Paul Meek takes a look at manual handling in education.
Pupils with physical disabilities have in the past been excluded from participating in activities that were previously deemed to only be accessible for able-bodied children.
The special education sector has seen significant progress in the way they educate their staff on moving and handling, which now allows pupils, able-bodied or not, to participate in activities for therapeutic purposes or just for fun. A major enabler of this change was the introduction of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992), which required schools to conduct risk assessments and take steps to reduce risks to both staff and pupils.
In 1995, when the regulations were biting, the author was extensively involved with all the special schools and many mainstreams in West Sussex looking at how the provision of equipment and training would achieve the objectives of keeping staff and pupils safe plus giving pupils new opportunities.
Equipment manufacturers worked in partnership with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, school nurses, and teaching staff to produce an amazing range of hoists, standing frames, and other aids to promote inclusiveness and maintain mobility and independence.
However, generic training does not provide school staff with specific skills and knowledge, as each pupil has their own unique challenges. This means that the way companies train staff has to evolve. A recent alternative to face-to-face or online training has been the use of video conferencing sessions, whereby small groups of staff can be trained in practical skills based on the specific equipment they use within their school. Many schools complete the moving and handling theory qualification online before conducting the practical training, this has been proven to be a successful way to train teaching staff.
Special education schools have adopted new skills and techniques to ensure that challenging needs are met with ease and dignity. My team at Solutions Training & Advisory Ltd has been offering accredited Moving and Handling Train the Trainer programmes for over 20 years. We have found that video conferencing training has been widely received, effective, and extremely cost effective. Bespoke training with no need for classroom-based training is perfect for this unique sector.
Cumulative strain due to poor postures, static muscle loading, and repetition are still risks in many schools. This is an area where more work needs to be done to reduce risk. So, what training should staff receive? In England there is no detailed guidance, but in Scotland and Wales, there is a manual handling passport scheme that prescribes both theoretical and practical competencies.
So “What constitutes effective manual handling training?”,
I am happy to share the findings of the research which was conducted by Loughborough University. If trained in the right manner the solution to safe and dignified handling is available.
If you would like a copy of the research, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.