Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Advice from the hotline...

The ASCL hotline is a completely confidential service available to answer members' questions on issues that arise in school/ college. The questions and answers below are based on real calls to the hotline. To protect confidentiality, all scenarios have been anonymised. If you need advice on a personal or professional issue, call 0116 299 1122 and ask for the hotline officer.

Relocation, relocation, relocation...

Q
Following the opening of a new building this term, we are reorganising the way the college is managed and I have asked one senior manager to move his office from one building to another over the Christmas holiday. He is resisting the move, I believe because his partner works in the building he is based in at present. Can I insist he relocate?

A
Of course you can. There is no law that prevents a reorganisation simply on the grounds of personal preference or convenience. If there were some other reason, for example, that he suffered from a disability and there would be a material disadvantage to his moving, then you would have to consider whether the move was possible in the light of the reasonable adjustments you would have to make.

'Creepy' teacher causes concern

Q
I have received a number of reports that some year 10 girls are complaining that an agency teacher is 'creepy'. There is no indication from the agency that there was any doubt on the CRB check they have done on him. Should I ask the teacher to verify his CRB check? Can or should I ask for him to be removed?

A
Your contract is with the agency, not with the teacher, so going directly to the agency Is the right course of action.

First, of course, you will want to consider carefully whether there is any basis for the accusations. If you believe there may be, you are within your rights to ask for him to be removed without any further explanation but it would be in the spirit of child protection if you first discussed the matter with the local authority designated officer and informed the agency of your concern.

Evidence stacked against incapable staff member?

Q
A parent has complained that his child has alleged that a member of staff came into class smelling of alcohol. I don't know whether there is any evidence to back this up but there have been issues with the member of staff's general competence. Should I take action?

A
It is important not to confuse an issue of competence with an issue of conduct. You have no other evidence of the inappropriate use of alcohol and, while the allegation needs to be investigated and the leadership team needs to be alert to the possibility that there is a connection, you should be dealing with capability issues separately.

Support role reversal?

Q
The husband of one of our support staff was suddenly taken seriously ill at the beginning of term. I have allowed her compassionate leave, thinking that she would be back after the half-term holiday. However, after further tests and hospital visits, it looks as though the illness is chronic and he may well need long-term care. I do not envisage the staff member returning to work at all this term and I am reluctant to ask her about her long-term plans. What can I do?

A
You have done all that can be expected and, depending upon your employer's policy, perhaps more. She will have to make a decision as to whether she wishes to work to her contract until the end of term, apply for flexible working or resign. You cannot employ someone who is never available for work. If she requests flexible working you will have to consider it, though you are not bound to grant it.

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