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Safer Schools Bulletin April 2017

South Tyneside Council Health and Safety Manual

Please see updated link to the South Tyneside Council - Health and Safety Manual which connects into your school's Health and Safety Policy -this should be relayed to your staff.

Competency Framework for Governance

In the 'Competency Framework for Governance' schools are expected to follow 16 competencies including 'Risk management' and 'Statutory and contractual requirements'. Someone on the Board must have the knowledge to understand their "duties and responsibilities in relation to health and safety in education" and everyone on the board must have the knowledge to comprehend "the board's responsibilities in regard to Equalities and Health and Safety legislation."

The guidance, whilst non-statutory, outlines Department for Education thinking on effective governance and the expectation is clearly that governing bodies and academy trust boards should be mindful of these competencies.

The document goes further by explaining the principals and personal attributes required to "set the culture, values and ethos of the organisation" and "foster a learning culture where constructive challenge is welcomed; thinking is diverse; a variety of experiences and perspectives are welcomed; and continuous improvement is the norm."

Health and Safety: Violence and Aggression in Schools

As part of the continuing Health and Safety support and development for schools, I thought it would be prudent to raise the profile of 'violence and aggression'. Like me, I am sure that you are aware of the many reports in the media concerning the increase in the number of incidents of violence and aggression towards staff, both nationally and locally and I am keen to help reduce the number of incidents.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines violence as "any incident in which an

Employee is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances arising out of or during the course of their employment".

In England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the law requires each school to have a behavioural policy. This is to promote good behaviour, self-discipline and respect throughout the school, and prevent bullying. Good behaviour, both in and out of school, is a key ingredient to help reduce numbers of acts of violence and aggression within our schools.

Therefore, in order to ensure that schools have adequate policies, associated procedures and staff have the correct level of training and support; Health and Safety are to complete an audit within all schools.

The purpose of the audit is to ensure schools maintain a safe working environment for staff and pupils.  In order to achieve this, schools need to demonstrate:

  • a common understanding across all staff and pupils of what constitutes poor behaviour;
  • a well-documented, clear policy and associated procedures, readily understood by staff, pupils, parents/carers which is applied consistently;
  • how they assess the risk of violence, including reviewing risk assessments at regular intervals or when there is any change to the risk of violence;
  • that staff are trained and confident in de-escalation and intervention procedures;
  • the level of support offered to staff following an assault;
  • the reporting procedures for acts of violence towards staff;
  • good strategies for reintegrating pupils into class after serious incidents;
  • that pupils understand their roles and responsibilities;
  • all incidents are investigated in line with STC and school policies.

Stephen Bell in Health and Safety (BTST) will contact schools in April 2017.

Accidents / incidents advice

London council fined after school injury - February 2017:

Islington Borough Council has been sentenced after admitting a role in an incident at a London school where a boy was left with serious hand injuries.

Southwark Crown Court heard that on 25 March 2014, a twelve year old schoolboy was in a design and technology class making animal shapes out of plywood. The class used hand saws and some were using a belt sanding machine.

The court heard the schoolboy was using the machine for the first time, along with fellow pupils. They were shown how to use it by a fellow pupil and none knew the purpose of the metal guard for the sanding belt which was in a raised position.

When the schoolboy put the shape to the belt, it flipped downwards into the gap pulling his left hand forward and trapping it between the shape and the belt. The top of the boys left hand middle finger had to be amputated down to knuckle and was absent from school for several weeks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting said the teacher had not received adequate training to recognise that the machine was in an unsafe condition or recognise the risk of allowing pupils to use the machinery unsupervised and without suitable training. The design and technology class had been without a technician for 8 weeks prior to the incident; on the day of the incident the teacher was supervising the class alone.

London Borough of Islington pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £19,865.

After the hearing HSE inspector Jane Wolfenden said: "It is important to create a safe teaching environment for pupils where they can learn to appreciate and manage the risks they will face in life.

"If the teacher had been appropriately trained on how to use the equipment for the lesson, they would have been able to show the pupils how to properly use the sanding machine. Instead a young boy sustained an extremely painful injury that could have easily been avoided."

See CLEAPSS G 79 - Auditing H&S in Design and Technology & Art and Design Depts. to ensure your department is operating safely.

London council fined after school injury - HSE

Help and feedback

If you have any questions about the issues raised or if I can help in any other way, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I also welcome your feedback on this bulletin and any key topics you would like to see in the next edition.

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