Run, hide, tell – this is not a game, it may save your life

    Published: 08 October 2017

    Protect the children, the staff and yourself.

    What is a Lock Down Procedure ?

    Lockdown is the ability to quickly restrict access to a site or building (or part of) through physical measures in response to a threat, either external or internal. The aim of lockdown is to prevent people moving into danger areas and preventing or frustrating the attackers accessing a site (or part of).

    Further information can be accessed at the website of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO)

    Have you considered what action you would take in your setting if there was an intruder who wished to cause harm to you and the children.

    The risk of harm could be from an intruder who was armed, from an animal for example a dangerous dog, a risk from air pollution, for example dangerous chemicals or a major fire nearby.

    The stay safe guidance for potential firearms and weapons attacks recommends following the stay safe principles. These can be applied to many situations to ensure you keep the children safe from harm.

    There is a film accompanying this guidance and this is useful for staff to watch. 

    Stay Safe: Firearms and Weapons Attack - YouTube

    Consider each of the stay safe principles and how these can be put in place in your setting.


    The advice is to move away from the attacker - if safe to do so. You should already know your exits routes and how you evacuate the children from your premises.  Is this possible in your situation, how old are the children, will they be able to move quickly and quietly ?  Do you have a place of safety nearby?


    For most early years settings with young children you will be unable to run and you will need to plan how and where you are going to hide from a potential attacker.

    Find somewhere that the attacker cannot see you and try to encourage the children to be quiet. Can the door be locked and ensure you keep away from the door.

    Ensure any mobile phones are turned to silent.


    If you are able to, use a mobile phone to contact the police and inform them of the situation – giving as many details as you can – including the location and description of the attacker and any further information relevant; including where you are hiding and how many children you have with you.

    You must stay where you are hiding until the police tell you it is safe to move.

    Police response

    There will be an armed police response where there is an attacker who is armed and threatening the safety of the public.You must follow all the instructions of the police.

    Our duty under the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS 2017) statutory framework is to ‘take all necessary steps’ to keep children safe.

    'Providers must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of children, staff and others on the premises in the case of fire or any other emergency, and must have an emergency evacuation procedure.’ 3.55. (Safety and suitability of premises.)

    Providers must also be able to demonstrate how they are managing risks. 3.64

    As an early years setting you need to have in place a lock down procedure based on the stay safe principles, and to practice this procedure on a regular basis.

    Children need to understand that sometimes we have to take action to keep them safe, and we will ask and expect them to follow our guidance. We do not want to frighten children but need to give some explanation for our actions.

    ‘Moggy’s coming’ is a useful book developed by Citizan Aid, with a story of a school of mice, practicing how to hide from the cat. This might help explain the lock down procedure to younger children. Available on Amazon.


    The NSPCC have developed some guidance for parents on how to talk to children about terrorism. This information is useful to pass on to parents and the key points are useful for early year’s practitioners to consider when having conversations with children.

    The NSPCC advice includes listening to a child’s fears and worries, offering reassurance and comfort, avoiding complicated and worrying explanations that could be frightening and confusing and helping them to understand distressing events and feelings – relevant to their age and understanding. It’s also important to address bullying and abuse following the terrorist attacks. Some children may feel targeted because of their faith or appearance.

    What do I need to do now:

    1. Develop a lock down procedure for your setting – consider where your places of safety are.
    2. Discuss this at a staff meeting and ensure all staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities<
    3. Enable all staff to watch the stay safe film.
    4. Use the ‘Moggy’s coming’ story to talk to children about keeping safe.
    5. Ensure all users of your building are aware of your lock down procedures
    6. Practice a ‘lock down’ incident – with staff and children
    7. Inform parents of your lock down procedure and how they will be kept informed of the incident. ( remember during a lock down parents will not be able to access the setting).
    8. Review the lock down practice and update procedure as required
    9. Continue to have regular practice lock downs ( once a term)

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