CONCERN FOR PUPIL HEALTH
The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association today announced a campaign to highlight its concerns about the lack of legislative protection for children and young people with regard to health and safety whilst they are in schools.
As the law stands at present, workers benefit from extensive heath and safety provisions in law and in regulations. Thus, in a school, all employees, both teaching and non-teaching, have rights and responsibilities with regard to health and safety because they are “at work”. These provisions will then apply to around 10% of the people who operate daily within a school, but as pupils make up the remaining 90% they are not covered by law. The only references to those using a building but not working there is that “suitable regard” should be had to them when considering health and safety issues.
It has always been agreed that non-employees could not be catered for because they are essentially a transient population. For example, shoppers in a store will change by the minute, railway passengers will only use the trains perhaps twice a day. The situation for school pupils is entirely different, however, as they will spend almost 30 hours per week in the one building and very infrequently do they move to another school. From age 5-16 they are required by law to be in attendance at school.
“It is high time that pupils are given the same status as teachers and other staff in schools. It is no longer sufficient for them to be given secondary consideration when planning buildings and determining proper facilities” said David Eaglesham, General Secretary.
“Experiences in many PFI funded projects shows clearly that pupils are not given sufficient consideration in respect of health and safety. If mandatory standards were established mirroring those which apply to adults then the situation would be much more satisfactory.”The issue was highlighted at a recent conference of school estates by the two SSTA delegates who emphasised current building deficiencies and noted that experience taught us that pupil behaviour in schools improved significantly where well appointed and well designed buildings gave pupils a sense of pride and responsibility.
“The Association will, as a first step, raise the issue with the Scottish Executive with a view to developing parallel standards to mirror legislative Health & Safety provision”.
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