SIMOA poster

Keeping children safe

This section includes the Look, Think, Act campaign resources and practice notes to help keep children safe by raising awareness of how, and why, they could leave a childcare setting without a responsible adult.

All early learning and childcare services should to be aware of how and why children could potentially leave a setting without staff or a parent/carer.

It is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe, so ensure you know where your children are at all times. It is important that staff teams work well together, communicate effectively and have a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities to keep children safe. Even when busy with other activities we all need to be alert to what children are doing. It is especially important at pick up and drop off times and when outdoors or on outings. Review your procedures and identify where improvements might be needed. Review the security of your setting, are all doors, gates and perimeters secure. Most importantly are all children fully engaged in their activities and secure in their relationships with the staff. Think about how well you support all of your children to have fun and be confident in your setting.

All services are required to notify the Care Inspectorate of any incidents, so that we can all share the learning and keep children safe. We want to engage with services to reduce and prevent occurrences of children being in unsafe situations.

Let’s keep children safe by raising awareness of how, and why, they could leave a childcare setting without a responsible adult.

SIMOA (Safe, Inspect, Monitor, Observe, Act)

We want to introduce Simoa, the elephant, to all ELC settings. Let’s raise awareness and act responsibly to safeguard, protect and support children’s wellbeing.

Simoa always remembers:

Safe
Be alert to all potential risks in your setting.

Inspect
Look around and inspect the environment to make sure a child can’t leave an area without staff or their parent/carer.

Monitor
Regularly check that all children are accounted for particularly when they are outside, on outings or using transport.

Observe
Observe children and think about their feelings and emotional security – use these observations to support children to feel loved and secure. 

Act
Assess and take action to keep children safe.

If you would like to share this message with staff and parents in your setting you can download our posters and graphics from the links below:

Practice notes

Early learning and childcare (ELC) staff should create a place of safety where children want to be and where they can develop a sense of wonder about the world. Caring for children involves staff being responsive and sensitive in meeting children’s needs. Children require a balance of independence, risk, new experiences, familiar routines, support and connections. When these needs are met, children will play and learn because they feel safe and secure.

ELC environments should be fun, challenging, stimulating and a place where children feel loved and respected, but importantly an environment that is safe and children feel protected. A strongly connected relationship and knowledge of individual children’s needs are key to children’s safety and wellbeing.

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that children are safe, secure, and protected from harm. Our notifications and scrutiny work has highlighted that children’s safety is at greater risk when outings, transitions and children’s natural curiosity and exploration are not fully understood and supported by staff. To support ELC staff to keep children safe, we have developed a range of practice notes.

Practice note to support trips and outings

This practice note provides a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe on trips and outings while ensuring they still have opportunities to be curious and develop their learning.

Practice note to support transitions 

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe during transitions, while ensuring they still have opportunities to build connections with others, play and learn.

Practice note to support curiosity and exploration

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe, while supporting their learning and development through regular opportunities to be curious, creative and to develop a sense of wonder about the world.

Practice note supporting positive mealtime experiences

This practice note is designed to provide support and guidance in the planning, preparation and provision of nutritious and healthy meals and snacks for children.

Good news stories

SIMOA the elephant helps to keep children safe at Lundin Mill nursery

Staff at Lundin Mill nursery, in Lundin Links, have been exploring ways of incorporating SIMOA the elephant into their learning about safety.

The staff and children first started out by taking SIMOA the elephant toy out and about with them in the local community.  They went to the local library for Bookbug sessions, Lundin Links beach, the forest, and on local walks around the surrounding area, including going to see the Scottie Dog sculpture.  The children use SIMOA as a mascot for safety and risk asses their environment daily.  The elephant even goes with everyone when they do fire drills.

The children decided to take their learning further by creating their own story, ‘SIMOA’s Big Adventure and How She Kept Herself Safe’.  This was a fun way of incorporating other areas of the curriculum into their learning.

The children thought about other adventures SIMOA could go on.  During a group discussion, the children and staff came up with the idea of SIMOA’s safety adventures.  Each child now has a turn in taking SIMOA into their own home environment for an adventure.  Some of the children said: “I felt happy and loved when I took SIMOA home.”; “I liked SIMOA at golf. She stood in the green square so we wouldn’t get hit by the golf ball. She showed us where to stand to be safe.”; “I got to put a seatbelt on SIMOA to keep her safe”.

The nursery staff said: “This has been a great way to promote safety in all aspects of their lives out with the nursery.  We have received positive feedback from parents, who are enjoying being part of their children’s learning”.

Some parents said: “Lewis and Luke loved having SIMOA home and were able to explain the importance of safety through the toy.  They articulated everyday safety procedures that happen in our lives at home and relayed them to SIMOA.  This highlighted to Lewis and Luke, how many ‘safety’ procedures happen in their daily routines and how important it is that everyone understands how to keep safe.  They were very excited to share their experiences with their peers through SIMOA's purple diary!”; “As parents we feel SIMOA is helpful to reference when talking about safety”.

Debbie Whittle, early years officer said: “We are going to incorporate SIMOA into our Primary 1 transition process.  By doing this, we have purchased another SIMOA toy for the P1 classroom.  This will encourage the children to develop independent thinking when it comes to safety, creating skills that will be useful throughout life.”

Children learning about safety through the elephant toy.

Early learning and childcare improvement programme

A national quality improvement programme to support early learning and childcare settings who offer funded places and are not currently meeting the ‘quality criteria’ in the new National Standard

Gender equal play in early learning and childcare

An improvement resource promoting gender equality in how children experience early learning and childcare.

Space to grow

A resource to help early learning and childcare (ELC) and out of school care (OSC) services the best they can be in terms of design.

Related policy

Browse related policy developments

Latest children and young people bulletin

A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments concerning children and young people.

Children & Young People Bulletin: 12-18 July 2024

Children & Young People Bulletin: 12-18 July 2024

Children & Young People Bulletin: 12-18 July 2024