What is Risk Management in Schools?

Did you know that only 6% of directors believe that their board is effective at managing risk? This means that the broad majority of organisations are left without great risk management.

Don't think that teachers aren't a part of this group. Risk exists everywhere, even at schools.

Watch out, head teachers! You need to get your risk management plan under control, or you could be facing a world of trouble.

To learn more about how you can develop a risk management framework for your school, keep reading. We have everything you need to know to keep you out of detention!

What is Risk Management?

Risk management is the process of trying to minimise risk and the effects that risks can have on an organisation. By making more sound decisions, your organisation can lessen or completely negate the effects of risks.

Every organisation should focus their attention and resources on risk management. A successful risk management framework could repair a poor reputation or better an already amazing one.

Overall, risk management is better for your company. It makes it easier to handle catastrophes.

What Does Risk Management Have to Do with School?

Risk management applies to all organisations, even schools. In the case of schools, great risk management practices lookout for students and staff. It could even protect school operations.

Schools have liability when it comes to protecting faculty, staff, and students. Unfortunately, you can't just let everyone fend for themselves. Darn it!

At school, everyone works together to prevent risks from becoming issues. Even the students have to pitch in. That's right: students can't try to climb fences or jump off the top of the monkey bars.

It sounds like a lot of fun, but actions like these come with a lot of risks.

school table

How to Manage Risk at a School

Managing risk isn't as easy as telling students not to run down the hall. Although, it's something that teachers constantly have to address.

Managing risk involves a variety of tasks:

  • Identifying risks
  • Assessing the potential results of those risks
  • Identifying control variables
  • Documenting risks in a risk register
  • Implementing actions to manage risks
  • Discovering treatments for managing risks
  • Monitoring risks over time
  • Reviewing risk registers regularly
  • Reporting about risks regularly

Completing all of these actions will help you create a safer school environment for everyone. We know it's a lot of work, but it will pay off.

Making a Risk Management Plan

Whether it's you or the board of directors that you report to, someone has to make a risk management plan. It's not difficult, but it does take a lot of effort. So, it's important that you take the time to follow the plan's creation step by step:

  1. Assessing and documenting risks
  2. Monitoring risks
  3. Reporting risks
  4. Communicating about the policy

1. Assessing and Documenting Risks

Risk assessments are crucial to your school’s health and safety strategy. Unless you're a teacher in the classroom, you may not know about all of the risks that come with everyday tasks at school. You've got some kids eating glue while others are running with scissors in their hands. Even the high schoolers try to scale walls or jump off fences.

It's a madhouse sometimes.

Even if you think that you have the best-behaved children in the country, you need to think about risk. You may want to consider the following:

  • Developing an emergency protocol
  • Complying with state/county child safety standards
  • Investing in a health and safety system
  • Implementing rules for field trips
  • Adding policies regarding the school's vehicles

As you're thinking about these situations and policies, you should consider adding potential risks for these situations to a risk register. A risk register is a list of all of the risks that your school incurs in situations like these.

This is the time to channel your inner pessimist! What is the worst-case scenario? Write it all down.

2. Monitoring Risks

Now that you've identified and documented your risks, you need to make sure that you're monitoring these risks. The easiest way to do this is by adding risk assessments to your regular meetings.

Reviewing all your risk registers regularly is the best way to make sure that you're paying attention to potential issues. The more often you review these risks, the better your team will be at mitigating these risks.

This doesn't mean you should waste your time reviewing them every single day. But, you also shouldn't ignore them until something bad happens.

3. Reporting Risks

If one or a couple of the risks that your school has are impending, you may choose to share the information with your shareholders. Reporting the risk can do a couple of things:

  1. It alerts more people about the potential issue so that more people can fight against the risk
  2. It brings more awareness to the risk so that people know about potential future issues

Overall, reporting the potential issue is better than trying to hide it. Getting more minds into the discussion can help the school produce a solution.

4. Communicating About the Policy

More than reporting, you should be communicating. Constant communication about school risks can help mitigate them.

School leaders should provide the staff of the school with relevant training to reduce risk. This will help with operational risk management.

At the same time, school leaders should ensure that all of the staff follow the departmental policies and process. 

students in a classroom

Solutions for Common School Risks

Are you feeling as lost as your students were on the last exam?

Don't worry. We're going to help you with real solutions for risky school situations. Let's look at five risky situations that schools may encounter:

  1. Playground injuries
  2. Violence
  3. Bullying
  4. Weather
  5. Active shooter situations

By identifying and preparing for these risks, you'll set your school and its staff and students up for success.

1. Playground Injuries

Did you know that 29,000 children under the age of 15 visit the emergency room due to playground injuries every year? They may just seem like a fun place for children to release energy, but they can be dangerous.

We're not asking you to remove the playground or quit recess. Believe us: we know teachers need recess time just as much as students do.

However, you should set some ground rules that can help prevent injuries of all kinds.

  • Provide consistent adult supervision
  • Surround play surfaces with synthetic surfaces like wood chips, sand, or gravel
  • Install equipment that is appropriate for the students' ages, which may mean multiple kinds of equipment for some schools
  • Opt for shorter structures that reduce the risk of injury upon falling
  • Conduct regular safety checks of playground equipment
  • Teach children about proper playground safety
  • Consider imaginative outdoor play with log benches, tunnels, and tents

2. Violence

Unfortunately, children may engage in violence while at school. Even if the football coach can break up the fight, students may end up with some injuries.

To curb the chance of violence at school, you should try these methods:

  • Implement security measures like cameras
  • Identify at-risk students and provide counselling to support these individuals
  • Keep track of trends involving violence

3. Bullying

No matter the school, there is always some sort of bullying. You may not be able to eradicate bullying from existence, but you can do your best to prevent bullying in your halls.

  • Develop and implement a strong anti-bullying policy
  • Create a reporting tool that can help students, staff, and parents report bullying
  • Start a peer-support system like a buddy program or peer mediation
  • Increase adult supervision all around the school in places like the cafeteria, playground, hallways, buses, and more

4. Weather

Believe it or not, weather counts as a risk. The area that your school is located in impacts the kind of weather that you may see.

We're not asking you to put on your boxing gloves in anticipation of a fight with Mother Nature. Although, that may make a funny picture.

Instead, you should implement strategies to mitigate weather-related risks:

  • Develop a weather safety plan that tells everyone where to go and what to do during certain kinds of weather emergencies
  • Keep some emergency supplies, like flashlights, food, candles, water, blankets, and first aid kits
  • Practice drills regularly
  • Hold a safety assembly every year so that you can cover weather-related safety procedures

5. School Travel

Whether your school has yearly field trips or just has to worry about getting students to and from school, there is some risk that you're incurring due to school travel.

You never know when something is going to go wrong. Even after school is over, you shouldn't let your guard down. In fact, 58% of child casualties in the UK occur between 3 PM and 6:59 PM.

Here are some strategies you should use:

  • Make sure that each student knows what their destination is
  • Encourage students to take advantage of the transportation that the school offers
  • Ensure that students are not walking alone in dangerous places

School Compliance Management Software

Risk management in schools is necessary. It could even save lives.

To save your time and money, you need to take advantage of school compliance management software. Our software has built-in training courses, policy tracking, accident reporting, intelligence reports, and more.

Get started today!