Risk management can be found in every industry, from finance to education. It is important to create a risk management program and identify the school-based risk factors. Teachers and staff must understand these risks, evaluate them and then take the appropriate actions. If this process is not done, there will be an impact on the school district. The school-based factors include:
- low rates of student time on tasks
- less teacher presentations
- low rate of teacher communication of high academic expectations
- high rate of discipline problems.
There are operational-based risks as well. For example, school equipment must be kept in optimal condition, such as playground equipment, to ensure the well-being of students. Or, if a school budget is not balanced, there will be cuts to make up the difference (i.e. art and music programs).
What is risk management in education? Essentially, it is the fulfillment of legal responsibilities in assessing the risks as well as creating health and safety measures to control them. It is the principal’s responsibility to ensure the risk assessments are completed, documented and monitored. A risk assessment program should identify what can be assessed, what is a risk, what is a hazard and how to evaluate the risk(s). It should also include a mission statement, communication channels and the risk management process according to the type of risk: generic, specific and dynamic. A generic risk is a hazard that is unchanged and consistent. A specific risk is only applicable to a certain activity and there is a requirement for legislation. And a dynamic risk is what it implies; an activity that involves a continuous process of identifying the hazards that may occur. As the number of school shootings has sharply risen in the past ten years alone, the need for assessing dynamic risks and implementing new strategies to control them has increased as well. Also, risk management not only has legal implications but economic ones (e.g. insurance).
Understanding the importance of risk management in education, more so, a school district, will help keep a school running efficiently, in which costs are reduced and the school environment is safe and positive. Risk management in education has become an integral part of school administration, and each new school year produces more unique risks.