July 2015

NEWS AND GUIDANCE

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News and guidance

In the news

ASCL’s seminars on safeguarding children from extremism and radicalisation were widely reported, including in BBC Online, TES, the Daily Mail, ITV online and many regional newspapers. Expand

ASCL’s seminars on safeguarding children from extremism and radicalisation were widely reported, including in BBC Online, TES, the Daily Mail, ITV online and many regional newspapers. They were also discussed on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show and several local radio shows. In addition, our speakers were interviewed by both BBC Radio 4’s PM show and BBC Radio 5. ASCL Parliamentary Specialist Anna Cole said, “The aim was to avoid criminalising young people by helping schools intervene in the right way at an early stage. The key thing is to put in place proper risk assessments and have an open culture where different views and ideas can be discussed in an open way. We want to reassure schools that these steps will help them meet the statutory requirements and protect young people.”

Following the General Election, the new government announced its plans for ‘failing’ and ‘coasting’ schools in a press release on Sunday 17 May. General Secretary Brian Lightman was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast Show that morning, and we issued a comment that was quoted in The Times. Brian said, “A discourse about failing and ‘coasting’ schools is not a helpful way of finding a solution. The problems involved are often complex. What is required is a carefully planned strategy for each school which addresses its particular issues. Simply changing the school structure or headteacher might not be the answer.”

We further responded to the announcement with a blog on the TES website, calling on the government to deal with funding and recruitment before moving on to so-called ‘coasting’ schools. (See the blog online at http://tinyurl.com/q95e96p)

The measures were confirmed in the Queen’s Speech later in May and ASCL issued a press release (www.ascl.org. uk/silentbill) that was reported by the BBC and the Press Association. We also responded to the publication of the Education and Adoption Bill 2015-16 with a press release (www.ascl.org.uk/magicwand) that was reported by BBC Online (http:// tinyurl.com/nddrv3g) and others.

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ASCL Influence

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy. Expand

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy.

STRB pay proposals

ASCL has responded to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) consultation on pay awards, arguing that the recommendations arbitrarily discriminate against school leaders and will not help the recruitment crisis facing schools.

The STRB has recommended a pay award of 1 per cent for most salary levels, and none at all for the maximum pay ranges for senior leaders – meaning a pay freeze for those at the top of these ranges.

ASCL’s response says, ‘We fail to see how it can be justified on any grounds. We are concerned about the message this will send out to members of the leadership team in general, as well as those staff whose pay will be frozen for a third year in four.’

ASCL’s final response to the STRB consultation (see www.ascl.org.uk/STRB) called for a pay award above 1 per cent to address the erosion in teachers’ pay since 2010, and a return to pay awards being funded by the government – rather than falling as an extra cost on school budgets.

National Reference Tests

Ofqual has released more information regarding National Reference Tests that will take place for the first time in 2017 and that will be used in grade awarding from 2018.

ASCL is pleased that following discussions with us and with ASCL Council, Ofqual has listened to our concerns and will allow schools to have the option to exclude certain pupils from the tests who may not be suitable to take them.

For further information about the tests, see the Ofqual blog at http://tinyurl.com/ nhqxfpk and the following overview document http:// tinyurl.com/pj5h9h2

Public Sector Pensioners Council (PSPC)

Pensions Consultant David Binnie attended the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Public Sector Pensioners Council (PSPC). This is the body that represents pensioners in all public sector pension schemes and campaigns on issues affecting pensioners. In the coming year, the Council will be meeting with pensions ministers and representatives from all parliamentary parties and be campaigning on inflation indices applied to pensions, age-related tax allowances and the new state pension.

Teacher supply and training

Specialist for Leadership and Teacher Professionalism Carol Jones attended a meeting of the Supply and Training of Teachers Advisory Group (SATTAG). The meeting was held at the House of Commons and attended by representatives of initial teacher education (ITE) organisations as well as MPs, who aim to be on a new cross-party Education Select Committee. ASCL will be writing to the chair of the Education Select Committee to prompt questions on teacher supply.

Definition of coasting schools

Following the publication of the Education and Adoption Bill and the intention to expand the Secretary of State’s powers of intervention, ASCL has been invited to a meeting with the DfE to help define ‘coasting’ schools. We will report back on developments as they progress.

Careers guidance

General Secretary Brian Lightman attended the primary meeting of the board of the new Careers and Enterprise Company, which the Secretary of State established before the election. It is already very clear that this company will be influential in brokering links between schools and employers and enabling young people to access information, advice and guidance and it is therefore extremely helpful that ASCL’s general secretary has a seat on its board.

Assessment without levels

Brian together with President Peter Kent and Director of Policy Leora Cruddas met with John McIntosh who is chairing the Commission on Assessment without Levels. They discussed ASCL policy, continuing professional development (CPD) and Ofsted in relation to this topic and will be assisting the commission in its important work.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Brian and Peter met with Head of Education at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Rob Wall to discuss its education policy, the role of employers in leadership development and employer-education links.

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Retiring? Join as an associate

Retirement need not mean the end of your involvement with ASCL. Expand

Retirement need not mean the end of your involvement with ASCL. We have valued your membership and hope you feel the same. By becoming an associate member, you can continue to enjoy many of the benefits of ASCL membership at a reduced cost.

Associates continue to receive ASCL publications, including Leader and a regular associates newsletter, have the opportunity to attend national and branch meetings, and can access the ASCL website. There is representation through an elected Associates’ Committee, an annual reunion lunch and committee involvement at local level. Associates also have the chance to give something back through the Associates Voluntary Service, which offers assistance and support to members still in post.

Legal cover for part-time teaching is available at a small additional fee. Associate membership is available either by payment annually or by a one-off payment for a lifetime subscription.

Join as an associate member today and find out more about how we can support you in retirement – see the ASCL website for further information www. ascl.org.uk/associates.

We welcome involvement from all associate members, including articles for Associates News (please email your copy to associatesnews@ ascl.org.uk) and hope to meet as many of you as possible at the reunions.

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Tackling the recruitment crisis

In response to requests from school leaders and potential teachers ASCL has produced a simple guide on the current routes into teaching ( Expand

In response to requests from school leaders and potential teachers ASCL has produced a simple guide on the current routes into teaching (see www.ascl.org.uk/routes).

We hope that this handy route map will simplify an otherwise confusing array of information. The DfE’s Get into Teaching website (https://getintoteaching. education.gov.uk) has more detail on each route. Please use the route map as a handy resource to help would-be trainees.

In addition, ASCL has drawn up the following ten-point plan to tackle the ongoing teacher recruitment crisis, with proposals for both government and the teaching profession.

For government:

1 Expand the number and autonomy of School Centred Initial Teacher Training networks (SCITTs)

SCITTs have effectively led school-based initial teacher education for several years. They have a successful track record not only in educating beginner teachers but also in retaining them. Encourage more schools to join SCITTs.

2 Coordinate the development of SCITTs at a national level

Oversee the development and coordination of a pipeline of SCITTs at national level and stimulate them in areas of the country where recruitment is most difficult.

3 Protect teacher training providers in areas of the country where recruitment is most difficult

With the current drop in applications, teacher training providers that cannot fill enough places to make ends meet and cover their costs may pull out. Consider safety-net arrangements for training providers faced with a shortage of applicants but serving parts of the country where their disappearance would worsen supply problems.

4 Launch a recruitment and retention offer for teachers in areas where there is difficulty in recruitment

Fund high-performing multi-academy trusts to recruit good and outstanding teachers and middle leaders on flexible contracts that enable deployment to schools in local areas where there is difficulty in recruiting and/or retention. Include a ‘disruption payment’ as a financial incentive for teachers on these contracts and pay accommodation expenses.

5 Commit to pay off the annual repayment of some student loans for as many years as eligible teachers remain in state-funded schools

This incentive could be costed and targeted on the most severe shortage areas/subjects. It would be a successor to the ‘golden handshake’, acting as an incentive to teach.

6 Review and modify the Teacher Supply Model and the allocation of initial teacher education places

Ensure the Teacher Supply Model is able to take account of regional variation in supply and demand, ensuring that there are enough teachers in each sector, subject and region. For government and the profession:

7 Support a profession-led campaign to attract people into teaching

The teacher shortage and its impact is of such concern that a commitment from government to work in partnership with associated agencies to address the issue is necessary.

8 Implement the recommendations in the Carter Review (see http:// tinyurl.com/o4xhqk3)

Develop a core curriculum for initial teacher education including a strong foundation in subject knowledge and the method and practice of teaching, behaviour management, assessment and preparation for teaching students with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. For the profession:

9 Ensure trainee teachers have a strong foundation in the method and practice of teaching and subject knowledge

There is an opportunity for schools and higher education to work together to ensure that teachers entering the profession have a strong foundation in the method and practice of teaching and subject knowledge. In the best examples of partnership work, this is already the case, establishing an approach that could be further developed elsewhere.

10 Develop a professional learning ladder, of which initial teacher education is the first rung, led and quality assured by the profession

Now is the time to develop the ability of SCITTs and teaching schools to put in place high-quality professional learning for all teachers, in which initial teacher education is the first rung on a professional learning ladder.

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New Education and Adoption Bill 2015-16

After pre- and post-election promises to tackle failing and ‘coasting’ schools, within just weeks of the election result the government has published a new education bill designed to further reform the schools sector. Expand

After pre- and post-election promises to tackle failing and ‘coasting’ schools, within just weeks of the election result the government has published a new education bill designed to further reform the schools sector. The Education and Adoption Bill 2015-16 includes measures to strengthen the Secretary of State’s school intervention rights and its powers to force schools to become academies.

Legal firm Browne Jacobson has compiled a briefing document for ASCL members about the implications of the Bill. The main points are:

● ‘Coasting schools’ will be eligible for intervention by the local authority (LA) and the Secretary of State.

● The definition of ‘coasting schools’ has yet to be decided. ASCL is involved in discussions on this.

● The Secretary of State will have the power to issue warning notices without going through the local authority.

● Schools will lose the ability to challenge warning notices by appealing to Ofsted.

● For all schools graded ‘inadequate’, the Secretary of State will be required to make an academy order.

● The Secretary of State’s power to make an academy order for schools eligible for intervention (such as ‘coasting’ schools) remains discretionary.

● Where an academy order has been issued, the governing body and local authority must take ‘all reasonable steps’ to facilitate the conversion process. 

For more information, including an explanation and comments on the key parts of the proposed new legislation, see the full document online at www. ascl.org.uk/emn5june

Commenting on the measures, General Secretary Brian Lightman said:

“There is no doubt that an effective and rapid programme of intervention needs to be put in place when a school is rated as ‘inadequate’. Every child deserves an excellent education and every effort must be made to address problems where they happen.

“In many cases, academisation may be the best solution. However, in itself it is not a magic wand. Schools fail for a number of reasons and simply changing their structure may not address the whole picture.

“In many parts of the country, for example, it is almost impossible to recruit maths teachers. So, simply converting a school into an academy will not address this issue. A wider solution is needed to deal with the teacher recruitment problems which are affecting many schools.

“Interventions in schools must be accompanied by a clearly thought out improvement strategy which deals with all the complex reasons involved.”

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Effective procurement

We have published a guidance paper in collaboration with the DfE on effective procurement ( Expand

We have published a guidance paper in collaboration with the DfE on effective procurement (see www. ascl.org.uk/Procurement). It is designed to provide a reminder of basic procurement principles, identify strategic procurement tools and techniques, give information about purchasing frameworks and provide links to additional information on procurement.

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Strength in numbers

If you find our communications to you useful, such as Leader and the weekly email newsletter, please feel free to forward them to senior colleagues who are not ASCL members. Expand

If you find our communications to you useful, such as Leader and the weekly email newsletter, please feel free to forward them to senior colleagues who are not ASCL members. And if you think they could benefit from the same high-quality advice and first-class personal and legal support that you do, please encourage them to join our association. Inspired by a vision of excellent education for all young people, ASCL aims to be the first-choice professional body for all school, college and system leaders. Together we can achieve that vision. The more senior leaders who are members of ASCL, the stronger our voice is when working for change that benefits our education system.

There is a special introductory membership rate for anyone who joins before 31 December. Joining is quick and easy, just visit www. ascl.org.uk/offers

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Latest ASCL policy papers

We have published several new policy papers on key education issues and these are availableonline on the ASCL website at Expand

We have published several new policy papers on key education issues and these are availableonline on the ASCL website at www.ascl.org.uk/policy Below is a brief summary of each paper:

Teacher Supply and Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

ITE should be grounded in strong subject and pedagogical knowledge, developing the quality of instruction, classroom management and climate, and professional behaviours.

Calculation through agreed modelling of numbers of teachers needed in each sector and region and the promotion of the status and value of teaching as a profession is a key role for government. However, the profession also has a responsibility to be taking action to support the supply of high-quality teachers through school-led initial teacher education.

Groups of schools in the form of hard governance arrangements like multi-academy trusts (MATs), but also in soft partnership like teaching school alliances, have greater capacity to take on these system roles.

This policy paper looks at the current teacher supply and ITE system and makes several recommendations to the government and to the teaching profession in order to take this forward.

Accountability Measures

The government and public have a right to understand how effective schools and colleges are. There is a clear need for appropriate accountability mechanisms to support this. While we believe that teachers and school leaders should be driven primarily by accountability to the people they serve, government has a role in defining a slim, smart and stable public accountability framework with a small number of ambitious goals, including a nationally determined progress measure to recognise improvement.

This policy paper analyses the current accountability system and makes several recommendations to the government, the teaching profession and the inspectorate.

Inspection

Inspection is a key part of the accountability system of schools and colleges in England. The inspectorate’s primary function should be to evaluate the outcomes and assess how school leaders (including governors) account for these.

Accountability should not be confused with improvement or support. The inspectorate’s primary role is one of holding to account. Likewise, inspection should not be confused with a school’s or group of schools’ own quality-assurance mechanisms, including peer review, peer learning and peer accountability. These processes are essential in a self-improving system. The inspectorate is the essential independent check that a self-improving system is not a self-interested or self-serving one.

This policy paper analyses the current inspection system and includes several proposals for what the role of the inspectorate should be.

Curriculum and Assessment

There should be a broad, nationally defined core curriculum framework of subjects in both primary and secondary determined by an expert independent commission, which analyses the framework every five years. The commission should take account of the views of a range of stakeholders who have a legitimate interest in the core curriculum framework.

We accept that the government needs to be accountable for the outcomes of our education system, but politicians alone are not best-placed to develop the curriculum.

The principle of stability is supported by the conclusions of the expert panel for the National Curriculum review, which noted that many high-performing education systems have recently reviewed their curricula and have introduced a level of stability.

This policy paper contains several proposals for the government, the regulator and the profession.

Education Funding

The overall national education budget should be set such that all educational institutions can be funded at a level that enables them to provide an outstanding quality of education for their students. Within this overall budget, the capital allocation should be sufficient both to provide additional school places to meet the demographic demand and to ensure that the existing building stock is maintained at a good standard, including the replacement or refurbishment of substandard or unfit-forpurpose accommodation.

A National Fair Funding Formula should take into account the needs of educational institutions and their pupils. This should not be predicated on the historical way in which funding is allocated.

A fair funding formula is not about creating winners and losers – it is about sufficiency and establishing an equitable base level of funding.

This policy paper analyses the current system of education funding and makes several recommendations to both the government and the profession in order to take this forward.

Managing and Reducing Workload

Additional workload is work that teachers do for perceived and/ or unnecessary compliance processes that takes them away from the complex process of teaching and learning. This is driven by an out-of-kilter accountability culture.

We believe that through a coordinated effort, teachers’ and leaders’ workload can be managed and reduced.

This policy paper considers ways to reduce tasks that are done for unnecessary compliance processes. Where school and college leaders are under pressure to drive unnecessary or onerous workloads, ASCL urges them to adhere to this guidance and will seek to support them. This paper analyses the current system and makes several recommendations to the government, the inspectorate and the profession.

Continuous Professional Development and Learning (CPDL)

CPDL is the professional learning process that focuses on student outcomes and that staff (teachers and associate staff) undertake as a consequence of planned, differentiated and collaborative learning opportunities. Effective CPDL: 

● improves teaching and learning and is outcomes and impact focused

● is well-led and planned

● is evidence-informed and involves evidence-creation

● is a collaborative endeavour, sustained over a period of time, with expert input or facilitation

● includes leadership development

This policy paper analyses the current system of CPDL and makes several proposals for the government and the teaching profession.

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Another successful conference for business leaders

It was great to see many of you at our Conference for Business Leaders in June. Expand

It was great to see many of you at our Conference for Business Leaders in June.

A preliminary review of the evaluation forms confirms the excellent verbal feedback we received on the day with some really positive comments about the extension to the range and scope of the content.

For those who weren’t able to join us, the conference downloads are available on our website at www.ascl.org.uk/bldownload

Our inspirational speaker this year, Bonita Norris, held the audience spellbound as she shared the story of her incredible achievement in being the youngest British woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 2010. Many of the challenges she highlighted resonated with the audience in terms of the ongoing challenges faced by the profession, particularly the financial hurdles to fund her expedition.

This is your conference, and, for many, an important part of your annual continuing professional development (CPD), so we’re keen to involve you in the planning process to make sure the event is tailored as closely to your needs as possible. If you would like to be a part of a small consultative group to discuss the planning for next year, please email our Business Leadership Specialist Val Andrew at val.andrew@ascl.org.uk

Looking ahead to 2016

We’ve already set the date for next year’s conference. It is taking place on Thursday 9 June 2016 in Birmingham. Don’t forget to put the date in your diaries and watch out for early bird booking discounts in the autumn.

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Informal settlements warning

Holding hearings is never pleasant but sometimes not holding them can lead to complications that are even more time-consuming and costly. Expand

Holding hearings is never pleasant but sometimes not holding them can lead to complications that are even more time-consuming and costly. In a recent case, an employer had a clear policy on communications use: ‘Corporate email accounts, internet, IDs, and web pages should not be used for anything other than corporate sanctioned communications, for example no jokes, cartoons, chain letters are allowed.’ Unfortunately, its employees continued to send, for example, nude pictures and other inappropriate messages around the company.

One particular employee was a serial offender and ignored reminders of the rules. When the company finally decided to take action, he was given a final warning on a completely different matter. He was dismissed. In the employment tribunal it transpired that when he had been given the final warning he had not appealed even though he felt it was unfair. He claimed that he had been advised by a manager that ‘it would pay him to forget the whole thing and move on’ and that was why he did not appeal the warning. The manager who had given the warning was, he claimed, implicated in the offence himself.

The Court of Appeal took the view that a final warning that is not given in good faith cannot be relied on. The attempt to smooth over the problem has created more problems and more legal costs. It can be tempting to try to settle things informally, but the long-term implications need to be considered.

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New General Secretary for SLS

Jim Thewliss, former President of Schools Leaders Scotland ( Expand

Jim Thewliss, former President of Schools Leaders Scotland (SLS) and current Headteacher of Harris Academy, has been appointed as the new SLS General Secretary. Jim will take over the post from current General Secretary Ken Cunningham CBE in August. Welcoming the news, Ken said, “I am confident that Jim is an excellent choice for SLS.”

See more information about SLS online at www. sls-scotland.org.uk

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New General Secretary for PPC

Sir GeoffHall, a leading figure in further education, has been appointed as General Secretary of the Principals’ Professional Council ( Expand

Sir GeoffHall, a leading figure in further education, has been appointed as General Secretary of the Principals’ Professional Council (PPC), which is affiliated to ASCL. He took over from Nick Lewis, who served as PPC General Secretary for the past four years, in May. Sir Geoff was Principal and Chief Executive Officer of New College Nottingham. He was knighted for services to further education in 2012.

Sir Geoff said, “There are a number of major issues for the FE sector at this time. One of these is coping with the incredibly challenging financial circumstances facing colleges and how this will be approached by government and the sector over the next five years.

“The PPC has an important role to play in helping to ensure the success of colleges. We have many excellent and experienced principals who can support newer principals.

“I am looking forward to getting on with this new role and working with colleagues to meet these challenges.”

See more information about the PPC online at www.ascl.org.uk/PPC

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Inexperience unsettles proceedings

Medical cases are often applicable to schools and colleges, once one allows for the differences. Expand

Medical cases are often applicable to schools and colleges, once one allows for the differences. The case of Thompson v Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust highlights the importance of training and experience for governors and heads in the legal principles they need to observe in order to ensure fair outcomes. The issue was the inexperience of the chair of a disciplinary body. The chair did not understand the basic principle that he could not aggregate a number of serious misconduct cases to constitute a charge of gross misconduct.

The claimant was accused of bullying and claimed that her dyslexia made her more likely to behave in this way and that the Trust should have made reasonable adjustments for her. That part of her case was dismissed at tribunal.

However, the failures of the chair were serious enough to allow her to succeed in her unfair dismissal claim. ‘It was unreasonable to assign a doctor who, although of the right level, did not appear to have any training or experience in conducting such hearings to conduct and decide the outcome of the claimant’s disciplinary hearing. He misapplied the respondent’s disciplinary procedure to the detriment of the claimant.’

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Testing the ‘professionals’

For years, the legal test of a professional’s liability has been what other professionals would do. Expand

For years, the legal test of a professional’s liability has been what other professionals would do. This is the ‘Bolam’ test, named after the case of Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee. In the case of a school failing to deal with dyslexia, for example, it would be a matter of whether the school’s response was in line with the practice of the profession. In the group of cases known as Phelps, the duty was phrased, ‘If it comes to the attention of the headmaster [sic] that a pupil is underperforming, he does owe a duty to take such steps as a reasonable teacher would consider appropriate to try to deal with such underperformance.’

The Supreme Court has recently made a decision in a medical case about informed consent (Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board), which replaced ‘what other doctors do’ with a straightforward duty of ‘reasonable care’ to be decided by the court. Medical cases do not always transfer easily to other contexts and this decision was very context dependent. But the basis of it was that where a professional is looking after someone else, then the relationship cannot be absolutely one of professional judgement. In this case, the obstetrician did not inform a diabetic woman of the possible dangers of having a child naturally because, if she did tell diabetics that, then “everyone would ask for a caesarean section, and it’s not in the maternal interest for women to have caesarean sections”.

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Uniformity urged for uniforms

Hard on the heels of a recommendation to independent schools by Elly Barnes, CEO of Educate and Celebrate, which campaigns against discrimination in schools, that independent schools should adopt gender-free uniforms in order to avoid creating difficulties for transgender pupils, comes the news that some publicly funded schools are banning skirts for girls. Expand

Hard on the heels of a recommendation to independent schools by Elly Barnes, CEO of Educate and Celebrate, which campaigns against discrimination in schools, that independent schools should adopt gender-free uniforms in order to avoid creating difficulties for transgender pupils, comes the news that some publicly funded schools are banning skirts for girls. Ms Barnes was a speaker at a Boarding Schools Association conference where she gave advice on how schools could be more ‘LGBT friendly’.

Schools do have an absolute right to enforce the ethos of their school by imposing a uniform as long as it does not breach the equality laws and, if it does, does so for a legitimate purpose and is no more than is necessary to achieve that purpose. It is also important to remember that Sikh and Jewish dress is considered a matter of ethnicity and therefore is different to Muslim or Christian prescriptions, which are considered a matter of religion or belief.

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Guidance

Leader contains general guidance on the law. Expand

Leader contains general guidance on the law. If you have a specific legal issue, we recommend that you seek advice from a qualified legal professional.

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Violent game control?

It is not illegal to play violent video games or to allow children to play them, yet, and children do. Expand

It is not illegal to play violent video games or to allow children to play them, yet, and children do. Even allowing for the inaccuracies inherent in self-reporting, the statistic that 63 per cent of 11-13 year-olds claim to have played an 18+ game (with a higher percentage of boys than girls) seems significant.

So, it was a bold step for 16 Cheshire schools to warn parents that they may be reported if it came to a schools’ knowledge that they had allowed their children to play them. The legal basis is the duty of schools to cooperate to prevent children from suffering harm or neglect. It will be of wide interest to know how this plays out.

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Ignorance of the law

When a local authority ( Expand

When a local authority (LA) sets up an outsourcing organisation to provide services, one of which is literacy support during school hours, you would expect it to take legal advice on how to operate. The failure to do this means that Croydon LA is now paying back about £50,000 to parents of children who had made enough progress for their schools to consider that they no longer needed additional support but whose parents wished them to continue to receive it. They were charged for that support: illegally, because the default legal position is that any activity in school hours is free. Trusts in particular need to be careful when setting up ‘innovative’ arrangements as a number of unfortunate cases show.

The principle that schools are responsible for activities in school hours also applies to liability for negligence. In the Woodland case, the Supreme Court decided that any activity that was core to a school’s work, placed a non-delegable responsibility on that school. The LA (for the school) was judged liable for one-third of the payment to the child who was brain damaged during the swimming lesson. The lifeguard to whom the authority had contracted out safety and who failed to see the child floating beneath the surface of the pool was judged to be liable for a third. The uninsured swimming teacher to whom the local authority had contracted out swimming lessons was similarly judged to be a third liable.

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Unsuitable ‘wearables’

A leading law firm recently raised the issue of tattoos in the workplace. Expand

A leading law firm recently raised the issue of tattoos in the workplace. Most tattoos are harmless and, at worst, are an aesthetic outrage. Some tattoos, however, can be offensive. If they create a ‘humiliating or offensive environment’ to other employees because those employees belong to a protected category, then they can constitute discriminatory harassment. In most cases, the matter is simply dealt with by an instruction to cover up, but, in some circumstances, it may be reasonable to dismiss.

As schools approach the ‘prom’ season, they may also be interested to note that in New York a school has banned certain ‘unsuitable’ slit and backless prom dresses. It had thoughtfully taken the precaution of extracting a ‘prom contract’ from all pupils hoping to attend, which gave them the power to do this.

A university has shown how up to the mark it is with technology and smart watches by banning watches from examinations unless they are placed on the exam desk in a clear plastic bag.

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Tracking the perfect work/ life balance

The infiltration of work into leisure was starkly shown up in a US case where a worker had been dismissed for deleting an app that showed where he was and whether he was working. Expand

The infiltration of work into leisure was starkly shown up in a US case where a worker had been dismissed for deleting an app that showed where he was and whether he was working. The ‘Spy in the Cab’ and ‘Find My Friends’ apps are familiar to many but perhaps this is a wake-up call. Just because it is possible to send an email to a colleague on a Sunday morning does not mean that it is the act of a reasonable employer to expect him or her to respond before Monday morning.

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New ASCL partner

ASCL is pleased to announce its new partnership with Unifrog, an online platform that connects students to courses and apprenticeships, while allowing teachers to track their progress. Expand

ASCL is pleased to announce its new partnership with Unifrog, an online platform that connects students to courses and apprenticeships, while allowing teachers to track their progress. Unifrog enables students to compare every university course, apprenticeship and further education (FE) course in the UK.

Laura Richardson, Head of Year 13 at Oaks Park School, said, “We have found Unifrog invaluable for students and staffalike. As head of year, it helps me to know what avenues students are considering once they leave school.”

The platform aims to help increase access to Russell Group universities, reduce the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and provide a solid careers guidance audit trail for Ofsted. In so doing, it helps schools to fulfil their statutory duty to provide independent information on students’ full range of options.

Founder and ex-teacher Alex Kelly says the platform is not designed to ‘replace’ offine advice. “Our real USP [unique selling point] is helping form tutors (who know their students best) to give expert advice by putting a wealth of up-to-date information at the fingertips of students, teachers and parents.”

If you’d like a visit to examine the platform at first hand, contact Alex at alex@unifrog. org Schools with an ASCL member are entitled to a 10 per cent discount on subscriptions until the end of the academic year, and 7.5 per cent thereafter. For more information, see www.unifrog.org

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LEADING READING