union effect




The union effect

Images: Mary Schrider



Brent Council finds safety reps and committees make safer schools [6 March 2006]

Nearly 300 delegates including school union safety representatives, safety managers and safety governors came from far and wide to the second Brent Conference ‘Safe Schools, Healthy schools?’ on March 2nd 2006 at Wembley Conference Centre. This was hosted jointly by Brent Council and the school unions (ATL, GMB, NASUWT, NUT, UNISON).

Delegates heard Cllr Ann John (Leader of Brent Council) in her opening address state that ‘The number of trained school safety representatives and safety committees in Brent
has risen to well above the national average and that means Brent schools are becoming safer and healthier.’

She said that promotion of the HSC Safety Reps Charter* and successful collaboration between Brent Council and the joint school unions had increased the proportion of Brent schools with union safety representatives from 22 per cent in 2003 to 71 per cent in 2006 and the number of schools with safety committees from 3 per cent to 22 per cent

During the same period the proportion of trained NUT safety representatives had increased from 7 per cent to 69 per cent. These recently trained safety representatives were already making a difference.

A Brent NUT safety representatives survey, carried out last June, showed that after just one days training safety representatives carried out more than three times as many activities as untrained safety representatives. Now with more training they are transforming school safety.

Significantly the active safety representatives were more likely to cite their school management as supportive and schools with a safety committee cited improved union-management relations.

Hank Roberts said ‘Hay Lane school showed how effective a safety committee could be when it produced a school visit policy that was praised by OFSTED, led to improvements in the Brent and NUT policies and influenced a Commons Select Committee which in turn recommended changes to DfES policy.

It is clear that when Brent Council, unions, school management and governors work together enormous strides are made in improving school safety.

We hope that today’s programme (see next page) will inspire delegates to build on current successes and take back to their schools action plans for discussion, activity and further improvements in school health, safety and welfare. Spread the ideas and spread the activities.’

The morning session was chaired by John Christie (Brent Director of Children and Families Services) and the afternoon session by Hank Roberts (ATL H&S Adviser and Chair – union side - Brent Corporate H&S Committee).

Delegates heard:

• Christine Blower (Deputy General Secretary NUT) and Bob Johnson (Assistant Secretary NASUWT) speak on ‘Organising for Safety in Schools.’
• Christine Lewis (National Officer UNISON) and Mary Bousted (General Secretary ATL) speak on ‘Combating the Obesity Epidemic and Promoting Health in Schools.’
• Madeleine Bunting (Author & Guardian Journalist) and Neal Gething (Consultant Psychologist, Westminster PCT NHS Trust) speak on the ‘Overwork Culture and Stress.’
• Professor John Adams (Chair National Association of School Governors) and Lord Hunt (Government Minister with Special Responsibility for safety) speak on ‘Safety and the Law.’
• Professor John Warner (Professor of Child Health, University of Southampton) speak on ‘Ill health and Communicable Diseases.’

*HSC Safety Representatives Charter. HIFEAC


Media Contact: Gill Reed, Brent NUT Health & Safety Adviser
Home Telephone: 020 8997 1037 Mobile: 0785 5032 392
e-mail: g.reed@lineone.net