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What you need to know about: Independent School Standards

Feb 08, 2016

Although it has now been some time since the new Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 came in force, the new Regulations came at a time when there was a raft of regulatory change hitting the independent sector. Keeping apace of all the changes undoubtedly provided a challenge and while many will be familiar with the changes brought about by the new Regulations, it is always worth reminding ourselves of some of the important amendments to the Regulations.

Part 1: Quality of education provided

Good news is that Part 1 does not apply to academies and for independent schools, most of Part 1 remains unchanged. The main changes relate to:

  • Curriculum and teaching which must have regard to the Equality Act 2010 ‘protected characteristics’; must not undermine fundamental British values; and must provide effective preparation for adult life in British Society; and 
  • The curriculum policy which must provide for economic education as part of PSHE; provide accurate and up to date careers guidance* for secondary pupils (rather than simply ‘appropriate’ guidance); and take account of the needs of all pupils including those with an EHC Plan.

* State sector guidance ‘Careers guidance and inspiration in schools’ March 2015 may be a useful tool for some schools.

Part 2: SMSC development of pupils.

The changes here mirror those in Part 1. The proprietor must ensure active promotion of fundamental British values* and various key principles, such as respect for democracy and the law. Both these can be - and are likely to have already been - ‘infused’ into the day to day running of the school and as such, unlikely to be problematic for most schools.

* The Department for Education has produced some guidance (albeit brief) on the promotion of British values and includes some useful examples of how schools can meet this requirement.

Part 3: Welfare, health and safety of pupils.

The key change is the requirement to have a written risk assessment policy to safeguard pupils and promote their welfare, and to take appropriate action to reduce any risks identified. Another policy I hear you cry! Some schools have incorporated this into existing health and safety policies rather than develop a separate stand alone document. Either way, reference to risk assessment should also be incorporated in safeguarding policies to meet the new standard.

Note: As of 1 July 2015, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty on schools to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and, in doing so, have regard to statutory guidance. Safeguarding arrangements will therefore need to take account of the new ‘Prevent Duty’.

Part 4: Suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors.

  • DBS disclosures (formally CRB checks) are now only required on staff, supply staff and proprietors if they are also in ‘regulated activity’. 
  • Teacher prohibition checks are explicitly referred to for those staff carrying out teaching work. Such checks must be recorded on the Single Central Register. 
  • Section 128 checks on proprietors i.e. that a person is not barred from taking part in the management of independent schools. (The Department for Education has been in discussion with the DBS about ways in which schools can do this with the minimum additional burden, and it is hoped that a process will soon be in place.)

Part 6: Provision of information.

Inspection reports and First Aid policies must be ‘made available’ to parents of pupils and prospective pupils, for example, on the school website. There is also a requirement to state, on the school website, if the school has been removed from the register of independent schools or has been issued with a ‘relevant restriction’ e.g. an order to cease any of the school’s operations. Where no website exists, such information must be provided to parents in another form.

Part 7: Manner in which complaints are handled.

The good news here is that schools now have the discretion to determine whether and/or how to record informal complaints. Schools should, however, note that any matter in which a parent is unhappy and seeks action by the school should be treated as a ‘complaint’.

Part 8: Quality of leadership and management.


This is an entirely new standard, aimed at the SMT and proprietor working together to ensure the independent schools standards as a whole are being consistently met; the well-being of pupils is being actively promoted; and such persons demonstrate good skills and knowledge appropriate to their role. This should not be an additional burden for the large majority of schools; rather, it is aimed at those schools who have serious and multiple failings against the standards due to weakness in the current leadership.


For further information on the above, please contact Rebecca Kashti on or 01865 811 222.


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