You are in: School Admin » School Office » Health & Safety » Risk Assessments

Herts County Council logo Risk Assessments


Balancing Risk and Benefits for Pupils

In planning and providing opportunities for activities such as play and learning outside the classroom then the goal cannot be to completely eliminate risk but to consider both risks and the benefits of the activity.
Sensible judgements are all that is generally required to ensure maximum benefits for children whilst ensuring that they are not exposed to significant risks.

There are plenty of documents which support such an approach to risk management in particular:

HSE 'Children's Play and leisure -promoting a balanced approach
HSE 'School trips and outdoor learning activities'
Tim Gill 'Nothing ventured … balancing risks and benefits in the outdoors'


Managing Risk in the Curriculum 

Teaching staff should consider any significant health and safety issues such as class size, pupil behaviour, maturity, limitations of space, layout, equipment etc. as part of their planning and preparation, risk assessment is just another name for that process.

For most activities rather than create additional paper records or a specific risk assessment this is generally best achieved by incorporating your assessment into materials normally used in teaching, annotating schemes of work, lesson plans, pupil worksheets etc.


Generic Risk Assessments

A list of potential hazards within school environments are detailed below with accompanying generic assessments and advice on other possible ways schools could demonstrate risks have been considered.

The generic assessments are intended as a starting point to consider the steps you may need to take to control the risks.  It is unlikely that they will be appropriate for each individual school and they should therefore be adapted for your own specific circumstances.

Further guidance on risk assessment is available in the education H&S manual

There is a general legal requirement to conduct risk assessments, in addition some legislation requires specific risks to be assessed. These are indicated in the following table.

Statutory / Mandatory Assessments

Hazard area

Model risk assessment available




Schools must be able to evidence a robust management system e.g. following the HCC policy and permission to work protocols, all asbestos remaining in situ to be subject to a management plan and a visual inspection on an annual cycle as a minimum. in schools only...

(Substances hazardous to health)


Schools to be able to evidence a management system, generally substances present a low risk in school settings, a COSHH inventory should be used as the initial assessment before determining if significant risks exist.

DSE Assessment

Individuals should complete a self-assessment.

Legal requirement for those staff classed as a DSE user, but generally a low risk in school settings.



Firework displays

Mandatory where schools are organising their own displays

Swimming Pools


Mandatory where school has own pool

Water risk assessments


All schools have had a water risk assessment carried out in 2010 and will not require further reports unless there have been changes to the water system after 2010. Schools can view a copy of their water risk assessment by logging into the CPD (Tech Forge).

Please contact for advice.

Work at height

Adapt the generic assessment for those tasks undertaken by school staff.



Schools are low risk environments, albeit with some higher risk areas and we would therefore expect that health and safety activity is proportionate, with more consideration being given to significant risks and thus risk assessments would be expected in these circumstances.

Recommended Assessments

Hazard area

Model risk assessment available


Caretaking duties


Contractors on site


Equipment / Power Tools


Basic inventory and assessment to identify any significant risks from power tools / petrol driven equipment, a task specific assessment would also be required for the actual activity e.g. see generic assessments for grounds maintenance, caretaking duties (section on use of power tools) etc.

Home visits / Lone working


Schools using the model policy template would already have identified general controls for managing ‘routine’ lone working in school.



Use of external play areas and equipment


Site Security

See also  Secured by Design guide for New schools which provides detail on design standards for security in schools and the Governments crowded places national counter terrorism guidance

Snow & Ice


Staff wellbeing / stress


Schools using the model policy template should already have identified general controls. This generic assessment may be adapted and used to supplement your policy statement, summarising the controls your school has in place to minimise the risk of work-related stress for staff.

Vehicles on site




It is not possible to produce a definitive list of risk assessments which may be required in every school, the process of risk assessment is very contextual and thus depending on the activities, environment and people involved additional risk assessments may be required as follows.

Hazard area

Model risk assessment available


Administration of medicines

Schools using the model policy template would already have identified general controls for administration of medicines and healthcare planning.

Pupil’s Health care plans may also provide information.

Animals in school


Bouncy castles


Catering duties

Available soon

Applicable when school employ their own staff to undertake these functions

Cleaning Duties

Applicable when school employ their own staff to undertake these functions

School events

  • Word 2003, 110kb/7 pages, 02/11/2010,

Depending on size / complexity of event.

First Aid

The attached provides an example of the considerations when determining the number / type of first aiders and some scenario-based examples to demonstrate the general principles involved. These are not definitive and schools should not assume the outcomes shown are directly transferable to their situation.

Food preparation


Grounds Maintenance

Generic assessment for Grounds maintenance activities where schools employ their own staff to undertake these functions. At the end of the assessment are some equipment specific assessments for Strimming, hedge trimming, cylinder mower, ride on equipment (incl. mowers), chainsaw and pesticide application

Individual stress risk assessment

This form provides a list of questions based on the HSE's Stress Management Standards focussing on 6 causes of stress at work (control, demands, support, role, relationship, change) which can be worked through by the manager in conjunction with the individual member of staff to help them identify areas of stress and ways to address it.

The HSE has also launched a talking toolkit for the Education sector as a framework to help line managers have practical discussions with staff on stress:

Kiln use

  • Word 2003, 108kb/5 pages, 02/11/2010,


LPG (bulk storage)




Pupils with temporary mobility difficulties

Generic risk assessment for pupils / students returning to school on crutches. For more complex cases / specific individual considerations over and above those detailed in the generic assessment an individual assessment / PEEP/ care plan should be in place.


Where risks are low this may be able to be demonstrated through normal line management / supervision process recording any significant outcomes / changes required as a result of meetings with staff.  

Return to work


Swimming lessons taking place in public / secondary school pools

Safety checklist for primary schools using public / secondary school pools for swimming lessons.



Risk Assessments - Offsite Visits

Please note that these generic risk assessments are not to be regarded as definitive and that there are more to follow, particularly for adventurous activities. They have been prepared to assist with preparation of site or activity specific risk assessments. Staff should refer to, or cut and paste, the relevant bits of these generic risk assessments to fit them to their own specific requirements.

In compiling them I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Taff Bowles of East Riding Yorkshire Council and Martin Smith of Nottingham City Council, whose works I have heavily plundered. I am also grateful to the many colleagues who have sent me risk assessments as part of their offsite visit notifications, which have been extensively trawled in the process of producing these documents - if you see something you recognize as possibly being your work, then it probably is.

Mark Falkingham
Offsite Visits Adviser

Risk Assessments - Offsite Visits (Last Updated July 2015)


Canoeing and Kayaking

Castles and Other Historical Monuments

Coastal locations


Example of Code of Conduct

Farm Visits

General Considerations

Indirect or Remote Supervision

Overseas Visits

Paddling in Open Waters

Play Areas

Pond Dipping

River Studies

Ski Snowboard

Special Needs

Swimming in Open Waters

Swimming Pools

Travel by Rail (including Underground)

Theatres, Museums etc.

Theme Parks

Travel - Aeroplane

Travel - Coach

Travel - Ferry

Travel - General

Travel - Minibus

Travel - On foot

Travel - Private Vehicle