Advice for current times – ‘School’s back till summer!’

An on-demand event jointly hosted by the NAHT and Discovery Education.

Andrew Hammond, Senior Director of Learning at Discovery Education and Guy Dudley, Lead Author of the Advice Hub within NAHT Discovery Education Pathway, discussed the issues currently facing school leaders and those teaching and working in schools.

Test your knowledge with an engaging quiz section, learn more about some key and topical areas of typical school activity and get acquainted with Pathway’s Advice Hub.

In this session, we covered areas relating to:

  • Inspections: Ofsted inspections in 2021
  • Curriculum: home and flexi-schooling
  • Statutes, regulations and policies: subject access requests and recorded conversations
  • Leadership and governance: commissioning an external review of governance
  • Human resources: disciplinary procedure

And finally, we took you on a whistle-stop tour of Pathway’s Advice Hub, newsletters and FAQs section, where you will see much needed and invaluable information, advice and guidance to support you in your professional role and your continuing professional and personal development and empowerment.

 

 

Newsletters 4

We have now produced four newsletters for Pathway. In the fourth and most recent newsletter, we take a look at:

  1. The reopening of schools
  2. Staff absences due to COVID underline the need for staff vaccinations, says NAHT
  3. Helping pupils recover from lockdown
  4. A recommended letter for parents
  5. A reminder: actions for schools and colleges during the Coronavirus outbreak
  6. An update for Welsh colleagues
  7. Awarding qualifications in summer 2021
  8. Performance data update
  9. RHSE curriculum flexibility
  10. DfE funded support on the use of Assistive Technology
  11. National Tutoring Programme
  12. Schools Financial Value Standard
  13. Gender Pay Gap Reporting
  14. UK abandons the redundancy cap following legal challenges
  15. Well-being: a couple of quick links for you

Many of these topics have been supported by wider advice pieces that can be found on Pathway’s Advice Hub and some are simply news alerts that are essential or simply helpful to those leading and working in schools and colleges.

 

INSPECTIONS

Quiz question

When was Ofsted founded and by whom?

1988                 1990                 1992 (John Major)

Ofsted inspections in 2021

NAHT recognises the significant movement set out in the revised plans for school inspection, which were announced on 3rd December. Ofsted’s guide provides answers to practical questions about how inspection will operate from January 2021, and a summary of the way in which monitoring inspections for schools judged ‘inadequate’ or as ‘requires improvement’ may be inspected. More detail can be found in Ofsted’s recently published operational note

Key Points

  • Routine (section 5) inspections of all schools remain suspended for the whole of the spring term, at least
  • No further section 8 ‘interim visits’ will take place (as occurred in the autumn term)
  • From January 2021, Ofsted will only undertake section 8 monitoring inspections in some schools
  • Ofsted may also use s8 powers to conduct ‘no formal designation’ inspections of schools where serious concerns have arisen

 

CURRICULUM

Quiz question

When was the National Curriculum introduced and by whom?

1984                 1986                 1988 (Kenneth Baker)

Home & flexi-schooling

Parents have the right to homeschool their children and cite a variety of reasons for their decision:

  • They may feel the school isn’t addressing their child’s needs appropriately
  • They may believe the school isn’t adequately dealing with a bullying issue
  • They may not be happy with the content of the national curriculum
  • They may remove their child because they fear the possibility of permanent exclusion.

School leaders are often resistant to the planned removal of a child; they work hard to reassure parents and attend to their needs and concerns.

It’s noted however that people often see schools as being complicit in the removal of the child. A recent study by Ofsted on the move to home education has linked a move to home-schooling to a perceived increase in off-rolling, particularly of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or behavioural difficulties. A YouGov survey of teachers also seems to back this view.

Ofsted have released a video (21½ minutes long) summarising their findings on how remote education is working for children and young people with SEND and provides some examples of best practice. There is also the option to download a set of slides for future reference.

 

STATUTES, REGULATIONS & POLICIES

Quiz question

Can parents and employees record conversations with school leaders?

No                    Yes                   Not sure

Recorded conversations

Increasingly, parents are asking to record their meetings with the school, because they believe they can later rely on the recorded conversations as evidence, should they need it, to support their position in a dispute against the school.

The answer is that it is not illegal for parents to record meetings with school staff, even if the recording is made without the school’s knowledge or consent. Under GDPR, individuals are free to make recordings of meetings as long as the recording is for their own ‘personal use’ – say, for convenience, recollection of what was said at the meeting or where English is not a parent’s first language. However, if a parent then shares recorded information with a third party, they are likely to be in breach of and be subjected to the full force and provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Schools are free to put in place and then enforce their own policy and practices (such as producing minutes or transcripts of meetings) on allowing parents to record meetings with school staff. Parents who then compromise the policy would be in breach of the school’s rules.

More and more, employees are secretly recording meetings with their line managers with the intention of using the recording as evidence at subsequent employment tribunal proceedings. Generally speaking, such a recording would be admissible in an employment tribunal even though the recording was made without the school’s consent. Tribunal judges have a wide discretion to determine whether evidence is admissible; it generally will be admissible if it is relevant to an issue between the parties in dispute.

All that said, recordings of private discussions, of, say, an employer’s deliberation panel, are not deemed to be admissible unless the recordings revealed clear evidence of discrimination.

Amwell View School v Dogherty is a leading case in which it was held by the Employment Appeal Tribunal that Dogherty’s covert recording of her own disciplinary hearing could be used in evidence before the tribunal. Dogherty had also left a device on to record the private deliberations of the hearing panel. That part of the recording was excluded from consideration.

It’s recommended for schools to ask employees, before a meeting starts, whether they are recording it. Should the employee say no, and then later seek to rely on such a recording, their credibility will be compromised in the mind of a tribunal judge. It is frankly better for school leaders and managers to work on the assumption that they are being recorded and to remember that what they say may be admitted as evidence in a subsequent tribunal.

 

SUBJECT ACCESS REQUESTS ( aka SARs )

SARs, in one form or another, have existed for more than 20 years. They provide individuals with the right to find out what ‘personal data’ an organisation (including a school) holds on their behalf, why the organisation is holding it and who sees their information.

You must respond to a SAR within a month, with a possibility to extend this period for complex requests. You can’t charge a fee for responding to a SAR unless the request is ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’. You can charge a reasonable administrative fee if you receive requests for further copies of the same information. Where a SAR is ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’, not only can you charge a fee for the request but also you can refuse to respond. If you take this approach, you will need to inform the individual within one month and remind them of their right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). You must keep any relevant analysis and accompanying evidence of the assessment undertaken to establish that the SAR was ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’.

It is possible to make a SAR electronically. Where this happens, you should provide the information to the individual in a commonly-used electronic form (eg on a memory stick) unless otherwise requested by the individual.

 

LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE

Quiz question

Can I ask for a review of our school’s governance arrangements at any time?

Yes                   No                    Not sure

Commissioning an external review of governance

Where leadership and governance are judged less than good by an inspection report, Ofsted will now require that the school commission an ‘external review of governance’ to review how effective the governance of a school is and what needs to change in order to support the school to improve. Schools have reported variable experiences of commissioning such reviews and so the National College has now developed some advice for schools on how best to approach this task – https://www.gov.uk/reviews-of-school-governance

Ofsted will sometimes recommend that a school has a review in a timely manner and will assess the impact of the review at its next monitoring visit. In this case, the purpose of the review is to enable a school to move from a rating of ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ to at least ‘good’. The review is offered as support to improve and develop governance, and not as an additional inspection. It will help your governing body identify priorities for improvement and provide support on what steps to take.

You can choose whoever you want to conduct an external review of governance and when, but it’s recommended you choose someone with recent successful experience of leading governance and/or school improvement projects. Other organisations may also be able to offer reviews, including local providers of school improvement and governor services and the National Governors’ Association. An external review of governance will usually take between 2 to 3 days, including a follow-up visit to review impact. The estimated cost is around £1,500.

 

HUMAN RESOURCES

Quiz question

Why would you invoke the disciplinary procedure?

To improve conduct                 To improve performance                        To improve attendance

Disciplinary procedure

It’s not my intention to go through the disciplinary process or step-by-step procedure here because it’s available on Pathway’s Advice Hub and it is largely technical in nature and your HR provider should be able to guide you through the steps you wish to take.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the outcomes that are available to those who wish to improve the conduct of others – these fall into three principal categories, the first two of which provide a credible and legitimate alternative to formal action.

  • Informal – ‘a word in their shell-like’, use your existing performance management arrangements or arrange refresher training
  • Tactical – issue a letter of management advice / aka a ‘standards setting’ letter
  • Formal – disciplinary procedure and an appropriate sanction

A typical formal sanction would include a verbal warning, a written warning, a final written warning or dismissal, with or without notice and pay.

Alternatively and where it is agreed with the employer, actions falling short of formal disciplinary action may also be considered such as transferring the ‘subject employee’ to another post or location, forfeiting certain terms and conditions of employment or demotion.

 

Our ‘FAQs’ sections in the Pathway Advice Hub.

FAQs

Cover arrangements
Dedicated headship time
GDPR
Health and safety
Management time
Managing sickness absence
PPA time
The full opening of schools
Working time and directed time
Industrial action
Education, Health and Care Plans
Academies and Free Schools
Ofsted inspections from January 2021

 

If you’re a Pathway subscriber, all of the above are supported by specific advice pieces on the Pathway Advice Hub.

If you would like further information about the Pathway programme please visit: www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/NAHT

 

Speakers

Guy Dudley

Lead Author of the Pathway Advice Hub

Guy Dudley was appointed to head of specialist advice in 2014 having joined NAHT in 2013, cutting his teeth as a specialist adviser. Guy leads a team of highly-qualified specialist advisers and assistants that deliver first-class specialist advice and support services to NAHT members and officials across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and to NAHT’s National Executive. The services provided include legal advice and support, information and guidance on educational management issues, general employment practice and law, salaries, pensions and conditions of service, enabling members to better undertake their professional leadership roles. Before joining NAHT, Guy, an MCIPD-qualified HR practitioner, was employed in the UK and the international charity sectors and also worked for the Learning + Skills Council for 6 years, coaching, developing and helping leaders become better people managers. Guy’s passion is to work with leaders, putting them back in control using bold, pragmatic, fair and empathetic approaches.

 

Andrew Hammond

Senior Director of Learning at Discovery Education

Andrew Hammond has worked in schools for over twenty years, as a Classteacher, Head of Department, Deputy Head and Headteacher in both independent and maintained sector schools. He is currently Senior Director of Learning & Community at Discovery Education.

A prolific author, Andrew and has written over thirty titles for a range of educational publishers, including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Hodder, Harcourt, Sage, Rising Stars, Galore Park and John Catt. He is the author of CRYPT, a five-book horror fiction series for young adults published by Hodder Headline. Andrew is a regular contributor to educational magazines, newspapers and blogs.

Andrew was Lead Author of the Independent Curriculum (Galore Park) and has served as a 13+ Common Entrance Setter for ISEB and as an English Subject Leader for IAPS. He is a regular keynote speaker and CPD provider in schools across the UK and abroad.

Andrew is Lead Author and Series Editor of Discovery Education Pathway, a new online CPD programme, developed in partnership with the NAHT.