Hounslow School Emergency Plans


Sponsor: London Borough of Hounslow Contingency Planning Unit Hounslow IQP
Sponsor Liaison: Twm Palmer
Student Team: Jay Baia, Cobi Finkelstein, Dan Pongratz, Juan Rodriguez
Abstract: The Contingency Planning Unit (CPU) of the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) distributes emergency plan templates and guidance to schools in the borough. After conducting a literature and best practice review, our group of students updated the emergency plan template and guidance documents for the CPU. We systemically analyzed plans and guidance from other schools, both in London and worldwide, we synthesized the updated template and guidance from the best practices. We considered Hounslow’s largest risks (i.e. flooding, flu, and utility failure), schools’ emergency plans, and the relationship of emergency planners and school staff while writing our plans. Our team recommends incentivizing the updating of emergency plans, and emphasizes the importance of drilling and practice.

Final Report – Hounslow Emergency Plans

Template Document – Hounslow Template

Guidance Document – Hounslow Guidance

Lesson Plan – Hounslow Lesson Plan

Final Presentation – Hounslow Final Presentation

Executive Summary

If a child goes to school for six hours a day, nine months of the year, then that is around 1,600 hours per year in which parents entrust the safety of their children to the school. Educational institutions, however, are not immune from real-world emergencies. If an emergency such as a fire or an act of violence occurs, schools need to have plans in place to overcome the situation.

One of the worst school emergencies occurred in the UK in 1996, which was a firearm incident that resulted in the deaths of sixteen children and one teacher (Anonymous, 1996). This tragedy, later named the Dunblane School Massacre, reminded many of the importance of schools having a plan for when emergencies occur.

The goal of this project was to develop revised SSEPs and increase community resilience in the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH). The Contingency Planning Unit (CPU) of the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) has an existing suite (collection) of School Specific Emergency Plans (SSEPs), procedures, and templates. The CPU offers a template to all of Hounslow’s schools as well as a guidance document describing best practices for filling out the template.


To accomplish our goal we broke the project up into four objectives:

  1. Conduct a broad literature and best practice review of school emergency plans
  2. Assess administrators’ and experts’ opinions of current plans
  3. Develop draft revised emergency plans
  4. Develop training and exercises for children in schools in the LBH

In order to revise the plans, we conducted a broad literature and best practice review of school emergency plans: one from Australia, three from Massachusetts, and three from the UK. We comparatively analyzed these plans and those from Hounslow. We interviewed LBH school administrators and CPU workers in order to assess their opinions on the emergency plans.

Using the data we collected from our literature review, interviews, and survey, we drafted a revised version of the LBH emergency plans. Lastly, when we finished drafting our plans for Hounslow, we worked collaboratively with our sponsor to create a program to teach school children about school emergency safety.


We summarize our findings as the following:

  1. Utility failures, floods, and a pandemic of influenza or similar illness were all emergencies which are ranked as Very High Risk by the Hounslow Community Risk Register.
  2. Many of the plans had what is called an emergency management team.
  3. Teachers and school staff prioritize education over emergency planning.

Potential risks to Hounslow schools.

When planning for emergencies, we prioritized those which were most likely to happen within the LBH. Using data from the Hounslow Community Risk Register (HCRR), a document that compares emergencies’ possibilities and potential impact, we identified three priority emergencies. Utility failures, floods, and a pandemic of influenza or similar illness were all emergencies which are ranked as Very High Risk by the HCRR.

Shared aspects of school-specific emergency plans.

We analyzed the procedures in other schools’ plans, comparing them to the plans in the LBH. Hounslow did not include bomb threats, bus incidents, and flu pandemics in their template and guidance. Other schools in our literature review did include these emergencies, so we focused on adding these emergencies to Hounslow’s template and guidance. We also found that many of the plans had what is called an emergency management team (EMT). An EMT is a team that schools convene in an emergency to manage the situation in a manner that is organized and structured. Of the nine SSEPs we analyzed, only one did not recognize the importance of having an EMT. The structure of EMTs varied widely across the world, with the largest team, from Arizona, consisting of 45 members, and the smallest team, from Doncaster, England, consisting of five.

The relationship between emergency planners and school administrators.

Teachers and school staff prioritize education over emergency planning. We interviewed David Brockie, a Senior Education Advisor for the LBH, about schools’ roles in an emergency. Mr. Brockie frequently lamented that the attitude of teachers and administration towards emergency planning was, “boring, but necessary” (Brockie, 2015).  Through discussion with employees of the Contingency Planning Unit (CPU) and with Kelly Chapman of Beavers Community Primary School, we found that most schools did not update their emergency plans on a regular basis because there was a lack of motivation. Consequently, schools in the Borough have another position called the Business Manager, who usually takes the responsibility of writing and updating of the emergency plans (Ibid.).

Emergency plan templates must be both concise and comprehensive. This attitude towards emergency planning by heads of schools led us to focus on how we can make the template and guidance comprehensive enough to adequately describe an emergency, but concise enough so that the act of filling out the template does not take up time in the diary of whoever fills it out.


We recommend the following:

  1. For Local Authorities: Enforce the updating of emergency plans via audits and/or fines.
  2. For school staff: Keep students’ skill in emergency response up to date by holding drills and exercises related to emergency response.

Incentivizing the updating of emergency plans.

Because of the lack of motivation to update school emergency plans, we recommend that Local Authorities (LAs) enforce the updating of emergency plans through fines or other methods that dissuade schools from letting their plans get outdated.

The importance of training and drills.

For emergency planners, both at the Local Authority level and at the school level, we recommend putting a section for drills in the template and guidance documents. Also, we would like to note that while The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), a government agency that inspects schools, does not rate contingency plans during their inspections, they do rate the schools with a culture of safety, a large part of which are drills. Therefore, schools that are well-practiced in their emergency plans and response get higher scores from Ofsted in the Behaviour and Safety category of the inspection. Therefore, schools may earn better Ofsted ratings if they hold drills and exercises to keep students informed of emergency response procedures, which creates a culture of safety.


After we left Hounslow, we left behind our updated emergency plan template and guidance, as well as a lesson plan that schools could use to increase their pupils’ abilities to respond to emergencies. We learned much about emergency response through our broad literature review and got many opinions from personnel all around Hounslow. We took all this information we gathered and combined it into our draft plan template and guidance. We researched the emergencies to which Hounslow is susceptible as well as emergencies not mentioned in original plans. We were able to go into Beavers Community Primary school and try out our lesson plan on Year 6 students. The final copies of our template, guidance, and lesson plan are located in Chapter 6: Results.