Safety in UK Schools: Tips for Keeping Education Safe

Safety in UK schools should be a priority to keep educational institutions safe havens for learning and personal growth. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Recent statistics reveal that violence against teachers and support staff in schools continues to be a serious issue, with many incidents either unreported or unresolved.

The safety and security of employees should be a top priority in any workplace, but when it comes to the education sector, this is especially critical. Sadly, safety in UK schools still needs improvement, as evidenced by the sobering statistics in a recent report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The report reveals that education professionals are among the most vulnerable occupational groups to workplace violence, with teachers and support staff ranking sixth out of 25 areas surveyed. 

The findings from the Supply Teacher’s Annual Survey in 2021 are equally alarming, with many schools failing to protect their teachers and staff from student abuse. Shockingly, over 6% of teachers surveyed reported experiencing physical violence from pupils in the past year, while 1 in 10 received threats of physical violence from students.

Furthermore, nearly 40% of teachers reported verbal abuse from students, with only 42% stating that their school took appropriate action to address the issue. These statistics are deeply concerning and highlight the urgent need for schools to take serious steps to prevent violence and abuse. 

It’s also crucial to acknowledge that behind-the-scenes roles, such as caretakers responsible for maintenance, may also be at risk of accidents and injuries. Similarly, staff may find themselves on challenging expeditions with students in remote locations with no mobile signal. Schools must take appropriate measures to address safety concerns for all members of the school community. 

Employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety in their schools, and that includes taking steps to prevent violence, abuse, and stress-related illnesses. A risk assessment is required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to identify and eliminate or reduce health, safety, and welfare risks to employees. 

The Department for Education has released a legal toolkit to help schools tackle abuse, threats, and violence towards members of the school community. The toolkit includes guidance on risk assessments, police school protocols, reporting incidents, and developing policies and procedures to deal with abuse, threats, or violent adult visitors.

Education and Awareness 

One way to prevent violence and abuse in schools is through education and awareness-raising. Schools can organise workshops, training sessions, and awareness campaigns to educate students on appropriate behaviour and the consequences of their actions. This can include educating them on the negative impact of bullying, how to manage their emotions, and how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence. By promoting positive values and attitudes, schools can create a more respectful and tolerant learning environment. 

Schools can also encourage open communication between staff, students, and parents to identify and address any potential safety concerns. Staff should feel comfortable reporting any incidents of violence, abuse, or harassment without fear of retaliation. A confidential reporting system can be put in place to ensure that all reports are handled appropriately. Schools can also provide counselling and mental health services to staff members who need support. By promoting a culture of well-being and support, schools can reduce the risk of violence and abuse. 

Another important aspect of preventing school violence is ensuring staff members are properly trained to manage potentially violent situations. This includes identifying potential risks and warning signs, de-escalation techniques, and how to respond to an incident. By providing staff members with the necessary training and support, schools can create a safer working environment for everyone.

Implementing Technology 

Technology can also be implemented to ensure the safety of education staff. While CCTV cameras are increasingly being used in schools and colleges for security purposes, the National Education Union (NEU) has reservations about their potential impact on staff surveillance. If a school is considering introducing CCTV systems, it must comply with data protection and human rights legislation before and after installation. 

As a result, one potential solution to ensure the safety of teachers is to equip schools with panic alarms. Providing quick access to emergency services in case of an incident. These alarms can also be used to address health and safety concerns such as sickness or other incidents.  

Addressing violence in schools and colleges is critical for ensuring the safety and well-being of teachers, support staff, and students. Employers have a legal obligation to take steps to prevent violence, and the use of panic alarms and other safety measures can help mitigate potential risks.  

Little Green Button helps workers to relax with a discreet panic button installed on a mobile device to alert the workforce when the employee is involved in a situation that potentially makes them feel uncomfortable.  

With our panic software technology, your workforce will never be alone again. Reach out to our team of expert customer service representatives for a free trial or get more information about a panic button device.