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Private advice

Want a job in teaching without the national curriculum, OFSTED reports or with different pay or conditions? Independent schools are free to operate outside many of the requirements of the Education Acts and are not covered by national pay and conditions agreements, says a new booklet on the employment rights of those who work in them, just published by the Professional Association of Teachers.

Independent schools can set their own salaries and other conditions. Some follow those that are statutory in the maintained sector but many do not. "It is in these schools more than most that teachers need to be aware of rights and obligations imposed by general law," says the guide.

Written by the PAT's solicitor, David Brierley, the booklet covers employment contracts, pay, disciplinary procedures, accommodation, redundancy, pensions, health and safety, and - since independent school employment may not be any more secure than in maintained schools - closures and amalgamations.

It says the fundamental difference between working in independent and state-maintained schools lies in the relationship between the school and the parent. In maintained schools the statutory obligation to educate a child underpins this relationship whereas in independent schools there is no such statutory background. Instead, the law of contract applies and if the school's promises are broken parents may be able to withold or recover fees.

Independent Schools (Pounds 3.40 to non-members of PAT) from the Professional Association of Teachers, 2 St James' Court, Friar Gate, Derby DE1 1BT (01332 372337)

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