University of Exeter
Tools for Schools
Safe harbours- adults I trust

Safe harbours- adults I trust

Key Points

This activity is for you and the student to identify which adults in the school they already trust and like. This is useful so that you can scaffold them to seek out one of their trusted adults if they run into difficulties when you are not physically present. It may also help you understand why the student might be reluctant to do some tasks or activities around the school

How is this tweaked for flex?

Adults cannot always control who a child will trust or feel close to. When children have additional challenges in school, being able to involve a trusted adult that they get on well with can help to calm situations, be a diversion, or supply an opportunity to regulate emotions

  • Set aside some time to do this activity. You will be creating a board or index of the adults in school that the student trusts and gets on with. You could use photos from the school website to do this
  • By adult, we mean all adults in the school- including mealtime support staff, learning and teaching assistants, office staff, cleaning and maintenance staff.
  • Using the safe harbours template, create a photo board of the adults the student trusts
  • If photos are not an option, have the student draw/use a picture of something that represents the staff member and add their name
  • Give the staff members identified as trusted adults warning that they have been identified- we've included a trusted adult card that you can pass on to them if you want to
  • Use the template to add more detail about when the student usually sees or interacts with them, or to set boundaries about what that adult can help them with
  • If the student does not want an individual on their board, do not push the issue. Instead work with them slowly over time and later re-assess 
  • How many adults are on the board for the student? Is that surprising?
  • Consider how you can support and utilise these relationships the student has to help them manage throughout the school day using the using my safe harbours template- can spending five minutes with one of the adults be used as a reward? 
  • If there are lots of problems with peers during lunchtime, could you ask one of their trusted mealtime staff to be the students’ point of contact, to listen to them? 
  • Is there a common pattern among the people the student trusts? What is it? Discuss with colleagues or home why that might be
  • Is there anyone not on the board that you think should be on there? Consider why you think this. Is it in the students’ best interests to develop a trusting relationship with them? If so, how could you work with the student (perhaps using one of the other adults they trust to support this) to start to develop a relationship with them?
  • Use the reflection template to note down how it went