4th July 2003 at 01:00
I AM retiring from headship this summer. What are my responsibilities concerning teachers applying to pass through the threshold or for progress up the upper pay spine?

The head is retired. Long live the head! The responsibilities are attached to the post, not to the individual. It may be a little morbid to say so, but answers to these problems would have to be found, had you fallen under a bus. In any case, many of them belong formally to the governing body, not the head.

In practice, of course, the head takes the leading role in advising the governors, and your successor will be in considerable difficulty dealing with these matters, unless he or she has inherited evidence available. In respect of those seeking to cross the threshold, the responsibility for making the case rests with the applicants. The head's task is simply to validate the evidence. Your successor will have to do that and the advice of a deputy may prove valuable. Any notes which you may have left will, no doubt, also be useful, but the responsibility for the decision will rest with your successor.

Much the same applies to the upper pay spine, although this issue is more for the governors. It is further complicated for them because they have to determine whether they have sufficient funds to pay for all those who satisfy the criteria. Your successor will find it hard to advise the governors. Your comments, plus the assessments of the senior management team, will be the only bases upon which a judgment could be reached.

AT this school we insist that all students remain on the premises during the midday break. Parents are well aware of our rule and most support it.

What should be our response to a parent who demands that her son be allowed to leave the site?

While your policy of taking care of your students at midday is commendable and meets with approval from most parents, you are not on strong ground in refusing permission to leave on receipt of a written parental request. The school is not in session and the parents have the right to take the child back into their care. The school is not responsible for the student's behaviour while he is out of school.

IS it true that a teacher who is granted early retirement on health grounds is entitled to full pay until he leaves, even though he has been absent for more than six months?

That depends. What you are quoting here is section 4, paragraph 6.1, of the Burgundy Book, the conditions of service for teachers in England and Wales.

This states that, when a teacher is "given notice of the termination of hisher contract without returning to work on the ground of permanent incapacity or for some other reason related to the sickness absence, heshe shall be paid full salary for the notice period".

This applies whether the teacher is on half pay, or no pay at all, having exhausted his entitlement. It is important to note that this condition applies when the employer terminates the contract, not when the employee resigns. An employer is bound to terminate the contract of someone who has been declared permanently incapacitated and an employee in this situation might conclude that it was sensible to agree the date of termination, but not to tender a resignation.

Questions for this column should be addressed to Archimedes at The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or

The writer's confidentiality will be respected

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