Fact over fiction

22nd June 2007 at 01:00
Make your school safer and cleaner, says Gerald Haigh

Teachers' Legal Rights and Responsibilities: A guide for trainee teachers and those new to the profession By Jon Berry University of Hertfordshire Press pound;4.99

One of the most irritating bits of education folklore trotted out by doommongers (and occasionally by teachers, who should know better) is: "And you aren't allowed to touch 'em, you know."

In fact, you are, both to give comfort and to restrain, and DfES guidelines make that crystal clear.

As Jon Berry points out here, of the supposed "no touching" rule: "it certainly is a misunderstanding, and one that needs careful unpicking."

We are surrounded by litigiousness and lurid disaster headlines, to the extent that new teachers in particular worry unnecessarily about the legal framework within which they work.

The solution from Berry is that if you're following school policy, aware of your duty of care and what your contract says, you'll be fine. He adds:

"Joining a trade union or professional association is vital."

Most accusations against teachers have no credibility. "The number of teachers who fall foul of the law when conducting their professional duties is almost statistically insignificant." It's the myth-busting that makes this book so refreshing and authoritative.

Infection Control Resource Pack: Guidance for secondary schools The School Planner Company, in association with the Infection Control Nurses Association and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (handbook, one photocopiable book of audit tools, 10 staff booklets) pound;75

In many schools children don't wash their hands enough; in 2005 an outbreak of e-coli affected more than 40 schools in Wales and killed five-year-old Mason Jones.

Who knows how many of the more minor but distressing tummy bugs, colds and other problems that affect our children could be prevented by the rigorous but simple procedures outlined here?

In matters of science and health, it isn't enough to rely on common sense.

That's why the authors of this pack have been careful not just to recommend regular handwashing, for example, but to produce supporting evidence that it works.

Among the studies referred to is one in a Detroit school where organised handwashing four times a day brought about a significant reduction in absence.

That attention to detail gives this pack considerable authority. It describes exactly how various kinds of infection are spread, and how they can be controlled.

The handbook is the core of it, working systematically through 13 areas for which the school's leadership is responsible (including personal hygiene, general cleaning, food preparation, laundry, waste disposal, through to classroom and sports equipment). How often is the play equipment in an early years unit properly cleaned?.

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