The school year has started again and on top of the work required to prepare for teaching in the new academic year, schools have to ensure that their statutory compliance is up to date. The framework for schools is becoming ever more complex and as a consequence so are the potential pitfalls for those running schools. There seems to be an ever increasing, and too frequently changing, statutory framework that affects schools both through primary and secondary legislation. Schools and those advising them should be aware of the potential changes required, for example a number of bills were passed into law before Parliament dissolved on 3 May 2017, including the Children and Social Work Act 2017, the Technical and Further Education act 2017 and the National Citizen Service Act 2017, all of which contain information relevant to schools and academies.
In addition, Parliament also passed a number of regulations that either amended existing secondary legislation or brought into effect aspects of the primary legislation.
Some of the main changes are that Relationship and Sex Education is to be made compulsory. There is a new duty on school’s to ensure that education and training providers are able to promote their technical and vocational courses to pupils. schools must create a specific policy to demonstrate how this will be done. There is also a requirement for schools to publish on their websites information relating to the facility time taken by staff who are trade union members, and a requirement on early years providers to provide their Local Authority and the Education Secretary with information on how government funds are spent.
The question often asked by schools is how in practice they are to deal with these (and other) new obligations. It is the practical aspects that can prove more problematic, we know what we are supposed to do the question is how do we go about it?
Actions for a school’s SLT would include drafting a policy setting out how the opportunities are to be provided for education and training providers to be given access to pupils, with any subsequent policy being added to the policy review schedule once approved, with the governing body being consulted in that process. It is something that should be undertaken as soon as possible, if not already done.
Processes also need to be put in place to enable the school to respond to any requests from the local authority/education secretary for information relating to early years funding.
Additionally, the school’s sex education policy and curriculum plans need to be reviewed against the Department of Education guidance, to be updated where necessary. Again the governing board needs to ensure that the school’s SLT reviews and updates the relevant policies as against the new guidelines.
This is only a limited, but important, outline of some of the changes and challenges faced by schools and their governing bodies. Clearly, schools and governing bodies will have expertise in these areas, but if outside assistance is required, DTM’s Education team has expertise not only in the law in this area but also has team members who are governors and trustees and so are familiar with the day-to-day problems faced by schools.
Is your statutory compliance up to date?