Home / Health and safety in academies and multi-academy trusts – your questions answered

Health and safety in academies and multi-academy trusts – your questions answered

Feb 24 2021

Health and safety are always critical for academies and multi-academy trusts – and it’s never been more vital to get it right.  

We’ve created actionable solutions to questions from leaders like you to equip you to move forward confidently. Discover the answers to 8 pressing questions below, along with some key action points for academy leaders. 

1. Should there be a single health and safety policy for a multi-academy trust? 

Generally, one policy is best, as you benefit from consistency and economies of scale, but this can take time. 

Stay conscious of losing effective aspects of one policy when amalgamating it with a central one.  

2. Should each board of governors have one governor for health and safety? 

Usually, one governor takes a heightened interest in health and safety. This is valuable, as they act as a conduit between SLT and governors. 

However, remember health and safety is a shared responsibility between SLT and governors. 

3. How do I deal with concerns about legal liabilities for governors and trustees? 

The Key, Ofsted and the Department for Education provide useful resources about the legal liabilities of governors and trustees.  

Governors do not have personal or legal liability, so it’s extremely unlikely for a case to be brought against an individual. Trustees, as directors of a charity, will have some personal accountability as a director. However, the main focus is usually on the shared responsibility of the trust board and SLT. 

4. How can I protect students and staff during the pandemic? 

Make use of the many resources available to protect staff and students through the pandemic. 

The HSE website is full of fantastic resources, like workstation assessments for agile or home-based staff members.  

Consider and review your homeworking policy to make sure staff are operating safely. With so many changes happening, it’s vital to ensure your policies are up to date.  

5. How can I support everyone’s mental health? 

Work-related stress, anxiety and depression were prevalent in education even before the pandemic, so use HSE resources and management standards to prioritise mental health. 

Stay in regular contact using software like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. They’re not only for meetings, so replicate the staff room dynamic via a weekly coffee and catchup to check in on employees and make sure teachers conduct similar sessions with pupils.  

6. How can I prioritise risk across multiple sites? 

Consistency and compliance are key, so perform regular checks to maintain a positive culture across the board.  

Risk profiling and registers help prioritise risk in multiple schools or buildings – make sure to back them up with action plans. 

Focus accountancy or finance audits on health and safety to shed new light on internal practices and how to improve them.  

7. How can I keep on top of the challenges of COVID-19? 

  • Conduct regular training and refresher training 
  • Increase capability to share responsibility 
  • Keep things under constant review 
  • Get feedback – what’s working well and what isn’t? 
  • Stay on top of guidance 
  • Check 2020 controls are still current and effective 

8. What can leaders do to improve on challenges? 

  • Translate guidance into practical applications 
  • Share and discuss everything with leadership teams 
  • Make sure third-party support is proactive, timely and effective 
  • Keep abreast of changes  
  • Take a pragmatic approach to implementation 

Key action points for academy leaders 

Here’s your checklist of key actions: 

  • Perform regular checks – via audits, inspection or your own check sheet  
  • Make sure your teams follow up on actions resulting from checks 
  • Bear in mind recent shifts in how you use resources during reviews  
  • Ensure best practice across all buildings and schools 
  • Keep on top of government guidance 
  • Educate your teams to spread awareness and ensure effective implementation 
  • Coach or shadow staff to check they’re confident and knowledgeable  
  • Document and review regularly to make sure policies adhere to current guidance 

Need further support? 

Vita Safety can help you do your job safely. We provide proactive support for schools, translating guidance into digestible documents for busy leaders and conducting reviews, assessments and audits, so that you can focus on equipping your students for their next steps.  

Book a free 30-minute consultation to see how we can support you to run your academy safely and successfully. Call 0161 486 5020 or email [email protected] today. 

Get your questions answered

H&S got you scratching your head? Perhaps the last few months has unearthed some problems and you require some support?

Join us for a free roundtable event that suits your busy schedule. We’re running three round table events on H&S in academies. We’ll be unpacking some of your most pressing questions and providing pragmatic support to keep your community safe.

If you’ve got a question or you’d like to learn more, join one of our 60-minute sessions. They will run from 12.30 – 13.30 on:

  • Tuesday 4th May
  • Wednesday 23rd June
  • Wednesday 30th June

To register for your session of choice, follow the button below.