November 2012

The know zone

  • Warning signs
    Schools and colleges owe a duty of care to pupils and the wider public and could be held liable where damage is caused to a person or property by their actions or failures. Richard Bird explains. More
  • Energy crisis
    Exhausted teachers donít make for good teachers. As funding gets tighter and pupil-teacher ratios increase, schools need to help staff lighten their load, says Sam Ellis. More
  • Lead vocals
    Quotes from Mark Twain, Aaron Levenstein, WIE Gates, Louis Brandeis More
  • The Write Stuff
    Alistair Macnaughton, 53, has been head of The Kingís School, Gloucester, for five years. A former arts journalist, his previous posts include director of theatre at Charterhouse School and second master at Kingís School, Worcester. More
  • Political insight
    Parliamentís Education Service aims to inform, engage and empower young people to understand and get involved in Parliament, politics and democracy. More
  • Clean bill of health?
    Nearly half of ASCL members say that preparing for inspection is one of their top concerns. Here, leaders share their views on whether the latest inspection reforms, especially short notice and the focus on teaching quality, have made inspection more or less fit for purpose? More
  • Adding value was one of the big stars of the road this summer, providing roadside assistance to members on their way to be part of the Olympics, off on their holiday or even something as simple as taking the kids to school or driving to work. More
  • Leaders Surgery
    Teachers' Standards advice and Advice on allegations against teachers More
  • Shifting sands...
    With flawed data being used in this yearís performance tables and by Ofsted inspectors, exam results being kept artifficially low, and the huge inconsistencies in GCSE marking, how do schools and colleges measure improvement? How do parents and governors? Is it now time to take matters into our own hands, asks Brian Lightman? More
  • Layered Cake
    Most people have an idea of what to expect when becoming a headteacher, but there are many aspects of the role that simply only experience will reveal as Geoff Barton explains. More
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The antidote to common leadership conundrums

Teachers' Standards Advice

Q We updated our performance management policy last summer in light of the Teacher Standards but Iím still not entirely clear whether we should use the new or old standards for threshold applications this year. Can you clarify?

A You are right that all maintained schools should have revised their performance management/appraisal policies for 2012-13 to take account of the Teachers' Standards. This must show that teachers' performance will be assessed against the new Teachers' Standards.

Part one of the Teachers' Standards do not apply, by default, to academies. However, academies do have to use them for Initial Teacher Training (ITT); they will also be inspected on them and will need to use them in threshold applications.

In addition, from September 2012 Ofsted inspectors will consider the extent to which the Teachers' Standards are being met when assessing the quality of teaching in schools (including academies). Part two of the Teachers' Standards apply to all teachers, including those in academies and independent schools.

The Teachers' Standards do not replace the post-threshold, Excellent Teacher and Advanced Skills Teacher standards. These remain in place for the time being. However, the School Teachersí Review Body (STRB) will be considering the future of these standards and the implications for pay progression.

The old core standards should be used to assess threshold applications submitted before 31 October 2012 (for progression in September 2012 or September 2013). For applications submitted between 1 November 2012 and 31 October 2013 (for progression in September 2013), the new Teachers' Standards should be used.

Advice on allegations against teachers

Q We have suspended a member of staff as a result of a serious allegation of abuse of a pupil. What should we say to parents while the investigation is being conducted? This is a small community and I know word will spread via the grapevine if we don't put out the facts as we have them.

A In a word, you should say nothing. It is now an offence under the Protection of Freedoms Act to publish an allegation of "a relevant offence". Publication includes "any speech, any writing... any programme in any form". Any publication that may lead the public to identify a person subject to an allegation is also prohibited. The penalty on conviction (apart from the acquisition of a criminal record) is a fine of £5,000. You or any member of staff would be personally liable and staff should be warned about this.

It may be that a Facebook leak would also be caught by this provision if the privacy settings were not operated effectively by the person posting the information. This does not only apply to employees. You should also alert governors to the risk. Similarly, when you are speaking to the parents of the child, it is very important that they, too, are warned about the law, for their own protection.