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Q. This school allows pupils to attend courses in motor cycle training where the parents pay the course fees directly to the organisers. As it is promoted by the school, a member of staff accompanies the pupils. Does the school have any responsibility in the event of an accident?

A. If the school is as closely involved as you suggest, parents are likely to infer that, even though they are paying the course organisers, the activity is, to some degree, a part of the school's extra-curricular activities. I am sure that the organiser is fully covered against possible liabilities - you should check this and not take it for granted - but you should also check with your school insurers that they will cover any liability which might be attached to the school arising out of this activity.

Q. A parent has appealed against the refusal of a statement for his child to the new Special Needs Tribunal. The authority says it will call me, as Head, and my Co-ordinator for Special Needs to the hearing as witnesses. Must we attend? Can we claim expenses?

A. As employees of the local authority, you are bound to act upon their reasonable direction and the requirement to support the authority in this case would seem reasonable.

You are entitled, however, to claim for expenses incurred in carrying out the direction and a refusal to undertake to meet that claim, within the terms normally operated by the authority in such matters, would render the direction unreasonable.

Q. We are to have an Ofsted inspection and, being a church school, we can select the RE Inspector. We intend to choose a person known to us and the governors want to employ him as a consultant as well, both before and after the inspection. Should we do this?

A. Certainly not. Ofsted has warned its inspection teams not to use the opportunity of inspection to seek additional employment as consultants and, even though the approach in this instance was coming from the client, it would appear to threaten the integrity of the inspection. It would be feasible to employ this consultant after the inspection, once a decent interval has elapsed: his familiarity with the school would be an advantage, but I do not think you should invite him beforehand or, if you did, that he should accept the commission.

Questions should be sent to Helpline, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200.

e-mail: letters@tes.1.demon.co.uk

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