Matters you must attend to

Governing bodies have extensive legal duties and obligations. Governors can meet many of their responsibilities by ensuring the school has agreed policies which are disseminated and regularly reviewed. Although extensive documentation can seem bureaucratic, adherence to these policies will ensure that the school is being run efficiently and effectively.

All school documents and policies mustbe compatible with the requirements of national legislation. Set out here is a list of school documents and policies which are essential, either because they are statutory, or because they are concerned with important schoolmatters.

NO PHYSICAL FILE Action Plan: Responding to the key issues in an Office for Standards in Education inspection report.

Admissions: Giving the criteria for admissions to the school and describing an appeals procedure.

Annual governors' report to parents: Circulated to all parents. Must report examination performance, progress on delivering the post-inspection action plan, policies and other information on a specified, large number of diverse matters.

Appointment of staff: Agreeing governor and any other representation at the appointment of staff.

Assessment: Describing the arrangements for assessing, recording and reporting pupils' progress.

Attendance: Sets out the school approach to recording authorised and unauthorised absence and liaison with parents and the education welfare service.

Behaviour, discipline rewards: States the school's expectations and informs parents of rewards and sanctions, including detention. Can include an obligation for parents to pay for any breakages caused by pupil misbehaviour. May also contain the school approach to dealing with bullying.

Careers education work experience: Describes the content and organisation of careers education and work experience.

Charging: Explains the charges the school will make for activities outside school hours, residential activities, public examinations, music tuition and material costs for subjects. States approach to parental voluntary contributions.

Child protection: Names the designated member of staff and sets out child protection procedures to deal with allegations of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

Complaints and conciliation: Statutory when concerned with complaints about the curriculum, admissions, or charging. An extended procedure can concern itself with more general complaints.

Collective Worship: Sets out the school approach to the content and organisation of collective worship and assemblies.

Curriculum: The school must have a statement of curricular aims. The school must promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and of society and prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.

Equal Opportunities: Expresses the school's general duty to ensure that there is no discrimination on the grounds of disability, race or sex. States a commitment to equality of opportunity and describes methods of monitoring provision.

Financial management: Sets out standards for financial probity, such as audit procedures, requirements to go to tender for work to be carried out and the specific responsibilities delegated to the headteacher and to other staff.

Harassment: Describes the school procedure for dealing with allegations of sexual or racial harassment.

Health and safety: Includes arrangements to ensure that the school environment is healthy and safe, for example, procedures for dealing with accidents, first aid, fire drills, hazardous machinery, infectious diseases, bodily spillage, risk assessment, etc.

Homework: Details the school's approach to homework.

Learning and teaching: A brief statement of the school's commitment to differentiation and a variety of teaching styles and modes of learning. The school's teaching methods must be included in the prospectus.

Marking: Standard procedures for marking books and informs pupils and parents of grades and specific annotations used.

Monitoring: The ways in which senior staff and governors will monitor the work of the school, including lesson observation, surveys etc.

Pay Policy: Avoids unlawful or unfair discrimination and takes into account national requirements on pay and conditions of service. States criteria used to determine pay and approach to performance- related pay.

Personal Property: Advises pupils to avoid bringing expensive items to school and tries to minimise the school's responsibility for pupils' possessions which are lost, damaged, or stolen.

Political Matters: Forbids the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject and states a requirement for balanced teaching.

Prospectus: Must contain examination performance, school ethos and information on large number of specified, diverse matters.

School Aims and Values: An explicit statement of the school's aims and its values.

School development plan: The school's major planning document setting out priorities and specific long and short term, costed objectives.

Sex and health education: In all maintained primary schools except aided schools, the governing body is responsible for deciding whether sex education should be included in the curriculum, for keeping a record of that decision and for deciding the policy on the content and organisation of the relevant part of the curriculum. All maintained secondary schools must make provision for sex education and have a written statement of policy. Sex education policy is usually contained in a broader health, or personal and social education, policy. This policy often includes drugs education and should emphasise moral considerations and the value of family life.

Special Educational Needs: Meets requirements of the "Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs".

Staff Discipline: Staff disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Vested interests: A register of staff and governors' pecuniary interests in the running of the school.

Visits and journeys: Describes arrangements to be made when organising a school visit, outdoor activity, or journey. Addresses issues such as information to parents, staff supervision, emergency arrangements, minibus procedures and adherence to regulations concerning potentially hazardous activities.

Compiled by Martin Titchmarsh, head of Nobel School, Stevenage

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