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Managing risks to independent schools during summer holidays

When it comes to school being out for the summer, we know it’s normally a long-awaited moment as both students and staff get ready to wind down and relax. But as a school leader, we know you’ll likely have a few things to tie up before you leave for a well-deserved break.

One of the most important things to make sure you get a handle on before you leave, is risk management during the summer holidays. Activity throughout these weeks will be different to term-time, so different risks will need to be considered. Whilst this isn’t an exhaustive list (let’s face it, there are so many things to think about), it should give a starting point for thinking about managing risk to your independent school outside of term time.


  1. Refurbishment work

The academic year can take its toll on your school’s building and by the time the school holidays arrive, it’s not surprising that many schools have refurbishment projects ready to begin as soon as the school is empty of staff and students.

But did you know that hot works and grinding are a huge cause of fires in commercial and industrial properties? This includes work like welding, cutting, burning, abrasive blasting etc. And as well as fire, these types of activities also carry significant risk of explosions. When planning refurbishments, schools should consider all routes to achieve their desired goal, to ensure that hot works are only used when completely necessary. For example, filing by hand as opposed to grinding.

If schools decide this type of refurbishment work is needed, it goes without saying that a thorough risk management plan must be in place to mitigate as much of the risk as possible. A control system, including hot work permits, should also be in place with the contractor undertaking the work.

  1. Vetting contractors

We know that who you let inside your school grounds is an important part of your safeguarding procedure during term time. But it’s a similar case during the holidays.

It’s very important to undertake due diligence checks to make sure you’re confident that you’ve employed reputable contractors with high standards.

Any company/contractor looking to work for an organisation such as an independent school should be willing to answer specific questions, give references and give detail on their internal procedures. If your potential contractors can’t provide sufficient answers, it’s worth considering whether they’re a good fit for your independent school.

Finally, it is important that you look to obtain proof of public liability and professional indemnity cover from any third parties (such as contractors and hire companies) who are undertaking work at your school.


  1. Sharing school facilities

Office space, fitness classes and even swimming; independent school facilities can be of great use to external groups outside of term time. Whilst these types of rentals can make use of school grounds when they’re empty, they of course come with their own risk.

A dedicated risk management assessment will need to be undertaken by a member of management to make sure that all risks are identified and mitigated as much as possible. Not only that, but you’ll need to make sure there are processes in place for informing visitors of your school’s protocols (for example, health and safety procedures).

If visitors will be using a facility, you’ll need to make sure it’s recorded. This is especially important for visitors who may not be familiar with your school premises.

  1. Managing waste

Waste can be extremely flammable, and it isn’t uncommon for it to be used during arson attacks. To prevent waste being readily available for potential arsonists, it’s important to ensure it’s properly managed outside of term time.

You should ideally store waste in a dedicated locked compound which has a strong fencing and gate system. This would preferably be located a good distance away from the main school building (for example, around ten metres).

If it isn’t possible to install a dedicated compound, you should opt for fire-resistant skips with lids. And these should be located as far away from the school building as possible.

  1. Ongoing security management

Security will likely be a huge part of your school’s risk management plan outside of term time and should be underpinned by a written security policy. This should outline all vital procedures including how often the site is monitored/visited, location and management of security alarms, opening and closing policies and how site visitors are managed.

The policy should be accessible to everyone who has a security responsibility at your independent school.

Whilst reviewing the school’s security, you could start considering additional measures to secure vulnerable areas of your school (like flat roofs and playgrounds), such as anti-climb barriers for drainpipes etc.


  1. Making sure your independent school stays covered

If you’re deviating from your usual term time activities, it’s always best to keep your insurer in the loop. This is to make sure your planned activities don't breach the terms of your insurance policy and you can make an informed decision about any risks.

For example, if your current independent school policy doesn’t account for third party hires (such as inflatables or firework displays), this is something you’ll need to consider before going ahead with your school’s planned summer activities.

Buildings and contents insurance for independent schools

With over 55 years’ experience in the education community, we can help protect your school’s structure and assets with our bespoke buildings and contents insurance. We also have extensive experience insuring historical and grade listed buildings.

Buildings cover can be extended to include accidental damage and subsidence, and contents insurance can provide cover for any school items you would like to insure – ranging from fine art equipment to computers.

You’ll also receive expert support and advice for your commercial insurance needs, with a dedicated account manager who will work with you to find the solution that’s right for your school.

Find out more about independent schools insurance and get in touch to speak to one of our friendly team today.

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