At the beginning of the school year, teachers are mostly concerned with learning all they can about new pupils, and desperately trying to remember their names. But every day, teachers are on their own in a room vastly outnumbered by pupils. Generally, this is not a cause for concern, but problems can arise at any time and the lone teacher can be hugely vulnerable in these situations. It is vitally important that a set of school safety guidelines is prepared so that any eventuality can be prepared for in advance.
Accidents and Injuries
With the sheer number of pupils and teachers all moving around at the end of lessons, it is almost inevitable that accidents will happen. These can occur in the halls or in the classroom, particularly if the lesson involves chemicals or dangerous substances. Sports injuries usually happen on fields well away from the school buildings, meaning that immediate help is often difficult to find.
A particular issue with teachers nowadays is the fear of violence from pupils or even their parents. On both occasions the teacher will usually be alone with the threat, and it becomes important that there is a way of communicating to others that there is a problem. This needs to be quick, easy and ideally unobtrusive so that it doesn’t exacerbate the situation but staff are alerted to help being required.
Violence between pupils can also be an issue whether because of bullying or just general roughhousing. Sometimes, help is needed to defuse a situation, or remove pupils from danger.
Although not common in schools in the UK, there is an everyday threat of terrorist action in the wider world, and schools need to be prepared for such an event to occur on their grounds. The safety of teachers and pupils is a concern, and it may be second nature to follow a fire-type drill and leave the building during an emergency. However, in these cases, it may make more sense for them to stay indoors and keep hidden rather than the usual evacuation procedure. Again, information is key, and it is important to be able to inform all teachers as soon as possible of whatever is required of them.
4 Tips For Teacher Safety
From the teacher’s point of view, calm decision-making is paramount at all times when a problem occurs. This decision-making is made simpler and faster if there are already school safety guidelines in place. When there are set procedures that have been decided upon, it becomes easier to know what to do when an unexpected incident arises.
It sounds obvious, but in busy classrooms furniture can get moved around during the course of the day. Make sure at the beginning of each lesson that there are no chairs or tables left in the middle of the room for the students to fall over or trip on. And ensure that no items have been left on the floor that could be broken or again cause students to fall over. Items that are required during the lesson should also be kept readily accessible. Any items that are stored at height may cause an injury if they fall because they are too difficult for the students to reach.
In order to keep an eye on the children while you are writing on the board, it can be useful to install mirrors at the front of the classroom. That way, if you are writing, you can still see what they are doing behind you, giving you extra time to quash any troublemaking. In the spirit of this, it is also useful to get the students involved as much as possible, maybe even writing on the board themselves. It means you can keep an eye on the class a little more while engaging the students and making sure they feel part of the lesson.
ID Badges and Security
In the face of new terror attacks, it becomes more important than ever that visitors to the school stand out. It is a good idea to make sure that all guests on school property sign in and wear badges at all times. In the event that something happens to endanger pupils, a full procedure for a lockdown or evacuation should be prepared. This will include a note of how teachers will contact other members of staff in the event of such a situation.
Fire drills are commonplace, and rely on an audible alarm, but this may not be possible in the event of a lockdown. It may be essential that quiet is maintained so as not to alert the intruder of the presence of the pupils and staff. Therefore, any way of communicating should also be as quiet as possible.
When any incident happens on school property to endanger students, staff, or visitors, communication is key. It is vitally important that there is a simple and easy way of contacting other teachers, or the school management team of the problem. There are a range of alarm systems available that can be accessed by teachers if required. As mentioned above, sometimes an audible alarm is not advisable or not useful in certain circumstance. What is essential is that help is sought at the right time and directed to the correct place.
Getting to a centralised alarm system may not be possible depending on the emergency, and it can be helpful to have a set of remote alarms for just this purpose. When a teacher can access an alarm from anywhere, it becomes a possible lifeline when faced with danger in the classroom as the lone adult. Not only is the safety aspect of a remote alarm essential, but in the case of terrorism or just general day-to-day issues, being able to quickly and conveniently alert others to the issue at hand, and for them to be able to respond promptly, may save one or more lives.
School safety procedures are an important part of the running of a school, make sure you have the right plans in place to protect your staff and pupils.