June 2016

The know zone

  • Time for sensitivity
    Heather Mitchell explores the key issues schools and colleges should consider carefully when managing redundancies and restructuring. More
  • Show business matters
    The evolution of school business leaders is well documented but anomalies remain when it comes to pay, a situation that’s inequitable, uncertain and lacking consistency of approach, says Val Andrew. More
  • Don't panic!
    Julie McCulloch looks at three proposals in the new White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, that have particular implications for primary schools. More
  • What attracted to teaching?
    Why did you decide to get into teaching and is it something that you always wanted to do? Has it lived up to your expectations? Here, ASCL members share their views… More
  • Make the right choice
    Looking for a new leader? ASCL’s Leadership Appointment Service can provide an experienced head to help at every stage of the process. More
  • The final act?
    Working in education has elements of farce, but could turn into a tragedy, according to former head-turned consultant and playwright Peter Campling. 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
  • Doing justice to learning
    The National Centre for Citizenship and the Law (NCCL) delivers hands-on education workshops in courtrooms across the UK by providing a unique learning experience. 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

Unfair treatment?

Q: I am an assistant headteacher in an academy and I have been invited for interview for a deputy head post in another school. My executive headteacher has refused permission for me to go. Surely she can’t do this?

A: This seems very unfair, but the executive head may be within their rights. It is generally thought that the right for time off to attend interviews is a School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) benefit for teachers, but this is not the case. The origin of having a right to attend interviews is in a school, local authority (LA) or academy trust absence policy. Most LA absence policies state that a teacher can have ‘reasonable’ time off to attend interviews; however, ‘reasonable’ is not often defined. Academies, on conversion, usually adopt their LA absence policy and, therefore, in these schools, teachers would be entitled to ‘reasonable’ time for interviews.

There are two further complications, neither of which would be in the executive head’s favour in denying leave. The first is custom and practice – is it the case that everyone who has ever asked for leave for an interview has been granted, and this is so well known that no one really thinks about it? If this is so, then the policy must be interpreted in this way, so you would be entitled to go to an interview. Second, any absence policy must be applied consistently, so if others have had a similar amount of time for interviews in the past you could not be reasonably denied the leave. You could always try asking for the day off as unpaid leave, but whatever you do, don’t declare yourself sick to go to the interview as this could be regarded as lying to your employer, which could be a gross misconduct issue.

An employer can, of course, consult on changing their policy to limit time off for interviews; however, this is a formal process that takes some time and cannot just be done on a whim. After due process, an academy trust or governing body could impose a new set of conditions.

You could try talking to the school to which you have applied to see if they can consider interviewing in some other way after explaining your situation.

While the above is focused on interviews, the same principle applies to all sorts of other discretionary leave, such as funerals, children’s degree ceremonies or moving house. For members being treated unfairly under an absence policy we would advise calling the ASCL hotline for individual help.

Redundancy worries

Q: I am a deputy headteacher in a community school. My school is restructuring its senior team and going from two to just one deputy head, with one post being made redundant. I have worked in teaching for 30 years and my last job was in an academy – I’ve been here for three years. On what basis would a redundancy payment be calculated?

A: First, let us reassure you that we will allocate an ASCL field officer to support you through the restructuring process to make sure it is done fairly – this is normal ASCL policy.

Redundancy payments are based on counting back up to 20 years of continuous service. If you have worked in teaching without a break in service, or worked for local authorities or various other specified bodies, then you will be regarded as having continuous employment for redundancy, even if you have worked under different local authorities or moved in and out of academies.

However, if you have worked for an independent school, this will break your continuity of service. In your case it looks as if you will get a full 20-year countback.

A call to our hotline can always confirm if your service has been continuous because we can check the modification order that lists all the organisations that count towards continuous service. However, please note this only applies to redundancy payments; if you move in and out of academies your ‘time of service’ for sick pay, maternity benefits or claiming ‘unfair dismissal’ all reset to zero each time you change.

Contact the hotline

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

David Snashall and Rachel Bertenshaw are ASCL Hotline Leaders