28th October 1994 at 00:00

While welcoming the national campaign for immunisation against rubella, I am concerned about the risks to teenage pupils, who may not wish to admit to being pregnant.


It is the responsibility of the health authority, not the school, to ensure that all girls are clearly advised about this danger. One would hope that a way can be found to ensure that any girl who thinks she might be pregnant knows that she can reveal the fact in confidence to the nurse administering the inoculation.


As an accidental consequence of irresponsible behaviour by pupils, my car has been damaged in the school car park to the tune of Pounds 400. Am I entitled to compensation?


It is likely that your employer, whether local authority or board of governors, does not take responsibility for your car while it is on school premises, even though you are allowed to park it there.

It will not, therefore, take responsibility for any damage which takes place,for whatever reason. Depending on circumstances, some employers are sometimes prepared to make ex gratia payments in partial compensation for such damage and some teachers' unions operate schemes to cover such cases. You do have a right to pursue the culprits, if identified, or their parents, for damages, but this may not be fruitful. If you are comprehensively insured, your only loss may be of part of your no-claims bonus and you may have more success if you confine any other claim to meeting that smaller amount.


The appraisal process is being introduced at my independent school. We were told at a preparatory seminar that we should not be allowed to retain a copy of our appraisal statements. The explanation was that the process was totally confidential and we should not discuss what was said with anyone else. Is this right?


This sounds so absurd that I hope you will not be offended if I say that you may have misunderstood what was said. Although, being an independent school, the appraisal process is not governed by the agreement relating to state schools, most independent schools which have adopted the process have followed a similar system.

It is an important principle of the appraisal process in state schools that the outcome is owned by the appraisee. The agreed statement is indeed confidential between the appraiser and appraisee, except that the head keeps a copy. The appraisee certainly gets a copy and is able to do whatever he or she likes with it. This could include discussing it with colleagues - which might be very helpful in promoting professional development - and it might even be quoted in support of an application for another post.


Since last year's motorway tragedy involving a school minibus, our LEA has insisted that two teachers accompany every minibus trip. Is there anything we can do to avoid such a demanding and, at times, impossible requirement?


The duty to ensure adequate supervision of all school trips, whether by minibus or otherwise, rests with the head, not the local authority.

It would, however, be an unwise head who disregarded the LEA's guidelines: in the event of an accident, this would be difficult to defend.

But I do appreciate your difficulty and the best course of action may be to take up the matter with the LEA, together with other heads in the area. You might wish to persuade them to be more flexible, in two respects.

First, you might ask for a modification relating to the length of the journey, so that it might be permissible to use only one teacher for a very short trip in the minibus, such as taking a sports team to a neighbouring school.

Second, you might very reasonably ask for the second person to be a responsible adult (not necessarily a teacher), so allowing for a parent or member of the support staff to go, instead of a teacher.

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