Operating safely

Your school Governing Body or Trust will have a number of responsibilities in relation to community use to ensure the safety of students, staff and community users

In most cases, it will simply be about extending your current safety practices to cover community activity.

If you are directly managing community use then it will involve putting your own policies and procedures in place.

If your community use is being managed by an external provider, then you will need to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities to operate safely. As a school you should set minimum safeguarding operating standards for the third party provider. Please see the Safeguarding tool in the Resource documents below.

Health and Safety

Health & Safety should be a consideration in the early stages of planning for community use on your site.

Ensure your Health and Safety policy is up to date and made available to all groups, and key contacts. Fire evacuation and other safety procedures should be included within the induction process for all new community groups and also practiced on a regular basis.

Risk Assessments should be carried out by all groups using your facilities, however if it is an event that you are organising (such as a competition) or a 'pay and play' activity then it is the schools’ responsibility.

As good practice a school should already have site specific risk assessments in place for curriculum activities, which could be adapted and used as examples for developing the specific risk assessments for the community use programme. If you are creating risk assessments for new sport activities, you may find that your County Sports Partnershipwill be able to offer examples in this area.

Include Health and Safety requirements as conditions of hire in your booking forms/ hire agreements. Examples from other schools are provided in the resources.

Things to consider:

Car parking

Is there capacity, is it secure, do you need or have CCTV, is there suitable lighting, if parking is not provided is street parking causing any potential traffic dangers?

Building

Can the facilities be accessed by a separate entrance to the school, or can access be controlled and managed by securing areas of the school not in use? This helps you to make informed decisions on staffing structures and considering staffing levels, programming and controlled access.

Facilities

Do the facilities meet National Governing Body Standards relating to Health & Safety? (e.g. football goals need to be secured to the floor in the sports hall when in use). Is there a set of procedures on how to use equipment and store it safely?

Activities

It will be a useful exercise to list the potential activities that could be catered for safely and practically in each of the facilities/ community spaces. Seek advice from NGBs of sport if unsure about suitability (e.g. a traditional gymnasium with windows would not be a suitable facility to cater for football or a hall with low ceilings would not be an option for Trampolining).

Procedures

Ensure your community users are familiar with your evacuation procedures and how your building operates on a day to day basis. You may need to adapt your Normal Operating Procedures and Emergency Action Plan for community use. It is good practice to have email contacts for all your groups so you can provide them with updates if any procedures or policies change.

Safeguarding

We would recommend that you introduce a quality assurance process when allowing groups to use your site to minimise any risks – the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) have developed a check and challenge tool to support you in this process.

The general public will see a school site as a safe environment but schools should consider the implications if a child protection issue arose on their site outside of core hours. The school governing body need to agree any policy and procedures as they could potentially been viewed as liable if the activity is seen to be organised by the school.

Considerations:

  • Involve your school Designated Safeguarding Person in developing your safeguarding policy and procedures for community use.
  • Adapt your School Safeguarding policy for example, include community use personnel (including Clubs and Coaches) and out of hours procedures.
  • Ensure your Safeguarding policy is up to date (i.e. reviewed at least every 3 years) and made available to all groups with access to your school facilities.
  • Outline your safeguarding procedures and systems within your booking form/ hire agreement. You may also want to provide a code of conduct that groups/organisations must sign up to.
  • If you are employing a Community Manager (or equivalent) ensure they are trained as the Designated Safeguarding Person during community hours, or receive equivalent safeguarding training.
  • Whether your community use is being managed by an external provider or you are employing staff directly, their recruitment should adhere to the school’s safeguarding requirements with regard to recruitment and selection procedures (such as Criminal Records Check etc)
  • Adapt the safeguarding procedures you follow during the school day for any clubs or groups working with under 18s. For example, who are the out of hours contacts? Include the NSPCC 24hr helpline and Out of Hours Social Care contacts in your procedures.
  • Ensure any adult groups working with adults at risk have a safeguarding policy and follow procedures.
  • Request references from all new groups using your site. This could simply involve contacting the last venue that hosted the group to check there were no issues relating to them leaving the previous venue.
  • Clearly promote and display your school’s commitment to safeguard children in the community areas, such as the community reception area and club noticeboards.
  • Clearly communicate to young people how they can report an issue.

The CPSU Safeguarding Tool has been developed to use before a community activity takes place. It includes all the key questions to ask to ensure you meet your safeguarding responsibilities.

Clubs/Groups working with under 18s will find it useful to refer to the Club Safeguarding Form provided in the resources, and include this with your booking form/hire agreement.

Check the status of your clubs - Sports Clubs that are Clubmark accredited must adhere to strict standards in relation to duty of care and welfare. There are also other NGB recognised club affiliations that will be listed on the relevant NGB websites.

Your Local Safeguarding Board will be able to provide you with any further advice, as well as the Child Protection in Sport Unit.

Insurance

As part of the School Lettings / Community Use Agreement it is important to request to see the group/clubs own Public Liability Insurance, which you should take a copy of and check the renewal date. However some groups and private individuals are often uninsured. It is therefore important to check if the school’s own Public Liability Insurance will cover these groups/ individuals; often it does. You will find more help in our Insurance Guidance.

Insurance Top 10 Checklist:

  1. Do you know who to contact regarding changes to your Insurance Policies?
  2. Is community activity included in your relevant Insurance Policies, such as Material Damage, Employer's Liability and Public Liability?
  3. Are Insurance and Risk Management requirements included within your Letting Policy/ Conditions of hire?
  4. Do you have copies of your community groups/clubs Public Liability Insurance Policies, including policy number, renewal date, limit of indemnity etc?
  5. Have Risk Assessments for community use been carried out and the risks managed?
  6. Does your lettings policy/ conditions of hire include steps to reduce risks - for example not smoking on the premises, reporting any defects, spillages on floors etc.
  7. Are all relevant staff aware of Insurance implications of community use including your governing body?
  8. Does your pricing policy reflect wear and tear for community activity and insurance premiums where appropriate?
  9. Is your Emergency Action Plan included in your induction for community users?
  10. Do you have a system for regularly reviewing your Lettings Policy and procedures regarding health and safety?

clubmark logo

It is important to note that all Sports Clubs that are Clubmark accredited must fulfil strict criteria relating to duty of care and welfare including Health and Safety, First Aid, Emergency Procedures, Safeguarding and Child Protection.

TOP TIP:

 "There are four key areas we view as vital to achieving successful community access:

1) Getting your systems tight - including management, bookings and security

2) Getting your Policy right - including equity of community users

3) Right contracts in place - with staff, community users and external partners

4) Being safe - putting safety of students first."

Paul Rotheram, Assistant Head and Community Centre Manager at Broadway School.