Safe Learning Environment

Categories: EnvironmentLearning

1.1 When planning an activity all children have the right to be safe in their learning environment and as the teacher or teaching assistant it is your job to ensure the safety of every child whether working indoors and outdoors is of the highest priority. This is done by identifying the hazards and risks in all situations. It is also a legal requirement to make sure the children are safe this can be done by ensuring the five major hazards are considered, these are; Physical, Security, Fire, Personal and Food safety (each is explained in greater detail in the following paragraphs).

Filling in risk assessments ensures the potential risks and hazards to the children are considered and measures taken to reduce the risk if they are considered unsafe for all activities from school residential trips to using glue guns.

When supervising children it is important to be aware of the risks children can be exposed to in order to keep them safe and we must take their age and the child’s individual needs into account, this is because a younger or disabled child are more likely to have accidents as they are most likely to have not yet got a full awareness of danger.

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When measuring on site risks we can use five points to assess and minimise risk. Firstly, physical hazards, these are hazards which could include objects lying on the floor such as coats, bags and toys this is what we call a trip hazard.

Spillages such as water or paint on the floor are known as a slip hazard.

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The last thing which in included in physical hazard is equipment not being checked such as glue guns which may cause a child to get burnt or saws which could cut a child. As you spend more time in school it will become apparent which physical hazards you are more likely to come across. You can avoid trip hazards by picking up coats, bags and fallen objects off the floor and putting them away be that on peg, in draws or cupboards. Slip hazards are easily avoided too by cleaning them up straight away, if someone spills some water simply wipe it up. However if it is a large spillage you may need to mop it up if this is the case make sure you put up a warning sign so everyone can see it and do not hurt themselves.

Finally you can make sure equipment is working correctly by regularly checking them prior to the children’s use. Secondly, are the security hazards that may occur in your school this includes checking if doors and gates are closed and locked, if appropriate, as you don’t want to let any unidentified people onto the premises. This is a particular danger to the children therefore, never be afraid to challenge someone if you don’t know who they are by asking politely if you can help them. If you have visitors to the school make sure they have signed in and are wearing a visitors badge so everyone knows who they are. Also if you are on playground duty and see something suspicious send for help immediately it is important to keep everyone safe. Fire hazards can be caused by not checking equipment properly; it may also include use of candles, issues whilst cooking or during forest school (if your school runs this activity). In order to minimise risk to the children in a fire hazard make sure you are aware of your schools fire procedures, that no fire exits are blocked, someone is trained on the fire extinguishers, you conduct regular checks on your fire alarms (if you have them) and regular fire drills, this ensures that everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities during a fire if there were to be one.

Also this makes sure the children are aware and can make sure they are safe too. Another hazard is food safety this can be a twofold hazard firstly the physical element, children may be cut or burnt during cooking activities. Secondly if high standards of food hygiene are not maintained there is the risk of children becoming ill. With regards to the second in order to make the children aware of being safe around food and in the kitchen, you must be a good role model in the kitchen and follow good hygiene practice. This includes having separate chopping boards for different foods you can get these colour coded to help the children be more aware. Also getting them to wash their hands before handling any food and before they go to lunch. In addition never leave children unattended around sharp objects such as knives. Similarly never leave them unattended around hot surfaces such as cookers, hot plates etc:.

With regards to the first it is essential to teach children safe methods of cooking such as using the bridge hold when chopping and insisting on using oven gloves when moving anything that has been heated. Finally there is personal safety you should always make sure you are safe as well as the child. You must be very aware of this particularly if you have been asked to work alone with a child or you are working in an isolated part of the school. Doing simple things like leaving the room door open so people passing by can hear and see what is going on helps; ideally try and make sure there is always another member of staff present to help safeguard yourself and the child.

Also if a child is upset never block the child’s exit this could cause harm to both the child and yourself. It is also a good idea that you take advantage of training such as Team Teach which will provide you with the strategies and confidence to deal with this kind of situation. If you are working with a child that is particularly upset make sure someone always knows where you are and do not feel that you are losing face if a colleague offers to help you. You also have to monitor risk off site when you take the children on school trips. If you take a large number of children out of the school on a trip or a residential a member of staff must do a recce of the area to make sure that it is safe and appropriate for the children and this member of staff must then write out a risk assessment to underline the hazards that may occur and then write out strategies that minimise the risk of these hazards occurring. The levels of risk maybe dependant on many things such as; * Where you are going

* How you are going to get there
* What activities you well do once there
* Adult to child ratio

This is to ensure that where you are going is suitable for the child’s needs, for example if you have a disabled child in a wheelchair is there will chair access and toilets to suit that child’s disability. Also there are other precautions to take to ensure the child safety such as parents consent, transport is safe, make sure you have a first aider and kit with you, making sure all children have the appropriate clothing for the activity you are going to be doing (such as wet weather clothes or sun cream), make
sure the children are in groups and have an adult with them to make sure they are safe

1.2 Health and safety should be monitored and maintained at all times so that everyone is aware of the procedures for hazards found around our working environment. In every school there should be people who are responsible for carting out regular safety checks. Usually the head of the school makes sure that these checks are carried out on a regular basis.

The alarms in the school should be checked regularly this is done by having regular fire drills it insures that everything is working and also makes the children aware of the procedure. In a school there should be regular walk a rounds conducted to make sure things are safe for the children for example to check fire exits are not blocked or there are no coats or bags on the floor which have fallen off of pegs. You can also check the computer rooms regularly and places where there are electrical wires are not exposed and go unreported. Where hazards are discovered for example if equipment is not stored correctly and could fall off and hurt a child, these should be recorded and reported immediately.

Safety checks should also be carried out on equipment regularly such as glue guns and ovens which could become hazardous if neglected, as a teacher or teacher assistant you cannot check these things yourself so all electrical equipment must be checked by a qualified electrician on an annual basis, further more you are also unable to check the function of fire extinguishers which must also be checked annually by your local fire service, who will record the date and time on the outside of the fire extinguisher so everyone can see when it has last been checked.

In order to make sure that staff are aware of the procedures and recent hazards known to the school, health and safety should be a regular discussion point at staff meetings, all staff should be regularly reminded of any issues and the procedures to deal with them. Within your school there should also be procedures in case any serious hazards arise during the school day and staff should be notified immediately.

1.3 In order to insure the safety of children all schools must follow certain
guidance, legislations and polices. One of the key legislations is The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). This legislation helps to protect people at work through procedures to prevent accidents from happening. This legislation tells us to report any hazards. Everyone should be alert to any hazards which happen in the work place and are likely to cause an injury.

The school should carry out annual risk assessments to identify the areas in the school and activities which are being carried out around the school which have the likelihood of a hazard occurring and to underline those who are at risk. Staff need to makes sure they report any risks which may occur and make children aware that they need to tell an adult if they see any hazards. You can make them aware of this by doing PHSE sessions making them aware of types of hazards to look for and who to report them to. All schools should have a designated person that anyone can go to in order to report health and safety matters.

You must also follow the schools safety policy this should provide information to all staff members about procedures within the school to make it as safe as possible. It also states that all new staff joining should be immediately made aware and given induction training on these procedures. Furthermore you must make sure that actions that you carry out do not harm yourself or others. This applies to all staff this includes putting things away that you have used. By putting things away properly you insure that they are not going to cause danger to anybody else. Also if you do not take action when you see discover something which may cause anybody danger, it is you responsibility not to ignore it. Staff must also ensure that you are using the correct equipment and that it is available for the children to use for example if working in the kitchen the children need to have aprons on. Also it includes the safe use of equipment if you are using a saw the children must first be shown how to use them safely.

Under this you must check that equipment is safe and appropriate. This allows us to plan activities around the school so that we can ensure the children’s safety when participating in activities. By following the guidance and legislations it allows schools to plan activities for children to enjoy and learn in a safe environment. 1.4

There are many legislation that we have to follow in order to make sure that children are safe. The main legislations that we use in our school is;
* Children Act 2004
* Health and Safety ay Work Act 1974

Children Act 2004 is important in our school because this act concentrates on safeguarding children. The acts main purpose is to make a safer environment for children of all ages. The idea of the act is to create co-ordination and co-operation between multiple official entities to improve the overall well-being of children. The 2004 Act also specifically provided for including and affecting disabled children.

Our aim as a school is to create a safe and healthy environment in which the children can learn and grow by following the Children Act 2004 and co-operating with other services we can help protect the children. Also the Health and Safety at Work act is very important it sets out how to record and report hazards which may be in the school it states that we must have risk assessment to assess the risk so that all staff are aware of them and the procedures to help minimise these risks. For example in our school we have regular TA and staff meetings where we are reminded of procedures and told and shown the new risk assessment if there is one.

2.4 It is important that risk assessments within your school is checked and monitored regularly, this should be done annually. Most staff are involved with doing a risk assessment at some point, this maybe because you are planning to run an activity which requires an risk assessment or because you are involved in going on a school trip or a residential.

Within a school setting there is normally a designated person who makes sure that the risk assessments are carried out and to a good standard. This person will check this a few weeks prior to the activity happening. After this the risk assessment will have to be checked and signed by the representative and the head teacher this then shows that the risk assessment has been filled out correctly. If you are taking children on a trip or when working in a kitchen it is good to encourage the children to discuss risk and hazards this allows then to become more aware and take control of their own safety in certain environments.

3.1 It is important to have a balanced approach to health and safety often laws and regulations are used as a reason why certain play and activities that children and young people do should be discouraged. For example climbing trees lots of schools do not let their pupils climb dreams as they feel the risk is do high and therefore shouldn’t be done.

But managed risk is good for children and helps their learning and growth. For example if they fall out a tree and scrape their knee it teaches then to be more careful when climbing. Within our schools health and safety policy it states;

* Play is important for children’s well-being and development

* When planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits

* Those providing play opportunities should focus on controlling the real risks, while securing or increasing the benefits – not on the paperwork

* Accidents and mistakes happen during play – but fear of litigation and prosecution has been blown out of proportion For our staff this means that eliminating risk is necessary when with large groups on a trip or residential. But during activities in the school a little supervised risk is really good for the children’s growth. This is done by empowering them to learn from the accidents they make and grow as people. 3.2

Any activity involves risk, however if the activity is well planned and organised, with thoughts to the possible risks (by carrying out risk assessments) the chances of an accident happening becomes less likely because we are more aware when supervising the children. Staff need to balance the risk of an activity against the benefit to and safety of the child. Risk and challenges are important to children, by avoiding risks and not challenging a child you could end up impacting on the child’s development and result in a timid child/ adult who would lack the everyday skills and abilities they would need to carry out day to day activities. Consequently they wouldn’t be aware of risks and dangers in their surroundings. Children need to explore and take risks to learn and develop. Children are faced with different challenges everyday teachers and teaching assistance manage the risks they have to face whilst sticking to the legislations that are laid out. 4.1

All children are likely to have an accident. Working in a school you will most likely have to help with an injured or unwell child. It is important to follow your school procedures to ensure the safety of the child and yourself. If a child has hurt themselves you will need to take the child to a medical room and get help from a qualified first aider (if you are first aid trained you may deal with the injury) make sure that you have another adult present. If you are unable to get the child inside due to injury you may have to call an ambulance. In this case you will also need to support other children which may be stood around. Children may become quickly distressed depending on what they have witnessed; they may have received shock themselves. You must also make sure that you are not putting yourself or any others at risk. You must follow the proper procedures for dealing with an incident which are; Dealing with incidents

we meet our legal requirements for the safety of our employees by complying with RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injury, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). We report to the Health and Safety Executive:

* Immediate action to be treated by a trained first aider.

* Report to the head if severe, who will then then contact parents and emergency services if necessary.

* Any dangerous occurrence is recorded in our incident book. Our procedure for filling in the incident book is as follows; Our incident book

* We have ready access to telephone numbers for emergency services, including local police. Where we are responsible for the premises we have contact numbers for gas and electricity emergency services, carpenter and plumber. Where we rent premises we ensure we have access to the person responsible and that there is a shared procedure for dealing with emergencies.

* We keep an incident book for recording incidents including those that that are reportable to the Health and Safety Executive as above. These incidents include:

- break in, burglary, theft of personal or the setting's property; - an intruder gaining unauthorised access to the premises;
- fire, flood, gas leak or electrical failure;
- attack on member of staff or parent on the premises or nearby; - any racist incident involving staff or family on the centre's premises; - a terrorist attack, or threat of one.

* In the incident book we record the date and time of the incident, nature of the event, who was affected, what was done about it - or if it was reported to the police, and if so a crime number. Any follow up, or insurance claim made, should also be recorded.

* In the unlikely event of a terrorist attack we follow the advice of the emergency services with regard to evacuation, medical aid and contacting children's families. Our standard Fire Safety Policy will be followed and staff will take charge of their key children. The incident is recorded when the threat is averted.

* The incident book is not for recording issues of concern involving a child. This is recorded in the child's own file.

Updated: Jul 06, 2022
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Safe Learning Environment. (2016, Mar 11). Retrieved from

Safe Learning Environment essay
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