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Safeguarding the next generation: How a London school is using technology to tackle inappropriate behaviours and give students a voice

A number of UK schools are turning to technology to safeguard their pupils, with more than 20,000 students currently benefiting from a first-of-its-kind safeguarding platform — including a school in London which praised its “huge impact” on the school’s culture.

Barking Abbey School, a secondary school and specialist sports and humanities college, located in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, welcomed the technology in 2022 as it looked to integrate it as a way to give its students a voice.

Centred on helping schools gain a better understanding of their culture, the platform, imabi Inspire, is designed to make students feel safer and better represented. Offering named or anonymous reporting to flag inappropriate behaviours, the chance to provide feedback via surveys, targeted guidance from trusted sources, as well as acting as a portal for essential school information – it’s an ‘all in one place’ safeguarding resource.

Safeguarding platform imabi inspire

Barking Abbey School integrated the platform as part of its existing anti-bullying ambassadors initiative, who were used to launch the app to fellow students and help spread the app’s use amongst their peers. Within the first two months of launch, the platform saw more than 30 reports from students – providing a vital window into incidents and scenarios teachers were previously unaware of.

Recognising its potential, the platform soon became a resource that students fully embraced, empowering them with access to a pool of essential functions and resources, which Kayden, a student and anti-bullying ambassador at the school, described as “a very big help to those who feel unsafe.”

Kayden also remarked: “I feel like being safe is a privilege and if someone was to take that away from me, it would be a very big problem. imabi is very easy to use, and even if you don’t really know that much about technology, I think it’s a very good concept and I’m happy my school has introduced it for me and my peers.”

Tahrima, also a student and anti-bullying ambassador, added: “imabi was introduced when I was in the middle of year eight, and I think, in my world, that was basically the school telling the students that they are taking our safety seriously. I think that was a really big thing and having imabi available proves this to me.” 

The platform allows educators to receive reports of unwanted behaviour more easily and more quickly — whilst also improving triage and recording practices. It also eliminates the need to have multiple communication channels and systems to get key messages and alerts to students, with the option to push real-time notifications to a student community, attaching guides and documents.

Commenting on her school’s use of imabi Inspire, Stephanie Gibson, Senior Deputy Headteacher at Barking Abbey, said: “As a school, we are always looking at how we can improve our safeguarding practices. We did try a worry box email which is quite common in schools, but it just wasn’t being used. In November 2022, we launched imabi Inspire and it’s had a huge impact already. I think it’s really important that young people feel empowered to actually stand up when they don’t think something is right or fair. I would 100% recommend this app, it’s so easy to download and set up.”

Barking Abbey is just one of many schools that have been using the app. Across 2023, the platform saw more than 800 reports of inappropriate behaviours across its user base in the last year – with one incident at a different school seeing the removal of a teacher (who is subsequently being investigated by police) thanks to reports received from pupils via the app.

Mark Balaam, CEO and founder of imabi, commented: “We are already seeing the profound impact our platform is having on safeguarding school children in the UK. Barking Abbey is a standout example of where it’s been fully integrated and is making a real difference. It’s incredibly rewarding watching the students’ relationship with the app evolve. It’s also been great to hear feedback from teachers too, as ultimately, this is a tool for key decision makers to create the safest educational environment possible for their students. The platform is exclusively tailored to each school, with an admin portal allowing you to create and manage your own customised content, so we really look to be an extension of the team and offer the best possible solutions.”

For more information on imabi Inspire, please visit: https://www.imabi.com/inspire 

For more information on Barking Abbey School, please visit: https://www.barkingabbeyschool.co.uk/ and for more information on its partnership with imabi, please visit: https://www.imabi.com/barking-abbey 

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