In the first of a new series, Stephen Adamson advises school leaders on important forthcoming legislation
Do you ever get tired of trailers on TV? They are the BBC's compensation for not being allowed to carry advertising. Instead of showing cars zooming over surreal landscapes, the Beeb bombards us with clips of upcoming programmes. By the time the show finally turns up, it's so familiar that it feels like a repeat.
Some government policies get equal advance billing; others are put out more quietly. Surely, few governing bodies can be unaware that the annual parents' meeting is yesterday's man - but they should remember that this year they are still obligated to hold it, or follow a prescribed procedure if they don't want to.
Likewise, the school profile has been announced for a whole year, but don't imagine that you've seen it yet - because it is still in the editing suite at the Department for Education and Skills.
Often, the most interesting TV programmes lurk unheralded in the schedules.
Similarly, how many governors have pencilled in time for the Education (Review of Staffing Structure)(England) Regulations 2005, or have registered the consultation on the draft Statutory Guidance on May Pay Order? Yet the regulations (now in draft form) are due to come into force onMay 1, and will oblige governing bodies of maintained schools to undertake a major overhaul of their schools' staffing structures.
Governors must review the management and deployment of all staff - teachers, managers, and support staff. As the guidance puts it. this "must be a complete review, not an assimilation exercise". They must examine the pay and conditions of their teachers in relation to the school teachers'
pay and conditions document, and decide whether to change the grading and pay of support staff. In conducting the review, they must consult all staff and unions that represent them.
Teaching and learning responsibilities (TLR) do not appear in the draft rules, but are prominent in the guidance. Management allowances are out. In their place governing bodies are to determine this autumn what TLR posts they are to create (if any), which of the two possible levels they will be at, the pay appropriate to each, and who will get them. This should be in the context of an explicit pay policy to which the staffing structure should be appended.
The draft regulations state that the head must advise the governors, who must consider that advice. In practice, "advice" will mean "the bulk of the work", but the onus to ensure the review is carried out and decisions are made is on the governors.
Responsibility for doing something about the head's work-life balance is also written into the regulations. Governors are required to bear in mind the "desirability" of the heads achieving a balance between their "professional duties" and "the time required to pursue his (sic) personal interests outside work".
Unusually with rules directly affecting governing bodies, these are one-off. You must conduct the review by the end of this calendar year, not every year. It is a big task that cannot be put off.
Another important consultation for governors is not on a DfES channel, but on the Disability Rights Commission one. This is a new draft code of practice, attendant on the Disability Discrimination Bill, now going through Parliament. (Bear in mind that the draft of this Bill was first laid before Parliament in December 2003.) If passed, it will oblige public authorities, including local education authorities, and through them schools, to take more steps to eliminate discrimination against the disabled and ensure that they can enjoy equality of opportunity and access with the non-disabled.
The emphasis in the code is on consolidation rather than radical change.
There will be a tightening of the exceptions on grounds of expense that schools and other public bodies have been able to use hitherto. That does not mean all schools will have to get expensive builders in to improve disabled access overnight, but they should be considering their provision for disabled pupils and adults when drawing up their development plans.
Any governing body that thought its obligations were over when it met the basic requirements of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 had better tune in.
While most of these changes will come about whatever happens on May 5, a change of management could produce a complete overhaul of the schedules.