When a head's job is ring-fenced

25th January 2008 at 00:00
School reorganisations are increasingly common and can create complex issues for school leaders, both as managers and employees.

In Wales recently, a local authority decided to close an infant and junior school and open a primary school on the same site with the same teachers and pupils. With the infant head retiring, the excellently performing junior school head thought the job of boss of the new school would be hers.

However, because there is no change of employer, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 - known in the trade as Tupe - do not apply so the employment does not transfer automatically.

Worse, for the junior head, she was told the head and deputy posts had to be advertised nationally, under the Staffing of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2006.

She was faced with having to apply and compete for what she reasonably considered to be her job.

The local authority was persuaded to extend the age range of the junior school and close the infant school. So there was no new school and no vacancy.

In England, the position is different because the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2003 provide that vacancies need not be advertised if the governing body has "a good reason" not to. Whitehall guidance advises that a good reason might be that a new or merged school is formed from an immediately pre-existing school. If there is more than one potential candidate for the post, it can be ring-fenced.

For voluntary-aided or foundation schools (where the governing body is the employer), Tupe rules probably will apply as there will be a change of employer and contracts will transfer automatically.

Simon Thomas, Solicitor, National Association of Head Teachers.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today