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#1 Posted : 21 August 2001 14:24:00(UTC)
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Posted By Zoe Barnett
I'm the H&S adviser for an LEA that is coming up for inspection by Ofsted in November. As we are a relatively new authority we haven't been "Ofsteded" before and I'd be grateful for insights from anyone who's been through the process.

I'm especially interested in how the inspection looks at the conflict between the LEA's duty as the employer and the increasing autonomy of schools, which is causing us some problems at the moment. Any comments or advice will be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Zoe
#2 Posted : 21 August 2001 14:36:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ray Mitchell
I am the H&s adviser at a college of FE, and having been here for a year am about to face the colleges first inspection by the Leaning Skills Council in Oct.There is apparently an emphasis on H&S and I have been asked to produce a SAR for H&S.Never having done this before my report deals mainly with staff issues and I have commented on how these affect the student body.
If you want I can mail you a copy of my attempt but how good or bad it is Iwill not be able to tell you till end of Oct
#3 Posted : 21 August 2001 15:16:00(UTC)
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Posted By Dave Garioch
Hi, I'm and LEA Health and Safety Officer and our LEA was Ofsteded spring 2000.
The inspectors never asked to see anyone about H&S. This may be because they were provided with a significant amount of paper on how we manage H&S. They were provided with a three year action plan, details of the committee with minutes and papers of the meetings, a copy of the council and departmental H&S policies and other policies written specifically for the department, training records and letters from the HSE.

They are more likely to take an interest if the survey of schools identifies H&S as a major weakness. If you've got good working relations with the schools you may not have much input into the Ofsted process.

Good luck
#4 Posted : 22 August 2001 11:42:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ashley Williams
I may be stiring things up by saying this but having spoken to a couple of people who chair goveners at two schools in two seperate LEA's, they both told me that they had been told H & S was their responsibility not the LEA as they managed the schools?

From the thread it would appear this may not be the case. Any opinions?
#5 Posted : 22 August 2001 11:53:00(UTC)
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Posted By Zoe Barnett
Ashley, you have opened a can of worms that I think is going to be a big issue for LEAs in the future. Some schools (eg Foundation or some church schools) are the employer of the staff and therefore have the H&S responsibility, but the LEA has a residual duty of care if they have any input to the admission of children to those schools. For other schools the LEA is the employer, and therefore has the duty, but - and here's the snag- under local management practically all the funding and the responsibility is delegated to the schools so in real terms the LEA has very little control over what goes on. This then leads to a lot of complications when there is a major H&S issue: the HSE tell the LEA to get it sorted, the LEA has no money as it's all gone to the school and the school is as near as dammit autonomous. But of course, in the end it's the LEA that gets the Notice.

Never a dull moment in the safety game...
#6 Posted : 22 August 2001 12:34:00(UTC)
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Posted By Bryn Maidment
Hi Zoe!

If my experience as a Governor is anything to go by the inspectors do have a checklist and tick boxes - safety policy, first aid, safety committee etc. However it is most definitely not a qualitative look at how good, or bad, you are. The inspector quizzing me , wearing my hat as Governor for Safety, knew as much as Sooty the school rabbit.

Hope the Ofsted goes well.


#7 Posted : 22 August 2001 12:41:00(UTC)
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Posted By John Dodson
Our LEA was also offsteded and although they were provided with all the paperwork they did not ask to see any of the H&S personnel. You might find it helpful to look at the Ofsted reports on LEAs which can be accessed at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspect/index.htm. The reference in our report is in a paragraph headed ‘Health , safety, welfare and child protection’ in Section 5 which is headed ‘Access’ – but it is not the same in all reports.

With regard to the more general point about responsibilities in Community Schools the HSE is presently working on a SIM (in consultation with two education health and safety advisers) as well as guidance to be issued in conjunction with the DfES. They plan to get the SIM out shortly (Although the SIM is internal advice for HSE Inspectors it will be a fully open document and therefore available on request).

An inspector from the HSE National Interest Group for Education referred to this when she addressed the recent CLEAPSS conference. I took some notes which may be of some interest so I have pasted extracts below (apologies if some of it does not make sense because it is out of context):

She emphasised that the “employer” had never changed as a result of fair funding:
 Community and Voluntary Controlled: LEA
 Foundation and Voluntary Aided: Governing Body

The issue was did the local authority have power where it is the employer. Some years ago it was usual to refer to Section 15 Notices. The HSE has agreed with the DfES that Section 15 Notices are not the sensible way of dealing with health and safety (to begin with it only applies to safety (not health) and its primary function is to deal with educational issues not safety).

The preferred approach is Section 39 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. Section 39 (3) states that LEAs may issue directions to governing bodies and headteachers of schools where they are the employer on health and safety matters. The “direction” is enforceable, so far as a governing body is concerned via Section 497 of the Education Act 1996. The DFES view is that these directions can only be made if policies are already in place and are sufficiently specific.

The Code of Practice on LEA/school relations (a new one was issued two months ago) specifically states at the beginning that it “does not address employers duties under health and safety legislation” i.e. it deals with educational standards not health and safety.

There are many issues which cause problems with regard to funding. She referred to the following:

 Money for “maintenance” is delegated but money for capital works is retained.
 Schools can select contractors however LEAs can guide but cannot insist on an approved list. However proper guidance and monitoring should be in place.
 Governing body should supply information to enable the LEA to satisfy itself as to schools management of the budget.
 Governing body should have due regard to duties placed on LEA in relation to health and safety.

She made the point that there is nothing to stop schools commissioning advice on health and safety from external sources but she went on to say they can ask for as much external advice as they want but at the end of the day they must follow the LEA policy.

It is important that LEAs and schools are absolutely clear where money is delegated for health and safety. Where it is clear and where governing bodies do not comply with requirements of LEA policy the LEA can do the work and charge the governing body.

Training: Can the LEA insist on training to a certain level? Yes, so long as it is based on the risk, the risk assessment and clearly set out procedures e.g. management of asbestos. If the training is not taken up the LEA can insist under the regulations and it can also take the money away because they have not spent it on what it was delegated for.

So, it is particularly important that the delegation scheme indicates precisely what has been delegated.

Strategic Management: LEAs can retain money for this. What does strategic management mean:
 Setting policy
 Providing competence at strategic level (appointment of competent person)
 Carrying out proactive and reactive monitoring

It is now agreed/accepted by DfES that LEAs need to have power to ensure schools comply with health and safety legislation. This is referred to in the SIM which is being drafted.

She also said that field inspectors had been advised that where necessary (i.e. where local authorities had done all that was reasonable) that enforcement action should be considered against the governing body. However before taking such action they would need to be sure that the LEA had adequate policies and systems in place as well as appropriate monitoring.

#8 Posted : 22 August 2001 15:04:00(UTC)
Rank: Guest

Posted By George Wedgwood
This is a very interesting topic and one which was close to my own interests several years ago, whilst a governor of a large comprehensive under LMS. I successfully managed to persuade the Board to delegate responsibilities and take notice of the H&S management issues and compliance needs. I found the LEA to be under-staffed (one 'junior' affilliated to IOSH and studying for his certificate, advising a whole borough!) so little support there. Decisions were nearly always made at Board level with the proviso that the LEA would be consulted on proposals. When we carried out an audit, we found that there was almost zero compliance with the Electricity at Work Regs for example and the LEA finally had to admit as 'landlord' that they would have to rewire the school - that they did at a cost of well over 100K!

So these matters are very important and I feel you all have made an excellent contribution. Please continue to bring education into IOSH and consider joining the new Education Specialist Group being formed. This could be a significant voice for education safety and help improve standards all round.

George Wedgwood (Chair Specialist Groups Steering Committee)
#9 Posted : 23 August 2001 09:01:00(UTC)
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Posted By Ken Taylor
Here is a word from the Independent Sector.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate issue guidance on health and safety including: a list of relevant legislation; list of organisations able to give advice; questions to be asked (broken down into: general, science, art,craft,design and technology and physical education); and sources of evidence. There is also guidance on inspecting for pupils welfare (including health and safety) with: criteria; sources of evidence; and factors to be considered.

Two of our schools have had good results from inspections in the past year.
#10 Posted : 04 September 2001 13:10:00(UTC)
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Posted By Brian J Sutherland
I am the Health and Safety Services Manager for Peterborough City Council (Unitary). We were Ofsteded this year and I was interviewed comprehensively for one hour. Rather than detail exhaustively my experiences of the process, please call me on 01733-452387.
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