Delivering an engaging science curriculum safely
Low-level radioactive sources are used in most secondary school science departments to teach part of the National Curriculum in Science. Under the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 all employers must ensure that radioactive substances are accounted for, stored properly, handled safely and monitored regularly. Employees must have appropriate information and instruction in radiation protection to ensure their health and safety and that of pupils and others. Each employer must appoint a Radiation Protection Advisor (RPA). There is no current RPA for Newham and therefore schools using low level radioactive substances are in contravention of the Law. To not use radioactive substances in secondary schools would be detrimental to science education, limit courses a school could offer and be expensive to dispose of some sources.
The London Borough of Newham has membership of the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services (CLEAPSS) for the financial year 2017/18. This entitles schools to access science learning materials. The Council does not have an RPA and currently is not in a position to appoint one.
CLEAPSS can offer Newham secondary schools a RPA service if; firstly the local authority subscribes to CLEAPSS and secondly; an officer is appointed to act as a Radiation Protection Officer (RPO). The RPO is a link between those schools using radioactive substances and the RPA. Following conversations between CLEAPSS, the Local Authority and NPW, CLEAPSS have confirmed that it is acceptable for an officer of NPW to assume the RPO role in order to support schools in Newham.
The Radiation Protection service
Alan Merry, as NPW RPO, will undertake:
- Ensuring that each secondary school with radioactive substances appoints a Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS)
- Acting as the link between the school RPS and the RPA based at CLEAPSS
- Dealing with emergencies in collaboration with CLEAPSS
- Visiting schools periodically to monitor their management of radioactive sources
- Reporting to the local authority that arrangements in schools are working
- Providing information to CLEAPSS about the sources held in schools
- Ensuring that advice given by the RPA is passed on to schools
- Co-ordinating a RPS network, hosting meetings as appropriate