Schools and colleges: health & safety information and risk identification

We're looking forward to welcoming your school group the the museum. This page is designed to help you to complete a risk assessment for your visit. It should be used in conjunction with the visit guidelines.

A copy of our risk assessment is available on request, to assist with creating your own risk assessment. Please contact our team at schools@vam.ac.uk

Completing your risk assessment

Teachers are advised to visit the museum in advance of their school or college visit in order to conduct their own risk assessment. To make an individual visit, you may need a general entry ticket, which can be booked in advance or on the day you visit. Find out more about current guidance on visiting the museum.

Responsibility for visiting pupils or students remains with the teachers at all times. The following risks should be considered when producing a risk assessment:

  • Slipping, tripping or falling on entry to the museum and within the building or in the garden, including the shallow pool.
  • Slipping, tripping or falling due to liquid, e.g. water leaks and spillages.
  • Sustaining light injury (for example cuts and bruises) through collision with display cases and corners.
  • Trapping fingers in doors, including lift doors.
  • Being separated from the rest of the group.
  • Illness as a result of exposure to COVID-19 in public spaces. Lead teachers should be made aware of any pre-existing medical conditions of pupils, staff and accompanying adults before visiting.

Security

Security at the V&A is taken extremely seriously. We welcome millions of visitors each year and their safety and security are paramount. We also have a duty of care to protect our collections and buildings, so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.

All aspects of security are overseen by our Security Director and highly trained V&A Security, Safety and Fire teams. We operate in accordance with the Home Office Security Policy Framework and report our compliance each year to HM Government and the V&A's board of Trustees.

When you visit the V&A you will see some of our security services, but many more are operating behind the scenes. All of our Front of House staff are trained to deal with emergencies and will assist our visitors in every way possible. We test our procedures and response times on a regular basis to ensure that if a serious incident occurs our staff are correctly equipped and ready to assist.

The inside and outside of the museum are covered by a comprehensive network of CCTV cameras. Images are monitored and recorded to help ensure the safety of visitors and the exhibits (all images are used in accordance with our Privacy Policy). Members of the Security team carry out bag searches at the entrances to the museum, which may include school groups.

Cloakrooms are currently closed. Unattended bags should be reported to a member of staff – please do not touch them.

We have procedures in place should it be necessary to quickly restrict access to, or exit the building (or part of it) through physical measures in response to a threat, either external or internal. In the event of an emergency warranting in-vacuation (moving people to somewhere safe inside the building), please follow staff to a place of relative safety inside the building.

We have a Visitor Experience team and Volunteers who work in every public space during opening hours to assist visitors and call for additional support if required.

Fire and evacuation

The museum has full evacuation procedures in case of emergency or fire. All fire exits are clearly marked and all staff have received training in evacuation procedures. Our security, fire and safety procedures are tested on a regular basis and are updated as necessary. An alarm followed by an announcement is used to alert staff and visitors of an evacuation. In the event of a fire evacuation, lifts should not be used. Once outside, move away from entrances to enable the escape of others. Teachers should take the register and report any missing persons to a member of security staff (who will be in uniform) or to museum staff wearing hi-visibility jackets. Please ensure that your group understands the importance of following such procedures in the event of an evacuation.

First aid

The museum has members of staff trained to provide basic first aid treatment, although first aid provision is ultimately the responsibility of the teacher, or the group leader, who must carry first aid supplies at all times. Please report any accidents to uniformed staff, or anyone wearing a V&A staff pass, who will be able to call for the First Aider.

COVID-19

The V&A has a number of protective measures in place to help minimise the risk associated with COVID-19 including:

  • A dedicated school group entrance (currently on Cromwell Road) and general public entrance.
  • Signage throughout the museum to help guide and encourage social distancing.
  • Hand sanitiser stations at the entrance and at key points around the galleries.
  • Protective equipment and protective screens in the shops and cafés.
  • Regular cleaning of all areas of the museum throughout the day.
  • In line with current government guidance, we recommend that all visitors wear a face covering at the V&A where possible.

We will continue to liaise closely with other national museums, particularly our neighbours, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, to ensure we have an integrated and responsible reopening plan for South Kensington.

Ahead of your visit, if anyone in your group (staff or students) or in their household has COVID-19 symptoms, or has recently been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, we ask that you please postpone your visit to the museum.

We encourage everyone in your group aged 16 or over to scan the NHS QR code when you arrive, to help support NHS Test and Trace. Further information can be found in our privacy notice.

Museum staff

All museum employees are passed through the V&A's security vetting system. Museum staff carry ID cards with their photograph, so they can be recognised by visitors. All staff leading teaching sessions are experienced in working with children. Our policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults can be provided on request.

Supervision and behaviour

Teachers and adults should remain with their pupils at all times and ensure they are accompanied in the event of evacuation. Groups must have the correct adult to pupil ratio (1:3 for Early Year Foundation Stage; 1:6 for Key Stages 1 and 2, and 1:15 for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5). The museum reserves the right to refuse admission to groups who are not considered to have sufficient adult supervision.

If the behaviour of any groups or individuals affects the safety or enjoyment of other visitors they will be asked to leave. Teachers should ensure that their pupils understand how they are expected to behave, and have contingency measures in place in the event that anyone is asked to leave.

Pupils should be instructed to inform a Gallery Assistant (uniformed staff) should they become separated from the rest of the group. Please ensure all pupils and accompanying adults are made aware of this in advance of their visit.

Any queries?

If you have any queries about your visit please contact our Schools Coordinator at: schools@vam.ac.uk.

We hope you have an enjoyable visit to the V&A.

Background image: Beauty Contest, textile design, by Jacqueline Groag, about 1960, UK. Museum no. E.588-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London