Created: January 2013
Reviewed & approved by Board: 26th April 2017
Next Review: April 2018
The Government is determined to reduce burdens on schools and is making it easier for schools to take pupils on trips, removing paperwork and taking steps to reduce teachers’ fears of legal action. Teachers should be confident that they know best how to look after pupils and keep them safe.
This document summarises the existing health and safety law relevant to schools and explains how it affects head-teachers and other school staff. It covers activities that take place on or off school premises, including school trips. This policy is sourced from ” Advice on legal duties and powers for local authorities, school leaders, school staff and governing bodies” DFE 2012
Please also refer to the policy statement from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘School trips and outdoor learning activities: Tackling the health and safety myths’.
See also: Health and Safety Policy for Dania School, Legionella policy, Fire safety and evacuation policies
Children should be able to experience a wide range of activities. Health and safety measures should help them to do this safely, not stop them. It is important that children learn to understand and manage the risks that are a normal part of life. Common sense should be used in assessing and managing the risks of any activity. Health and safety procedures should always be proportionate to the risks of an activity. Staff should be given the training they need so they can keep themselves and children safe and manage risks effectively.
The main legislation covering this area is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and regulations made under that Act (In particular, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). The governing body is responsible for health and safety, though tasks may be delegated to staff. Employees also have a duty to look after their own and others’ health and safety. Employers, school staff and others also have a duty under the common law to take care of pupils in the same way that a prudent parent would do so. Most claims for negligence are brought against the employer (who has public liability insurance) and not individual members of staff.
Assessing and managing risks
Health and safety law requires the employer to assess the risks to the health and safety of staff and others affected by their activities. The terms risk assessment and risk management are used to describe the process of thinking about the risks of any activity and the steps taken to counter them. Sensible management of risk does not mean that a separate written risk assessment is required for every activity.
The Governing board will take a common sense and proportionate approach, remembering that in schools risk assessment and risk management are tools to enable children to undertake activities safely, and not prevent activities from taking place. Sensible risk management cannot remove risk altogether but it should avoid needless or unhelpful paperwork.
Some activities, especially those happening away from school, can involve higher levels of risk. If these are annual or infrequent activities, a review of an existing assessment may be all that is needed. If it is a new activity, a specific assessment of significant risks must be carried out. The Headteacher will ensure that the person assigned with the assessment task understands the risks and is familiar with the activity that is planned. Where a risk assessment is carried out the employer must record the significant findings of the assessment (Note that this does not apply if the employer employs fewer than five employees).
However, schools need not carry out a risk assessment every time they undertake an activity that usually forms part of the school day, for example, taking pupils to a local venue which it frequently visits, such as a swimming pool, park, or place of worship. Any risks of these routine activities should already have been considered when agreeing the school’s general health and safety policies and procedures. A regular check to make sure the precautions remain suitable is all that is required.
Tackling myths about legal action
The HSE policy statement School trips and outdoor learning activities: Tackling the health and safety myths explains that the HSE’s main interest is in real risks arising from serious breaches of the law, such as a trip leader taking pupils canoeing but not ensuring they were all wearing buoyancy equipment. The statement makes clear that the HSE wants to encourage all schools and local authorities to remove wasteful bureaucracy – so that they focus only on real risks and not on paperwork. It also explains what the HSE takes into account when deciding whether to prosecute following an accident. This might include the severity of the injury, how far good practice was followed, the seriousness of the breach of the law and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. More details can be found in the HSE’s Enforcement Policy Statement. Criminal cases relating to accidents in schools are very rare.
Sometimes civil proceedings in negligence can be taken against an employer or individual member of staff. However, legal action for negligence against schools is only likely to be successful if:
- the school has not taken care of a child in a way that a prudent parent would have done;
- as a result, the child has been injured; and
- the injury was a foreseeable consequence.
Duties as an employer
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Dania School must take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and pupils are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This applies to activities on or off school premises. The Governors retain responsibility for health and safety, but delegate tasks to the Headteacher and other school staff. Regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 set out in more detail what actions employers are required to take. For example, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to:
- assess the risks to staff and others affected by school activities in order to identify the health and safety measures that are necessary and, in certain circumstances, keep a record of the significant findings of that assessment;
- introduce measures to manage those risks (risk management);
- tell their employees about the risks and measures to be taken to manage the risks;
- ensure that adequate training is given to employees on health and safety matters.
Dania employees are required to
- take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what they do at work;
- co-operate with their employers on health and safety matters;
- do their work in accordance with training and instructions; and
- inform the employer of any work situation representing a serious and immediate danger, so that remedial action can be taken.
- to act as any prudent parent would do (common law duty). when in charge of pupils
- follow any health and safety procedures put in place by Dania School
However, if employees feel that the procedure is inappropriate (e.g., it is too bureaucratic) they should discuss this with the Dania Governors and request that it is reviewed. The Headteacher will work with the employer to ensure that the procedures at the school are proportionate, effective and appropriate.
Dania School will ensure that staff are given the health and safety training they need for their job. Staff who do work which involves a greater element of risk, such as using woodworking machines, will need more training.
Dania School is not planning any trips abroad. However should it do so in the future then Dania would need to consider our duties under health and safety law when planning such trips. We would seek further advice from the HSE.
Reporting injuries and accidents
Certain work-related injuries to a member of staff or a child must, by law, be recorded and reported. Dania school is responsible for this, but staff will prepare the report.
Dania School must report:
- major injuries;
- over-7-day injuries – where an employee is away from work or unable to perform their normal work duties for more than 7 consecutive days;
- where there is an accident connected to the work activity which causes injury to pupils, members of the public or other people not at work and they are taken from the scene of an accident to hospital; and
- specified dangerous occurrences – where something happens that does not result in an injury, but could have done.
The requirements are found in the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).
Adventure activities using licensed providers
When planning an activity that will involve caving, climbing, trekking, skiing or water sports, Dania school will check that the provider holds a license as required by the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004. These regulations apply to adventure activities that take place in England, Scotland and Wales but these arrangements may be subject to change in the future.
School staff driving a school minibus
School staff can drive a school minibus without any special license, as long as Dania School agrees and as long as the following conditions are met.
- The staff member obtained their car driving license before January 1997; OR
- The staff member obtained their car driving license later, but has held it for at least two years, AND
- is not being paid to drive the minibus (because exemption depends on no consideration being received by the driver); AND
- the minibus weighs no more than 3.5 tonnes and is not used for hire or reward.
Parental consent to off-site activities
Written consent from parents is not required for pupils to take part in the majority of off-site activities organised by a school as most of these activities take place during school hours and are a normal part of a child’s education at school. However, parents should be told where their child will be at all times and of any extra safety measures required. Written consent is usually only requested for activities that need a higher level of risk management or those that take place outside school hours. Dania School has a “one-off” consent form which parents sign when a child enrols at the school. This will cover a child’s participation in any of these types of activities throughout their time at the school. These include adventure activities, off-site sporting fixtures outside the school day, residential visits and all off-site activities for nursery schools which take place at any time (including during school holidays or at the weekend). See Dania School Pupil Contract
Parents must be told in advance of each activity and must be given the opportunity to withdraw their child from any particular school trip or activity covered by the form.
Role of the educational visits coordinator (EVC)
The EVC will be one of the school teachers (to be assigned) and will
- liaises with the local authority’s outdoor education adviser
- helps manage Dania school risks both
- on the school site and
- when on trips away from the school.
At Dania School we also recognise the importance of the Equality Act 2010. This replaced and unified all existing equality legislation such as the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act. It aims to ensure that all people (pupils/teachers/parents/family/visitors etc) have equality of opportunity in accessing and experiencing the life of the school. When carrying out our day to day work, we should have regard to the following:
- eliminating discrimination
- advancing equality of opportunity
- foster good relations across all people, whatever their characteristics may be
Written by Mike Papesch: Trustee Dania School 2013
Revised: March 2017
|This policy was adopted on||Signed on behalf of Dania School||Date for review|