PAT Testing…

The future of mobile learning has to be in user owned technology.

From a sustainability perspective, no educational institutions (especially in the current economic climate) would be able to provide all learners with a mobile device or a laptop – even if they are getting cheaper!

However… sometimes the question of PAT testing student equipment arises from someone within the organisation. It is then decided that students can only bring in their laptops if they have been properly PAT tested or they can bring their devices in, but can not plug them in or in extreme examples students will be banned from bringing in their own devices.

I have read and checked the relevant legislation and I have phoned the HSE to confirm this.

There is NO legal requirement to PAT test student equipment, a formal visual inspection is sufficient under the current legislation.

See more details in this HSE leaflet.

The HSE were quite clear that they would not expect colleges to PAT test student devices.

Think about hotels for example, who NEVER PAT test guests personal laptops. Read this leaflet which has more information.

However… having said all that there may be good reasons to ensure that student equipment is PAT tested.

If you have an old building with rubbish wiring, it might make sense (from a risk assessment perspective) to PAT test.

Some insurance companies REQUIRE PAT testing, but check with your insurance company.

The answer to your H&S Officer is provide them with a proper risk assessment and the documentation from the HSE. Ask them to then explain why PAT testing is required beyond what is required under the legislation?


Ask H&S to set up PAT testing sessions for students, they want to do it, let them do it. Give them an indication of the session frequency required.


It actually doesn’t take that long or too much effort to train people to PAT test equipment, even the testing equipment isn’t that expensive. Train all relevant staff, Learning Resources, IT Technicians, other Technicians, teaching staff!!!! and get them to do the PAT testing.

Finally ignore all the “smart” people who tell you that PAT testing is an example of redundant acronym syndrome syndrome.

Disclaimer: ALL information containing in my post is for informational purposes only and should never be construed as legal advice. For proper legal advice you should consult a lawyer.

6 thoughts on “PAT Testing…”

  1. The advice I’ve always given students is they should get their device tested for their own protection – because if they plug something in that is faulty and it trips the RCD in an open access area, they’ll have a lot of very annoyed peers to try to fend off.

    Our biggest problem these days is not having provided enough power sockets everywhere (I mean everywhere, and thousands more needed) students are unplugging existing equipment leaving it not working for others – sometimes damaging it in the process.

    I also wonder about the increased cost of providing additional power to all these ad hoc devices a well as the additional infrastructure needed…

    And “PAT testing” – the tautology grates on me everytime (along with PIN number, MOT test etc), but PA testing sounds like something roadies do, and Portable Appliance Testing in full sounds pretentious – so I console myself thinking of it as ‘portable appliance test’ testing.

  2. Just to be pedantic, I believe MOT originally stood for Ministry of Transport, so MOT test is quite acceptable. Of course there has not been a Ministry of Transport for years, but sensibly the government has never tried to change the name of the test. Just imagine what chaos would have arisen if there had ever been a Ministry of Education test, and its name had tried to keep pace with the constantly changing name of that department.

  3. the IET Code of Practice for InService Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment has been around for a number of years, and is the accepted method of complying with the Requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

    Whilst there are many other methods you could use to comply, one would be hard pressed in a court of law to prove compliance, whereas PAT Testing is seen as best practice.

    1. That’s an interesting perspective, but that’s not the view or opinion of the HSE. The HSE were quite clear that they would not expect colleges to PAT test student devices. Just because something is “accepted method of complying” doesn’t make it a legal requirement. PAT testing is a good idea, and I agree best practice, but that is a very different thing to someone saying it is a legal requirement.

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