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Risk management in schools

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Risk management is the kind of thing that can be put on the back burner but it is a great way to avoid problems, and having some processes in place if or when things do go wrong is a great advantage.

Doing it well does requires expertise and risk advisor Aon is engaged in an ongoing risk excellence program with independent schools, gathering data and insight in regard to best practice surrounding risks associated with safety, property, work health and safety, resilience and effective risk management frameworks.

The insights help schools and their advisers generate comprehensive risk registers and also critical incident management plans (CIMP) and business continuity plans (BCP) with student safety front and centre of all planning.

The process helps to identify issues before they become problems and head them off at the pass. School administrators can develop best practice risk management strategies and plans appropriate to their school, identify any weaknesses in their current arrangements and work out how to achieve maximum impact cost effectively.

A series of mature risk management tools are available to support schools – both digital and manual. Best practice takes a hybrid approach, leveraging tried and tested digital solutions to accelerate action during an emergency or interruption, backed by manual documentation which is useful during power or communications outages.

Risky business, how it’s done

• Engage independent risk advisors on what good practice looks like, leverage existing intellectual property to support the school with its risk framework and assessment.

• Ensure that the school’s crisis management plan and business continuity plan are comprehensive and tested. Ensure that people understand their responsibilities and are put through their paces in advance of a real emergency.

• Promote the importance of risk assessment, management and planning to the board. Schedule at least quarterly reviews to ensure risk management remains current and effective.

• The changing insurance market requires schools to fully understand and scale their risk exposure and appetite. This is required by insurers when rating risk and calculating premiums.

The top risk concern revealed in the 2018 Risk Report was brand and reputation, jumping from second place compared to 2017. This is likely due to the fact that all other risks (cyber, governance, talent, etc) are linked with brand and reputational risks; malicious cyber threat was identified as a top 10 risk for the first time.

Cyber

  • Threats such as hacking or ransomware have moved into the top 10 list of risk concerns
  • Only a third of schools surveyed (36.32%) believe they are well-prepared for cyber related claims
  • Only four in 10 (44.27%) are aware of the notifiable data breach legislation for cyber events and have a response plan in place.

Governance

  • School governance has had the biggest rise as a risk concern for schools, jumping up three places compared to 2017
  • One in five schools surveyed (20%) either do not or are ambivalent to having rigorous work health and safety policies in place.

Talent

  • More than half of schools surveyed (56%) do not have a succession plan for when someone leaves
  • In comparison, 83 per cent of global companies have a succession plan for their CEO, and 87 per cent for senior management.

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