What is it? How is it delivered in ELT?


Contextual safeguarding is thinking about wider environmental factors in a child’s life that may have a negative effect on their welfare or safety.

That means ensuring students stay safe not just within the school campus or at the homestay, but beyond that, when they are out in the local area and local community.

Some examples from ELT

ELT organisations are usually good at contextual safeguarding; they know that international students do not always know about UK and local ways and need some guidance to ensure they stay safe.

There are many examples of how schools have done this for their students; students of all ages, not only the under 18s. 

Example 1 – football shirts

Some ELT schools are located in large cities with football teams who have fanatical supporters. Some international students might have a football shirt from a different UK team, not the local one. It is not a good idea for students to wear their shirt around town on days when the local team are playing because they might antagonise the local supporters and be subjected to verbal abuse or worse. One school I know announces the days when the local team is playing and reminds students not to wear their football shirts, unless, of course, it is the shirt of the local team!

Example 2 – the sea and coast

Many ELT schools are located in seaside towns; students love being near the sea, particularly if their own home is inland. Even if international students live near the sea in their own country, the sea around UK might be different. 

Tides. Do international students know what tides or rip tides are and the effects they have? At certain times of year (not just in the Spring) Spring Tides occur which bring much larger tidal differences and as a result, the tide comes in fast and the shoreline gets covered very quickly by the in-rushing tide. If people swim near a rip tide they can be carried out to sea. Schools need to help their students to respect the sea and be safe in and near it.

Cliffs. Coastal cliffs, particularly outside towns, are often spectacular and exciting to walk along, but stay away from the edge! Some cliffs are unstable and if you go too close to the edge, you may lose your balance and fall over or the cliff may crumble and disappear. 

This is a scary message to tell international students, but a necessary one, especially if the school is located near cliffs. Cliffs are very dangerous and international students may not know about the dangers unless schools tell them. 

Example 3 – British manners

Please and thank you. An ex-student who now works at an ELT school told me she wished somebody had told her earlier about how to ask for a drink in a coffee shop. “I didn’t know that in UK you had to ask and say please. I was saying – ‘Give me a coffee’ and wondering why the assistants looked at me quite crossly. Eventually I found out I should have been asking politely, ‘Could I have a coffee please?’

This lady was a lot happier when she knew what local people expected her to say, and she got a more positive response from locals.

Queuing is definitely the right thing to do!

As queuing isn’t part of the culture in many parts of the world, schools need to tell their international students what it is and how to do it nicely. The locals will be much happier if the international students don’t push in (which is considered rude) but queue patiently.