Schools and nurseries have special and unusual responsibilities for ensuring suitable health & safety arrangements: there are responsibilities for other people’s children, as well as the staff both teaching and support. As a result of their special status the effect of incidents on the school, its community and reputation, can be hugely significant.
With the move to Academy status schools have much greater levels of autonomy with increasing responsibility falling to the Governors. There are several examples of the Governors being prosecuted for safety failings within their Schools.
An independent audit will not only provide reassurance to the Governors that the arrangements are robust but also create a prioritised action plan – if you don’t know where you are how do you plan the route?
Audits are useful to be able to show that if something does go awry it wasn’t due to a lack of concern (evidence that can now be considered by the Courts). The SWSM audit will examine both the core and peripheral activities of the school – accidents rarely occur in the main activities of an organisation but at the periphery or where less experienced people are providing cover. In a School setting the peripheral activities include
- Premises maintenance (in-house and contractor)
- Food preparation,
- Educational visits,
- School vehicles,
- Administration and teaching support, and
Child Care Nurseries
Most nurseries provide care from infant through to school age; as the children develop during this period so their needs change. As infants, safety issues are often concerned with ‘manual handling’ and arrangements for sleeping. As the children develop their independence safety issues change to provision of activities and stimulation.
For example, the lack of mobility creates a need to plan not only for fire evacuation but also ensuring that there is a safe place in which the children can be sheltered.