Is our risk-averse culture storing up a problem for the future?

Efficient Thinking Solutions | Is our risk-averse culture storing up a problem for the future?Efficient Thinking Solutions | Is our risk-averse culture storing up a problem for the future?

The following post on BBC News makes an interesting read.

Schools chief rails against over-cautious safety rules

Teachers must stop trying to wrap children in cotton wool with over-the-top health and safety policies, the chief inspector of schools has said.

Whilst I’d be the first one to encourage a greater degree of balance in managing risk, I’m not sure that, by focusing on the use of Hi-Vis vests, Amanda Spielman, the new head of Ofsted, has pitched her case as well as she might.

Whenever I see a crocodile (walking bus) of school kids walking along in their hi-vis vests, I simply see a perfect example of visual management in action.

Visual management is a method whereby information is communicated by using visual signals instead of texts or other written instructions. It provides an immediate and unambiguous prompt to indicate when something has (or is about to) go wrong.

An ‘if I can see it, I can fix it’ approach to problem solving, I can think of no better way of helping teachers and teaching assistants to safely manage to movement of children outside the school boundary.

Even if the risk of collision and injury from passing vehicles is debatable (my interpretation of Ms Spielman’s comments), you would certainly spot if/when one of them decides to go walk-about – in an instant. Worth every bit of wearable fluorescence, in my opinion!

But, on the point of needing to tackle an over-cautious culture that has made it difficult for young people to cope with everyday events makes a lot of sense. I agree entirely.

Finding ways to help the next generation to be ‘ready for work’ has been something I’ve been working on over the summer and hope to turn it into positive action later in the year.

One of the things that is definitely on the agenda is helping people learn how to assess risk and to develop balanced and meaningful actions to mitigate against them.

For a generation brought up in a conker and yo-yo averse culture I’m looking forward to discovering more.

Personally though, I think the hi-vis vests should stay!