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General teaching requirement for health and safety in schools

This statutory statement applies to science, design and technology, information and communication technology, art and design, and physical education.

When working with tools, equipment and materials, in practical activities and in different environments, including those that are unfamiliar, pupils should be taught:

  • about hazards, risks and risk control;
  • to recognise hazards, assess consequent risk and take steps to control the risks to themselves and others;
  • to use information to assess the immediate and cumulative risks;
  • to manage their environment to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others;
  • to explain the steps they take to control risks.

In addition to this general teaching requirement for the five subjects, the programmes of study for each subject contain specific teaching requirements on health and safety.


  1. This new health and safety requirement was drawn up by the QCA after consultation with the Health and Safety Executive. The review of the national curriculum provided an opportunity to reconsider how the concept of risk is taught.
  2. This guidance aims to familiarise teachers with some of the terms used in the statement and indicate how this statement can be used to teach the concept of risk and develop pupils' ability to assess and control risks.
  3. Some terms explained:

    - Hazard means anything that can cause harm.
    - Risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody will be harmed by the hazard.
    - Risk control involves taking steps to reduce the chance, and/or mitigate the consequences, of the hazard causing harm.
    - Risk assessment evaluates the risks and decides whether precautions are adequate or more should be done.

  4.  Teachers will have already introduced the concept of risk to their pupils. Consistent messages on risk awareness, delivered at the appropriate developmental level throughout a pupil's time in school, will result in them being better equipped to deal with situations of uncertainty and change, both in and out of school.

  5. Pupils will need to be taught about the hazards, risks and risk control within the context of their work in these subjects so that risk awareness forms an integral part of their learning and development. The health and safety statement provides a framework for pupils to gain an understanding of - and skills in - recognising hazards, risks and uncertainty in a range of contexts. Other subjects will also provide opportunities to develop risk awareness.

  6. Teaching about the concept of risk will help pupils make their own decisions about risk so that they can:

    - recognise the existence of hazards, risks and uncertainty in a range of contexts;
    - assess their own ability, and the ability of others, to deal with different situations;
    - assess the consequences when dealing with hazards presented to themselves and to others (for example, within school, the environment, the home);
    - seek advice from appropriate sources to minimise and manage risk;
    - understand that rules and regulations follow from risk assessment and help define individual and collective responsibility.

  7. In the future, pupils' ability to assess and control risks will be increasingly important. An ability to manage risk has application in leisure activities and in the home as well as at work.

To learn more about how we can help with health and safety in schools and educational establishments, please contact us...