Wherever possible, the parents of all the other children at the school should be informed the school has experienced an incident and that their child may be upset (and may want counselling).

It is difficult to give specific advice because of the many different ways an incident may occur but there are some general pointers that will ensure information is passed on effectively and sensitively:

  • Select several staff members who will be good at coping with a difficult and emotionally draining task.
  • Get the calls done quickly: misinformation will spread informally among parents very quickly. Remember to keep to hand a hard copy of parents' contact details in case you are unable to access your PCs or electronic database for any reason (and think about keeping a second set at an alternative location in case you cannot enter your office).
  • Brief those who are selected to make contact, perhaps by writing a framework script and rehearsing the message first.
  • Start with a clear list of who needs to be called and who does not. Keep records of who has been contacted successfully.
  • Give parents clear information and advice about what they should do (e.g. whether they are to follow their normal collection routine or collect their child immediately, or whether the school will be closed for a time).
  • Warn parents if there seems to be a lot of media interest: journalists may try to get interviews with parents or pupils. Advise them to contact the school if they are approached (though it will obviously be up to individuals to decide whether they cooperate).
  • Offer help with the arrangement of transport, if necessary and feasible.
  • Check parents or children are not left alone in distress, perhaps suggesting the person seeks support from relatives or neighbours.
  • Offer useful phone numbers for support or for more information (e.g. the emergency helpline number or the hospital number).

The advice contained on this site should not be taken as an authoritative interpretation of the law. That is a matter for the courts.