19 May Key legal checks required on your school buildings
There’s always lots of talk about Ofsted inspections that assess the quality of teaching and pupil well-being in our schools, but not so many people are aware of the standards that schools have to meet when it comes to building safety and maintenance. Have you ever paused to consider how good estate management of our schools is similarly important? Ensuring the health and safety of all children, staff and visitors at schools is not just important, it is, in fact, a legal requirement.
So, here in our latest blog, we explore what legal checks must be completed, and when, for your school buildings to remain compliant with statutory standards. If you are a school owner, leader, trustee or governor, you’ll certainly be well aware of this topic, even if the exact details elude you somewhat! ‘To do’ lists and calendars around the country will be filled with numerous reminders, deadlines, appointments and meetings, all required to maintain school buildings and land. The overall aim will be the same, to ensure health and safety compliance with statutory and regulatory standards for school buildings for the sake of all of those using them, be they adult or child.
But it’s a complicated business, not least because the regulatory standards are under constant review and can be regularly updated. Those who are responsible for managing and maintaining school estates must keep up with this dynamic environment, or face punitive action, or in the worst cases, injuries or illnesses among pupils or staff. Only in February this year, the Department of Education issued new guidance on the effective assessment, monitoring and management of school buildings containing RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) to ensure on-going structural integrity after the Health & Safety Executive highlighted the topic. A short while before this announcement, the Department of Education had also issued revised guidance regarding the management of asbestos in schools.
In essence, the Department of Education states that to keep a school estate in a safe condition, you should:
- clearly define and designate responsibilities for health and safety issues
- identify all property-related health and safety issues
- take appropriate actions to minimise any avoidable risks
- monitor risks and issues
This is a legal responsibility, and one which encompasses all the buildings used by the school, including both permanent and temporary buildings and detached playing fields.
Here we list some of the legal requirements and recommended documents and plans required or advised to have in place. It’s not exhaustive, but it is a more than comprehensive place to start!
If it all seems too much, or if you already have your hands full with that much anticipated Ofsted inspection, KCS Compliance Services is experienced in helping schools oversee their estate management. We can put a thorough plan in place and help remind you of what needs doing and when. With ComplianceManaged®, our cloud-based solution, we provide you with one place to store all your documentation and flag-up when inspections are due, and through our traffic light system you receive notifications, reminders and alerts on critical checks, reviews and upcoming maintenance schemes.
Contact us should you need any support for your school’s estate compliance.