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Teaching Students How to Survive A Terror Attack

With Europe at a heightened risk of terror attacks over the holidays, and countries in the West suffering more deaths from terrorism in the past year since 2001, it’s about time we start taking terror seriously in the classroom. And that’s exactly what is happening.

The Department for Education has commissioned new materials for schools with the aim of students responding to terror attacks much like they do a routine fire drill. The lesson plans, produced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and the PSHE Association, advise students what to do in the event of terrorist, gun, and knife attacks. They’re based on the government’s RUN HIDE TELL campaign, initially set up to address the threat of terror attacks in crowded public places.

To make the subject more accessible to students, security experts from Counter Terrorism Policing developed the campaign into a short animated video. The six-minute film follows the story of Nur, Edih, and Llet, as they reflect on surviving an attack on a shopping centre. It highlights the most important points to keep in mind and can be used as the basis for discussing terror in the classroom.

Watch the video with your class and discuss any questions your students have. But first, as a way to familiarise yourself with RUN HIDE TELL, here’s an overview of what the campaign is all about.


‘Run’ is the most crucial point of the campaign. Particularly as students may be inclined to hang around and take pictures or videos of the scene.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), suggest running is a far better option than surrendering or trying to negotiate. Students can try and get others to go with them, but shouldn’t let anyone or anything — belongings, phones — slow them down.


If, and only if, you can’t run away from the scene, students should find somewhere safe to hide. The NPPC recommends locking yourself in a room with solid walls and keeping away from any doors and windows.

Mobile phones should be kept on but turned on silent and off vibrate, and students are to wait quietly in the space until they’re rescued.


Once it’s safe and they’re in a place no one will hear them or a good distance from the scene, students should call the police and tell them who and where they are. The police will ask them a number of questions which students should continue to answer as calmly and concisely as possible.

The TELL part also extends to circumstances other than when caught up in a terror attack. For instance, if students notice someone acting strangely and taking photos in the local train station. Students are encouraged to report anything they see that looks suspicious, including any objects that are not where they should be.

The advice also explains what students should do when the police arrive. As the situation is particularly sensitive and officers will be on high alert for a possible attacker, students are advised to keep their hands in view, avoid any sudden movements, and follow the officer’s instructions.

The complete teaching materials are available to download on the National Police Chiefs' Council website.

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