Establishing correct health and safety policies

Commentary

The school and governing body are absolutely right to check and review its emergency evacuation plans. This is of utmost importance for the safety of all at the school.

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 schools, the school buildings and land are usually owned by trustees, although the Local Authority may own the playing field land.   Chapter 25 of 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

It is assumed in this case that the school in question is a community school.

The school will have a health and safety policy 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?  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

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-in-new-and-existing-school-buildings/fire-safety-in-new-and-existing-school-buildings

The case studies indicate that there are still some ambiguities arising from discussion. It is essential, therefore, that a clear path of action is agreed with the key stakeholders as soon as possible. Keeping a paper trail as an evidence base is also very important.

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