Blake Fire and Security Systems

Will Ofsted's Security Scrutiny Affect Your Fire Risk Assessment?

Date: 31 January 2022

As the Responsible Person in a school or educational premises, you may have heard of some 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 posed a safety risk to pupils.

However in 2022, the new School Inspection handbook states that Ofsted does not require schools to take any specific steps with regard to site security. In particular, inspectors do not have a view about the need for perimeter fences or lockdown alarms.

But, to be clear...

HOWEVER just because Ofstedā€™s inspectors have stopped checking on this vital element of school security, it doesn't mean it's no longer relevant for the Responsible Person at a School

BECAUSE in the DfE Guidance on Health & Safety: Responsibilities and duties for schools, it says

#8 School security and emergency preparation
All schools should have plans in place to enable them to manage and respond to incidents related to school security. DfE is consulting on guidance to help schools with school security procedures.

Schools should also have procedures for controlling access and barring individuals from premises. Schools can decide whether to include this within their school security plan or deal with the issue when it arises in another plan or procedure.

The DfE recommends guidance on helping schools with accessing and barring of individuals from premises.

Health and safety emergency procedures schools should consider include:

serious injury to a pupil or member of staff (for example, transport accident)
significant damage to school property (for example, fire)
criminal activity (for example, bomb threat)
severe weather (for example, flooding)
public health incidents (for example, flu pandemic)
the effects of a disaster in the local community

Common weaknesses in school fire safety

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 That means the buildings weren't designed with safety in mind and, in some cases, the out of date systems that are in place don't conform to British Standards.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:

  • Use the wrong type of electronic locking system on fire exits and fire routes - which have the potential to jam and remain locked in emergencies!
  • Have multiple fire alarm systems across the site, instead of one central system that covers the entire site and can pinpoint the origin of the alarm.
  • Contain fire safety equipment that is out of date and not compliant with current standards.

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...

school fire risk assessment

How to properly safeguard your pupils

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.

Following up on your Fire Risk Assessments the RIGHT way...

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.

Byhiring 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?

fire risk assessment

Choose the best - choose NSI Gold

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.

10 things the responsible person must know

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This blog post is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. Call Blake's on 01702 447800 to speak to one of our professionals for specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site.

Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information on our site, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our site is accurate, complete or up to date.

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