Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders


Restricted entry for sixth formers?

Q How much leeway do we have in setting entrance criteria for our sixth form? We would like to make it a condition that students have demonstrated that they have worked hard during year 11.

A For pupils already in the school, movement into the sixth form should have no bars. For students joining the sixth form from outside, the rules are the same as for admissions at other ages: the behaviour and character of pupils is not an acceptable criterion. You may have achievement on GCSE courses as a criterion but it must be relevant to the courses that students will be following. Criteria must be published well in advance.

French connection

Q I am organising a school trip to Paris this term and we have no guidance on the number of first-aiders that we should take with us. We are a voluntary-aided school and the diocese has no idea either. I had planned to have one parent who has a very old basic training qualification, but another parent who is a paramedic tells me I should ask for two trained first-aiders. What do you think?

A How many pupils are going is the real question. One first-aider per group is all that is required by the written DfES guidance (Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits), and common sense would indicate that one for up to 30 or so pupils is acceptable. We would suggest that you obtain a copy of the DfES guidance, which is available on www.teachernet.gov.uk

Volunteers required

Q Open evenings are very important to our school in making sure that we recruit enough pupils, and, indirectly, in securing staff jobs. Therefore, can we insist on staff attending them?

A Despite the importance of open evenings, staff cannot be forced to attend them. Unlike parents' evenings, which are part of staff statutory duties, open evenings are not considered a duty. Staff, may, of course, volunteer for them.

From here to maternity...

Q I have heard that maternity leave has recently been extended to nine months. As a small independent school, I fear that there is no way we can afford to run with this. What happens if we refuse - do staff have a legal comeback?

A The Work and Families Act 2006, which came into force on 1 April 2007, extended maternity and adoption pay from six to nine months towards the goal of a year's paid leave by the end of this Parliament. Other clauses look at the extension of the right to request flexible working, new rights for fathers, measures to help employers manage the administration of leave and pay and other smaller matters. These regulations affect all employers; it is not within the school's power to refuse to allow staff to take what is theirs by legislation. If you do refuse, staff members who are affected could take you to court.

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