School policies and statements: what does best practice look like?
As we know, a strong commitment by schools and all educational institutions to safeguarding and equal opportunities is essential. But how do we demonstrate this? The first step is to ensure that the right policies and procedures are in place.
A well-drafted policy should:
- include a clear commitment to meeting legal and regulatory requirements
- provide practical guidance on how to promote equality of opportunity/ensure safeguarding
- be clear and transparent
- be easily accessible
- be reviewed regularly
Most importantly, it must give staff and students, as well as external stakeholders such as parents, confidence that the organisation understands its obligations and is ready and willing to not only meet them but also actively promote a culture of equality and inclusion.
Statements vs Policies
A statement is a short summary which gives a broad overview of the organisation’s commitment or aim.
A policy gives further detail about the practical approaches used to meet the aim.
The best statements and policies are ones which are considered ‘living’ documents and which are reviewed regularly and updated to incorporate new best practice, as well as to reflect changes in legislation.
Safeguarding is obviously of paramount importance and this should be addressed throughout the organisation. Safeguarding is a very broad responsibility which encompasses all aspects of an applicant’s, trainee’s or teacher’s fitness to teach and this needs to be reflected in an organisation’s policies.
Safeguarding policies must lay out very clear actions that will be taken to ensure children’s safety and well-being.
In the case of training providers, this will include ensuring that:
- recruiters have been given recent Safer Recruitment training
- there is a safer recruitment statement on their website
- applicants to training programmes have undergone a range of checks before being accepted onto a training programme
- the provider agrees with its school partnership the reasons for rejecting or accepting applicants with an offence or caution recorded on their DBS
- training on subjects such as Safeguarding, e-safety and Prevent Duty is provided to all trainees
In the case of schools, this will include ensuring that:
- recruiters have been given recent safer recruitment training and at least one member of each selection day panel has had safer recruitment training
- applicants’ CVs and references are checked before offering interviews
- there are safer recruitment statements on their websites
- all background checks are carried out on salaried applicants
- they have received safeguarding checks for each trainee (training) from the provider
- as a partnership they agree reasons for rejecting or accepting applicants with an offence or caution recorded on their DBS
- trainees all receive safeguarding and prevent training in their own school context, meet the DSL and are trained to understand Keeping Children Safe in Education
- trainees receive further safeguarding and prevent training in their second school placement and again meet DSLs.
Equal Opportunities and Inclusion
The best examples of equal opportunities and inclusion policies include key actions that can be taken to ensure equal opportunities and inclusion practices are embedded throughout an organisation. These can include:
- reviewing recruitment practices to eliminate bias
- collecting data on categories of teacher training applicants/teaching staff for analysis and feedback into improvements in processes
- ensuring clear channels are available to raise queries or complaints.
Another avenue to improve policies is to share best practice with other organisations, so that we can learn from each other.
Tes Institute has developed a range of statements and policies, which can be accessed below: