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Critical Incidents

Page last updated: 21/01/2019

​​​​​​​​​​​All schools should have an Emergency Management Plan in place to deal with incidents they may face, however, a variety of services are able to provide support to your school to manage a critical incident or emergency, including in the event of severe weather and floods.

Emergencies and critical incidents, although infrequent, can cause disruption to the school day and require immediate action. Contacting the Schools Communication team when an incident takes place will allow necessary support services to be triggered so that you are able to operate your School Emergency Management Plan knowing help is on the way. Please view the information below on 'how to report a critical incident or emergency' for contact numbers.

Should your school need to temporarily close, whether this be down to an emergency situation or severe weather, a simple system has been put in place to report a school closure



​To ensure we can continuously provide effective and efficient support, meeting all needs, we would be grateful if you complete the Feedback Form​ if your school has ever required support due to an incident.



How will we support you?

The Schools Communication team are the first point of contact to request critical incident support and will contact all services required immediately after receiving notification to ensure support is arranged. They will also collect and log closure notifications due to weather, site issues or industrial action.
The Schools Communication team offer:
  • Confidentiality and a quick response
  • A tailored approach depending on the support needs of the incident
  • A point of communication to access support services
The team have received recognition from Essex County Council and the Department for Education for their role in coordinating support for schools.

What is a critical incident?

  • An incident has taken place which involves emergency services 
  • A pupil or member of staff  has died or suffered a serious injury
  • A natural disaster or severe damage to the school building has occurred
  • An incident which has generated high media interest, or increase in absence e.g. infectious disease
  • A serious safeguarding incident relating to a pupil e.g. abuse, abduction

How do I report a critical incident or emergency?

​​Schools should use their own emergency/business continuity/critical incident plans to deal with an incident, however if support from one of our teams is required, then please contact the Schools Communications Team on either 0333 013 9880 or 07894 963922 (available 9am-4pm). 

If schools are unable to get through to the Schools Communications Team, then please leave a voicemail and someone will return your call either on the same day (if the voicemail is left during office hours) or first thing the next morning (if left out of hours). 

If schools happen to have an incident out of office hours and require support, please still call the Schools Communications Team, as above and someone will return your call when our support teams are back in the office. If it is media / press office support your require, then the Press Office out of hours number is available, but should only be used for urgent media enquiries - 07717 867525. 

During school holidays, the Schools Communication Team may not be available everyday, however emails and voicemails will be checked periodically and responded to as soon as possible. 

See related documents:
What to do if / Where can I find information...

Emergency/Critical Incident Management Plan / Template

Schools are responsible for putting together their own emergency / critical incident management plan, however guidance can be found on the DfE website, as well as short guidance documents provided by Essex County Council. There is also guidance available on the EVOLVE​ website. 

Contact details for teams within Essex County Council can also be found on the Contact Information page under News and Information. The Department for Education website also provides information for schools.

What do I do if there is a bomb scare or terror attack?

Schools should enforce ‘Lockdown Procedures​​' that would be followed in an event like this. 

Guidance on this procedure can be viewed here​​​. ​

Guidance from National Counter Terrorism Security Office​ (May 2016)​

A young people's version of the Run, Hide, Tell​ video is now available. 

A black widow/false widow spider is found on the school premises?

With guidance from the Health and Safety department, it is advised that if only one spider is found, a member of staff is to exterminate it. However if there is more than one, then the pest control team should be contacted to attend the school and remove them.

What to do if the school needs to be closed?

Schools are required to use the school closure notification process which can be done via the My School page on Essex Schools Infolink. Any member of staff with a username and password for this area of the site is able to use the notification process. However it is advised that schools set up a Business Continuity process so that only one member of staff does this, e.g. headteacher – deputy – senior member of staff.

​Further information can be found on the School Closures​ page. 

Can schools shut for compassionate reasons, e.g. funerals?

Reasons for shutting the school are down to the Headteacher’s decision. We ask that the school closure notification system is used and that the Standards and Excellence Commissioner for your school is made aware.

What to do if there are site issues?

Boiler issues – Health and Safety have advised that the minimum temperature must be 16 degrees C for staff and 18 degrees C for vulnerable groups such as children. If schools wish to stay open, staff may wish to modify activities to work around the lack of hot water – e.g. cooking.

No water – consider back up plans such as an alternative systems/equipment and how long would these last for. Contact the utilities company and take into consideration whether children should be sent home.


Potential gas leak – Schools should get this checked as soon as possible in order to decide what action is needed.

Flooding - Advice for Employees impacted by Flood

If your school buys in to the Health and Safety Service, you are able to contact the team on 033 013 9818 for further information and guidance on what to do if your school comes across any site issues such as the above.​ 

Parents are threatening to go to the media, or have used social media to complain?

If this issue arises within the school, it is advised that you contact the Press Office team on 0333013 2800. Or in ‘out of office hours’ situations use 07717867525.

Weather related concerns

Reporting Infectious Illnesses

​​Public Health England publish a Guidance on infection control in schools and other childcare settings​. This gives simple advise such as how long pupils should be kept away from school with different infectious illnesses (page 5 to 8), when to contact the local Health Protection Team (HPT) at Public Health England (PHE) and gives guidance on basic good hygiene practices.

​Following the guidance should lead schools to make a wise decision. If schools are in any doubt they should contact their local HPT. Click here​ to find your local HPT. 

There is a sudden death of pupil / someone in school community

​Should there be a sudden death of a pupil or someone in the school community, there are various services available to provide support for your school. 

This support can be accessed through contacting the Schools Communications Team on 0333 013 9880. 

Mental Health Concerns

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of an individual, there are a number of services available to support with mental health.

Information and resources are available on the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Portal

You are also able to contact the Schools Safeguarding Adviser, Jo Barclay, on or all schools have a named Locality Educational Psychologist (EP) that can be contacted to discuss any concerns with. If you are unaware on who your link EP is, please visit the Educational Psychology Service​ page and contact the appropriate area manager. 

For further information

Schools Communication Team

0333 013 9880