Helping to keep high standards at Heathcote School
The mission statement of Heathcote School & Science College… ‘is to provide an excellent education in a safe, supportive learning environment, where people are valued and make positive contributions to the school community and where pupils go on to become responsible, independent members of society.’
Heathcote school is based in the north of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, and has 1150 pupils aged between 11-18.
The upkeep and maintenance of the school premises lies with the private company and the school itself, which is still subject to inspection from the local authority. PFI schools are also required to have a FM contractor on board to support with a maintenance and regeneration programme.
In addition, the school is required to complete an annual return, which is based entirely upon the health and safety practices.
In January 2014, Healthcote School was awarded a ‘Good’ by Ofsted, following inspection. At the time, it was noted as being a ‘Top 100 improved schools in the country’.
The importance of health and safety
Within Heathcote School, there is a regime in place for health and safety checks, which are generally undertaken by external contractors.
The school must demonstrate that they have acted on any findings pulled up.
Stuart Fox is Heathcote School’s business manager, responsible for premises, HR, staffing and health and safety. He comments: “When it comes to the work of my team, premises and health and safety are high up on the agenda – within a school environment, they have to be.
“It’s a combination of dealing with things reactively, and being as proactive as possible in working with the site facilities management team.”
Working with Hosking Associates
Hosking Associates was initially introduced to the Heathcote School site five-six years ago.
Stuart Fox adds: “The complexities of the PFI set up meant that the school welcomed the opportunity of having some independent advice and input when it came to aspects of health and safety. It’s a wide topic and covers a range of things, including staff training on health and safety. We felt confident that the team at Hosking Associates could cover this, and they have never let us down.”
When the team at Hosking Associates were initially introduced to the school, they produced thorough health and safety plans – providing the school with a document that outlined where they should be when it comes to health and safety.
Sixth form opening
The sixth form opened in October 2011, and Hosking Associates was asked into the school at this time to provide a complete report on health and safety in the new premises that had been built. This included looking at risk assessments for areas including: fire signage, sliding gates and the car park. The building also had a small canteen where food needs to be transported to there from the main canteen – Hosking Associates undertook a review on this, and provided advice on how to manage this.”
Stuart Fox added: “Knowing we have the support and guidance of the team at Hosking Associates puts our mind at rest. The sixth form opening was an important event for the school, and we had to be 100 per cent that the new building was a safe and environmentally sound as possible.
“They are also happy to come and present at the PFI meetings, to explain decisions that have been taken.”
The importance of having a trusted health and safety adviser
“We have an excellent working relationship with Hosking Associates. We value their speed of response, and their vast knowledge”, comments Stuart Fox.
“The team understands the education sector well, and they appreciate the different set of requirements. You only have to look at an area such as food hygiene to appreciate that alone has a huge amount of health and safety legislation tied into it.”
“Given we take health and safety and safeguarding so seriously, it is imperative that we place such emphasis on expert levels of advice.
“We will always have such a need in place when it comes to health and safety – we are fortunate to have such a collaborative working relationship with Hosking Associates.”
Louise Hosking, Hosking Associates:
“We thoroughly enjoy the work we do with Stuart and his team at Heathcote School – they take real pride in the service they offer, and rightly so.
“Health and safety is so vital when it comes to the education sector, and the work is very rewarding. It’s about making schools and colleges health and safe environments, which – in turn – will make them more productive.
“The work is diverse and covers so many areas, you always have to keep on your toes with aspects of legislation, but that is what schools like Heathcote value us for – staying one step ahead.”