The Government must ensure schools are safe from fires with all new and refurbished school buildings fitted with fire sprinklers, says the National Education Union (NEU), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL).
While they are waiting for the Government to act, the three unions have published joint guidance for school leaders on fire risk assessments in schools in the light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
The appalling fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 brought into sharp focus wider questions about fire safety. This has understandably caused widespread concern throughout the education sector about how many school buildings have cladding which is not fire resistant. Pupils, parents, staff and the wider community who use educational buildings need reassurance that they are not being exposed to a similar fire risk.
The NEU, NAHT and ASCL are also urging the Government to introduce a legal requirement that all new and refurbished school buildings are fitted with a sprinkler system.
To assist school leaders in understanding the risks to schools and how best to address these, the NEU, NAHT and ASCL have published joint guidance to answer common questions and advise on how best to review fire risk assessments to ensure that children and staff are kept safe.
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “School leaders take the issue of safety extremely seriously, and already have programmes and procedures in place to ensure that schools are safe places in which to work and learn. But they need expert support in identifying and addressing the risks associated with issues like cladding and asbestos, and the government must provide that support. We are urging the government to carry out a comprehensive survey of the whole school estate so that it can identify where any risks exist and then to take action to deal with those risks. Parents must be reassured that schools are as safe as we can possibly make them.”
Are there concerns over cladding or asbestos in your school or college? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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