In Guyana young people are legally required to attend school until the age of 16 years, as such, the Head of schools have a corresponding duty to provide children with a safe, secure, and peaceful environment in which learning can occur.
The Headteacher is accountable for safety and security in the school. His/her role includes planning for and administering the day-to-day security and safety arrangements at the school as outlined in the Manual of Guidelines for the Maintenance of Order and Discipline in Schools (2002).
Some of the functions of the Headteacher in maintaining such an environment are as follows:
Establishing Security and Safety Committee
The Headteacher is directed to establish a Security and Safety Committee comprising staff members and members of the Parent Teachers Association/ School Boards to aid in formulating, executing, monitoring and appraising the security and safety operations of the school. The Committee must forge links with relevant stakeholders. Security and Safety must be on the agenda of all Staff Meetings.
Assessing the Safety of the School
The Headteacher should conduct a detailed school safety assessment to determine the state of safety within the school. This assessment is an essential step in developing a safeschool plan. It includes a survey of school facilities, staff availability for supervision, a survey of staff, parents, and students to determine their views and recommendations regarding school violence. After analyzing the collected data, school administrators can verify and enrich the information through discussions with the teachers, parents, students and interested parties.
Establishing Tracking and Recording Systems
Headteachers should establish tracking and recording systems of inappropriate/negative behaviours along with procedures for teachers and other staff to immediately report all incidents to the Department of Education. Received information should be categorized according to the name of the violator, the type of violation, the time and place the incident occurred, and the school's response to it. The said information must also be documented in the Misdemeanour Book and Log Book. Information should be periodically shared with all concerned parties. This system will enable school personnel to identify students who have demonstrated various forms of inappropriate behaviours, and to respond with an appropriate intervention or referral. It will also enable school personnel to identify times and places where such incidents are most likely to occur.
Headteachers should provide opportunities, e.g. through Staff Development Sessions, for all staff to acquire the knowledge, skills and values necessary to develop and maintain a violence-free school environment. Therefore, regular sessions on problem solving/conflict resolution, the importance of student/teacher communication, substance use prevention and tips on identifying potential problematic students who may exhibit negative behaviours.
Headteachers should work with all school personnel to create a climate of school ownership and pride. Students, parents, staff members, and members of cooperating community agencies will feel that they are important parts of the school community. This feeling of inclusion will be accomplished by their involvement in the development and implementation of the safe-school plan.