April 2017

NEWS AND GUIDANCE

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News and guidance

In the news

ASCL has been quoted widely in the media over the recent period on a range of issues. Expand

ASCL has been quoted widely in the media over the recent period on a range of issues.

We said that a report by the House of Commons Education Committee on teacher shortages showed the need for the government to work with the profession to develop a wide-ranging strategy to improve recruitment and retention. Our comments were reported on the BBC News website, TES and Schools Week and on a large number of local newspaper websites. Interim General Secretary Malcolm Trobe was interviewed on BBC News and Director of Policy Leora Cruddas was interviewed on the same subject on Talk Radio.

Malcolm also appeared on BBC Breakfast for an interview in which he explained the scale and severity of the national shortage of teachers. He was asked about the government’s plans for an international recruitment drive for 50 maths and physics teachers. He said that it was good that the government was taking some action but that the target of 50 teachers would have very limited impact. The government needed an overarching strategy to deal with this problem. He was also quoted in The Sun, Daily Mail, The Independent and iNews, and he was interviewed on Talk Radio.

Malcolm also wrote an article for TES in which he highlighted the teacher supply crisis and called on the government to work with the profession to develop a comprehensive career strategy.

ASCL President Sian Carr appeared on BBC One national news bulletins on the issue of term-time holidays. She explained the impact that periods of absence can have on the performance of pupils. Chair of ASCL Council’s Funding Committee David Waugh was interviewed on BBC Points West on school funding. He said that the level of funding in the education system was not sufficient and explained the impact on schools.

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What would you cut?

Education funding is at breaking point because of rising costs and flat cash. Expand

Education funding is at breaking point because of rising costs and flat cash. ASCL is very concerned that the life chances of children and young people are being put at risk.

Following an idea from the East Cheshire Heads group, we launched the #whatwouldyoucut campaign on Sunday 5 March, just days before the ASCL Annual Conference, asking leaders to share photographs on Twitter of the great activities that go on every day in their schools and colleges around the country, and pose the question: what would you cut?

The campaign launch generated tens of thousands of tweets and schools and colleges across the country shared thousands of pictures showing a range of fantastic activities that they provide for their pupils with the hashtag #whatwouldyoucut. The aim of the campaign is to show politicians and the public the impossible choices that leaders must make to cut a total of £3 billion from their budgets by 2020 (see the National Audit Office report https://tinyurl.com/hvnxz8m).

The tweets included pictures of science experiments, music and performing arts events, technology workshops, sports activities, and school trips.

Please continue to tweet*, using the hashtag #whatwouldyoucut

To see the campaign tweets search on the campaign hashtag #whatwouldyoucut

Your help and support is vital in raising awareness of just what is at risk – we must make a stand now for the education of our children and young people.

In addition

Contact your MP

Either individually, or collectively as school and college leaders, write to your MP emphasising the issues as they impact on your school(s) and college(s). It is important to individualise these communications and highlight the impact on your pupils.

There are two separate issues that must be addressed:

  1. the size of the funding cake, and
  2. the way it is cut up

Here are some suggestions to make the most impact with your local MP:

Request a meeting to discuss your concerns and the impact that the lack of funding is having on the young people in their constituency. Urge your MP to seek meetings with ministers to discuss the impact of the funding crisis. If you lead a school with a sixth form, it will be important to also stress the totally inadequate levels of funding for 11–19 year-olds.

Get your school governing body to write similarly to the MP.

Ask your MP to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Education on your behalf, indicating the impact.

Raise your concerns through the local media, whenever possible as a group of schools or colleges.

Thank you for your support.

If you need any further information about this campaign, please see www.ascl.org.uk/whatwouldyoucut

* Please only use images for which you have appropriate permission, and which adhere to safeguarding responsibilities.

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ASCL Influence

At its meeting in Burton in February, ASCL Council discussed and debated a number of key education issues and Council members agreed position statements including: Expand

At its meeting in Burton in February, ASCL Council discussed and debated a number of key education issues and Council members agreed position statements including:

National funding formula

ASCL welcomes the reaffirmed commitment of government to establish a fair and transparent formula for distribution of school funding.

ASCL believes that the proposed NFF structure will not allow for all children to reach their full potential because the basic per pupil funding values are too low. There remains a significant unfairness of distribution.

ASCL continues to require a NFF which establishes immediate and ongoing sufficiency, transparency and fairness in school funding which will allow certainty and stability in long-term financial planning.

Section 8 inspections converting to section 5

We welcome that there is consideration of the effectiveness of section 8 inspections converting to section 5, especially in ensuring that all inspectors are fully briefed when joining at the section 5 conversion stage. However, we urge Ofsted to communicate proposals for pilot inspections in an open and transparent manner to all schools before embarking on these and then undertake a full review, with feedback from schools, before this becomes the norm.

Special Measures

ASCL is concerned that schools could become ‘stuck in special measures’ if they are subject to an academy order which is unfilled for some time, e.g. for financial reasons. We urge Ofsted to maintain timely, supported monitoring of all schools in special measures.

PSHE and SRE

Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, including sex and relationships education (SRE), is an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education. PSHE (including SRE) should be a statutory, but not prescriptive, part of children’s learning.

To allow schools the flexibility to deliver high-quality PSHE and SRE which meets the needs of their communities, we consider it unnecessary for the government to provide standardised frameworks or programmes of study.

(On 1 March 2017, Education Secretary Justine Greening announced plans to make relationships and sex education statutory. In response, we published a comment welcoming the announcement but we also urged ministers against being too prescriptive.)

Apprenticeship Levy

ASCL welcomes the government’s commitment to supporting young people to get the best start in life, through the opportunity that high-quality education and training provides. However, ASCL believes that the Apprenticeship Levy does not represent value for money for schools and we require the DfE to ensure that it does not result in diverting money away from the education of young people.

SEND

ASCL believes that:

  • Every teacher is a teacher of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
  • Every leader is a leader of SEND.
  • There needs to be a greater investment in the development of SEND Continuous Professional Development and Learning (CPDL) that focuses on the expectation of all staff having a basic understanding of the key skills and knowledge necessary to ensure that every teacher is a teacher of SEND. This needs to be supported by the positioning of SEND at the heart of school leadership and not seeing it as the exclusive preserve of the special educational needs coordinator (SENCo).

Other areas of influence

Qualifications Wales Heads Reference Group

ASCL Cymru Director, Tim Pratt, wrote to Philip Blaker, CEO of Qualifications Wales with a series of concerns about quality of marking, the remarking process and changes to specifications. He suggested that Qualifications Wales sets up an advisory or reference group as part of the solution.

The Head of External Relations has invited Tim to discuss the possibility of setting up a heads/deputy reference group “to test out ideas, act as a sounding board for new developments, decisions etc.”

Opportunity Areas

ASCL has brought together a broad alliance of organisations that support the education improvement and social mobility aims of opportunity areas (OAs). This includes several of the country’s leading multi-academy trusts (MATs), supported by ASCL, the Careers & Enterprise Company, Ambition School Leadership and Teach First.

We believe that our alliance can support strategic leadership of, and delivery in the opportunity areas and we will share more details of our work on this soon.

Children and Young People’s Mental Health

The House of Common’s Health and Education Select Committees announced that they are launching a short inquiry focusing on the capacity of schools, colleges and other educational settings in prevention and early intervention, including how teachers and other professionals can be trained to recognise the signs of mental illness and support pupils when problems occur.

This is a direct response to a ministerial roundtable attended by Anna Cole, ASCL Parliamentary Specialist, with Minister for Education Edward Timpson. Anna talked persuasively about the lack of join-up between health services and schools. This has been a consistent line that we have held over the last year.

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New General Secretary

Following our election campaign, Geoff Barton has been elected as ASCL General Secretary. Expand

Following our election campaign, Geoff Barton has been elected as ASCL General Secretary. Geoff will start in the post on Tuesday 18 April 2017 and, until then, will be ASCL General Secretary Designate. Malcolm Trobe will continue to lead ASCL as Interim General Secretary ahead of 18 April and, after that date, will support the induction of the new General Secretary until the end of August.

Geoff Barton, ASCL General Secretary Designate, said: “I feel privileged to have been elected as General Secretary of ASCL. Thank you very much for the many messages of support received from members across the wide variety of schools, colleges and academies that our Association represents. I will serve you with principle, passion and pride.

“These are turbulent times. But they are also times of huge opportunity in which the realities of true system leadership can be brought to fruition. I am determined to continue ASCL’s strong reputation for supporting members, for articulating your views, and for celebrating the joys of educational leadership whilst addressing its challenges. Working with the full ASCL team, I will ensure that we continue to wield positive influence at a national level.

“I look forward hugely to taking up post in April, to working with you, and to harnessing our common purpose of enabling all young people – irrespective of background – to benefit from the best educational opportunities we can provide. “Thank you for the trust you have invested in me as your new General Secretary.”

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Updated Legal and Member Support Policy

An updated version of ASCL’s Legal and Member Support Policy is now available ( Expand

An updated version of ASCL’s Legal and Member Support Policy is now available (www.ascl.org.uk/legalpolicy). The policy explains how ASCL offers legal support to its members. Many people progress through their professional careers without ever needing to access such advice but it is very important for members to know what support will be available should they require it. ASCL has a dedicated team of member support staff, including experienced hotline advisers, regional and field officers and specialist in-house solicitors who support ASCL members with issues arising in connection with their employment.

It is always best if members ring for advice sooner rather than later. Many situations benefit from a discussion early on and prompt action can often help to prevent future difficulties arising.

If you need support, please call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122.

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Online joining

ASCL’s new, online joining system has been launched and provides a convenient and time-saving option for new members to join the organisation. Expand

ASCL’s new, online joining system has been launched and provides a convenient and time-saving option for new members to join the organisation. With the many challenges currently facing the education sector, it is now more important than ever for senior leaders to protect their professional future. Please encourage colleagues, particularly those new to your leadership team, to view our membership information pages on our website www.ascl.org.uk/join-ascl

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Online safety

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety Education Group has developed guidance for school governors to help governing boards support their school leaders to keep children safe online ( Expand

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety Education Group has developed guidance for school governors to help governing boards support their school leaders to keep children safe online (https://tinyurl.com/lvx5y79).

Governors can use it to: gain a basic understanding of the school’s current approach to keeping children safe online, learn how to improve this approach where appropriate and find out about tools that can be used to improve the approach. The document includes examples of good and outstanding practice, as well as identifying when governors should be concerned.

This guidance is non-statutory and should be read alongside the DfE’s Keeping Children Safe in Education Statutory Guidance (https://tinyurl.com/p9cxb7e).

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Performance measures

ASCL has warned the government and regulators that no performance measure provides a complete picture of a school. Expand

ASCL has warned the government and regulators that no performance measure provides a complete picture of a school.

ASCL Deputy Director of Policy Duncan Baldwin has been working on your behalf with the DfE to make sure that the new Progress 8 (P8) performance measure is fit for purpose and is understood in the context of a range of data about a school.

Our position is that while Progress 8 is a better measure than the 5A*–CEM threshold measure, it is not perfect. Its greatest strength is that the grades of every pupil count. The old system put schools under intense pressure to get as many pupils as possible over the C/D borderline. Progress 8 takes into account the grades of every child, not only those who are capable of achieving C grades.

Ironically, however, this has also proved to be its greatest weakness. A school’s Progress 8 score is an average of all its pupils’ scores. Therefore, if a small number of pupils miss exams because of personal crises in their lives or serious illness, and therefore have significant negative scores, it can have a disproportionate effect on the school’s overall score. ASCL is aware of schools where this has happened and the issue has been raised by several headteachers at conferences we have held around the country.

Duncan has been reviewing the impact on schools of the Progress 8 measure and is working with the DfE to improve the urgent serious issues. These are:

  • how to fairly account for the pupils described above who miss all or most of their exams and have a disproportionate effect on Progress 8
  • ensuring that the qualifications landscape is neutral; if particular qualifications are out of kilter with others, this impacts on schools who have chosen not to do them
  • the use of confidence intervals that are intended to protect small schools from the inherent volatility of pupils’ exam results, but that don’t do this in practice. Their use has also added confusion rather than clarity to the performance tables P8 categories.

ASCL continues to press for a better set of headline accountability measures overall, especially regarding the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) measure. As it stands, this measure adds little extra information to stakeholders, is an out-of-date threshold measure that is meaningless over time because of qualification reforms and does not recognise partial success, which is particularly relevant when considering the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils.

Duncan wrote an article for secondary school magazine SecEd about Progress 8 https://tinyurl.com/zm4ty67, and Interim General Secretary Malcolm Trobe wrote an article that was published on the TES website https://tinyurl.com/ztu9nax

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Making best use of teaching assistants

Evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation ( Expand

Evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has shown that when Teaching Assistants (TAs) are trained to deliver structured one-on-one or small-group interventions, they typically add three to four additional months of educational progress for struggling pupils, compared with more standard ways of using TAs.

In order to support the best use of teaching assistants, EEF has partnered with the TES to create an online course with practical examples of how to implement the recommendations, as well as interviews with headteachers who have changed the way they use TAs and step-by-step guidance. The course is hosted on the EEF website, is completely free and consists of text, video, curated links and downloadable documents. See here to get started https://tinyurl.com/j8f34nf

Using TAs to deliver high-quality, structured interventions is one of the main recommendations from their campaign. Alongside the course, they have created a free pack of resources (https://tinyurl.com/gnb65ec).

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Exclusion charges explained

There have been a number of cases where local authorities ( Expand

There have been a number of cases where local authorities (LAs) have imposed charges on maintained schools and academies for permanently excluding pupils. These amounts vary from authority to authority but can reach up to £9,000 per pupil and are in addition to any fine that can be imposed by the Independent Review Panel (IRP).

LAs have a statutory duty to make provision for excluded pupils as confirmed by the Education Act 1996. However, school funding legislation does permit the transfer of funds from excluding schools to LAs following a permanent exclusion. Those regulations will also apply to academies by virtue of the funding agreement with the DfE and the requirement to enter into an exclusions agreement with the LA if requested. The agreement must reflect the transfer of funding as set out in the regulations.

The regulations are the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2015. Regulation 23 sets out how the calculation of funds, to follow the permanently excluded pupil, must be determined and is based on A x (B/52) + C where:

  • A is the age-weighted pupil unit (AWPU) for the pupil in that area.
  • B is the weeks remaining in that funding period.
  • C is the financial re-adjustment order made by an Independent Review Panel under the School Discipline Regulations 2012 (as set out in regulation 23(15) of the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2015).

There is no power for the LA to increase the transfer of funds beyond this level whether through an ‘exclusions agreement’ or otherwise. The transfer of funds must be based on this calculation alone and, therefore, unless the IRP decision includes a fine to the excluding school, the level of funding to be transferred cannot exceed the funding that the excluding school originally received for the pupil.

This position is further clarified by guidance from the DfE on high-needs funding, which states in paragraph 42: “The local authority cannot require a maintained school or academy to make any additional payments following a permanent exclusion, other than those set out in regulations.”

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New and updated ASCL Guidance Papers

This guidance paper is relevant to school and college leaders in England, as well as staff with a responsibility for maintaining the Single Central Record ( Expand

New guidance
Inspection, SIMS and the Single Central Record

This guidance paper is relevant to school and college leaders in England, as well as staff with a responsibility for maintaining the Single Central Record (SCR).

The guidance aims to assist schools and colleges consider how they meet the statutory requirements relating to recording checks on staff and others, and how they might provide the necessary evidence required when their school or college is inspected. ASCL has worked with Capita to produce this guidance. The paper provides more detailed information on the following:

  • What should be included in the SCR?
  • Using SIMS to create the SCR
  • Training
  • Producing the SCR

Download the guidance online www.ascl.org.uk/insp-sims-scr

Updated guidance
Understanding and Interpreting the 2016 Key Stage 2 Results

On 15 December 2016, the DfE published the final Key Stage 2 results (https://tinyurl.com/ hpp5tnr). The 2016 assessments (commonly known as SATs), were significantly different from previous years. This guidance paper is intended to help school leaders to understand these results, the context in which they exist and what they might mean for both primary and secondary schools. This guidance looks in more detail at the following:

  • How had the assessments changed?
  • Headline results 2016: what we can learn and what they mean for primary and secondary schools
  • What should school leaders do with these results?
  • Using KS2 data as an input measure for secondary schools

Download the guidance online www.ascl.org.uk/2016KS2results

Updated guidance
Setting Pay for School Business Leaders

This paper aims to provide guidance to senior leaders and governors in all types of educational settings to support the evaluation and decisionmaking about pay for school business leaders and school business managers, and other school leaders who carry out business-related functions.

ASCL is committed to a system of national pay and conditions and will continue to appeal for a system that treats all leadership practitioners equitably.

In the meantime, this paper encourages a more consistent and equitable approach to the process of assessing levels of responsibility, which then helps to inform decisions about remuneration for school business leaders and school business managers.

Download the guidance online www.ascl.org.uk/setting-pay

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Web fraudsters target UK schools

Action Fraud, the UK’s cybercrime and fraud-reporting centre, has warned that fraudsters are targeting UK schools and demanding payments to unlock data they have encrypted with malware. Expand

Action Fraud, the UK’s cybercrime and fraud-reporting centre, has warned that fraudsters are targeting UK schools and demanding payments to unlock data they have encrypted with malware. The online criminals are initially cold-calling schools, claiming to be from the DfE and then, once they have email addresses, they forward documents that include file-freezing malware.

UK police issued a warning, urging educational establishments to be vigilant. Tim Smith, partner and Head of Vyber at insurance law and risk firm BLM, said that schools were “low-hanging fruit” for criminals, as they were often ill equipped to spot cyber fraud. Security Consultant Graham Cluley said that schools, as well as always being on the lookout for suspicious emails and keeping security software up to date, should also regularly back up critical data. The Telegraph notes that one in three universities in the UK faces cyber-attacks on an hourly basis, according to research published last year.

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Pilot changes to short inspections

Ofsted is currently trialling changes to the way that section 8 short inspections are converted to section 5 full inspections. Expand

Ofsted is currently trialling changes to the way that section 8 short inspections are converted to section 5 full inspections. It is important to emphasise that these do not alter the Common Inspection Framework and fall within the existing outlined parameters. It is also essential to understand that these changes only apply to section 8 short inspections that convert to section 5 full inspections.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director of Education, outlines these changes and the reason for the changes in a blog https://tinyurl.com/ z6pcjof However, it should be noted that there might be differences in how the handover to a full inspection takes place.

There are three principle models (although Ofsted indicates that it is possible that Ofsted’s Regional Directors might trial slight alterations):

  1. The short inspection lead Ofsted inspector stays on and leads the full inspection.
  2. The short inspection lead Ofsted inspector hands over to an HMI, who comes on site the day after the short inspection and goes straight into the full inspection, following a brief meeting with the short inspection lead Ofsted inspector.
  3. The short inspection lead Ofsted inspector hands over to an HMI and they meet off site on the day after the short inspection to plan. The lead HMI completes the full inspection the next day depending on the size of the school.

ASCL welcomes that there is consideration of the effectiveness of section 8 inspections converting to section 5, especially in ensuring that all inspectors are fully briefed when joining at the section 5 conversion stage. However, we urge Ofsted to communicate proposals for pilot inspections in an open and transparent manner to all schools before they commence, and then undertake a full review with feedback from schools before this becomes the norm.

ASCL is interested in receiving feedback from members who experience inspections undertaken during these trials. Please contact Stephen Rollett, ASCL’s Inspections and Accountability Specialist (stephen.rollett@ascl.org.uk), if there is any information you wish to share.

Further information on the pilot changes is available on the ASCL website www.ascl.org.uk/section8-inspection

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Governance updates

In January, the DfE issued a new Governance Handbook and, for the first time, published an accompanying Competency Framework for Governance, which the department says: Expand

In January, the DfE issued a new Governance Handbook and, for the first time, published an accompanying Competency Framework for Governance, which the department says: “Sets out the skills, knowledge and behaviours that school and academy governing boards need to be effective” (see https://tinyurl.com/zxnwsxx).

The changes to the Governance Handbook are signposted on pages 7 and 8 of the handbook. Of particular note are the updates about the DfE’s expectations of governing boards, including:

  • The DfE believes that smaller boards are more likely to be cohesive and dynamic and able to act more decisively.
  • The membership of the board should focus on skills, and boards should develop a skills-based set of recruitment criteria.
  • There should be a member of the board (or a committee) with specific oversight of the school’s arrangements for special educational needs and disability (SEND) and at least one individual with specific, relevant skills and experience of financial matters.
  • Parents who are trustees/ governors play an important role and have valuable knowledge and perspectives about the school to bring to bear in discussions. l Boards should ensure that the expectations and credentials of prospective candidates are made clear when conducting staff and parent elections.
  • Trustees/governors are not in post to lobby for the interests of the constituency from which they may have been elected or appointed.
  • Boards should be alert to the risk of becoming dominated by one particular mindset or strand of opinion, whether related to faith or otherwise.

The competency framework is built around the six key features of effective governance: strategic leadership, accountability, people, structures, compliance, and evaluation. A list of knowledge, skills and effective behaviours relating to 16 competencies is provided that everyone on the board is expected to demonstrate. There are additional knowledge, skills and effective behaviours for chairs. There are further knowledge, skills and effective behaviours that must be demonstrated by at least one person on the board. These cover specific knowledge on SEND, safeguarding, health and safety, data analysis, finance, and human resources.

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Do we have your correct details?

To make sure you don’t miss out on the latest information, please take a minute to tell us of any change in job title, school/college address, home address and email. Expand

To make sure you don’t miss out on the latest information, please take a minute to tell us of any change in job title, school/college address, home address and email. You can do this online; simply log on to www.ascl.org.uk using your password and then click on ‘edit your details’ (in the gold ‘my account’ box on the left-hand side) and update your details. If you have moved to a new school/college or have a new position, please email membership@ascl.org.uk

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Notes on guidance

Leader contains general guidance on the law that has been supplied by our partners Browne Jacobson LLP. Expand

Leader contains general guidance on the law that has been supplied by our partners Browne Jacobson LLP. If you have a specific legal issue relating to your role as an employer, we recommend that you seek advice from a qualified legal professional. Members can also call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122 with respect to legal issues relating specifically to their own employment.

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Reforms to Data Protection Act

From 25 May 2018, the Data Protection Act ( Expand

From 25 May 2018, the Data Protection Act (DPA) will be completely replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These new EU regulations are intended to strengthen and unify the safety and security of all data held within an organisation.

Under the DPA, schools and colleges have a duty of care to ensure that the data they have is kept safe and secure but the GDPR will fundamentally change the way organisations, including schools and colleges, manage data and information and will bring increased responsibility to ensure all data is managed in the right way. A clearly defined e-safety policy is vital to ensure that all key stakeholders know what they need to do to remain compliant of the GDPR.

ASCL is in discussion with the DfE about the implications for schools and colleges and the provision of more detailed and specific guidance for them. For more information about this issue, see the ASCL website www.ascl.org.uk/reforms-dp

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Public sector fluency duty

On 21 November 2016, Part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016 came into force, requiring public authorities ( Expand

On 21 November 2016, Part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016 came into force, requiring public authorities (including schools and academies) to ensure that any person who works for them in a customer-facing role speaks fluent English (the fluency duty). The accompanying Code of Practice came into force on 22 December 2016.

The fluency duty applies to those persons working in roles that have, as a regular and intrinsic part of that role, a requirement to speak to members of the public in English. This could be in face-to-face discussions or over the telephone. The act only imposes an obligation of fluency; the code clarifies, however, that the standard required will vary depending on the nature of the role. The code does not propose that a formal test would always be required and states that public authorities should be prepared to accept a range of evidence of spoken English language ability.

Under the act, public authorities must operate an adequate procedure for enabling complaints to be made in respect of breaches of the fluency duty, and for dealing with such complaints. As this is limited purely to fluency, complaints about an individual’s accent, dialect, manner or tone of communication, origin or nationality would not be legitimate complaints and should be excluded from the scope of any complaints procedure. Persons who are the subject of such a complaint should be notified and given an opportunity to give their own account of the facts leading to the complaint. Where a complaint is made and upheld, the public authority must consider what steps can be taken to meet the fluency duty.

Where the fluency duty is not being met, public authorities should implement measures to support those individuals to meet the necessary standards. This would include considering training. The code suggests that such training should be paid for by the public authority, with the individual being allowed to undertake the training during their working hours. Where the standards are still not being met, redeployment or adjustments to the role to remove or lessen the public-facing aspects should be considered. Dismissal should only be considered as a last resort.

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MATs and admissions

With many multi-academy trusts ( Expand

With many multi-academy trusts (MATs) now consisting of primary and secondary schools, some of them are considering whether the MAT secondary schools are able to give priority to the MAT primary schools when it comes to admissions and, if so, in what circumstances. The November 2016 Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) decision on Rivers Academy gives us some strong pointers (https://tinyurl.com/jbhyt73).

The determination stated that, as a matter of principle, there is nothing inherently unreasonable about a secondary school within a MAT naming primary schools within the same MAT as feeder schools. To avoid the OSA upholding an objection, there are a few points that MATs should consider before consulting on such a change.

The key issues to manage are whether the proposed admission criteria have clarity and are made on reasonable grounds and whether any disadvantage suffered by another party as a result of the proposed criteria is outweighed by the advantages to others. In considering both reasonableness and disadvantage, the determination in Rivers Academy focused on:

  • parental expectation
  • the distance between the proposed feeder primary and the secondary as compared to the distance from the existing feeder primary and the secondary
  • the various Published Admission Numbers (PANs) of the schools to ascertain the number of secondary places likely to be taken by the proposed feeders

The Rivers Academy determination is a little on the complex side and while we are able to pull out the themes for consideration noted above, what the determination does not do is set down clear criteria or principles to which MATs could adhere when changing their approach to admissions to favour their own primary schools.

If MATs opt to change their criteria in this way, then whether or not the proposed admission criteria is deemed fair if challenged is likely to depend upon each set of circumstances and the impact that the proposed criteria would have on other schools and pupils in the area. The Rivers Academy determination has made it clear that MATs can favour their own primary schools, but the challenge will be doing so with reasonableness and without excessive disadvantage to others.

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