As the Responsible Person in a school or educational premises, you may have heard of some recent stories highlighting Ofsted's scrutiny of school security during inspections.
Back in 2017, two Cumbrian schools were placed into special measures by Ofsted after fears that their unsecured grounds pose a safety risk to pupils.
So, how could these stricter safeguarding guidelines affect your Ofsted rating and what can you do to help after your Fire Risk Assessment?
Ofsted inspections do not directly address the fire and security systems in your school. You will not get a big tick or cross assessing the state of your intruder alarm, fire alarm system and access control. Ofsted inspectors are not experts in security systems.
However, this GOV.UK article regarding Ofsted's developments in education inspection states:
"We would not normally find safeguarding ineffective because of one shortcoming that we identify, unless is it a very serious breach of statutory requirements that leaves children at risk of harm."
For more information about Ofsted's statutory requirements, read the School Inspection Handbook.
To clarify, Ofsted won't be specifically addressing your fire safety systems unless there's a serious problem.
The majority of school sites were constructed decades ago, before school security and fire safety became such a high expectation. That means the buildings weren't designed with safety in mind and, in some cases, the out of date systems that are in place don't conform to British Standards. These problems may be of interest to Ofsted.
Many school buildings:
In some cases the school's fire safety systems and equipment are as out of date as the buildings themselves!
As you can probably imagine, all of the above could potentially bring harm to the pupils if the worst should happen.
If this sounds like your school, pay special attention to the following...
Luckily, Blake's have worked with over 200 schools in the UK and have extensive experience designing and installing robust fire safety systems in schools.
Here's some advice on how to follow up on your Fire Risk Assessment and keep your pupils as safe as they can be.
This section will focus on what to do to fulfil the findings of the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) and finding the right professional help to do so. For help understanding your duties during the FRA, click here.
This is arguably the most important part of your FRA - as the assessment is a means to an end but NOT an end in itself.
We know that most schools are on a tight budget and are having to make extensive cuts, from school trips to CPD, it seems nothing is safe. So, the thought of having to fork out for more fire safety equipment is painful.
Selecting the cheapest quotes might seem like the right thing to do but could be a critical mistake.
Yes, it's much easier to ask the electrician who is already doing some work in your school to install a couple of extra emergency lights... but you need to understand the potential ramifications of this decision.
By hiring an unaccredited installer you could pay more in the long run. In the worst case scenario, it could even land you in jail.
How can you be sure that the electrician you hire to install your emergency lighting is fitting the correct equipment in accordance with Emergency Lighting Regulations?
Are you willing to take the risk?
To mitigate risk fully, you absolutely must look for an installer with the NSI FIRE GOLD accreditation - and a certificate to prove it.
NSI GOLD accreditation holds the greatest perceived value across the industry, by the Police, the Fire and Rescue services and insurers.
And for good reason! The NSI accredited installer offers the highest standard of services and quality and reliable fire equipment from the leading brands.
An NSI installer is up to date AND compliant with the latest fire safety legislation. You can be certain that the design, commissioning and maintenance of your system will be sufficiently robust to ensure the safety of your pupils. In turn, this ensures the Responsible Person has fulfilled their duty of care.
Get up to scratch - or potentially face jail
The role of Responsible Person is not easy - and conducting Fire Risk Assessments in schools can feel like tiptoeing in a minefield! Especially when Ofsted are casting their beady eye...
We've made an easy to understand guide that outlines some of the main issues you need to know about and how to act on them to avoid legal issues.
Click the image below to get your free copy.