Friday 17 October 2014

Does Michaela's 'private school ethos' mean they can ignore safety concerns as enquiries blocked?

The only street entry/exit from Michaela Free school 
Photo: Nick Wright (via Facebook)
Reflecting concerns about teacher and children safety at the new Michaela Free School in Wembley Park, Jenny Cooper of the Brent Teachers' Association  has attempted a dialogue with the management.  It appears that not only have her concerns been ignored but Michaela has now blocked any communication from her

This is the sequence of events as recorded by email:

September 30th by email.
Dear Ms Birbalsingh,

I am writing to you in my capacity as Brent NUT Health & Safety Adviser and London representative on the National NUT Health & Safety Working Group as a result of concerns that have been expressed to me regarding fire safety procedures in your school.

NUT members have expressed concern that there appears to be only one entrance and exit from the building, through the wooden hoardings on the building site and that there appears to be no area for fire assembly purposes. This is a concern to the NUT for two reasons: potential danger for NUT members who may be working at the school and potential danger for the pupils.

To reassure us over these concerns, could you please send me a copy of your fire risk assessment? I am requesting this document under the provisions of the "Safety Representatives and Safety Committees regulations 1977", specifically regulation 7 which allows for inspection of documents and provision of information necessary to enable me to carry out my function. As an appointed Brent NUT Safety rep, part of my function is to promote health and safety in Brent schools on behalf of members that may be employed in those schools.

Hopefully I will be reassured by the fire risk assessment that everything is in place and that members' concerns have been unfounded. However, if I do not get sight of this document or a reply to this request, I will be forced to take this concern elsewhere.

Thank you for your help,
Jenny Cooper,
Brent NUT Health & Safety Adviser 
London rep on national NUT HSWG
NUT Safety rep on Brent Schools' Health & Safety Committee

No response was received so follow up email on October 16th:

Dear Ms Birbalsingh,
Do you have a response to my earlier email, below?
I will be actioning this matter in another way if I do not hear from you within the week.
Jenny Cooper

Response from Michaela

Your message can't be delivered because delivery to this address is restricted to authenticated Sender.
For more information about this issue see DSN code 5.7.12 in Exchange Online.

This is the same Michaela email address as Jenny had used before in communicating with the school and has not been rejected before. It appears that she has been blocked from raising these legitimate concerns.

Brent NUT told me:
We have been leafleting the parents about the H&S issues at Michaela. We leafleted the parents meetings for the new intake. When we were handing out letters to children at the end of the day to take home to all parents, some staff came out and asked why we hadn't written to ask about the situation with regards to fire safety and other issues. We replied that the H&S Advisor Jenny Cooper had written but there had been no response. That is why we were handing out letters as we were so concerned. This took the wind out of sails somewhat. We alerted Ruth Moher, Lead member for Education that we had not had any response and she is checking what is happening. A Brent Council H&S Officer is supposed to making a visit to the school and may already have done. Interesting that now Jenny has been blocked.


Anonymous said...

How can young people possible go to school and learn in this utter shambles !

Poor planning is the only reason for such chaos !

While new school places are needed proper planning is desperately needed.

Anonymous said...

'Free' schools, eh?
Wasn't it Thomas Jefferson who said 'the price of Freedom is eternal scaffolding'?

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

Secondary School ~Private School Ethos~No Fees~No Fire Exits

Anonymous said...

I hope the NUT rep has resubmitted that request by Recorded Delivery post?

Tareq Hasan said...