A safe school (on both physical and emotional levels) is one where constant attention is paid to creating a safe space. Pupils feel comfortable here and continuous effort is put into preventing, recognising and addressing intolerable behaviour. Safety is not just an important topic for primary schools, where bullying is still a common occurrence. For secondary schools, colleges and universities, a safe learning and working environment is also crucial. In addition to bullying and harassment, higher education also deals with indecent behaviour in the form of cybercrime or misuse of personal data.
It is mandatory for schools to have an active health and safety policy. This policy should detail things like: the roles and responsibilities within risk management processes, the mechanisms in place to control risks and specific safety and control measures that need to be implemented in the future.
To run a successful safety policy, you also need to understand students’ well-being. You can discover this by, for instance, letting pupils fill in questionnaires about how safe they currently feel at school. It is then up to the school to assess the current situation and think of adequate measures to combat possible problems.
Health and safety law requires schools to assess risks and record details of risk assessments, along with the measures which are taken to reduce these risks, including details regarding the outcome. They must also identify any group of employees or students that are especially at risk of unsafe situations.
A detailed risk assessment looks into the risks concerning the health and safety of people at school (including teachers and pupils) and is constantly monitored and updated as new risks occur.
The employer or the proprietor (when referring to independent schools), is responsible for the health and safety of school staff and its pupils. The headteacher and school management team are usually responsible for ensuring that all risks, including those in the health and safety realm, are managed effectively.
A person with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to give reasonable guidance about managing the health and safety risks at the school must be appointed to ensure schools meet the prerequisites for health and safety. This person can be directly appointed by the school, or the employer can seek support from outside the school.
Our multiple trainings, including a workshop on leadership development, can be a useful addition to employers’ or schools’ health and safety training for schools, which will assist in fine tuning health and safety policies in schools.
Want to make schools safer? A useful way to measure the level of safety in schools is the Quality of Interaction approach, using the Qi Index. This assessment tool analyses the quality of interaction within your school and examines which underlying routines and behaviours influence safety.
By actively working with these insights, you can then create a school environment based on mutual trust and desirable behaviour. Let staff and students in schools describe the current environment and then let them explain what they think is needed for a safe learning environment.
The Qi Index helps you improve health and safety at schools in a practical way by giving an analysis of the current quality of interaction in schools. By experimenting and setting clear goals, you will then get to work on creating a safe school environment.
Interested in getting started with the Qi Index and working towards more safety at school? Contact one of our coaches for more information or fill in our contact form.
Human Insight has the tools and insights to support you in the transition to a healthy and efficient organisational culture.
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