Why every school needs a business continuity plan

Disaster can strike at any time and no school is free from risk.  A business continuity plan is a document that is put in place to address, manage and prepare for the impact of high risk events, such as a fire.

There is however a common dismissive attitude towards risk management and this has a simple explanation.  More often than not, business continuity can be get lost in a sea of many, and ever increasing daily challenges faced by all schools. 

Whilst operations at the school remain normal and there is no known disruptive event looming on the horizon, it is understandable why business continuity planning has a tendency finds itself at the bottom of the priority list. 

If you are faced with an actual and tangible problem to resolve, it can naturally take priority over planning for some possible unknown event that might happen, at some point in the near or distant future.  Therefore a feeling that “it will probably never happen” is a common one.

The unfortunate truth however is that research shows that disasters might be more common than believed. 

Statistics released by the LGA educational research programme show that each year in the United Kingdom there are estimated to be between 1400 and 1800 fires in schools and the London Fire Brigade released figures showing that one in eight schools suffered an arson attack in 2011.

Other statistics released by the LGA educational research programme:

  • One in eight schools suffers a serious arson attack and 75 per cent of school fires are the result of a malicious fire
  • Nearly a third of all school fires start in school time
  • It is estimated that the education of 90,000 children is disrupted by school fires each year and that those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be affected by such an occurrence

These alarming figures highlight the frequency of just one of the many types of risk that a school is vulnerable to.  It should bring home the point that these things can and do happen and planning now before disaster strikes should be seen as top priority.

Many schools will at this point feel assured that they are fully prepared for the risk of a fire and have already got in fire and evacuation plans in place.

Whilst it is necessary to have in place incident management plans to safeguard those in the schools care, this is only half the story.  Once the immediate incident has been resolved what happens next?  Where do you go?  Who do you contact?  What contingency plans do you have in place?

Business continuity looks beyond the immediate impact and focuses on recovering the schools essential services as quickly as possible following a disruptive event.  The plan is intended to return the school to ‘normal operations’ as swiftly as possible, minimising disruption to the curriculum. 

A disaster such as a fire can impact exam results, it can mean temporary accommodation is needed and it is likely to cause significant disruption; thus preparedness is key.  

If you would like to discuss any of this, please get in contact with me – lydiagoodwin@educate.co.uk or call me on 020 3411 1080.