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Injuries and fatalities in school part 1

In my last blog post I examined the business continuity issues related to a significant potential problem for schools – the loss of your site or buildings. My next two articles will address another key scenario that can affect your school business continuity – an injury or fatality involving pupils or staff. In this first post I’ll argue the case for taking risks, and in my next post I’ll look at the issues you need to consider when doing so.

The injury or death of a member of the school community is not something that we like to think about, but it is always lurking there as a possibility. We’ve all heard news stories of staff being stabbed by disaffected ex-pupils or foreign coach trips going disastrously wrong because of a fatal crash.

Adventurous Opportunities Versus Risk

I have long been an advocate of providing challenging experiences to pupils, as I believe that this is essential for developing future citizens capable of leadership. My job is not to frighten you into restricting opportunities for pupil growth, but to prepare you for dealing with potential incidents arising from these opportunities, for in providing such experiences we lay ourselves open to risk.

If we go outside our house to walk to school we are exposed to risk – for example a driver could have a seizure that suddenly causes him to mount the curve and knock us down. But there will always be a degree of risk to any undertaking we engage in, and we have to navigate these day-to-day risks in order to survive. We would be poorer for doing nothing; our lives would be shallower if we denied ourselves any remotely risky experiences.

I live in a village of just over 2,000 residents. Recently a young man from my village went on a world hike. He died in Morocco (see http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/body-morocco-missing-timsbury-teenager-connor/story-29369704-detail/story.html). My younger son is currently undergoing a one-year world tour and, despite this tragedy, I accept that it’s important not to stop him. Young people need to be able to deal with life’s adventures, and that includes being prepared for when things go wrong.

This may all sound a bit morbid but my point is that if you want exciting experiences you have to accept risks. The secret is to prepare and mitigate against them. I would never put a young person into a dangerous situation, but equally would not want to wrap them in cotton wool – it can be a fine line. In my next post I will examine how to prepare for injury or worse to a member of your school community.

About Continuity West

At Continuity West we believe school leaders should be prepared to respond to and recover from any major incident.

We specialise in helping schools to protect pupils and staff, reduce reputational risk and guard against post-incident litigation.

We deliver this by providing comprehensive emergency plans, training, software and practical advice to fit any school budget (and exceeding DofE audit compliance).

If you have any concerns about your school’s readiness to respond to an emergency incident, contact us today for a free consultation.