Making an appointment
Q - In September I am taking over as head of a medium sized girls school - my first headship post. There will be at least two teaching appointments I need to make in the first year, one full-time and one maternity cover. I am aware that following the Bichard inquiries there are going to be rules and regulations requiring employers to be much more careful in their recruitment procedures for staff and others who have access to schools. However, I have yet to see anything definitive on this. What is the situation?
A - The DfES is currently sponsoring a training programme via NCSL for all schools to provide the head and one governor for recruitment training. This training will be online and certificated. The intention is that all interview panels will have at least one trained member to help obviate the flaws in recruitment practices, which in the past might have led to unsuitable employment.
The online training package will be subject of a major information drive and you are advised to register as soon as you are able at www.ncsl.org.uk/saferecruitment
Q - A teacher in our school has a history of not being very tolerant to his pupils. He was given a verbal warning under our disciplinary procedures a couple of years ago, which expired, and then another one recently. I have had further complaints from parents, one concerning an email this teacher sent which was abusive. Can I ask this teacher formally to apologise to the parents? I also have the tricky problem of the effect this is having on prospective parents. I have heard that one set of parents has intimated that I have a difficult teacher on my staff.
A - You should certainly ask this teacher to apologise and clearly you will also apologise on behalf of the school. However, it sounds as though this is having an impact above and beyond the one person and SHA's advice is that you consider very much stronger disciplinary action for this teacher with the possibility of dismissal as a final option. You have well established disciplinary procedures - now is the time to use them.
Q - I have a deputy who is currently signed off on sick leave for depression and stress. Being the person that she is, she has told me that she is going to come into school next week to conduct interviews, which had been scheduled before she went on sick leave. I don't think she is in a fit state. Can she do this, or am I able to enforce her absence?
A - If she is on sick leave, you are quite within your rights to tell her to refrain from attending school. It will certainly do her no good and she will not be in the best condition to conduct interviews as well as she might were she not ill. Maybe her determination is part and parcel of her condition and she will need to be advised firmly that her health is the most important priority at this time.
Q - The head at my school will be on a part-time secondment to the LEA all of next year, so many of his duties are being delegated to the leadership team. I have accepted responsibility for workforce reform, other than the restructuring of staff. I'm very happy to take this on as it is a good career move, but I don't think I have enough background to lead on it. Are there any information sources I can refer to, without going to the head?
A - The SHA hotline receives a number of calls from deputies and assistant heads who need advice and guidance on the workforce agenda because the headteacher is away or because no resources were identified in the school. Common issues are cover, exam supervision, gained time and union stances on reforms in the school.
The intentions and an overview of the national workforce agreement can be found in Raising Standards and Tackling Workload: A National Agreement published by the DfES (ref DfES/0172/2003).
All schools should have received Time for Standards - Transforming the School Workforce, which is a DfES resource pack. It can be downloaded from www.remodelling.org
The Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group (WAMG) publishes regular bulletins with guidance on particular aspects of the reforms. These are sent to schools or can be obtained from www.teachernet.gov.uk
SHA's Guidance Paper 2, Re-modelling the School Workforce, is available at www.sha.org.uk Once logged in, go to the members section, then look under 'advice and guidance' and 'archived news'.
The unions have published their own guidance, including Unison, and it is well worth having copies available when discussing matters with union representatives. Contact the unions directly.
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