schools to consider around forced marriage, particularly their responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of children and young people. Northumberland schools have a responsibility to be aware of this issue and to provide support and protection for pupils where appropriate.
Help for young people
  • contact the forced marriage unit - call: 0207 008 0151 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday or outside working hours, contact the global response centre: 0207 008 1500. Email the forced marriage unit at
  • the police by dialling 999
  • Karma Nirvana, a Leeds-based support group
  • contact Childline by dialling 0800 1111
Help for schools
Please note the advice provided above is also applicable to schools, however, the following information is also useful for schools: The Home Office forced marriage unit can also help. Their website contains a range of useful resources, including videos to help spot signs of forced marriage and documentaries to raise awareness of this human rights violation and the consequences. This includes:
  • domestic abuse
  • divorce
  • honour killings
  • child abduction
  • abandonment
  • isolation
  • family break-ups

An e-learning training package for professionals is available online. It has been endorsed by the Home Office.

Preventing violent extremism & promoting community cohesion

This section gives information about preventing violent extremism in schools and promoting community cohesion.

Preventing extremism

Ofsted inspects how schools carry out safeguarding and other duties, including the effectiveness of these arrangements to ensure there is safe recruitment. This includes the approach to keeping pupils safe from the dangers of radicalisation and extremism, including what is done when it is suspected pupils are vulnerable.

School inspections will consider how well leadership in schools ensures the curriculum prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in modern, multi faith, multicultural Britain. This includes the promotion of fundamental British values including tolerance and mutual respect through spiritual, moral and social and cultural aspects of learning.

Prevent in schools
The particular issues facing school communities will vary across the county, and schools must know their context and be prepared to recognise local challenges.  We work closely with Northumbria Police to ensure good lines of communication are maintained between schools and the local police force.
Useful contacts
Schools with concerns about staff and links to violent extremism should contact the local authority designated officer (LADO).

If your concerns are about pupils or community members,
  • Email:
  • Phone: 101 Ext 63854
If you are concerned about hate crime or radicalisation in school and the surrounding community please contact:
Michelle Redfern (4514)
Community Engagement Officer
Northumberland Area Command There is also a confidential and free national counter-terrorism hotline 

0800 789 321



Community cohesion
Good community cohesion demonstrates commitment to valuing diversity and celebrating difference. Through combatting prejudice-based bullying and discrimination, it aims to broaden the horizons of pupils.

Citizenship and PSHE education offer opportunities to teach about safe relationships, respect and democracy.

Responsible citizenship also provides evidence of a school’s compliance with the legal equalities requirement to foster good relations.

The Public Sector Equality Duty and schools

The local authority offers support to schools and education settings in Northumberland to improve the life chances of all pupils.

In order to ensure that all children experience equality in Northumberland, we support schools to comply with the law with regard to publishing equality information and specific and measurable objectives relating to the nine protected characteristics.
This should be refreshed every 4 years.
If your school would like support to develop your published equalities or accessibility documentation, please do get in touch. We are happy to offer guidance and support to make these meaningful.

Guidance about the Equality Act 2010 for schools was published in 2014


Key information
Further useful guidance and links are available to help schools to be compliant with the law with regard to anti-discriminatory practice

This document states that:

‘Schools should be able to demonstrate the impact of anti-bullying policies.Ofsted will not routinely mark a school down where it has recorded incidents of bullying. Inspectors are interested in the impact of the actions a school has taken, i.e. how effectively schools prevent or deal with any incidents.’ (P10)

Equalities in schools

What schools have to do to promote equality and comply with the law.

It is no longer a requirement that a school should have an equality policy, but it is good practice to outine the principles that inform your approach to good equalities practice, and a generic policy statement can do this.

The published information which should be refreshed annually should describe all of the things a school does well to promote equality of opportunity, challenge discrimination and foster good relations. The document should also highlight any equality challenges the school faces.

The challenges the school needs to address should form the basis of its equality objectives. There should be at least one, and the number of objectives will probably increase based on the size of the school.

The objectives should last for 4 years (the current cycle runs from April 2016 to April 2020). The school should have defined what it intends to do to challenge and deal with the inequality it has identified, and what progress against each objective will look like. Objectives might look at diminishing a difference in academic outcome or participation that affects groups of children with protected characteristics compared with other children. They might also address ways to foster good relations between groups with protected characteristics and other people.

Racist incidents

Schools have been asked to comply with local authority procedures for recording, reporting and responding to racist incidents since 2002

  • We collect and analyse an annual return from all Northumberland schools about the number of racist incidents they have dealt with and recorded. In 2017 we revised the way we collect these incidents. To report a racist incident in your school, please follow this link

Challenging discrimination
Schools are legally required to eliminate discrimination and to promote equal opportunities, as well as fostering good relations (Equality Act 2010). All schools have experience of developing policies and implementing practices which directly tackle these requirements. Where those policies and practices are aligned with the curriculum, schools are able to influence attitudes and create the potential for social change that better prepares children for life in modern Britain.

Education is a key determinant of life chances and education attainment continues to be strongly associated with socio-economic background. Pupils with special educational needs account for seven out of 10 permanent exclusions from school in England.

There is also evidence lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people are being penalised by unfair treatment and bullying in the education system. Stonewall's 2017 School Reoprt is the most comprehensive survey into the current experiences of LGBT pupils in Britain. 
  • 45% of lesbian, gay and bi pupils and 64% of trans pupils are bullied for being LGBT at school
  • Almost half (45%) of these pupils never tell anyone about the bullying
  • 84% of trans young people and 61% of lesbian, gay and bi young people have self-harmed

The web sites listed below can help schools to support children and young people who may have protected characteristics..

Race equality in schools – starting points
Show Racism the Red Card work with pupils from year 5 up around the theme of racism in football and society. They have a number of anti-racism teaching resources for purchase and Northumberland schools can request free workshops in schools.
There is an annual competition for schools where pupils have used their resources.

Schools in Northumberland can all use our online reporting mechanism for racist incidents. This offers the opportunity to request additional support if you fear that a young person may be being radicalised or vulnerable to extremism, or to request a hate crime intervention with children or young people from Northumbria Police.

Black History Month provides an opportunity to learn more about race equality each October.


Disadvantage & child poverty

Financial disadvantage is not a protected characteristic in equalities legislation, but affects the achievement of many children and young people.

Context for schools
The social mobility commission is an advisory, non-departmental public body with a remit to monitor progress towards improving social mobility in the UK, and promoting social mobility in England.

The North East Child Poverty Commission aims to build public and political support for actions to improve the lives of poor children living in the North East. 

The Pupil Premium Grant is paid to schools to support children who may be financially disadvantaged and who tend to do less well at school. 

The Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit is a useful resource to help schools define strategies which work effectively to support disadvantaged pupils

The Sutton Trust aims to improve social mobility through education

Local Charity Children North East do a great deal of work with schools on Poverty Proofing
Pupil premium strategies
In addition to the strategies listed on the Education Endowment Foundation web site, schools will also find a number of studies and programmes recruiting new participants.
Northumberland schools can also commission a Pupil Premium Review. Details can be found in the Services to Schools Brochure. 
There is a section of the Northumberland Education web site which has a focus on disadvantaged pupils.

Useful equalities & schools links & resources

Further links and resources to help schools consider how to recognise and set objectives relating to closing gaps and ensuring equality in education and provision can be found below.

Links & resources
Some further links and online resources listed below may support schools to understand aspects of equality and diversity and promote fairness across all strands.

The Northumberland Trans Identity and Gender Diversity toolkit. Launched in October 2017. This resource supports schools to be safe, inclusive places for trans and non-binary children. (It is web based and will require an Internet connection and Google browser).

Unlocking Opportunities is a new, free e-learning course developed by the Equality and Human Right Commission and John Moores University for teachers to help meet the rights of disabled learners under the reasonable adjustments duty.

Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Pupils. (EHRC 2015) The focus of this guide is on the practical implementation of the reasonable adjustments duty in schools. It includes case studies showing how the duty can be applied in contexts which will be familiar to teachers. The guide also gives answers to frequently asked questions about the reasonable adjustments duty.

Next Generation Text Relay Service explains to schools how the text relay service can be used to communicate with people who prefer to communicate through a group of relay assistants waiting to relay phone conversations between a text-user and a phone-user. When making a phone call a text-user 'talks' by typing to the relay assistant who speaks their words to the phone-user, and then the relay assistant types the phone-user's spoken reply to the text-user.

Discrimination and harassment can have profoundly negative effects on a young person's emotional wellbeing. Northumberland's Primary Mental Health Workers have created a list of useful web sites to help promote emotional reslilience and wellbeing in young people. 

Information sharing to promote safety & welfare of children

A key factor identified in many serious case reviews has been a failure by practitioners to record information, to share it, to understand its significance and then take appropriate action.

About this government advice
The current government guidance on information sharing can be accessed by clicking here. This advice is non-statutory and has been produced to support practitioners in the decisions they make when sharing information to reduce the risk of harm to children and young people.

This guidance does not deal in detail with arrangements for bulk or pre-agreed sharing of personal information between IT systems or organisations, other than to explain their role in effective information governance.

Who is this advice for?
This advice is for all frontline practitioners and senior managers working with children, young people, parents and carers who have to make decisions about sharing personal information on a case-by-case basis. It may also be helpful for practitioners working with adults who are responsible for children who may be in need.

The seven golden rules to sharing information

  • Remember that the Data Protection Act 1998 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  • Be open and honest from the outset about why, what, how and with who information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  • Seek advice from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  • Share with informed consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to share confidential information. You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is good reason to do so, such as where safety may be at risk.  You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case. When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be certain of the basis upon which you are doing so. Where you have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
  • Consider safety and wellbeing: Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and wellbeing of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  • Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure: Ensure the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up-to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely (see principles).
  • Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it - whether it is to share information or not.  If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.
Information sharing - related pages