The risk of assault against staff is, sadly, something that all schools need to consider carefully. Here one legal expert explains what they can do to protect staff and ensure they fulfil their duty of care.
Injuries to teachers and support staff due to assaults by pupils can be serious and unfortunately, on occasions, life-changing.
What’s more, as identified by recent research covered by Tes, an assault is something that many in the sector have experienced.
So how can schools manage the risk in a way that keeps staff safe without impacting on learning?
Carry out risk assessments
Risk assessments are key.
All schools should ensure that they have a specific assessment dealing with the risk of violence between pupils and against staff, even if such incidents are rare.
The risk should also be considered in assessments of specific situations that may increase the risk of violence, such as the supervision of break times or pupils leaving the site at the end of the day.
In the case of pupils with special educational or behavioural needs who are known to present a risk of violence, there should be a pupil-specific assessment that highlights the particular risks or triggers and identifies specific safeguards for that pupil.
This assessment would be expected to cover measures such as de-escalation techniques, pupil-to-staff ratio, the need for additional staff support in certain high-stress situations, ensuring that staff working with the pupil have received appropriate restraint training and, in extreme situations, personal protective equipment.
If there are situations where a member of staff may be alone with a pupil, such as where a pupil is permitted to leave the classroom with their one-to-one support to go outside or to a quiet area, the risk assessment should cover this heightened risk and identify additional mitigation, such as issuing staff with radios or panic buttons.
It is essential that risk assessments deal adequately with the risk of violence and identify all reasonably practicable safety measures that can be deployed to:
Any risks identified should be addressed, and consideration should be given to alternative strategies if the preferred strategy is not successful. Outlining a “plan B” is often necessary.
Ensuring that staff have sufficient training to deal with potentially violent situations is important.
While de-escalation is often the primary response to potential violence, training should also include safe restraint techniques, even where it is identified as a last resort.
Where training is provided to staff, it is essential that records of the training are retained for future reference. Training records should include:
Provide personal protective equipment
During the assessment, consideration should be given to the need for personal protective equipment (‘PPE’), such as bite resistant arm guards, safety clothing and personal radios or alarms.
PPE should be seen as a last resort in circumstances where the risk cannot be managed adequately by other means.
Where PPE is provided to staff, it is important to ensure that it is safe, suitable, available and is used as instructed.
You should also ensure that there is a signed acknowledgement that the member of staff has been provided with PPE.
There should be evidence that staff know how to obtain replacements if necessary and that the equipment is checked regularly and replaced if required.
Depending on the nature of the PPE, it may be necessary to provide training in its use. In the case of radios or personal alarms, provision will need to be made for issuing these each day, storing them when not in use, and checking that they are charged and operational.
Spot checks to ensure that PPE is being used as instructed might also be considered and documented.
The points above relate primarily to teachers and teaching assistants who have day-to-day contact with pupils, but the risks could extend to others who are working with pupils.
These might include lunchtime supervisors, sports coaches, music teachers, parent volunteers and supply teachers.
It is important that these individuals are made aware of the relevant risks and the safety measures in place.
In low-risk scenarios, a simple warning to defer to the class teacher may be sufficient, but other circumstances may require more stringent measures and it may be necessary to issue copies of risk assessments, check for relevant training, and provide guidance or supervision.
There may even be cases where it is inappropriate for anyone who is not a regular trained member of staff to work directly with high-risk pupils.
Regardless of the outcome of ballots on industrial action, unless there is drastic change to funding for schools in relation to pay increases, it will be unusual to find any organisational budget that is not impacted by the current economic situation.
There’s been little evidence of interventions or financial management reviews this year and it appears the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has re-focussed on financial delivery. It’s also telling that there were no discernible changes to the reporting of financial irregularities in the Academies Trust Handbook 2022.
The Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, has recently published a report “Beyond the labels: a SEND system which works for every child, every time”, which she intends to sit alongside the DfE’s SEND Review (2019) and SEND Green Paper (2022) and which she hopes will put children’s voices at the heart of the government’s review of SEND system.
Official statistics show that 15,336 claims which included a complaint of age discrimination were received at the Employment Tribunals between March 2020 and March 2021.
As well as providing day-to-day support to help you focus on managing your settings, we also provide training and professional development on a range of topics to keep you and your staff up-to-date.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) recently issued new, non-statutory guidance regarding the wearing of natural or protective hairstyles, specifically in reference to their representation in uniform, behaviour or standalone appearance policies.
Emma Hughes, head of HR services at Browne Jacobson, explains how CST’s updated executive pay report and the linked benchmarking service from XpertHR can help trust boards make robust decisions on pay.
There’s greater opportunity than ever for parents, carers and guardians to voice any concerns they have relating to their child’s education and for their concerns to be heard and to be taken seriously. While most staff in schools and academies are conscious of their legal duties relating to complaints management, many are struggling to cope with such a significant increase in the volume of complaints they must manage.
This guidance has been prepared to support academy trusts (Trusts) who want to hold a fully virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) or a hybrid AGM, as we know that Trusts may want to be prepared for future disruption as well as having a general interest in holding more meetings virtually. The guidance also applies to other meetings of the Members (known as General Meetings).
We’re pleased to collaborate with Lloyds Bank, who recently asked us and audit and risk specialists Crowe UK to offer guidance that academy trusts would find helpful when considering setting up a trading subsidiary.
The World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday 20 November 2022, with the final taking place on Sunday 18 December 2022. Undoubtedly, this is a huge sporting event, and many employees will be keen to show their support for their favourite teams. However, due to the time difference, start times for the matches are between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. UK time, which could have an impact on employers if employees who wish to watch the matches are scheduled to work.
The DfE has published new guidance and opened the application process for window two of the Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF) for 2022/2023, with a fund of £86m in trust capacity funding focused particularly on education investment areas.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was established in March 2015. We now have its report. As you would expect with such a broad scope, the report is long and makes a number of far-reaching recommendations. In this article, Dai Durbridge highlights seven of the 20 recommendations, sets out how they could impact on schools and suggests what steps to take now.
Browne Jacobson’s education team has been named as winner of the ‘Legal Advisors to Education Institutions’ category at the Education Investor Awards 2022 for a record sixth time.
Since the new Suspensions and Exclusions Statutory Guidance was published, we have received a lot of questions about the use of managed moves. For the first time, the Statutory Guidance does explain what a managed move is, but in relatively broad terms and does not cover the mechanics of how a managed move should operate.
Over 3000 young people from across the UK and Ireland took part in a virtual legal careers insight event, aimed at making the legal profession more diverse.