Andreas School

The learning community that develops the thinking skills of all its members.

We recognises the importance of all the children who attend having sufficient time and good places to play freely as part of their day.

Play is one of the most important aspects of children’s lives.Playing contributes to children’s health, wellbeing and happiness as well as to their capacity to learn. Most importantly playing contributes to children’s ability to thrive and survive.

We aim to make a positive contribution to the lives of our children by valuing their urge and desire to play and providing a broad range of play opportunities that create an inclusive, diverse and challenging environment within the school grounds.

We recognise that children will naturally create and seek out challenging situations which may result in them having accidents, getting dirty or wet or upset. We recognise that any potential risk of harm to children needs to be balanced with the potential benefits that may come from their play.We acknowledge that accidents can and will happen, however, we aim to ensure that our staff know how to manage the risk effectively. This enables children to have the best possible opportunities while still being protected from the risk of significant physical and emotional harm.

We believe that adults’ attitude towards, and understanding of, children’s play behaviour will have a significant effect on the quality of the play opportunities offered. This school will therefore seek out training opportunities and support research among its staff so that they are confident to facilitate children’s freely chosen, self-directed play.

RISK ASSESSMENT

This policy has been developed to provide a coherent, consistent and balanced approach to the management of risk at Andreas Primary School which will ensure greater clarity of understanding around this issue.

In doing so, the policy aims to present some challenge to the existing risk averse nature of our society which can limit children’s play experiences.

The policy is supported by the High-Level Statement produced by the Health and Safety Executive and the Play Safety Forum.

The High-Level Statement - Children’s Play and Leisure: promoting a balanced approach statement makes clear that:

  • •Play is important for children’s wellbeing and development
  • •When planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits.
  • •Those providing play opportunities should focus on controlling the real risks, while securing or increasing the benefits – not on the paperwork
  • •Accidents and mistakes happen during play but fear of litigation and prosecution has been blown out of proportion.

Risk management systems
Risk management in this policy is used to refer to all elements involved in the management of risk that can, and should, incorporate much more than paper risk assessments alone. Where all these elements are appropriately supported there is potential to develop more robust and better informed risk management systems.

Providing for risk and challenge in play provision

Andreas Primary School recognises that childhood is full of new experiences, which necessarily involve some degree of risk taking, whether it be physical or emotional.

Childhood is a continuous process of trial and error with the potential for achievement, but also the inevitability of accidents. Children would never learn to walk, climb stairs or ride a bicycle unless they were strongly motivated to respond to challenges involving risk of injury. We have a duty of care to try and protect individuals accessing our services and facilities from the potentially, long- term, damaging effects of being exposed to serious and unreasonable physical and emotional harm. However in doing this we must not overlook, or seek it at the expense of, also enabling children to actively participate in their own personal development of health, wellbeing and resilience, as a result of engaging in situations with uncertain outcomes.

Risk-benefit assessment

Decisions about what is reasonable and the desirability of children’s engagement and involvement will be made using a risk-benefit approach. This process involves considering the potential benefits afforded by an opportunity alongside any potentially negative outcomes and then making a judgement about whether the potential for injury is proportional to the benefits. That is, do the potential benefits justify allowing risk of injury to remain?

For the purpose of risk-benefit assessments, benefits can be physical, emotional, social or environmental (and are likely to be a combination of all of these). Risk of injury can be identified by considering the likelihood of any potential injury occurring together with the potential severity of that injury.

Reasonable controls

During the risk-benefit process it may be necessary to identify control measures in order to reduce risk of injury to an acceptable level. However, the control measures that can reasonably be implemented will depend on the resources available. The cost of any potential control measures must be justified by being proportional to the risk of injury involved.

Prior to the implementation of control measures consideration should also be given to any potentially negative impacts that may result from making that intervention. For example, it is important that children’s need to use their environment in novel and unexpected ways is not constrained in the search for providing absolute protection from injury.

Key points:

  • There is intrinsic value in children experiencing uncertainty and personal challenge through their play.
  • Children need to feel free to experience risk and challenge of their own choice. They will only be able to do this if we allow some degree of uncertainty to remain.
  • The play provision we create aims to help children experience reasonable levels of risk for themselves.
  • There is a need for balance between ensuring appropriate levels of protection and preserving reasonable levels of uncertainty.
  • We aim to manage risk so that whenever reasonably possible the risk of injury children are exposed to is proportional to the potential benefits associated with the situation.
  • Controls will be reasonable and realistic whilst ensuring unnecessary risks are minimised.
  • Risk management incorporates a number of different elements which work together to form a continuous cycle, improving our practice.
  • Children are capable of managing some risk for themselves and their competency will develop as their experience grows.

Activity

Benefits

Risks

Controls

Rope Swing

Pleasure/fun

Challenge from rotational movement.

Development of self confidence.

Engagement with natural environment.

Learning through experiences, bumping into tree.

Mixed age use.

Physical play

Falls

bumping into others while swinging.

Control measures.

Equipment

Rope checked for wear and tear.

Check suitability of branch.

Check fall zone for hazards such as sharp object or exposed rock.

Discuss risks with school pupils.

Wooden planks and stumps


Improves co-ordination, agility and balance.

Develops muscles through the use of gross and fine motor skills.

Enhances problem solving skills, sense of adventure and activity skills.

Increases mental focus through exploring various routes of difficulty engages social and cooperative play.

Falling onto ground or other pieces of wood

Scrapes.

Abrasions.

Splinters

Check if wood becomes slippery due to vegetation or weather conditions.

Discuss risks with school pupils.

Check for splinters and cracks

Loose parts e.g. tyres, planks, tubes, tarps and branches.

Develops creative, imaginative and physical play using the forever changing environment.

Co-ordination

Team building

Pleasure/fun

Achievement - end result

Self confidence

Mixed age play

Social Inclusion

Engagement with natural environment

Tripping, falling, being struck by objects falling or be moved, becoming stuck in enclosed spaces, trapped fingers, objects rolling falling onto feet, splinters, scrapes, bumps bruises.

Check for damaged/dangerous materials.

Remove items that are no longer fit for purpose.

Discuss risks with children.


Climbing

Risk taking

Mixed age play

problem solving

risk awareness

pleasure/fun

Physical play and reflective opportunities Development of self-confidence and well-being

Learning through experience: accidents from
which one might learn

Engagement with natural environment and natural elements

Falling onto the ground,

Falling onto others.

scrapes.

Tree branch breaking.

Landing on solid objects.

Can’t get back to ground level.

Trees to be checked as part of regular maintenance schedule.

Discuss risks with children.

Staff to check for fall zone hazards.

Children not permitted to climb trees near low fence or paved areas.

Children not permitted to lift other children.

Staff to observe safe landing zones and frequently remind children.

Isle of Play climbing bars

Develops creative, imaginative and physical play.

Co-ordination

Pleasure/fun

Achievement

Self confidence

Mixed age play

Social Inclusion

Balance and core strength skils

Falls


Supervision

Regular equipment checks

Discuss risks with children


Dynamic Risk Assessment

Dynamic Risk Benefit Assessment

The flowchart displayed in school attempts to describe the process staff use when dynamically assessing risk within an environment where children are playing. In doing this, practice should, where possible, be informed by paper based (secondary) risk-benefit assessments, guidance and/or training previously completed in relation to the particular scenario. However, risk-benefit assessment documents should not be considered as final and we should be continuously working to improve our knowledge of how best to manage a wide range of different play opportunities – this knowledge will develop through experience. There will also be occasions where a relevant risk-benefit assessment does not exist or an individual feels that an alternative approach is required because not all aspects of the scenario have been considered appropriately.

It is essential that lessons can be learnt from practice and experiences shared in order to help inform our risk management processes in the future.

In order to do this all staff will be required to keep reflecting on their experiences on a regular basis, enabling them to review and reflect upon their own practice but also feed information into our risk management system. Staff should aim to discuss information about situations that caused them significant concern, including:

  • Those that resulted in a child being injured
  • Those that resulted in a ‘near miss’ i.e. the children were lucky to escape injury
  • Those which they were unsure about how to best manage
  • Those that resulted in them making a particular type of intervention, including:
  • Times when they felt it necessary to intervene to prevent harm
  • Times where they chose not to intervene despite a significant risk being presented

It is important that these situations are referred to, and discussed with the line manager. However, some information will be more urgent than others. Particular attention should be given to situations that resulted in an accident or ‘near miss’ and staff should aim to report these situations to their line manager on the same day as the incident.

The line manager will then be responsible for recording this information and taking appropriate action where necessary. In the case of no risk-benefit assessment being available for a particular scenario, the experience will be used to inform the development of a new risk-benefit assessment, if deemed necessary.

This new assessment should then be communicated to all staff as should any additional guidance or training developed as a result.

Where staff have felt it necessary to take an alternative approach to that described on an existing risk-benefit form, they should endeavour to discuss their thoughts and actions with their line manager in order that the risk-benefit assessment may be reviewed.

Staff responsibilities:

Inspections:

Inspection

Responsibility

Time frame

Remit

Tree Inspection

DoI

Annually

Check safety of trees on site.

Check equipment and grounds

Caretaker

Weekly

To visually check moveable objects for safety and ensure grounds are litter free. To check condition of loose parts equipment and remove any that are no longer suitable for purpose.


In addition Staff will:

  • Allow children to play freely, monitoring their actions and only intervening if necessary e.g if a child is in danger of serious physical/emotional harm
  • Guide children’s choices with minimum interference i.e allowing children to learn from their mistakes and solve problems themselves
  • Risk assess with the children when introducing loose parts or another aspect of play i.e discuss risks and benefits before loose parts etc are introduced to the playground
  • Monitor the safety of loose parts and anything else involved in free play e.g trees, sticks, pipes
  • Accept that children will get wet and dirty
  • Accept that minor accidents will happen and give appropriate first aid where necessary
  • Observe and monitor during playtime duties such that no areas of the playground are left for extended periods out of line of sight.
  • All loose parts, except the wooden planks and stumps, will be cleared away at the end of the day and kept in locked sheds.

JANUARY 2020

Reviewed June 2021, review date June 2022

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