Addressing health and safety issues relating to the school building

Commentary

Community school buildings and land are owned by the local authority (LA).  The land at foundation schools is owned by the governing body or trustees.  In Voluntary Aided (VA) schools, the school buildings and land are usually owned by trustees, although the Local Authority may own the playing field land.  It is assumed in this case that the school in question is a community school.  The funding for day to day repair and maintenance, however, is provided through the school’s delegated budget.  The School Governors Guide to the Law has a useful chapter on Health and Safety that identifies where the responsibilities lie for the different categories of schools.

https://gov.wales/school-governors-guide-law

The school will have a health and safety policy in place and it is noted that they have also sought advice from several key agencies.  Undoubtedly, risk assessments would have been carried out and it is envisaged that the Local Authority would have played a key role in assisting the school in determining the correct way forward.

Many governing bodies appoint a link governor for health and safety, as well as forming a committee for premises, health and safety.  Governors Cymru Services has information on these:

Link governor role – http://governors.cymru/hsgovernor/

Premises, Health and Safety committee – http://governors.cymru/premises-health-and-safety/

Bearing in mind the complexity of Health and safety, it is essential that the school and governing body seeks advice from the experts, so please contact the relevant officers at the Local Authority who will be able to provide advice in the first instance.   Has the governing body signed up to a Service Level Agreement for repairs and maintenance with the Local Authority?  It is paramount to get the issues fixed for the health and safety of pupils and staff on the school site.

Some questions to ask:

  • How often are health and safety inspections carried out?
  • Is there a designated health and safety officer for the school?

The Health and Safety Executive has lots of useful information too.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-and-safety-advice-for-schools/responsibilities-and-duties-for-schools

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