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Danger signs in school

Secondary teachers are to pursue a campaign this year to win pupils the same health and safety rights as teaching staff and other school employees.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association believes that there is a gap in legislation which leaves pupils without the same legal protection.

David Eaglesham, the union's general secretary, pointed out a number of areas where, he claimed, pupils were ignored under current regulations:

* Qualified first aid provision - pupils are not counted as part of the school complement.

* Regulation of space for heating and ventilation.

* Lockers for clothes and bags.

* The right to safe drinking water.

* Sanitary conveniences and pro-per washing facilities.

Mr Eaglesham said: "Experiences in many PFI (private finance initiative) funded projects shows clearly that pupils are not given sufficient consideration in respect of health and safety."

As the law stood, workers benefited from extensive health and safety provisions. But pupils, who made up around 90 per cent of the school population, were not covered and the only references to those using a building but not working there was that "suitable regard" should be had to health and safety issues.

Under the law, it has always been accepted that non-employees could not be covered because they were effectively a transient population, Mr Eaglesham said.

However, while shoppers in a store would change by the minute, children fell into a different category as they spent 30 hours a week in school, and from the ages of five to 16 were required by law to attend school.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: "There is no lack of legislative protection for children and young people at school - they are protected by both health and safety legislation and the Education (Scotland) Act. Our school estate strategy and supporting guidance stress the importance of schools providing a safe and secure environment for everyone."

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