Preparing for and responding to Critical Incidents

Updated: 24/08/16

Schools, academies and other organisations working with children are strongly recommended to prepare plans for a possible critical incident, and to use the Red Book structure with this in mind. Please ensure that your governors/trustees are fully aware of your plans. The Red Book needs to be revised every year, please log-in to download the latest version below.

A Critical Incident may be defined as:

An event or events, usually sudden, which involve the experience of significant personal distress to a level which potentially overwhelms normal responses, procedures, and coping strategies and which is likely to have emotional and organisational consequences.

What it’s for:

The Critical Incident Support Line should be used to inform and request support from the Local Authority when a traumatic or tragic event has occurred. A critical incident may be the unexpected death of a child or an adult closely associated with the school/setting. Equally, it may be an event causing injuries which results in temporary or long-term disablement, for example road traffic accidents involving pupils/staff, or other events such as a fire. Support can also be offered in relation to some incidents where the LADO is involved, as well as when you are expecting the death of a child or member of staff due to illness. If you need an urgent response, please call the CI support line, otherwise use the non-urgent numbers in the Red Book. This is not an exhaustive list, please do get in touch if you need support.

If you need support in relation to a business continuity issue, you can get in touch with the NCC Business Continuity Team: The Resilience Team at County Hall provides expert knowledge, support and resources from Business Continuity Planners and Emergency Planners to help you plan for disruptions and deal with them when they occur. They have template documents for schools to complete and provide telephone support.

For further information about these services please contact the Resilience Team, you will find their details on the link below:

NCC Resilience Team


To access the Red Book 2021-2022, please register/log-in below and this will then be available to download from this page.

We encourage all new headteachers and members of the senior management team to complete training to prepare for critical incidents, please see training on the Services for Schools Website:

For information on how to respond to suspected meningitis, please log in and access the document at the bottom of this page.


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