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A bright future


In this Case Study, Robert Scott aids local special educational needs (SEN) school, Bright Futures, on its journey to reopening.


COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way schools operate day-to-day. With educational facilities once bustling, the lockdown meant many schools had to close completely, while some remained open for the children of key workers. As we start on the road to recovery, educational facilities are reopening and beginning to welcome back an increasing number of people.


This new landscape sees students and teachers adapting to the new normal of heightened health and safety measures in line with government guidance. However, each school comes with its own set of unique challenges that must be considered to protect the health and safety of staff, students and their families.


Bright Futures school was founded in 2010 by Zoe Thompson and her late husband Dixon Milburn, as an independent school dedicated to helping children with autism from ages five to 16. After facing permanent closure due to its rented premises being put on the market in 2018, Robert Scott funded the build of a new school on its Greenfield site, which opened in 2020.


The new school comprises 15 classrooms for one-to-one education, sensory and medical rooms, kitchen and dining areas, a reception area and school office, staff room, outdoor space and on-site parking. The school has a staff team of 22 for the 15 students.


In March, after just a few short weeks in their new school, the managers took the decision to temporarily close the school with staff working from home and pupils being supported to learn remotely. Now, as schools across the country begin to welcome back students, Bright Futures is planning its reopening with the help of Robert Scott.


Risk assessment


Every organisation needs to introduce robust measures to control risks. Therefore, before reopening a school or


42 | EDUCATIONAL AND SCHOOL FACILITIES


educational facility, it’s vital to conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment, in line with the latest government guidelines.


During the risk assessment, it’s important to consult with staff members to gain an understanding of their own challenges and share the results with everyone who it affects, including teachers, pupils, parents and any other support staff, such as cleaners.


Alison Hughes, Head of Learning at Bright Futures explained: “When carrying out the risk assessment for Bright Futures, we had so many things to consider. Not only does each child have their own needs, but we needed to make sure we were also considering the health and safety of staff, parents and students.


“In addition to this, all staff now need to take on everyday disinfecting and cleaning duties, such as taking responsibility for keeping key touchpoints and equipment clean throughout the day.”


After carrying out a thorough and considered risk assessment, proprietor Zoe, Alison and their team implemented new guidelines designed to keep everyone safe. This included new rules on the use of public transport, how to enter the building, hand washing, social distancing, cleaning routines and more.


Alison added: “We’ve made sure the new school guidelines, as well as the steps we’re taking to provide a clean, safe environment, were clearly communicated to all staff, parents and students. We also have staff briefings every morning to discuss health and safety measures that we will be following that day and to follow up on any issues that have arisen the previous day.”


When approaching a risk assessment, the following steps should be considered:


1. Identify the hazards: Such as group activities, PPE requirements, etc.


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