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.
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:
* State sector guidance ‘Careers guidance and inspiration in schools’ March 2015 may be a useful tool for some schools.
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.
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’.
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.
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’.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 01865 811 222.