Sunday 12 March 2023

2022: A year in review

Insights into the 2022 Health, Safety, and Welfare review

The SchoolDocs review process brings together feedback from schools, extensive team research, and expert consultation to ensure content keeps pace with the changing educational environment. School feedback in particular is a key part of the review process. The collective input of our nearly-1800 schools allows us to get a detailed picture of how schools across the country operate, and what schools need from their policies and procedures.

We faced quite the challenge in 2022, reviewing every policy in the Health, Safety, and Welfare section within the year. This is only one of six main policy areas, but it makes up approximately 40% of all topics on a SchoolDocs site. The whole-year review allowed for cohesive changes to reflect changes to legislation and best practice, including the introduction of the National Education and Learning Priorities.

The SchoolDocs team has just released the final round of upcoming changes for the health and safety topics. These policies and procedures extend to the wider school environment and provide a framework for safety on and off school grounds. We finished the year with a review of the main, board-level Health, Safety, and Welfare Policy. Now that we’ve worked through the entire section, we’d like to share some insights into the process. 

What was the review feedback from schools? 

Feedback across the year showed that schools were looking for clear, accessible health and safety procedures to guide them through challenging circumstances. Much of the feedback received aligned with updates to legislation and best practice, which focus on student and staff wellbeing and recognise our shared community responsibility for health and safety.

Helpful feedback 

When we analyse feedback sent in from schools, we’re looking for reviewers to send us suggestions that they think will improve content for all schools. Here are some examples of helpful feedback we received, and how we responded in our updated content:

  • It would be useful to clarify the health and safety roles and responsibilities of the board.

    This was addressed in updates to the Health and Safety Management section of SchoolDocs, which outlines the legislative responsibilities of the board and provides a framework for other policies and procedures. We’ve included an overview of duty holders under the Health and Safety at Work Act in the board-level policy and linked back to this overview where responsibilities are mentioned. 
  • We’re looking for more information and resources around wellbeing, both for students and staff. It would be good to see a clear outline of the steps we should take.

    We made significant changes to Student Wellbeing and Safety and Staff Wellbeing and Safety, as well as their respective subtopics. These sections now provide clear, step-by-step instructions for what to do when faced with safety or wellbeing concerns. We’ve made sure these topics include the protective steps that schools should take to support school-wide wellbeing. Updates also clarify processes to support all members of the school community when incidents arise.

Not-so-helpful feedback 

While we appreciate the effort to submit feedback during the review process, we’d like to provide some examples of feedback that isn’t quite so helpful for the team. 

  • It’s important not to send school-specific corrections through the review tool. The SchoolDocs team is not able to monitor or reply to requests through the review tool. We don’t check feedback until later in the term, at which point we’re looking for trends of what needs to change in our wording for all schools.
  • Schools should check review feedback from their own communities in case reviewers have spotted something that needs to be fixed. School feedback can be checked through the Dashboard using the “View my review feedback” button at any stage of the review process. Any fixes needed should be emailed to us.
  • During the review process, we’re not looking for schools to rewrite topics and send us an updated version. The format of SchoolDocs topics allows us to update core content for all schools at the same time, so rearranging the format or reworking core wording for your own site means your topic will not stay up to date. We’ll take care of the wordsmithing for you.

Turning review feedback into changes on your site

The SchoolDocs team analyses feedback at the mid-point of the review, and again at the end of the term. This allows us to look for trends in school responses, and incorporate these into research and drafting. We consider school feedback alongside our own research, and consultation with subject matter experts where necessary, to create an updated version of the topic. 

We publish new versions of reviewed content on the Demo site to let schools view and consider the new content before it is rolled out to their own SchoolDocs sites. We send email advisories to let them know when updates are available to view, and ask schools to view the changes and respond to any actions for the new content. Schools email us their answers to these actions, which we incorporate once the updated topics go live for all schools. We recommend minuting scheduled review changes at school board meetings. 

How to keep track of changes

  • Updates to topics that haven’t yet been published to school sites are in the Upcoming Changes section of the Demo site. A note at the top of these topics will tell you when the changes will be rolled out to school sites.
  • Recent changes that have been published to school sites are in the Recent Changes section of the Demo site. 
  • You’ll also find a summary of when content was last updated and what changes were made at the end of each topic on your SchoolDocs site. The Release history date can be clicked to find out what was changed in that update.

Using the review tool going forward

We’re excited to be using our new review tool in 2023. The upgrade means it’s now easier for you to view feedback through the Dashboard, including printing and/or exporting it into a spreadsheet for reporting purposes. The new review tool means we are not able to store pre-2023 feedback on the Dashboard, but schools can contact us if they’d like to see feedback from previous reviews.

Changes to the review tool mean it’s more user-friendly for all members of the school community. Note that we used to specify who should review each topic. We now invite participation from any member of the school community, no matter the topic. Each school is responsible for sharing reviews with their own school community, and we encourage school leaders to promote the review process widely.

Our aim is to provide an up-to-date, accessible, and comprehensive set of policies and procedures with input from as many of our communities as possible. Working with schools through the review process allows us to stay in touch with both the strengths and challenges of school operations, and we’ll continue to support schools in all stages of the cycle.