Questions we have been asked this month

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19 December, 2018

Use of school facilities for breakfast clubs and other after school activities - what are the school's responsibilities when hosting these activities?

The responsibilities that a school may have when its facilities are being used for breakfast clubs and other after school activities will depend on the arrangements that it has in place for these activities.

If the school is providing these activities then it would need to ensure that its staff are recruited in accordance with applicable guidance and legislation such as Keeping Children Safe in Education. Further, that staff are trained in relation to health & safety, food safety and safeguarding. The school would also need to ensure that it has insurance in place such as public liability insurance should anyone suffer any accident or sustain injury, whilst on its premises. The school is likely to have insurance in place but it may need to consider whether additional cover is needed, as hosting such activities may not be covered by an existing policy.

If the school is permitting a third party to use its facilities for hosting these activities, there are other matters that the school should consider. In the first instance, the school should ensure that it obtains any relevant consents prior to entering into any agreement with a third party permitting it to use its facilities. Depending on local arrangements, a school may need to consult with the local authority or another third party if the school has been built for a specific purpose and there are restrictions regarding use of facilities. Also depending on the type of activity that is under consideration, the school may need to consider whether there are specific restrictions that may prohibit it from entering into an agreement with a third party to use its facilities for purposes that may not be conducive to education.

Providing it obtains any relevant consents, the school should then carry out due diligence on the party that it is looking to enter into an agreement with to allow it to use its facilities. Its due diligence checks may consist of checking with the provider that it has relevant insurance in place such as public liability, carrying out relevant checks in respect of its staff as they will have access to and contact with children, as well as having relevant policies in place such as safeguarding, health & safety and food safety. The school would also consider that the provider complies with relevant legislation such as health & safety and food safety if applicable

If the provider is able to successfully engage in the due diligence process, the school should then look to formalise the agreement with the provider. This is likely to set out certain rights and obligations on each of the parties. As an example, the school may be required to permit the provider access to the premises and enable it to use those premises for specified purposes. The provider will have the right to use the premises for the purposes specified only subject to a fee. The school may also impose a range of obligations on the provider such as having certain policies and procedures in place, providing copies of relevant insurance policies and authorisations, as well as including warranties and indemnities to provide protection for the school in the event that the provider is in breach of its obligations.

Whether providing activities directly or permitting another party to use its premises, schools should be aware that liability for death or personal injury cannot be excluded. However, there are a number of ways in which a school can mitigate risks that may arise as a result of engaging in provision of additional activities outside of school hours or permitting a third party to use its facilities. Considering some of these issues will enable schools to put in place effective arrangements that both mitigate different risks whilst allowing them to be at the heart of the community and serving their communities.

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