How to safely close your school for the holidays

We know education leaders are passionate about the work they do. But, we also know that you still love that feeling when the school holidays arrive and you can get some well-deserved rest with friends and family.

When you are closing your school for the holidays, there is a lot to consider from a Health & Safety perspective, particularly during the long summer break. Here are some key things that you should be considering.

Get prepared

When your school re-opens, you need to make sure you hae carried out appropriate checks before children return.

Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Fire safety – are your school’s fire alarm, fire extinguisher and emergency light testing requirements up-to-date? Who will take ownership of any required tasks during the holidays?
  • Bins and skips – to reduce the risk of arson, have you checked that all skips and external bins are locked, secured and pounded?
  • Gates, fences and barriers – are these secured and free from damage? This will deter people from breaking in.
  • Chemicals – are all chemicals securely and appropriately stored, in flameproof boxes where possible?
  • Legionella – the risk of bacterial growth significantly increases when water systems are likely to be inactive. Have you put in place procedures to prevent this, with clear ownership of tasks assigned to individuals, e.g. a regular flushing routine?

CCTV

To give you greater peace of mind that your school is fully protected while you’re away, check that all CCTV cameras are enabled.

Several technology advances in recent years mean CCTV cameras can support with:

  • Deterring crime – you will have a lot of expensive equipment in your school which could be attractive to thieves; if you have visible security cameras in and around your school, this may deter burglary attempts. In the event of a break in, CCTV footage can be given to the police to allow the criminals to be caught more quickly.
  • Protection of employees – there will be some people on site during school holidays who are likely to be working on their own. Should an incident take place (e.g. attempted attacks), a CCTV camera can help to establish facts and avoid having one person’s word against another.
  • Checking outside school grounds – it is not something we like to think about, but individuals might hang around your school’s grounds to try and get information they can use to incite harm (e.g. building access and entry points).
  • Monitoring building in an emergency – if a serious incident takes place while you are away— such as a fire— CCTV footage can be accessed remotely to check everyone has been safely evacuated. It can also be used to investigate why the incident took place.

Heating and plumbing

They might not be the first thing you consider when the school holidays arrive, but there should be:

  • Constant low heating to prevent the freezing of pipes during the winter breaks
  • Regular checks of heating and water systems to make sure they’re working
  • Enough fuel stock stored at any one time to heat the school
  • Free-flowing surface water drains, so areas that might flood do not turn into a mini ice rink if temperatures drop.

Additional personnel

Even when your school is closed to pupils, some people will still need to be on site. To support with this, you may wish to employ or subcontract a security firm or seasonal caretaker.

If you are using a contractor, you need to make sure contractors have the required DBS checks and that the company has been properly vetted.

Clear communication of dates

It might seem obvious, but every year there are parents and pupils unclear of term dates, creating the risk of pupils turning up to school despite it being closed.

There are lots of ways you can inform parents of key dates, but effective methods include:

  • Having an easy-to-find section on your website that clearly displays term times
  • Send out reminders through email and text messages
  • Update your school, academy or trust’s social media channels.

Citation can help

Our sister company, Citation, have over 20 years’ experience supporting school leaders with their Health & Safety, so you can be sure you are in safe hands.

Their online safety management platform, Atlas, provides access to around 100 school-specific risk assessment templates, an ever-growing list of online training modules, and a place for you to digitally store all the documentation you need to demonstrate compliance and manage Health & Safety.

If you have questions on anything covered in this article or want to learn more about Citation, contact their friendly experts on 0345 844 1111 or by emailing epm@citation.co.uk.

Find out more about how Citation can support your school, academy and trust with Health & Safety.

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