Pupil health and safety

Everyone in the education system must do what is sensible to keep pupils safe and healthy. This includes making the school environment as safe as possible. There are several sets of guidelines setting out the good practice that can help schools meet their responsibilities.

Responsibility for health and safety

Who has ultimate responsibility for pupil health and safety depends on the type of school your child goes to. The Education Authority (EA) in your region draws up a health and safety policy for controlled schools. In maintained schools, it’s usually the governing body. But in all schools, the staff will deal with day-to-day enforcement of the health and safety policy.

This applies while your child is in the charge of school staff - whether they are on or off the school site, during the school day and outside normal school hours.

Safety at school

Safety in lessons

Schools can add to the health and safety policy to reflect their particular circumstances - so that it covers, for example, what their pupils do in science and PE lessons.

Schools are also encouraged to use the curriculum to help pupils develop the skills and knowledge to keep themselves safe. You can help by making sure your child understands why it’s important to follow the rules and listen to the teacher.

Safety outside the classroom

Getting out of the classroom from time to time – whether it’s a week away on an educational visit or an hour-long science lesson in the school grounds – is a valuable learning experience.

Getting out of the classroom can mean pupils and staff facing hazards not present in the classroom - traffic, for example. Risk can never be eliminated entirely, but can be reduced to an acceptable level by good safety management. This enables visits to take place even where potential additional hazards exist.

First aid and medical needs

Schools need to be able to cope with emergencies, and school management have a responsibility to help pupils take advantage of any medical or dental inspections arranged by the Department of Health.

Most children with medical needs - whether they are the result of a physical illness, injury or mental health condition - should be able to go to school regularly. With some support, they can usually take part in most school activities.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

AEDs are portable devices used to induce electrical stimulation to the heart when someone has a cardiac arrest.

Guidelines for schools on the use of AEDs, compiled by the EA and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), provide guidance and support for schools that have, or are considering purchasing an AED.

There is no legal requirement for schools to have an AED; the decision to buy a defibrillator and train staff in its use is a matter for each school individually.  

You can get a copy of the guidelines from your child’s school or the EA in your region.

School security

Publicly funded schools

The EA in your region will have a general policy for security covering all the schools for which they are responsible.

Each school will also have a more detailed policy, drawn up by the governors and the school Principal. You can get a copy from your child's school.

Independent schools

Each independent school will have its own security policy, and must make sure that it has adequate security arrangements for the grounds and buildings.

Complaints about a lack of health and safety in school

If you have a complaint about health, safety or security at your child's school, contact the school Principal. If you’re still not happy, follow the school's complaints procedure and write to the chairperson of the school's governing body. If your child goes to a controlled school, you could also write to the EA in your region.

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