Something happened yesterday that made me wonder, do we as a nation understand the responsibility of health and safety issues in schools? A parent drops off her child at school or hands the child over to the School Bus Aunty trusting that she will see her child safe and sound at the end of the school day. The Proprietor of the school employs teaching and non-teaching staff whom she instills the importance of keeping the children safe. Everyone is under the impression that we will do right by them but are we actually doing this? I ask this question because of an interaction I had with an external teacher who seemed to think he knows better than the rest of us on how to keep our children safe.
This is a plea to schools, the proprietors, school administrators, teachers, non teaching staff etc. what ever your station, please look out for our children, their safety is in our hands.
When you have external coaches, eg, music, diction, Karate, Chess, Swimming, French whatever it is , do these teachers know your school policies, school culture, your checks and balances and general rules and regulations to keep your children safe within the school walls? Check and ensure that things are correctly in place.
I queried an action of one of my external teachers yesterday and the answer I got from him shocked me to the core. A swimming instructor cannot just decide to have classes combined with another school without informing both school authorities! I find it difficult to understand why no one thinks this is bad practice. For health and security purposes this cannot be acceptable. When schools agree to allow their children to go and swim at a public swimming pools (that is swimming pools outside the school) are we saying that the session will be held with other people in the pool, maybe other schools in attendance?
When you employ an external teacher to teach French, Diction or Music, are we saying that it is alright for the teacher to send one of the children on an errand outside of the school premises? These situations do occur, and they are so wrong! Goodness we really need to reign in these situations and put things in order.
Please these are serious issues and so far as I am concerned, I do not think either scenario is an acceptable one. For an external staff to boast about his years of experience, certification, and the fact that he is yet to have any incident occur under his watch when questioned about inappropriate choices made while coaching the children is very worrisome. I do think that we need to tighten our reigns and insist that external staff realize that they may be independent staff, but when they are in a school premises they must operate within the confines and regulations of the school.
Teachers who take children out of the school for external coaching such as swimming for example must understand the great responsibility they have to keeping the children safe. The responsibility lies on the teacher from the school first and not the external teacher. Sometimes we forget this and allow the external person take the lead. If something does go wrong it will be too late to take the lead, but you would be the one at the forefront of any attack at this point. So before things go wrong take a big step and protect our children from irresponsible decisions that could affect the children for life in extreme cases.
Health and safety is a very important issue and we need to ensure that our schools are places where everyone involved in teaching or coaching our children take the issue of keeping our children safe very seriously.