Health and Safety in Schools in UK

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The health and safety of both staff and students is an important part of the U.K. educational system. A safe and healthy environment must be provided in order to ensure that schools are doing the best they can to provide the resources needed to educate pupils. Learn about health and safety in schools in UK. 

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations

Teachers and other school staff members are required to work together to complete risk assessments deemed necessary by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. When it comes to the use of radioactive material in schools all material must comply with safety requirements. Risk assessments must be adapted to meet the unique circumstances at every school in the country.

Taking Responsibility for Health and Safety in Schools

Staff must be aware of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in schools as this affects their job. The act must be followed in community schools as well as voluntary controlled schools and nursery schools. It must also be followed by foundation and special schools as well as independent schools. This health and safety act is meant to affect the health and safety policy in schools.

Part of keeping schools safe is taking fire safety regulations into concern. The Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 states that schools must have an official fire risk policy in place. A fire risk assessment must also be performed in every school throughout the U.K. There has to be an emergency plan and an individual staff member tasked with managing a school’s fire safety. The staff in every school must be trained in fire safety awareness on a regular basis. Each school must have an effective system in place for inspecting fire exit signage as well as the necessary safety equipment.

Health and Safety at School

Schools that need assistance complying with health and safety legislation can turn to the LGSS Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team. This gives them access to support services that offer both guidance and advice to school staff members. The services are provided by qualified professionals in health and safety as well as County Safety Managers.

When a school achieves academy status they have to take on even more responsibilities when it comes to the health and safety of students and staff members. A service legal agreement can be obtained by academies through the LGSS Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team.

Governors throughout the U.K. are responsible for ensuring school safety. A lead Governor is appointed to make sure that health and safety standards are implemented in each individual school. School Government Consultant Nicki Wadley has given advice to governors on how to ensure school safety and health. This includes thinking about the issue on a long term basis and monitoring each school’s actions. A transparent and open approach is said to be the best approach for ensuring the health and safety of those who attend or work at a school. An annual plan should be implemented that includes government visits to each school to ensure that standards of safety are being met.

Southwark Council for Health and Safety in Schools

The Southwark Council runs children’s and adult’s services meant to help schools meet and maintain the highest standards possible when it comes to the health and safety of students, staff and school visitors. The Southwark Safety Reference Manual lists all the requirements schools must comply with in order to ensure safety for all. Teachers and staff members at every school play a key role when it comes to maintaining the highest possible standards for safety. They must comply with any requirements that are part of their school’s safety management system.

Local safety and policy plans have to be created and put into action by every U.K. school. They start out with a model of a plan designed for all schools and modify the plan to fit in with each individual school. Since not all education takes place in a school it is also a requirement that schools follow national guidelines set forth by the Outdoors Education Panel. A notification system must be used to log all official trips away from a school.

Many U.K. schools hesitate to take their students on educational field trips because they are afraid that something will go wrong during a field trip and they will be sued. However in the beginning of 2014 the Department of Education sent out a document stating that it is a rare case when a school faces a lawsuit as the result of taking students on a field trip. The document stated that all schools have to do to prevent this is to make sure their students are safe. It also stated that risk assessment does not have to be performed every time a field trip is taken and parental permission for every single field trip is not necessary. The guidelines put into place for schools states that teachers are not using enough common sense when it comes to planning field trips. These guidelines, stated in the released document, dictate that school staff members can always receive safety and health advice regarding students on field trips without having to spend the time and money on training sessions. Officials have been concerned that students’ educations are suffering because field trips are being avoided. They refer to these field trips as cornerstones of any student’s schooling. According to a local child psychologist the natural development of school children throughout the U.K. is being stunted over the issue of health and safety.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations was enacted in 1992. It lists the provisions schools in the U.K. must adhere to. In 2012 the Education (School Premises) Regulations set forth standards schools are required to meet when it comes to safety. The provisions are related to parts of schools such as staff rooms and toilet facilities as well as ventilation, temperature, heating, lighting, noise, water supply and weather protection in schools. In addition to regular schools being required to follow these regulations special education schools are required to follow them as well. When it comes to the toilet facilities in any U.K. school it is necessary to have a toilet for each 10 students in the school that are less than five years old. For students over five years old there must be one toilet for every 20 students in the school. The toilets meant for staff members have to be separate from the ones meant for students. There is no specific regulation stating how many toilets a school should have compared to how many staff members they have. Schools are also supposed to have an efficient amount of space so that overcrowding can be avoided.

When it comes to staff rooms in any school they must be separate from the rooms designated for teachers to socialize and work in. Medical rooms are also required in each school. These rooms must be equipped so that a proper medical or dental examination can be given to a student and so that students who have become injured or sick can be taken care of. Two of the requirements for a medical room on a U.K. school are a washbasin in the room and bathroom facilities located close to the medical room.

Health and Safety in Schools

U.K. schools must report any accidents or other incidents that involve students or staff to a team of health and safety professionals. It is especially important that any serious injuries are reported immediately. Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 is something that applies to all of the schools in the U.K. Any students or school visitors injured must be reported if they led to death.

There are many boarding schools in the U.K. and they are also responsible for ensuring the health and safety of students and staff. The U.K. government sets standards that are very strict and must be met. Government appointed bodies regularly visit boarding schools to ensure that these standards are being met. Anyone that works in a U.K. school as a teacher or other staff member is first required to pass what is called the Disclosure and Barring Service check. Each applicant’s police files are pulled to ensure that they have no convictions on their record for any type of crime that could lead to the injury of a child.

At boarding schools throughout the U.K. students can always turn to their teachers or a house parent if they are in fear of being hurt at the school or have been hurt there. The majority of U.K. schools have a medical center and a nurse on staff that students are encouraged to visit if they become ill or injured. Any student who is a resident of another country but is attending a boarding school that is under the age of 16 is required to have an appointed guardian to care for them if they get injured or become sick.

Virtual Health and Safety Management System for Health and Safety in Schools

In January of 2014 the Customer Support Group in Barnet released an online platform that teachers and other school staff members can use to report any accidents at their school. This online platform makes it possible to review and further investigate the details of any accident. The platform is called the Virtual Health and Safety Management System and makes it possible for staff members to report any incident using a Smartphone or other Internet-connected device. Logging into a system to report an accident or incident is not even necessary with this technology. From their device staff can submit both types of documents, witness statements and photos detailing a specific incident.

Primary School Health and Safety Policy

One example of health and safety policy for schools is the policies put in place by the Head Start Nursery School. Adella Costello is the head teacher at this school and is the individual responsible for the health and safety of all its students. It is her job to make sure that the annual risk assessments are completed and that the risk assessment policy is reviewed on a yearly basis. She oversees all fire drills held at the school.

Conclusion on Health and Safety in Schools

Keeping students safe and healthy is always a top priority at schools throughout the U.K. Following regulations and guidelines is required by every school in the country. It is the job of teachers, staff and parents to ensure the safety of each individual student. There is always assistance that schools can seek out when they need help in implementing and maintaining safety and health standards set forth by the government. Working together, school employees and students’ parents can enhance the educational experience offered. Through team efforts and constant dedication the school children of the U.K. will always be able to learn in an environment that is safe and healthy for everyone involved in their education.

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