2019 Autumn Term 1

The know zone

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  • Just the job?
    ASCL Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell shares advice on how to avoid any pitfalls when changing jobs and moving to another school. More
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ASCL Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell shares advice on how to avoid any pitfalls when changing jobs and moving to another school.

Just the job?

Since the onset of the Academies Programme in England, the days of everyone working for a local authority school with model policies and a standard contract of employment in line with the Burgundy Book (for teachers), School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) and Green Book (for support staff) are long gone. Prior to this, there were approximately 170 employers in England and there are now in the region of 3,000.

Many employers adopt all the above agreements and agree to honour them for staff who transfer from local authority schools to academies under TUPE arrangements (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations) and for any new staff joining them post-conversion. However, some only honour them for staff with TUPE protection and then also implement changes further down the line. New staff joining the academy or trust may well be subject to new terms and conditions. ASCL’s position is that employers should adopt the STPCD and Green/Burgundy books as a minimum entitlement.

It is important that if you are making the move from a maintained school, or from one academy trust to another, you check your contract and the content of any relevant policies before you accept, or maybe even apply for a role. Policies that may be of interest are Pay Policy, Performance Management, Absence Management Policy, and Special Leave Policy.

Check your contract

In a contract, things to look out for are:

  • Is there a probationary period?
  • Working hours – for teachers – is this still the 1,265 hours as per STPCD? 
  • Are there set working patterns that must be worked that are included in directed time?
  • Are teaching staff required to work in the holidays at any point as part of directed time?
  • Is the holiday entitlement correct?
  • Is the sick leave entitlement correct?
  • Is your continuous service start date honoured and included?

Carry out due diligence

You should also carry out due diligence into the employer you are considering applying to work for. Visit the school and get a feel for the place. If it is part of a large trust, do you know anyone who works for any of its other schools? Look on the school’s and trust’s websites and see the policies and procedures; these can help give a flavour of the ethos and how the schools are managed. Look at how long it is since the school joined the trust; is it well established, or has it recently joined? There could be very good reasons for this, but it could also be a signal of a turbulent time in the school itself.

If it is an academy, look at the annual accounts/report, the turnover of senior staff and anything else that might be an indicator, good or bad.

The increase in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) means that some independent schools are beginning to look at alternative pension schemes.

It is ASCL’s position that where a school and college leader is eligible to join the TPS, the employer should make it available to them. So, if you are making the move to a school in the independent sector, it is worth asking whether they offer the TPS and if they have any plans to move away from this.

Contract checking service

As part of your membership subscription, ASCL offers a contract checking service, where our team of legal specialists will check your contract and highlight any potentially contentious areas to you. You can then use this information to negotiate changes with your employer. Obviously, they may not agree to all/any of them, but you will then be able to make an informed decision on whether this is the right move for you and if you are willing to make any compromises necessary. It may be that there are additional benefits offered that you feel outweigh any loss of terms and conditions, and that it is a role and school that is right for you, but it is a decision that you need to give serious consideration to, with as much information as possible to assist you.

To access the contract checking service, please call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122 and the duty officer will arrange this. Good luck! 

Louise Hatswell
ASCL Pay and Conditions Specialist