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Risk Management in Physical Education and School Sport Peter Whitlam. What the session is about. Purpose: To provide an update on current and key risk management issues in physical education and school sport. Outcomes: An understanding of: t he key principles in managing risk in PESS;

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risk management in physical education and school sport peter whitlam
Risk Management in Physical Education

and School Sport

Peter Whitlam

what the session is about
What the session is about.


  • To provide an update on current and key risk management issues in physical education and school sport.


  • An understanding of:
    • the key principles in managing risk in PESS;
    • the format and application of the “triangle” model for risk assessment;
    • current hot topics and concerns about safe practice in physical education;

Essentially – what school staff need to be aware of in H&S.

tda professional standards for teachers
TDA Professional Standards for Teachers

This risk management course contributes towards the following standards:

Core standards:

Frameworks: C3

Professional skills: C29 and C30

Learning environment: C37 and C38

Post threshold standards:

Frameworks: P1

Health and well being: P6

Professional Skills: P7 and P8

what do school staff need to know understand be able to do
What do school staff need to know/ understand/ be able to do?
  • Basic legal framework in which we operate
  • Know and apply employer’s policies and procedures relating to safe practice
  • What “risk management” means and why it is important
  • Risk-benefit assessment – balancing taking risks without undue danger of serious harm
  • Managing not minimising risk (risk aversion)
  • Importance of regularly reviewing policies, procedures, routines and standards in H&S
  • The risk assessment process
  • Standard of risk (safety) awareness expected
  • Relationship between good practice and safe practice
  • Demonstrate forethought, anticipation, forward planning for what may happen and plan accordingly
  • Be confident in their practice - eliminate any mystique and fear about H&S
attitude towards risk
Attitude towards risk.

Gung ho?


Risk Opportunity?

Excitement Danger?

the risk continuum
The risk continuum

Minimising risk

(apathy, paranoia, incompetence)

Best practice?

(challenge v risk)

Incompetence, unfortunate

Totally Range of Increasingly high Danger

safe acceptable levels of risk


  • Principles:
  • Risk–benefit assessment – weighing protection from harm against the provision of stimulating experiences.
  • Events to be as safe as necessary not as safe as possible (RoSPA)
  • ii. Exposure to well-managed challenge (opportunity) and risk (safety):
  • a. educates about risk
  • b. opens up exciting learning opportunities
  • c. develops high quality PESS
the key messages
The key messages!
  • “Risk management is about enabling good things to happen, not just preventing the bad”.

Dr Lynne Drennan, CEO ALARM (Zurich Municipal News & Views, Autumn 2008).

  • “Risk management should be routine, embedded and well documented”.

Tom Shewry, Head of Education, Zurich Municipal, (News and Views, Autumn 2008).

risk management why it is important
Risk Management: Why it is important?
  • empower pupils to manage their own safety

(risk education/NCPE PoS requirement/ECM – being safe)

  • entitlement to be taught in a safe and healthy environment
  • high quality PESS involves challenge
  • school staff have a legal duty to be proactive not reactive
  • avoid allegations of negligence:

“careless conduct which injures another and which

the law deems liable for compensation”(Frederick Place Chambers 1995)

        • duty of care (responsibility)
        • breach of duty (careless)
        • damage (injury)
        • foreseeability (but for……)
what is risk management
What is risk management?
  • good practice/safe practice
  • reasonable forethought to a suitable and sufficient level
  • 3 purposes:
    • ensure potential safety problems are understood
    • check whether existing precautions are adequate
    • implement any FURTHER precautions necessary
  • 3 levels of risk assessment:
    • generic - provided, written
    • facility/activity/event specific – to do, written
    • on-going - dynamic – expertise, unwritten
  • legal requirement – HaSaW Act 1974; MHS Regs 1999 and common law
to comply with the law we must
To comply with the law we must…
  • show we have carried out a risk (safety) assessment;
  • identify the significant risks (red traffic light)
  • identify who could be harmed;
  • identify what needs to be done to control/ reduce the risk to make it sufficiently safe.
context we are good at what we do
Context – we are good at what we do…..

HSE 1995: Schools: young people – 3 deaths/5000 major injuries:

3+ days off work/school or visit to hospital for 24 hours



Minor first aid only


Non-injury accidents/near misses

2.25 million reported injuries/year - 1.5 billion pupil days/year.

PESS – c. 1/2-2/3 of total school injuries = 0.001% v total pupil days.

Games 42% Gymnastics 27% Swimming 1%

Principle: Termly analysis of incident report forms informs about safe practice policy and procedures – pattern and number

statutory requirements hasawa and management regs
Statutory requirements (HaSaWA and Management Regs)

The employer must:

  • be ultimately responsible for health and safety though tasks may be delegated. HaSaWA 1974
  • have a health and safety policy HaSaWA 1974
  • initiate procedures to ensure satisfactory implementation of the policy HaSaWA 1974
  • assess the risks of all activities, manage the risks,

inform employees of measures to make situations

safe, provide training and supervision where appropriate and monitor implementation of the procedures

MHSRegs 1999

  • accept responsibility for corporate manslaughter if poor management systems lead to death Corp Mansl Act 2007
the legal responsibilities of school staff hasawa and management regs
The legal responsibilities of school staff (HaSaWA and Management Regs)


  • Know and apply employer’s policy for H&S

(SP 2008 ch 2 pp 18-19)

(local requirements take precedence over national guidance)

  • Pass on guilty knowledge
  • Do what is within their power to prevent further injury
  • Not to interfere or misuse items for H&S
  • Participate in inspections (risk assessments) AS A TEAM
  • And the common law duty of care…… show reasonable forethought (common sense) (SP 2008 ch 2 pp 13-17)
safe practice a summary
Safe practice – a summary

Two key criteria for managing risk:

  • Quality of teaching

(good teaching is safe teaching)

  • Quality of leadership and management

(good organisation is safe organisation)

(includes key aspect of written risk assessments)

reducing risk in pess 1 quality of teaching
Reducing risk in PESS: 1. Quality of teaching
  • A safe “teacher” of physical education considers:
  • whether s/he has the personal expertise, competence and/or
  • qualifications in the activity/ies and at the level being taught;
  • a session format to include warm up, technical development and cool down;
  • checking work space, equipment and personal effects before and duringuse;
  • teaching position to maximise observation of class;
  • using regular and approved practice (QCA/ LA/ NGB schemes);
  • progression according to ability;
  • matching comparable size, experience, confidence where weight
  • bearing, physicalcontact or “accelerating projectiles” are applied;
  • strict officiating in games – applying the rules consistently;
  • involving pupils in their own safety – checking understanding and
  • providing clear instructions;
  • 10. thinking logically through a lesson – what could cause harm? – have I covered the likelihood?
1. Quality of teaching: Personalised learning, inclusion, or safe practice/ risk education principles? (S.T.E.P.S.)
  • Directed to open ended tasks
  • Single to linking to combined/multiple tasks
  • Simple to complex tasks ( more or less space/time/
  • options/ equipment/ constraints/ requirements)
  • Familiar tasks/environments/groupings to unfamiliar ones
  • Variety in movement to quality/ technical demand
  • Set to negotiated to self-determined tasks
  • Working individually, with a partner, into group work involving cooperation/ competition/ leadership
  • Different tasks for different pupils
  • Different levels of information/support/ intervention for pupils working on the same task
  • Additional teacher time for some pupils

(acknowledgement to Dudley CS: “Policy into Practice” Section 1: Planning Principles)

2 quality of management and leadership
2. Quality of management and leadership
  • Do you have a H&S policy for PESS/ off-site sports visits?
  • Are required procedures and standards known, understood and applied consistently by all adults who teach PESS/ manage teams/ lead groups?
  • Are your policies and procedures reviewed regularly (annually)?
  • Do all staff understand the limits and requirements of their roles and responsibilities in H&S?
  • Are all adults teaching PESS/ managing teams/ leading visits competent and confident in the areas they teach/ coach/ officiate/ lead?
  • Are all non-QTS staff managed effectively?
  • Is there induction, continuing development and monitoring of all staff?
  • Do PE programmes/ fixture lists/ visit objectives match ability and confidence of team/ group?
  • Are attendance, participation and assessment records maintained?
  • Do you have written risk assessments for PE/ sports events/ visits?
  • Are risk assessments evaluated after the event and updated periodically?
  • Do off-site risk assessments consider critical incident plans?
  • Are incident report forms completed regularly and analysed periodically to monitor number and pattern of causes of injury?
  • Is H&S a standing item on department/school meeting agendas?
  • Is good teaching, coaching and leadership developed and monitored?
reducing risk in pess criteria for written risk assessments
Reducing risk in PESS: Criteria for written risk assessments
  • Suitable and sufficient
  • Reasonable anticipation/forward planning
  • Significant risks (red traffic light) identified and recorded
  • Identify those possibly harmed
  • List any additional controls/precautions needed

– “supervision – protection – training”

  • Annual or if circumstances change
  • Probable / likely
  • Safe as necessary not as safe as possible
  • Trust your professional judgement
  • Minimal number of written assessments
  • Quick, easy, “MOT” (SP 2008 – chapter 3 and Appendix 2)
risk management a model
Risk Management: A model





Facility Class organisation

Equipment Teaching

Procedures/routines Preparation


Beaumont, Eve, Kirkby, Whitlam 1998

“Behaviour is the cause or a contributory factor in more than 80% of accidents”.

Helen Sully

(Kier Group for HSE) 2007.

Acceptable risk


Appropriate challenge

written risk assessment how do we do it
Written risk assessment: How do we do it?
  • team activity
  • in situ - in the facilities
  • think of the people/context/organisation triangle
  • based on existing documentation, procedures and practice
  • look for FURTHER precautions necessary
  • reasonable anticipation/observation as subject teachers/specialists
  • NOT about writing everything down again.
written risk assessments the portfolio
Written risk assessments: The portfolio
  • Scheme of work
  • Lesson plans
  • Attendance registers
  • Assessment records
  • Handbook – roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures, routines
  • Medical records
  • Emergency action procedures
  • SEN register
  • Out of hours club registers
  • Annual inspection reports - (PUWER 1998)
  • CPD and other professional records
  • Accident management and reporting systems – and analysis
  • Minutes of meetings
  • Health and safety audits
  • AND risk assessment records
written risk assessments the process
Written risk assessments: The process
  • Decide what requires a risk assessment
  • Identify the hazards
  • Decide who is at risk
  • Evaluate the risks
  • Record the findings
  • Devise an action plan to reduce significant risks
  • Inform those affected
  • Review periodically
support staff workforce reform regulations 2003
Supportstaff (Workforce Reform Regulations 2003)
  • “Specified work (i.e. teaching) may not be carried out by a person in a school unless s/he holds QTS or satisfy the specific requirements…” (Education Act 2003, s133).
  • HLTAs, sports coaches and other suitable adults may teach classes or groups in timetabled physical education.
  • Provided they:
    • only assist or support the work of a nominated teacher in school;
    • are subject to the direction and supervision of a nominated teacher;
    • have satisfied the head teacher, through a risk assessment, that they have the skills,

experience and expertise required to carry

out the specified work.

(SP 2008 – chapter 4 and Appendix 3)

supervision and direction the implications for schools
“Supervision and direction” – the implications for schools.


  • safer recruitment,
  • initial assessment,
  • induction,
  • information about pupils, procedures, routines and standards,
  • regular communication,
  • risk assessments,
  • shared/monitored planning,
  • monitoring competence,
  • professional development.

(SP 2008 – Appendix 3b pp 313-316. Also see pages 14-15 in the handout)

  • expertise in the range of activities to be taught – i.e.
        • technical knowledge
        • knowledge of progression
        •  safety issues
        •  rules, (case law)
  • delivery of national curriculum process model (Education Acts)  
  • knowledge of the particular needs of the group

(case law/NCPE PoS)

  • observation and analysis skills to ensure that

what is going on is safe (HaSaWA s.7)

  •  good class control and group management (case law/STPC s.37)
  • appropriate relationships – teaching children

not coaching a sport

(Common Core Skills/HLTA standards, DfES 2006 & afPE/ukSport ASLs 2006)

Targeted CPD? (SP 2008 paragraph 4.2.14)

policy and guidelines the handbook
Policy and guidelines: “the handbook”
  • See pages 11-13 in the handout.
  • This item appears in SP 2008 as Appendix 9.
  • By law these need to be reviewed regularly and staff monitored to ensure that a common and safe standard is applied.
  • “Routine, embedded and well-documented”
  • Look at H&S from position of “opportunity” not “danger”
  • Keep it simple – good teaching; good organisation
  • Recognise, respect, support and develop those lacking confidence and competence
  • Work at a level of common sense – as trained professionals
  • Importance of forethought, anticipation, forward planning for what may happen and plan accordingly
  • Apply the triangle model
  • Think about the “what if”s as well as the event
  • Written risk assessments as soon as possible
  • Policy and procedures to be developed over time
  • We are good at what we do!