Keeping pupils and staff safe during hot weather

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Ewa Jozefkowicz
The summer holidays will soon be upon us and we're all hoping for sunny weather and a bit of heat. But what happens when it's too hot for sports day, PE or playtime? We have some guidance on keeping your staff and pupils safe, and avoiding sunstroke.

Is it too hot for sports day?

It’s your call, but if in doubt, risk assess.

Top tips to keep your sports day running, even when it’s hot

  • Run your events on rotation to make sure children have a rest after every race
  • Designate a shady area for children and staff to sit when they’re not participating. If you don’t have any shade, use temporary gazebos. Ask your local community to lend you some if you don’t own any already
  • Refill water bottles regularly and make sure pupils re-hydrate in between activities. Ice pops are a winner!
  • Avoid the sun if you can. Run one of your events indoors wherever possible
  • Remind parents that all pupils need a hat, sunscreen and refillable water bottle on sports day

You could also sell refreshments to parents and make your sports day a fundraising opportunity.

What about PE and playtime?

The same as above applies: if you’re not sure, risk assess.

Make sure pupils are:

  • Playing in covered areas where available
  • Wearing a hat
  • Hydrated
  • Not over exerting themselves which can cause overheating
  • Still protected with sunscreen

Make sure your staff on duty are looking out for vulnerable pupils and those who may be susceptible to overheating.

Find out more about the policies and procedures schools have in place to keep children safe in the sun, and read guidance on applying sunscreen to pupils in our other articles on sun safety.

Read advice from NHS Choices on being prepared for hot weather and heatwaves.

Consider the temperature indoors

There’s no agreed maximum temperature for school premises.

You do need to make sure that your workplace temperatures are ‘reasonable’. If staff and pupils are too hot or too uncomfortable to work, where possible, find solutions:

  • Control the temperature using fans.
  • Make cold water available in the staff room and communal areas and remind everyone to stay hydrated
  • Train staff to know how to recognise heat stress
  • Risk assess more vulnerable people
  • Make sure line managers are looking out for the staff on their teams

For more information, read pages 3 and 4 of heat stress in the workplace.

Members of The Key for School Leaders have access to hundreds of resources on all areas of leadership and management at thekeysupport.com. 

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