What SLTs need to know about DfE’s Covid Guidance Part 1

Welcome School Leaders and Head Teachers.

It’s no secret you’ve had little support from Department for Education (DfE). Results from a recent universities’ survey have lambasted the way DfE has treated schools during the pandemic. It reveals 90% of school leaders thought DfE guidance during the pandemic was delayed and confusing. While 65% felt unable to trust it.

In this two-part series, we start by discussing Schools’ v. DfE’s legal responsibilities around Covid Health & Safety. The second part shows you how to create the best possible science-based Covid risk assessment with no additional funding required.

What does the law say?

After consulting various law firms, SafeEdForAll has discovered that DfE cannot be prosecuted for the lack of Covid protections in schools. You see, DfE has provided School Leadership Teams (SLTs) with a guidance document that carries a clear disclaimer. School leaders must still adhere to Health & Safety (H&S) legislation no matter what the guidance says.

So, who is responsible?

As always in H&S legislation, the signatories and those who approved the Risk Assessment are legally liable if these risk documents are legally challenged and found to be inadequate. And in court, ‘I was just following the guidance’ will not wash.  As always in H&S legislation it is the Duty Holder , the employer, directors, CEO, School Leaders  etc  who are legally liable. They can delegate duties to carry out risk assessments etc but can’t delegate their responsibility and liability. And they have to ensure they have competent advice

But, how can they prove they were infected in my school?

Our legal team said, “That doesn’t matter. A person doesn’t need to have been harmed (infected by Covid) in your setting to legally challenge your risk assessment!”  That’s right it is the legal duty to identify and  prevent risks that falls on employer/Duty Holder/School Leaders 

Legislation always overrules guidance.

But can’t SLT’s take legal action against the DfE for issuing unscientific ‘guidance’? Again, our solicitors looked at this in detail, and the way the guidance is written means the DfE’s defence will be simple: ‘It was guidance and not law!’

The DfE has put School Leaders in an impossible position, much like the one Care Home Managers found themselves in at the end of the first wave. Do you think DfE will support you when your career and your personal life are under the strain of a legal challenge from a parent?

If you think the answer may be no, read Part Two on how you can start to make your school Covid-safe with no extra funding



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