Responsibility for health and safety in schools

The governing board has a responsibility to ensure that pupils and employees are not put at unnecessary risk while at school or on educational trips.

Day to day responsibility for health and safety lies with school/trust leaders and staff. This includes operational activity such as health and safety inspections of school premises.

All schools must have a health and safety policy in place. Department for Education (DfE) non-statutory health and safety guidance sets out what the policy should contain.

The governing board’s oversight of health and safety is at a strategic level.

Health and safety oversight

Governing board oversight of health and safety means:

  • Ensuring that the school's health and safety policy is proportionate, compliant and reflects the context.
  • Seeking assurance that procedures set out in the policy are being followed and staff access suitable CPD where required.
  • Maintaining effective risk management - academy trusts must maintain a risk register but this is good practice for all schools.
  • Ensuring that direction from the relevant authority or legal employer is being followed (such as from the local authority, academy trust or diocese).
  • Evaluating reports from school/trust leaders, including data on accidents or near misses.
  • Monitoring the outcomes of independent health and safety audits and inspections, ensuring that any identified areas for improvement are acted on.

Oversight may be delegated to a committee and supported by a link governor/trustee where appropriate.

Academy committees (local governing bodies) in a multi academy trust (MAT) should refer to their scheme of delegation to determine their level of responsibility for health and safety oversight.

Monitoring health and safety

NGA has developed a checklist to help boards to monitor health and safety and identify areas for improvement. The list is not exhaustive and can be amended to meet your specific needs.

Download the checklist (MS Word)

Further reading


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