NSPCC Scotland is urging primary schools across the country to sign up to its free virtual programme to help children learn about their right to be safe from abuse and neglect.

The children’s charity is highlighting its online assembly, which is hosted by celeb duo Ant and Dec and was first launched in October, as schools open again for the summer term.

The ‘Speak out. Stay safe’ assembly helps children understand, in an accessible and age-appropriate way, how to recognise different forms of abuse and empower them to speak out if they need to.

It also focuses on some of the additional worries that children have been experiencing during the pandemic and lets them know about the Childline counselling service, which is run by the NSPCC.

Before the pandemic, staff and volunteers from the children’s charity tried to visit every primary school in Scotland every two years, delivering interactive assemblies and workshops. However, due to social distancing measures in place they have been unable to visit schools since March last year, so instead the NSPCC has made a 30-minute online assembly. This is being offered to all primary schools in the UK, along with supporting teaching materials with classroom activities.

Alan Stewart, Service Manager for NSPCC Schools Service in Scotland, said: “Over the past year, because of the pandemic, children have spent a lot of time away from school and cut off from their usual support networks. We know for some children home isn’t always a safe place and that many will have faced increased risk of harm.

“Although our trained ‘Speak out. Stay safe’ staff and volunteers can’t currently go into schools, it is essential that every child knows who they can turn to if they need help and support.

“I encourage all primary schools to sign up, so that we can work alongside teachers to help as many children as possible to recognise and discuss any worries they have.”

When children returned to school in the Autumn term last year, 171 primary schools in Scotland signed up to the virtual programme, with more than 32,000 children across the country watching the assembly.

Carronshore Primary School, in Falkirk, was one of those that signed up. A teacher at the school said: “I found the materials excellent and extremely worthwhile. The pupils engaged really well and evidenced their learning through our Pupil Talking Circles, which reflected on the programme and how safe the pupils felt in the school building and in the playground.”

For more information or to sign-up your school for an assembly, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/speakout. The assembly and resources are also available in British Sign Language (BSL).

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email help@nspcc.org.uk. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 or they can get in touch via www.childline.org.uk

Main photo: The children pictured are models. The adults pictured are volunteers. Photography by Tom Hull