Education updates from the summer holidays

Pay and conditions

On 1 September 2013 the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Order 2013 came into force.  Teachers’ pay is no longer subject to automatic annual increments but instead will be linked to performance.  The first performance increments are to take effect from September 2014.  The Department for Education has helpfully published guidance on its website.

Behaviour in schools

Over the summer, the DfE also published updated guidance on school behaviour, including guidance for governing bodies, head teachers and other school staff, in particular regarding developing a school behaviour policy and providing guidance on the power that members of staff have to discipline pupils. There is also further advice regarding screening, searching, confiscation and the difficult subject of the use of reasonable force.

Reasons for non-attendance

In the case of West Sussex County Council v C [2013], the High Court decided that a mother’s lack of control over her child did not mean that there was an “unavoidable cause” for the child’s absence from school.  The mother therefore had no defence to the criminal offence under the Education Act 1996 where a parent’s child fails to attend school regularly.  Magistrates had previously said that the child’s chaotic lifestyle was a good enough defence for her non-attendance at school and therefore did not convict the mother.  The High Court, however, did not feel that this was an appropriate approach.

Cost effective advice

On 20 August 2013, the DfE updated its guidance “Advice for Effective Buying for your School”.  This is non-statutory advice but it does highlight areas of spend where schools could make savings – certainly worth a read in these difficult times!  It covers matters such as benchmarking and the procurement of ICT, broadband and internet access, photocopiers and temporary supply staff but also provides information as to how procurement can promote sustainability.

School start dates

The DfE has been busy this summer, also publishing non-statutory advice to help admission authorities and the parents of summer born children understand in which year group those children should start school.  Under the School Admissions Code 2012, children should be allowed to be admitted in the September following their fourth birthday but a child does not have to start school until they have reached compulsory school age, following their fifth birthday.  There is flexibility in the Code if parents consider that their child is not ready to start school in the September following the child’s fourth birthday.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.