What are your school’s top risks for 2014?

Workplace Health and Safety compliance has been identified as the key risk for schools for 2014, according to a recent survey of school administrators at a workshop in Perth.

The top 10 risks identified in the impromptu survey held at CompliSpace’s Non-Government School Governance Risk and Compliance Workshop were:

1. Workplace Safety

68% of respondents identified Workplace, Health and Safety (WHS) compliance as a key risk to be addressed in 2014. There were also many specific WHS risks that were singled out by individuals such as bullying amongst staff, managing stress claims in the workforce, improving emergency response procedures, dealing with hazardous substances and bushfires. This result aligns with the current www.schoolgovernance.net.au poll which is indicating that 75% of respondents do not feel that their schools are compliant with current WHS laws.

2. Compliance with Privacy Laws

42% of the respondents saw compliance with the new Privacy Laws that commence on 12 March 2014 as a key risk. This result aligns with the previous www.schoolgovernance.net.au poll which indicate that 80% of respondents were not adequately prepare for the introduction of these new laws.

3. Funding Pressures

38% of respondents identified Gonski and uncertainties relating to funding as a significant risk in 2014. There were also a number of related risks including a general economic slow down and increasing difficulties with debt collection.

4. Staff Bullying Staff

In what was probably the surprise package in this impromptu survey 38% of respondents identified bullying amongst staff to be a key risk within their schools. Closely aligned to this 18% identified risks relating to staff stress management, workers compensation and return to work.

5. Managing Compliance Obligations

Managing compliance within schools generally was identified as a key risk by 25% of respondents with a similar number of respondents identifying the preparation of re-registration documentation to be a significant challenge.

6. Change Management

25% of respondents also identified the management of change within their schools to be a significant risk in 2014.   This accords with observations made during the workshop that whilst schools have experienced massive change over the past 10 years (with the impact of the internet and the increasing impact of new laws) school management structures have not changed significantly in this time.  A number of comments also noted an increasing divide between administrative staff who are trying to address issues of change and teaching staff who are sometimes reluctant to change.

7. Policy Management

Policy management was identified as a key risk by 20% of respondents. A number of comments highlighted the difficulty of maintaining policies up to date and effectively implementing them.

8. Student Duty of Care

There were a number of risks raised with respect to Student Duty of Care issues with 20% of respondents identifying inadequate management of SDC issues as a key risk in 2014. A similar number specifically identified off campus activities (aka excursions) as a key risk area. Other SDC risks raised included cyber bullying, sports management, child protection, dealing with mental health issues and pastoral care.

9. Staff Performance Management

A number of respondents highlighted Staff Performance Management and in particular the introduction of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers as a key risk in 2014. An aligned risk that was mentioned a number of times was lack of accountability of staff members including members of school’s executive teams.

10. Workplace Relations / Human Resource Management

Finally there were a range of risks raised that can be categorised under the workplace relations banner. These included staff wage pressures, management of staff conflicts and management of staff induction.

There were a large number of other risks identified. These included:

  • Effective implementation of a schools strategic plan
  • The impact of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse
  • Training of the Members of the Board of Governors
  • Poor injury recording practices
  • Poor complaints handling practices

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