February 2017

The know zone

  • Modular to linear
    Curriculum and Assessment Specialist Suzanne O’Farrell highlights 12 key points schools could grasp as they move from modular to linear assessment in the classroom. More
  • Paws for thought
    During his formative teaching years, Gareth Burton jotted down memorable moments and exchanges that continue to have a bearing on his teaching career. More
  • Speed-date for inspections?
    Under the present Ofsted inspection system, schools that are rated ‘good’ only have to undergo a shorter day-long Ofsted inspection every three years. What are your views on this? What is your experience of short inspections? How well do you think they work? Here, ASCL members share their views. More
  • Free resources to promote careers
    Focus on… National Careers Week 2017 More
  • Identifying children struggling to understand the written word
    It is easy to overlook, in any battery of statistics, the different patterns that lie behind the main conclusion. More
  • Leaders’ surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Generating income
    At a time when school budgets are under serious pressure and with some schools already hitting a financial ‘brick wall’, Business Leadership Specialist Val Andrew looks at ways in which schools could generate income to ease the burden. More
  • Close to the edge
    Small primary schools are facing a bleak financial future unless the government intervenes, says Julie McCulloch. More
  • Retiring thoughts
    Planning for retirement is something that many of us put off until we are almost at the age of retirement. Pensions Specialist Stephen Casey says it’s important that members prepare well in advance to avoid any nasty shocks. More
Bookmark and Share

Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting.

Leaders’ surgery

Substance misuse

Q: I am a business manager with responsibility for HR in an academy. A member of supply staff informed me that the design and technology technician smelt of alcohol after lunch. I went to check and found this was true. When challenged, he freely admitted that this was the case and that it was his practice to have a beer every lunchtime and that he had been doing so since he was appointed a year ago. The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) has said that this is not a child protection issue and has suggested that we reprimand him. What should we do?

A: There is a significant health and safety issue as the technician will almost certainly have been operating machinery and possibly supervising students while under the influence of alcohol. The school, it is hoped, will have an appropriate Substance Misuse Policy, which should typically include the following:

“You should not drink alcohol during the normal working day, at lunchtime, at other official breaks and at official work-based meetings and events. Drinking alcohol while at work without authorisation or working under the influence of alcohol may be considered serious misconduct.”

The HR company that the academy has a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with should be contacted for advice immediately and an investigation will need to be carried out under the school’s disciplinary policy. You may also need to question the technician’s line manager and members of the design and technology department, to find out if other members of staff knew about this and, if so, why it had not been reported previously. There may be disciplinary consequences for them too if they have not taken action to ensure the wellbeing of the students by reporting the technician.

Data protection query

Q: I am a headteacher in a maintained secondary school. A student asked an assistant head if he could have an appointment with him. The assistant head explained to the student that he was busy and made an appointment with him for the following day. Later he became aware that the student was taking a photograph of him on his mobile phone through his office window. When challenged, the student said he had taken it to prove that the assistant head was not busy. Has the student breached data protection rules?

A: Images captured by individuals for personal or recreational purposes, such as with a mobile phone, digital camera or camcorder, are exempt from the Data Protection Act (DPA), and this would count as a personal reason.

In 2012, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published a very useful report on data protection guidance for schools (http://tinyurl.com/zkl9w7g) and while, in the report, this issue is dealt with in the context of parents wishing to take photos at school events, the same principle applies to a student. Schools should have their own ‘acceptable use policy’ governing the use of taking photographs or making recordings, both in and out of lessons, to make it clear to students and indeed to parents when it is and is not appropriate to do so. If this policy does not exist, the student is probably guilty of no more than a lack of understanding that the assistant head may well have other pressing matters to attend to.

For more information on data protection, see the ICO website https://ico.org.uk or call the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Contact the hotline

ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk

Rachel Bertenshaw is ASCL Hotline Leader