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HCR Law Events

13 August 2021

The essential policies for your academy

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance note “Statutory policies for schools and academy trusts” which can be found here. The guidance confirms how often policies must be reviewed and the level of approval required, as not all policies require sign off by the full governing body.

 

The policies which apply to your academy

Policies must be regularly reviewed and approved by the appropriate people at your academy. Whilst most policies should be reviewed annually, there are some which must be treated as ‘live documents’, meaning that they are subject to review and update as often as necessary and should not await an annual update.

Set out below is a table of policies or documents which your academy should have in place, how often the requirements should be reviewed, and the level of approval which is required:

Policy / documents Review cycle Approval level
Register of pupils’ admission to school and attendance register Live document Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
School information published on a website Live document Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Single central record of recruitment and vetting checks Live document Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Register of business interests of headteachers and governors Live document Governing body can delegate approval, subject to the local authority scheme
Charging and remissions Annually Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Data protection Annually Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Protection of biometric information of children in schools and colleges Annually Governing body
School complaints Annually Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Capability of staff Annually Governing body or individual governor
Early career teachers Annually Governing body
Staff discipline, conduct and grievance (procedures for addressing) Annually Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Statement of procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse against staff Annually Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Child protection policy and procedures Annually Governing body or proprietor
Children with health needs who cannot attend school Annually Governing body
Designated teacher for looked-after and previously looked-after children Annually Governing body
Special educational needs and disability Annually Governing body or proprietor
Supporting pupils with medical conditions Annually Governing body can delegate
Behaviour in schools Annually Headteacher can delegate
School exclusion Annually Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Health and safety Annually Employer
First aid in schools Annually Employer
Premises management documents Annually Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Early years foundation stage (EYFS) Varies – see DfE guidance Governing body can delegate
Careers guidance: details of your careers programme and a provider access statement Annually Governing body
Accessibility plan Every three years Governing body, individual governor or headteacher
Equality information and objectives (public sector equality duty) statement for publication Every four years Governing body, individual governor or headteacher

 

Admission arrangements

Admission arrangements for your academy must be determined each year, and a consultation must be held in respect of any changes. If changes are not necessary, a consultation is required every seven years, even when no changes are made.

 

Administration and data

Charging and remissions requirements apply to academies pursuant to your funding agreement. It is recommended that a review is carried out each year. Approval can be delegated to a committee of the governing body, an individual governor or the headteacher if preferable.

Pursuant to the Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018, academies must be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and adhere to GDPR requirements. Governing bodies, an individual governor or headteacher should review this requirement each year.

 

Early years foundation stage (EYFS)

Academies which deliver EYFS must have policies and procedures in place to cover safeguarding and welfare. However, separate policies to cover EYFS requirements are not necessary where the requirements are already met through an existing policy or policies.

In terms of the requirements, an EYFS profile assessment is necessary for each child during the academic year they reach the age of five, whilst nursery settings which cater for children under three must complete a summary check when a child is aged two.

Academies should refer to the guidance ‘Statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage’ for full detail of the requirements.

 

Behaviour

The headteacher is free to decide how often the behaviour policy is reviewed. However, the general rule of thumb is that this should be reviewed at least annually, although the headteacher may delegate approval of the behaviour policy to an appropriate individual.

 

Health and safety

Academies are not required to have specific health and safety policies in place. However, the DfE has produced non-statutory guidance which academies are recommended to follow, and we would recommend this is encompassed in a policy for clarity. Any policy should be reviewed annually.

 

Premises management

Many aspects of school premises require safe management and maintenance, including asbestos, fire safety and statutory testing. Academies must ensure that the policies, procedures and the condition of the estate are compliant with appropriate legislation, including health and safety. The necessary requirements should be reviewed annually.

 

Practical steps

Academies are strongly advised, unless the guidance specifies that a review should be carried out more frequently, that policies and requirements are reviewed annually. It is also important that where there is a change in the law or circumstances, academies revise their policies or documentation accordingly.

We recommend that academies review the list of policies and documents which the guidance states are required and:

  • ensure that the necessary policies are in place
  • check when each policy was last reviewed, and when it will need to be reviewed again
  • consider any recent changes, such as the DfE’s updated “Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021” and “Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment between children in schools and colleges 2021” which come into force in September 2021, and ensure that key updates are reflected in all relevant policies

Ensuring that policies are updated and reflective of current requirements is essential to ensuring that your academy is operated correctly and in accordance with the funding agreement.

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About the Author
Emma Swann, Partner, Head of Academies

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