Back to School

Vicki Filson

Vicki Filby-Filson
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
2nd March 2021

So far, I have been disappointed with the information provided by my son’s school with more focus on uniform presentation and hairstyles, than alleviating my concerns that they are keeping windows open and therefore might consider an additional jumper. They have focused on the areas of the guidance that they feel confident with and already have rules for, rather than interpreting the whole guidance with a realistic and thoughtful approach to the situation. Fortunately, we got over the need for funny hair colours first lockdown and the Leo Sayer look is not on the banned list. Anyway, I look forward to reading the updated risk assessments when they are published – I’m probably not typical of the average parent.

The Department of Education updated their guidance on Monday afternoon, and it does have a few changes that will mean things will look a little different from the Autumn term, when the majority of pupils were in school. This will make it necessary for them to update their risk assessments accordingly and communicate the changes to those affected.

When I visit some independent school customers in the coming weeks, there are a number of things I will be looking out for including: 

  • Controls in line with the 12 points of prevention and response;
  • An updated risk assessment that acknowledges the updated guidance;
  • Revised protocols for teaching departments such as science and PE;
  • Clear outline of how indoor spaces are ventilated during lessons and between;
  • Consideration and controls associated with testing;
  • That controls are proportionate and that COVID-19 measures do not override adequate safety, fire and welfare standards;
  • All staff understand and support the controls; and
  • Ongoing review – at least weekly.

Again, it is up to the school’s staff to balance the risk whilst following the guidance as best they can. Every step taken to minimise risk is good, and even if it cannot be followed 100% of the time it is doing some good. Just because social distancing is not possible all of the time, it doesn’t mean that distancing should be ignored all of the time. No-one is expecting the risk to disappear altogether, so a sensible approach is needed. Additionally, the steps taken should avoid being taken at detriment to basic welfare expectations or safety.

Evidence so far shows this is easier said than done, and I am still pondering about proportionality that pupils can only eat outdoors (where there are no facilities), as masks must be worn at all times indoors.