Cornish school children have been learning how to ‘Speak out. Stay safe’ with the help of the NSPCC’s Schools Service team and their mascot Buddy.
The children’s charity offers free safeguarding assemblies and workshops to all primary schools in Cornwall and recently delivered its bespoke sessions at St Joseph’s School in Launceston.
The children learnt about the different types of abuse, recognising the signs, and how to identify trusted adults they can talk to if they ever have a worry or concern.
Junior Headmaster at the school, Henry Matthews, said: “Our number one priority at St Joseph’s is to ensure our children are safe and happy. It is crucial that we empower our children to speak out when they feel worried or upset.
“Children need to know who they can trust and ask for help if the worse was to happen and the NSPCC has really helped strengthen our safeguarding provision.”
In the 2018/19 academic year, more than 9,000 children across the Duchy and Isles of Scilly attended ‘Speak out. Stay safe’ assemblies, during 53 visits to primary schools in the county.
Schools Organiser for the NSPCC in Cornwall and Devon, Kerry Bidewell said: “The assemblies are child friendly and we alter them slightly for the different age groups.
“It’s really important to be able to help children to understand what abuse is in a very simple way, know that it is wrong, and that it is not their fault if it’s happening to them.
“We give them the confidence to be able to identify trusted adults who they know they can talk to about anything that is worrying them, no matter how big or small it may seem, and know the adult will act to keep them safe.”
In the average primary school class, at least two children have suffered abuse or neglect, making it vitally important that all primary schools help to equip their children with the knowledge and skills to speak up if something is wrong, whether that’s in the real or online world.
Parents at the school had the opportunity to attend an online safety workshop, thanks to the charity’s partnership with O2.
Mr Matthews said: “As a school we feel it is highly important that parents are made aware of the dangers children face online. We already run annual online safety workshops for parents which are run by the local police team. The NSPCC/O2 workshop was another opportunity for parents to learn something new and be engaged in their child’ s online life.”
Following the visit, children and some of their parents took part in a green mufti-day and ‘walk a mile challenge’, organised by appointed prefects at the school, to raise more than £100 for the children’s charity.
‘Speak out. Stay safe.’ is delivered by NSPCC staff and trained volunteers to pupils aged between five and 11 years old, with tailored workshops available for Special Schools.
Mr Matthews added: “Our children really enjoyed the assemblies, they were delivered at an age appropriate level and I was amazed that, even after a two-week half term, all the children remembered the Childline number (complete with actions) off by heart when they were asked at the follow up assembly.”
During the sessions, children learn the free Childline number, which they can contact should they have a worry or concern they want to share at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year. Children can contact Childline via 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk
Schools can request an NSPCC school visit via the NSPCC Learning website at nspcc.org.uk/speakout
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Schools Service in Cornwall can contact 0121 227 7577 or email volunteerrecruitment@nspcc.