Keeping schools safe in West Yorkshire

Business managers and senior staff from schools across the county attended an ‘Evacuation-Invacuation-Lockdown’ seminar and workshop, which was hosted by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS).

The event was organised by the West Yorkshire Safer Schools Forum (WYSSF), which is made up of representatives from local authority planning and health and safety teams, as well as the emergency services. The aim of the event was to share information, advice and provide practical tools and templates for schools to enhance their plans to keep schools safe. Emergencies which were discussed ranged from external threats, such as animals in the playground, environmental hazards to internal threats, such as a violent parent, child or intruder.

Schools Inspector Robert Nowak, for WYFRS, said: “The WYSSF was set up following the relaunch of national guidance on keeping pupils and staff safe in an emergency. WYFRS felt a need to offer assistance, clarity and support to the councils, schools, colleges and all other educational establishments, to establish consistency across the county.

“I met with the five councils to find out if they needed help with formulating their procedures. From this initial meeting, it was unanimously agreed that a working group should be formed (WYSSF) to take this forward. The emergency services take a co-ordinated, regional response to incidents; therefore we felt it would be beneficial for local authorities to do the same.

“The event was the fourth event hosted at WYFRS headquarters and it was extremely well received and useful in terms of sharing expert advice and showcasing best practice. The public can be reassured that councils, schools and the emergency services across West Yorkshire are taking the safety and security of their children very seriously and that they are prepared for all eventualities.”

Councillor Masood Ahmed, Kirklees Council Cabinet Member for Schools said: “The council is committed to ensuring children and staff in schools are able to stay safe in any situation. The workshops are just one of the ways we work with schools to enable them to prepare for an emergency situation. I hope that the teachers taking part feel both reassured and ready to deal with a situation of any kind, should one arise.”

Councillor Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services at Wakefield Council, said: We’re fully committed to ensuring that we do the utmost to keep pupils and staff safe. We were pleased to meet with partners and to work together jointly on plans to keep schools safe.”

Councillor Megan Swift, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said: “Although there is no intelligence to suggest that we need to be alarmed in Calderdale, it’s always better to rehearse certain situations as a precaution, just like we do with fire drills. The training with schools, which was developed in January 2016 and has been carried out a number of times with schools since then, has covered a whole range of possible scenarios and is about making school staff and students aware, prepared and confident with procedures for staying safe in an emergency.

“We are always here to support schools whenever they need our help, and we’ll be following up the training with further sessions for all Calderdale schools, to ensure a consistent approach to procedures across the borough.”

Judith Kirk, Bradford Council’s deputy director for education employment and skills said: “It is excellent to see all five West Yorkshire local authorities and the emergency services working together to provide invaluable and important guidance for our schools – striving to ensure we keep our young people and staff safe. This is a great example of partners in public authorities working together to share our expertise and experience for the good of school communities across Bradford and West Yorkshire.”

Andrew Eastwood, Leeds City Council’s chief officer for school improvement said: “The safety and wellbeing of the pupils, staff and visitors in our schools is of paramount importance to us and is an integral part of our work to make Leeds a child friendly city.  We are delighted to have been founding members of the West Yorkshire Safer Schools Forum and have the chance to work collaboratively across the whole region with our colleagues in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield, the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and with West Yorkshire Police.  This fantastic piece of partnership working has meant we have been able to build upon the guidance and support already in place for schools and offer a regionally consistent approach; sharing good practice, sound practical guidance and providing meaningful training to schools.”