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					                         Guidance on Risk Assessment Policy

Independent schools vary widely in terms of their size, pupil population, location, provision
and practice. The attached document is offered as guidance to help schools to prepare their
own policy in a way that suits their own circumstances and reflects the needs of their own
community. Remember, the following information is for guidance only. Before using it, and
particularly after adapting it, schools should consult their own legal and insurance advisers.

Please note that, where an insertion is required, square brackets are used without text or with
suggested text. Other square brackets indicate optional or alternative clauses.

  The ISBA acknowledges the assistance provided by guidance documents prepared by the
            following public bodies, charities and not for profit organisations:

      The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF)
      The Health & Safety Executive (HSE)
      The Independent Schools’ Inspectorate (ISI)
      The Charity Commission (CC)
      The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
      The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI)
      CLEAPSS Advisory Service

                                    The ISBA is grateful to:

      HSBC Insurance Brokers Ltd for their assistance with the preparation of this
      Rickerbys Solicitors LLP for the preparation of the ISBA Model Staff Handbook which
       is referred to in this document.
      Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc for “Risk Management Guidelines: Accident

                                       November 2009
ISBA November 2009

                    A Legal Requirement, ISI, Ofsted and EYFS Standards
          for all Independent Schools, Boarding Schools and Early Years Providers

A. ISI “Handbook for the Inspection of Schools: The Regulatory Requirements, Part 3
(September –December 2009)”
 B. “Reference guide to the Key Standards in Each Type of Social Care Service inspected by
Ofsted (Reference 080117)”
C. “The Early Years Foundation Stage: Statutory Framework 2008”
D. “Responsibility for the Management of Health and Safety in Schools” Section G of the
ISBA Model Staff Handbook, by Rickerbys Solicitors LLP of March 2009,
E. “Health and Safety and Welfare at Work,” Chapter N of the Bursars’ Guide by Pinsent
Masons LLP of 2009, (
F. “Five Steps to Risk Assessment” and “Principles of Sensible Risk Assessment” by the HSE
G. “Charities and Risk Management,” The Charities Commission, July 2007(
H. “Risk Management Framework: A Ten Point Plan” and “What is Risk Management?” by
the NCVO (


ISI Standard 3(4) requires independent schools to be able to produce sample risk assessments
both in and out of school. ISI Standard 3(5) requires the production of a fire risk assessment.
Several NMS regulate the health and safety standards of boarders. NMS Standard 29’s
explicit reference to the protection of boarders’ safety and welfare “during high risk
activities” implicitly suggests that a means must exist of determining “high risk activities.”
The EYFS Statutory Framework requires providers to have risk assessments in place covering
vists, indoor and outdoor spaces, furniture, equipment and toys.

Schools, like all employers, are required by law to:

      Provide a written health and safety policy (if they employ 5 or more people).
      Assess the risks to employees and, (in school parlance), to pupils, Governors,
       contractors and visitors who could be affected by their activities.
      Organise, plan, monitor and review preventative and protective measures.
      Obtain access to competent health and safety advice.
      Consult their employees about the risks at work and the organisation’s preventative
       and protective measures.

Additionally, charity law places a legal requirement on charities whose accounts are required
by law to be audited for the Trustees’ annual report to "contain a statement as to whether the
charity trustees have given consideration to the major risks to which the charity is exposed

ISBA November 2009
and systems designed to manage those risks". (Paragraph 45 of “Charities and Risk
Management” – see references). Company law places an identical requirement on the
Directors of a company.


The policy is a practical guide to the process of conducting generalist risk assessments in
schools. It points to areas, such as legionella, fire or asbestos, where specialist skills are
needed. Schools will need to ensure that all their employees have a basic understanding of
the general principles of risk assessment (and health and safety) as part of their induction
training. Refresher training will be required at regular intervals, particularly for staff who
work with chemicals (such as Science teachers and technicians, or Cleaners). Additional
training may be required as part of an individual’s professional development, for example,
training a Groundsman in the safe use of pesticides. Accurate record keeping of training and
safety and maintenance checks form an important part of the process.

Risk assessments need to be reviewed regularly and updated to keep pace with changes in:

      Legislation or recommended best practice
      Curriculum
      Physical alterations to buildings

EYFS providers are required to review their risk assessments annually.

Day to day responsibility for ensuring that risk assessments are carried out, records kept and
reviewed rests with the Bursar as Safety Co-ordinator; but Heads of Departments are likely to
be tasked with ensuring that their own departments follow endorsed school policies and
procedures. The entire school community needs to “buy into” the school’s health and safety
culture and to become involved with using and updating risk assessments as part of their daily
routine. Most schools develop an on-line “library” of risk assessments, to which all staff have
access and can adapt and tailor to their needs. The Bursar, as Chairman of the Health and
Safety Committee, will use that forum to review and monitor risk assessments. Both the Head
Master/Mistress and Governors have the responsibility for assuring themselves that a robust
process is in place.


      Management of Health and Safety in Schools
      Fire Safety, Procedures and Risk Assessments
      Educational Visits Policy
      Recording and Reporting Accidents to staff, pupils and visitors
      Legionella Policy
      Asbestos in Schools
      Control of Substances Hazardous to Health


ISBA November 2009
                                      MODEL POLICY

“Sensible risk management is about practical steps to managing real risks, not bureaucratic
back covering. Address the real risks, not only to pupils, but also to the health and well-being
 of your staff. And remember, risk assessment is just good planning – keep it fit for purpose
                  and act on it.” Sir Bill Callaghan, former Chairman, HSC

The Governors of [ ] school are fully committed to promoting the safety and welfare of all
in our community so that effective education can take place. Their highest priority lies in
ensuring that all the operations within the school environment, both educational and support,
are delivered in a safe manner that complies fully with not just with the law; but with best
practice. Risks are inherent in every day life. We need to identify them and to adopt systems
for minimising them. Our pupils need to be educated into how to cope safely with risk.


A risk assessment is a tool for conducting a formal examination of the harm or hazard to
people (or an organisation) that could result from a particular activity or situation.

      A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm (e.g. fire).
      A risk is an evaluation of the probability (or likelihood) of the hazard occurring (e.g. a
       chip pan will catch fire if left unattended).
      A risk assessment is the resulting assessment of the severity of the outcome (e.g. loss
       of life, destruction of property).
      Risk control measures are the measures and procedures that are put in place in order to
       minimise the consequences of unfettered risk (e.g. staff training, clear work
       procedures, heat detectors, fire alarms, fire practices, gas and electrical shut down
       points and insurance).

Accidents and injuries can ruin lives, damage reputations and cost money. Apart from being a
legal requirement, risk assessments therefore make good sense, focusing on prevention, rather
than reacting when things go wrong. Many cases simple measures are very effective and not

Risk assessments need reviewing and updating regularly [annually in settings providing for
EYFS children]. At [          ] school we are very aware that all staff and pupils need to receive
training. A “library” of risk assessments is maintained by the Bursar, the Educational Visits
Co-ordinator and the [Estates Bursar/ Head of Maintenance] on the school intranet for staff to
refer to and use for themselves. [      ], our [HR Director/Bursar’s PA] is responsible for
keeping records of staff training.


There are numerous activities carried out in [   ] school, each of which requires a separate
risk assessment. The most important of these cover:

      Fire safety, procedures and risk assessments
      Educational visits and trips.
ISBA November 2009
But risk assessments are also needed for many other areas, including:


      Science experiments
      Design and Technology
      Food Technology
      Each sport and PE activity
      Duke of Edinburgh award
      Art (including the clay and print studios)
      [CCF]
      Music (including minimising the risk of hearing loss to staff)
      Drama (including the theatre back stage, stage, props room and lighting box)
      Dance

At [     ] school we make use of model or generic risk assessments, for our educational
activities and visits [apart from our EYFS setting]. [We subscribe to the CLEAPSS Advisory
Service that provides model risk assessments for our lessons in Science and Design and
Technology, as well as providing professional training courses for both teachers and
technicians who work in Science and D&T]. All teaching staff and technicians receive
regular induction and refresher training in risk assessments tailored to their specific areas.


The focus of our pastoral policy is to ensure that every pupil leaves as a confident, articulate
young adult capable of keeping him/herself safe on the streets, in the home and in all
situations. Our PSHE programmes and Assemblies are directed towards promoting an
increasing understanding as the pupil develops, of the risks that exist in both the real and the
electronic worlds, and on sensible precautions that should be taken. Our Science lessons
encourage students to conduct their own safety-elated research into the potential hazards of
chemicals, gas, electricity and flammable materials.

Medical and First Aid

The Medical area has risk assessments for first aid and all other treatments and procedures.
The accident forms are maintained in the Medical Area and the School Nurse is responsible
for ensuring that accident reports are passed to the Bursar, the Pastoral Deputy Head [and the
pupil’s House Master/Mistress]. The School’s separate medical questionnaire policy explains
the procedures that we would follow in the event of a medical emergency. The Bursar is
responsible for reporting any notifiable accident that occurs on school premises to a pupil,
member of staff, parent, visitor or contractor to the HSE in accordance with the Reporting of
Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations (RIDDOR).

Unsupervised Access by Pupils

We ensure that pupils understand why they do not have unsupervised access to potentially
dangerous areas, such as the swimming pool, the science laboratories, the design technology

ISBA November 2009
rooms, [CCF store] etc. Doors to these areas are kept locked at all times when not in use. All
flammables are kept securely locked. Pupils do not have access to the Grounds, Maintenance,
Catering and Caretaking areas of the school.

Child Protection

Our Child Protection policies and training for all staff form the core of our child protection
risk management. Safer recruitment policies and procedures ensure that the school is not
exposed to the risk of employing staff who are barred from working with children, and are not
allowed to work in the UK. By extending this regime to Governors, volunteers and the adult
members of the households of staff who are accommodated on site, and by ensuring that
everyone in our community receives regular child protection training, we manage this risk to
an acceptable level.

Support Areas

      Catering and Cleaning: risk assessments and training is required for every item of
       catering and cleaning equipment, as well as for manual handling, slips and trips and
       the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH). Induction and refresher
       training covers risk assessments, protective equipment and safety notices.
      Caretaking and Security: risk assessments cover every room, laboratory, stairs,
       corridor and emergency exit in the entire school, [including boarding houses].
       Particular emphasis in training is given to minimising the risk of both fire and to
       security by adhering to good practice. Risk assessments also cover manual handling,
       working at heights, and asbestos. Induction and refresher training covers risk
       assessments, protective equipment and safety notices.
      Maintenance: risk assessments and training is required for every tool and item of
       equipment, as well as for manual handling, slips and trips, working at height, lone
       working, asbestos, control of contractors on site, electricity, gas, water, swimming
       pool maintenance and the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH).
       Induction and refresher training covers risk assessments, safe working practices,
       communication and health and safety notices and protective equipment.
      Grounds: risk assessments and training is required for every tool and piece of
       machinery, as well as for manual handling, slips and trips, working at height, lone
       working, use of pesticides, storage of flammables and COSHH. Induction and
       refresher training covers risk assessments, protective equipment and safety notices.
      Office staff: risk assessments are required for the display screen equipment and cables
       used by those staff (primarily office-based) who spend the majority of their working
       day in front of a screen.


There are several possible techniques; but at [   ] school we use the model recommended by
the HSE in its publication “Five Steps to Risk Assessment”. [Schools can download their own
copies from -see references].

Our policy at [      ] school is not to carry out any high risk activity. Activities involving
pupils are normally low risk. We undertake a few medium risk activities with [older] pupils,
such as [riding, skiing and orienteering]; but only using [specialist/qualified] instructors.
ISBA November 2009
Pupils are always given a safety briefing before participating in these activities, and are
expected to wear protective equipment, such as mouth-guards, and to follow instructions.

We will always employ specialists to high risk tasks. Support staff may only carry out
medium rated activities if they have been properly trained and work in pairs. All members of
staff and pupils are expected to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for tasks that have
been assessed as requiring its usage.

Specialist Risk Assessments

The [Bursar/Estates Bursar] arranges for specialists to carry out the following risk

      Fire safety
      Asbestos
      Legionella
      Gas safety
      Electrical safety


All risk assessments are reviewed (and recorded) [regularly/annually for EYFS providers],
when major structural work is planned, or in the event of an accident. The separate policy on
the management of health and safety describes the arrangements for regular health and safety
audits of the fabric of the school, its plant, machinery and equipment, together with its
arrangements for catering and cleaning and for water sampling.

Responsibilities of all Staff

 All members of staff are given a thorough induction into the school’s arrangements for risk
assessments and health and safety (which is recorded). Specialist training is given to those
whose work requires it. However, staff are responsible for taking reasonable care of their
own safety, together with that of pupils and visitors. They are responsible for cooperating
with the Head Master/Mistress, the Bursar and other members of the SLT in order to enable
the Governors to comply with their health and safety duties. Finally, all members of staff are
responsible for reporting any risks or defects to the Bursar.


An annual [SORP]/[Company] compliance risk assessment is presented [jointly] by the [Head
Master/Mistress and the] Bursar to the Governors to approve as [Trustees of the
Charity]/[Company Directors] at the same time that they review the audited accounts. This
report analyses:

      The financial procedures and controls
      The major risks to the school, including:

               Strategic risk
               Loss of fee income
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               Damage to reputation
               Failure to teach the correct syllabus
               Risk of a child protection issue
               Gaps in Governor skills
               Conflicts of interest
               Employment disputes
               Major health and safety issues
               Possible data loss
               Risk of fire, flood and land slip
               Poor cash flow management
               Loss through inappropriate investments
               Areas of potential risk

         The measures taken to protect the school against such risks, including:

               Safer recruitment of staff, Governors and volunteers
               Measures to ensure the selection, training and appraisal of appropriately
               qualified staff and Governors
               Strong financial controls
               Use of professional advice from lawyers, accountants, architects, etc as needed

Governors are invited to approve the compliance risk assessment annually and to endorse the
insertion of a statement along the following lines (or a more detailed version thereof) in the
school’s annual accounts:

EITHER: "The Trustees have assessed the major risks to which the charity is exposed, in
particular those related to the operations and finances of the Trust, and are satisfied that
systems are in place to manage our exposure to the major risks".

OR: "The Directors have assessed the major risks to which the company is exposed, in
particular those related to the operations and finances of the Company, and are satisfied that
systems are in place to manage our exposure to the major risks”.

ISBA November 2009