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Code of Practice - Young Persons & Children on University Premises


Under health and safety law, a child is anyone who has not yet reached the official minimum school leaving age (MSLA).  In England, pupils will reach the MSLA in the school year in which they turn 16 and can leave school on the last Friday in June if they will be 16 by the end of August.  A young person is anyone under 18 years old.

This Code applies to both 'children' and 'young people'. Health and safety legislation includes specific duties for the protection of children and young people when involved with work activities. They are seen to be particularly at risk as they are likely to be inexperienced, unaware of health and safety risks, and physically and/or mentally immature.

The University arranges or hosts a wide range of visits and on and off-campus activities involving children and young people. This Code of Practice sets out the general arrangements, and certain prohibitions to be followed to ensure that risks to children and young people are minimised while they are on University premises or involved in, or affected by, University activities.

University premises include all buildings, grounds, roadways and vehicles.

Formal activities for children

Formal activities for children arranged or hosted by the University, whether on or off campus. Examples of these are:

  • work experience placements 
  • children's university
  • sports clubs and language schools using University facilities
  • nursery and play schemes

Children and young persons may be accompanied and supervised by teachers, parents, University personnel or other responsible adults.

For all formal activities arranged or hosted by the University, arrangements should comply with legal requirements for health and safety and should follow best practice of recognised bodies such as national sporting associations. Arrangements may also need to comply with local authority child care requirements and child protection legislation.

Where a University Faculty/Directorate/Unit is arranging an activity, it is the responsibility of the Faculty Operating Officer/Director of Professional Service to make the arrangements to ensure that legal requirements are met and best practice followed.

Prime responsibility for the safety of children where the University is hosting an activity, such as a language school or sports club rests with the school/club hosting the activity. The organiser must ensure that arrangements comply with child protection and any sporting body requirements.

The University's responsibility will be to ensure the premises and any equipment or services provided are fit for purpose.  Close liaison will be needed with the school/club arranging the activity to ensure arrangements meet all requirements. Whether arranging or hosting the activity, the University's usual insurance arrangements for visitors will apply to the children and any supervisors taking part.

Work Experience Placements

Children on work experience placements are designated as employees for the purposes of health and safety legislation and insurance. Faculties and Offices offering placements must provide the children with at least the same health, safety and welfare protection that they give their own staff.

It is the responsibility of Faculty Operating Officers and Directors of Professional Services to make the arrangements for work experience placements; general advice on the University's procedures can be obtained from HR's Organisation, Development & Engagement Manager.

There is a legal requirement for risk assessments to be completed before a child commences a work experience placement. This assessment must take account of the child's inexperience, immaturity and lack of awareness of existing or potential risks. Information contained in the risk assessment must be provided to the child's parents or guardian about the risk(s) and the control measures in place. Children are prohibited from carrying out any tasks where a significant risk remains.

Risk assessments for all formal activities must be completed before the proposed activities are undertaken. Appropriate arrangements must be put in place to prevent harm being caused to or by the child. These arrangements should include:

  • exchanging information with parents/supervisors on the planned activities
  • any special needs such as disabilities or dietary restrictions, and expected behaviour
  • assessing the suitability of areas, equipment (including protective equipment) and activities, taking full account of the age, physical size, strength, maturity and any special needs of the child
  • ensuring competent supervision and clearly defined roles where supervision is shared; providing clear instructions to the child making sure that these take account of their age and ability to understand correct procedures
  • ensuring emergency arrangements are in place and understood

Brief informal visits to University premises while accompanied by children

Examples of these are:

  • staff, students and visitors using open access areas on campus
  • bringing a new baby to show to colleagues
  • making brief visits to deliver or collect items

Under no circumstances may contractors bring a child onto University premises.

Children accompanied by staff, students and visitors are permitted into open access areas and other low risk areas on University premises at the discretion of the local Manager. Reception areas, restaurants, and single occupancy offices would normally be regarded as low risk.

It is a specific requirement of the University's insurers that the accompanying adult must remain with and supervise the child for the whole time they are on University premises. They should be close enough to the child to react immediately to prevent accidents or inappropriate behaviour, e.g. interfering with equipment, entering prohibited areas, or disturbing other users of the area. Care must also be taken that toys, pushchairs or other articles or equipment do not cause obstructions or compromise fire escape routes.  These responsibilities cannot be delegated to anyone else.

Multiple occupancy offices are not normally considered low risk areas as it cannot be guaranteed that all parts of the office will have been made safe and be kept safe for a child. Exceptionally, children may be brought into these areas with the explicit consent of the Office Manager or Supervisor and the agreement of all occupants of the office.

It is prohibited for a child to be in medium to high risk areas unless present for a formally organised activity, such as work experience or children's university and are accompanied by suitable and sufficient supervision; these areas are:

  • Laboratories
  • Workshops
  • Studios
  • Seminar rooms
  • Computer rooms
  • Multi-occupancy offices
  • Libraries (other than service/reception desks or media facility)
  • Kitchens
  • Plant rooms
  • Any other area considered as medium to high risk

In areas where accompanied children are permitted, either routinely or by special arrangement, it is at the sole discretion of the local Manager or lecturer whether or not a child is admitted on a particular occasion.  If admission is allowed the parent or guardian may be asked to remove the child, for example due to inappropriate behaviour. The parents or guardians of children who have previously been disruptive or who do not follow these requirements will be asked to remove the children and can be refused future access.

Formal activities by staff and students whilst accompanied by children

Staff or students with children will be expected to make suitable child care arrangements, thus enabling them to properly undertake their formal activities as an employee or student of the University. 

Under no circumstances may children accompany staff or students during formal off-campus activities as an employee or student of the University e.g. meetings, visits or field trips.


Any accident, safeguarding incident or near-miss involving a child on University premises must be recorded on the University online incident reporting system

If an accident involving a child on University premises results in the child being taken to hospital, a report to the Health and Safety Executive will be necessary (a requirement of the RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013). Such accidents must therefore be reported to the Health & Safety Unit immediately by telephone or in person. All such accidents will be investigated.

Children trespassing on university premises

Arrangements to prevent trespassing on University premises, both grounds and buildings, must take account of possible access by children. 

An active programme of refurbishment and construction of its buildings is undertaken by the University, work of this nature can create additional dangers for children. Any precautions regarding access to these areas by trespassers must take into account possible access by children.  Suitable precautions must be taken before the work commences and during the work activities.


Faculty Operating Officers and Directors of Professional Services:

  • Where a University Faculty, Directorate or Unit directly arranges an activity involving young persons, it is the responsibility of the FOO or Director to ensure that legal requirements are met and best practice followed.
  • Where work experience placements take place FOOs and Directors should ensure that suitable arrangements are in place.

Heads of Department and Local Managers:

  • The Head of Department or Local Manager, on a case-by-case basis as appropriate, will allow or prohibit bringing children or young persons into low risk work or teaching areas.

Parents or Guardians:

  • During informal visits to University premises by children accompanied by parents or guardians; or a student / member of staff bringing a young person to the workplace or lectures; the individual accompanying the child / young person is responsible for their supervision at all times.

Reference Documents:

March 2012 (last revised February 2018)