Health & Safety – Report from Ian Watkinson, Lancashire H&S Officer by Office K
Lancashire NUT Mental Health First Aid Training – Friday & Saturday 16th/17th June
The first ever fully accredited 2-day NUT MHFA training course went tremendously well. Thanks to the hard work of the office (and Sarah and Sam!) we achieved a 100% attendance and the feedback on both the delivery and content of the course (and the venue), was very positive.
Attendees ranged from young teachers to a headteacher and all left enthused and confident that they would be able to make a difference in their own schools. Alongside comprehensive MHFA training & reference materials, our new MHFA Reps were provided with copies of our National Mental Health Charter and Lancashire’s Stress Policy and Guidance. Incorporating discussion on those into the overall training was very well received and provided MHFA Reps with a benchmark and a good starting point for discussions on preventative measures & improved staff mental health with management and colleagues in their own schools.
Feedback from attendees suggested that the free 2 day Friday/Saturday residential model worked very well and that we should stick with it. Most agreed that getting one day release from school was straightforward but that 2 days – even if not consecutive, could have been problematic. All felt that the importance of mental health and being trained to be given the opportunity to make a difference in their own schools outweighed giving up a Saturday. All really appreciated being at a ‘nice relaxing’ venue and agreed that having the evening and meal times to network and socialise with colleagues was valuable.
Encouragingly, four of the attendees expressed an interest in either becoming a H&S rep or becoming more active in the NUT. This was a key objective.
ACTION – look out for a repeat of this course at the end of September or late October.
Fire safety in schools
In light of the recent tragic events at Grenfell Tower, the NUT, ATL and FBU have written urgently to Justine Greening, asking her to confirm that the DfE will not proceed with proposals to significantly weaken fire safety measures in schools.
In Lancashire, we have asked LCC for specific details on fire safety for all Lancashire schools (including flammable cladding, insulation materials) We are awaiting a response.
The DFE have woken up and invited general secretaries of all school trade unions to a confidential meeting on Weds 5th July to discuss fire safety
As you will be aware, building owners across the public sector estate are being contacted to ensure any risks are managed and dealt with appropriately and promptly. As part of this, the Department is contacting all bodies responsible for safety in schools, FE Colleges and providers, and HE institutions, instructing them to carry out checks to identify any buildings that may require further investigation. We would like to brief you on how this process is working, and discuss with you any concerns that your members might have either about this process, or fire safety more broadly
Lancashire School Asbestos Issue
Having been alerted by a local Secretary last week, I have been investigating a potential asbestos exposure and asbestos management issue at a High School in Chorley. There were some concerns that contractors (and the school, and LCC) had not followed proper procedure – investigations are ongoing. More and more case studies about poor asbestos management practice are emerging from other local authorities, MATs and academies.
High classroom temperatures
Recent hot weather is likely to have caused excessive classroom temperatures. Please read the NUT briefing on how to tackle this problem in schools.
Friends of the Earth ‘Clean Air’ schools pack
Friends of the Earth have produced a ‘clean air’ pack to assist schools teach about air pollution. Download a copy from the resources section on the NUT website.