Ensuring the safety of a school is not a new issue, although it’s never been as publicly scrutinised as it has been recently. Schools have had to consider more than just the threat of Coronavirus for many years now. With the schools going back over this week and next, take a look at some of the safety measures put in place by schools.
Health and Safety
Your child’s school has a responsibility to keep your child safe while they are attending. Day to day this responsibility falls with the headteacher and management staff. It is required that school appoint a ‘competent’ person to ensure the school are meeting all the health and safety requirements required. This person must have the necessary skills and experience to be able to ensure the school manages its health and safety risks.
It is required by law that all schools have a health and safety policy in place, this policy should be integrated into the day to day running of the school. The policy should make clear the roles and responsibilities within risk management processes, the strategy to control risks and specific measures that need to be implemented. It is the responsibility of the headteacher to monitor and update this policy when appropriate.
Schools are required to have a policy in place that outlines how they will react in response to a security related incident. This policy should go hand in hand with the health and safety and safeguarding policy, especially if it puts in place measures to protect students and reduce the risk of serious violence.
Staff and students do have a responsibility for their own security and that of others that they have contact with while at school. This alongside the official policy and affective management should ensure the safety of staff and students.
As much as it is very important for schools to have security measures in place, it is equally as important that school remains a welcoming and friendly environment for children. It is up to the headteacher and management staff to maintain this balance. A culture of safety needs to be created, meaning that staff and learners will naturally be aware of their own safety and the safety and security of others.
Any effective security policy should take into account realistic security concerns for any individual school, meaning no one school will have the same security policy as the next. The policy will make clear expected roles of staff, students and even the local community in the event of an incident. Local government and the police will be involved in making sure any security policy is suitable and effective.
A security policy won’t just cover protecting students for external threats, but also protecting them for any internal risks. Internal risks can involve the welfare of students, including the potential for serious violent crime, drugs and child exploitation. All staff have the responsibility to be aware of the associated risks and understand the measure put in place to manage them.
External threats covered within the policy can include; school evacuation, bomb alert and treat procedure, lockdown template and terrorist incidents. Not only will there be policy in place to handle these situations if they arrive, but also aftercare policies. These can include; debrief and lessons learned plans and post incident support documents.
Schools often have security cameras on the premises, to monitor students as well as those entering and leaving the grounds. Most schools will have a main entrance, with a receptionist to meet any visitors, this also acts as a way ensure only people with permission enter the school building. Many schools also employ a fob based or coded entry system for staff, not only on external doors but on some internal doors as well. This means that staff can move freely about the building, while maintaining the safety of locked doors.
It may sound complicated, technical and a little bit scary, but all these policies are there to ensure your child is safe and happy at school. All eventualities are covered in these procedures, to ensure the smooth and effective reaction if a serious incident was to occur. If all staff and students are familiar with the safety measures put in place, then they are more likely to stay safe if anything untoward happens.
Schools in the UK have had to expand their health and safety policies within the last year to deal with the unprecedented pandemic that started this year. At first schools were closed to guarantee the safety of all students and staff. However, as the government have learnt more and more about Covid-19, it has been deemed that it is safe for children to return to school this month.
The government has laid out advice for schools on how to protect students from the threat of coronavirus. The guidelines have changed more than once meaning you might not be clear on what producers are in place to protect children.
Schools must do everything in their power to reduce contact and mixing between students. However the main priority will be minimising student teacher contact, this is where ‘bubbles’ come in. by keeping groups in separate bubbles, pupils will only see a limited number of staff, cutting down exposure.
Classes such as drama and music will be modified, meaning where possible teachers should not speak in a raised voice for extended periods, the use of microphones is advised. Within music classes, singing, chanting and playing wind or brass instruments should only be undertaken with extended social distancing, as these are potentially higher risk activities. Undertaking these activities outside would be preferable.
Sport classes will also be adapted, only certain team sports that have been approved by government will be allowed to be played in schools. Schools will need to make sure that all equipment used is cleaned regularly and thoroughly, to stop the spread of infection. Outdoor sports should be prioritised as much as possible and when needed large indoor spaces with good ventilation should be used.
Because of social distancing the availability for transport has reduced. Dedicated transportation such as school busses are able to be used, however there are some guidelines that must be followed;
- Social distancing should be followed where possible
- Children should try and sit with their ‘bubble’ or with the same group of children everyday
- Children should wash or sanitise their hands before boarding and again before getting off
- A more stringent cleaning process needs to be followed for the interior of the transport
- An organised queuing system should be put in place
- Windows and ceiling vents should be open wear possible to maximise ventilation
The government has advised that anyone over the age of 11 should wear a face covering when using school transport. This doesn’t apply to children who are exempt from wearing facemasks.
You may not have realised the amount of work that goes in to make your child’s school a safe environment. It’s reassuring to know that most eventualities have been thought of. In this time of Covid-19 it’s more important than ever that schools follow correct procedure to keep everyone safe.
All info from www.gov.uk