August 2018

The know zone

  • Summer term blues...
    'Common knowledge' has it that teachers not only spend a large proportion of the year on holiday but also have a full half-term to recharge their batteries in preparation for that big six-week 'sit-off'. If only it were that simple, says one head... 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
  • What's your favourite book?
    With the end of the summer term in sight, bringing with it a chance, hopefully, for you to unwind and maybe read a book or two, we asked what you enjoy reading. Fiction or non-fiction, novel or biography, here are a few suggestions from ASCL members and staff. More
  • Ready for transition?
    Kevin Gilmartin examines the proposed 'transition year' for 16 year-olds. More
  • Time for reflection
    Self-evaluation is almost always a useful process, but as with most leadership activities, the trick is to ensure the cost/benefit ratio works in your favour, says Stephen Rollett. More
  • Hub of expertise
    A new website, supported by ASCL, offers schools and colleges a valuable chance to share best practice and resources on special educational needs and disability (SEND). Anna Cole highlights the details. More
  • New starting point
    As the pace picks up on plans to introduce the controversial new Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA), Julie McCulloch looks at how the assessment will work and how it will be used. More
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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

Medical conditions

Q: I知 a business manager and I知 considering applying for a new post. I have a medical condition that does require me to attend hospital appointments and to have occasional treatment during the working day. It does count as a disability. How much should I declare on my application form or at interview?

A: The relevant guidance here, Keeping Children Safe in Education (, includes a section on pre-recruitment vetting and pre-appointment checks. Two of those checks include:

  • obtaining a separate barred list check if an individual will start work in regulated activity before the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate is available
  • verifying the candidate痴 mental and physical fitness to carry out their work responsibilities. A job applicant can be asked relevant questions about disability and health in order to establish whether they have the physical and mental capacity for the specific role.

Your disability gives you certain protections under the Equality Act, however, you may wish to consider carefully whether you wish to declare your disability prior to any offer of employment. Prospective employers are prohibited from asking job applicants questions about health, other than in the circumstances outlined above or insofar as is required to make adjustments to allow the candidate to participate in recruitment exercises. It is unlawful for a prospective employer to discriminate against you because of your disability or something arising from it.

Faith schools

Q: I知 an assistant headteacher and I知 thinking of applying for a post as deputy at a local faith school. The problem is I知 a practising believer of a different faith. The information about the post states that whilst it would be preferable to be of that faith, it is not obligatory. Do you see any particular issues for me if I was to apply?

A: Special Equality Act rules for roles in religion could apply where the religion痴 doctrine is key to the job a headteacher of a faith school would certainly come under this, as might certain members of the leadership team, if the religious doctrine were key to their post.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has published a new guide, Religion or Belief Discrimination: Key points for the workplace ( Acas guidance states that it is not enough for an employer to simply decide they would prefer, for example, not to employ someone who does not hold a particular protected characteristic or particular belief. Any such requirement must:

  • be crucial to the post, and not just one of several important factors, and
  • relate to the nature of the job, and
  • be 疎 proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. If there is any reasonable and less discriminatory way of achieving the same aim, it is unlikely the employer could claim an occupational requirement.

The guidance also covers issues such as behaviours and duties, and handling requests for religion or belief. The guidance on the Equality Act 2010 for schools also has guidance for recruitment to faith schools (

However, you should also think seriously about expectations of schools with regard to attending or even, in the case of a senior post, leading prayers, and/or aspects of observance, which may conflict with your own. Acas suggests that an employer may have clear policies for employees on making requests, and managers handling them, on matters including:

  • leave, breaks and time away from work for reasons of religion or belief
  • dress code and appearance
  • use of any prayer or multi-faith space or room
  • being excused from certain tasks because of religion or belief

Therefore, you should ascertain these before either applying for or accepting the post.

Contact the Hotline

ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email

Rachel Bertenshaw is ASCL Hotline Leader