Safety and Risk Education and Ofsted – an update

Safety education is most effective when delivered as part of a comprehensive Personal, Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE) curriculum.

In England the PSHE education framework for Key Stages 3 and 4 includes risk as a key concept and risk assessment and management as key processes.

This provides a very useful starting point for teachers and others who work in schools to plan safety education to meet the needs of the pupils.

The PSHE curriculum and the national curriculum are currently under review(RoSPA's response to the PSHE curriculum) with any changes to be implemented in 2014. However, the PSHE education curriculum is non-statutory in England and the national curriculum only applies to schools funded via Local Authorities. As many schools become academies they will have more flexibility in planning and delivering the curriculum and may choose to disregard any or all of the requirements of the national curriculum, whether statutory or not.

The role of Ofsted

Whatever their status, all schools in England are subject to inspection by Ofsted and the new inspection framework (implemented from January 2012) has placed a welcome emphasis on pupils' behaviour and safety.

Among other aspects of the school's provision, inspections must consider:

Pupil's ability to assess and manage risk appropriately and keep themselves safe where risk includes those risks associated with extremism, new technology, substance misuse, knives and gangs, relationships (including sexual relationships) water, fire, roads and railways.

Health and safety of pupils is also a feature of leadership and management:

Inspectors will evaluate the extent to which leaders and managers at all levels (including, where relevant, governors): ...

  • Engage with parents and carers in supporting pupils' achievement, behaviour and safety and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
  • Ensure that all pupils are safe.

An excellent briefing paper by the PSHE Association goes into more depth and shows how a well developed PSHE education curriculum (including safety education!) can help schools to achieve high scores from Ofsted inspections.

Jenny McWhirter - February 2012

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