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OUR school is combining with a neighbouring school to take part in an overseas exchange programme. Can I be asked to take responsibility for pupils from another school?

You can be asked to take responsibility, but you do not have to accept, any more than you do for the pupils at your own school.

A teacher taking a group abroad is essentially a volunteer, although this in no way diminishes the duty of care which is being undertaken.

If the head of the neighbouring school is satisfied that you are a fit person to take charge of his students, and has explained the situation fully to the parents, there should be no problem about your legal position as party leader. You will be in exactly the same position in respect of the outside pupils as you are with your own.

You, the pupils and any other staff need to understand clearly the nature of your authority in respect of those pupils, and of the emergency arrangements that are in place. Preferably this should be put in writing.

AS a community school, we are dissatisfied with our local education authority and would like to convert to foundation status. How do we go about it?

This is covered by Schedule 8 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, which allows for a change of category of a community school to a foundation school, where it is proposed by the LEA, or for any change from one category to another, where it is proposed by the governing body.

The governors must publish a statutory proposal, allowing time for consultation and objections. This is then presented to the school organisation committee of the LEA. If it is unanimously agreed, the plan goes ahead. If there are objections, the matter is referred to the independent adjudicator, whose decision is final.

Guidance on the process may be obtained from the Department for Education and Skills by post or from its website: Archimedes

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