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.

Facing a diabetic dilemma

Q The parents of a girl in year 7 have asked me to make certain that their daughter, who is diabetic, is given injections regularly to ensure that she does not have diabetic comas. I mentioned this to the staff involved, who said that they were not prepared to do this. Surely this falls under our duty to protect our pupils?

A You cannot compel members of staff to give injections. If a staff member is willing to provide medical care in this way, then s/he may be allowed to do it, provided that the procedure is not so complicated that specialised medical training would be required.

However, an injection could go badly wrong and our view is that it would be far better, if you have a school nurse, for a child to receive injections in the medical room or, if not, for parents to make an arrangement for the child to receive an injection from a member of the family or close relative. A tactful discussion with the parents is what is now required.

Dealing with 'racist' accusations

Q I have just learnt that an allegation has been made against me, as assistant head, regarding an incident last term in which I told off a pupil. This pupil is of mixed race and her mother has now, a couple of months after the event, accused me of being racist in a confrontation outside the school gates. I certainly do not feel that this is fair and I intend to defend this allegation to the highest level. I need to know if ASCL will support me with a barrister in the High Court.

A You seem to be jumping the gun somewhat. In the first instance, our advice is to try to calm the situation down.

First, you should ensure that you are making notes of the allegation, what was said by whom and when. Secondly, make sure the head knows the details of the allegation.

Thirdly, ask the head to write a letter to the mother, asking for substantiation or a retraction.

If this is not successful, ASCL will appoint a field officer to look into the case on your behalf. It may be that the field officer asks our legal department to write a letter to the mother or it may be that we think the case should be taken further.

The aim of the support must surely be to make the matter die down as calmly as possible. High court cases usually attract a lot of publicity and, even if the defendant's name is cleared, it is often only the accusation which is remembered.

Physical education time limit?

Q Is there a specific statutory time requirement at each of Key Stages 3 and 4 for physical education? We have provision for two periods at KS3 (either 1hr 55 or 2 hrs depending on which periods in the day) and one period at KS4 (55 mins or 1 hr, depending on the period of the day). It has been suggested that this is too little. I have as yet, found little help other than in Teachernet.

A There is not a statutory time requirement for physical education. To achieve Healthy School Status you must be able to show that all students are doing two hours per week of sport in both KS3 and 4.

All schools are supposed to be working towards this status but it is what some regard as an 'exhortation' rather than an entitlement. Activities such as outdoor pursuits, residentials and sports days count towards the minimum, so it does not necessarily have to be two hours of PE lessons.

Can't get no satisfaction

Q A member of staff has a series of unsatisfactory lesson observations recorded against him. I allocated him an external mentor as part of the informal capability process, but I discover that he has failed to use him, even though he has told me persistently that he had done so. I now do not know how to proceed further. What do you advise?

A It would seem that this case now falls into the category where you must take disciplinary action, for the fact is that the member of staff has persistently lied. Our advice would be to commence formal disciplinary proceedings.

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