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In case you missed it: education updates

22nd Apr 2024 | Education | Education services retainer | Legal services Schools and Academies | Mi HR Audit for Education
Children raising their hands in a classroom

In this article, Jill Donabie and Joanne Davison, both partners in our education team, recap several recent legal updates of note.

Safeguarding children in schools and colleges

The Department for Education has launched a consultation seeking views and input on safeguarding practices in schools and colleges to inform an update of the Keeping Children Safe in Education document.

The call for evidence is deliberately broad, covering issues such as safer recruitment, the role of the designated safeguarding lead, quality assurance for safeguarding arrangements and artificial intelligence.

If you would like your views and insights on safeguarding to be considered in the updated policy, you can give your input here. The call for evidence closes on 20 June 2024.

Improve workload and wellbeing for school staff

We are all too aware of the workload that staff at school and colleges have to juggle, and the challenges this presents for time management and wellbeing.

In light of these challenges, the Department for Education has launched a toolkit which aims to promote staff wellbeing and support the reduction of workloads. The toolkit contains a range of resources and provides guidance on matters such as feedback and marking, behaviour management and curriculum planning.

The resources in the toolkit have been prepared by school leaders, for school leaders. While your school or college will need to take care to tailor the support to the specific needs of your staff, the toolkit may prove a valuable starting point.

The toolkit can be accessed here.

Flexible working in schools

From 6 April 2024, employees have had a "day one" right to make a request for flexible working under the statutory scheme for any reason.

On 8 April 2024, non-statutory guidance on flexible working was released by the Department for Education.

It looks at good practice in education settings and provides information on the process for flexible working requests, key considerations for leaders and potential challenges.

The guidance can be found here and is supplemented by the DfE resources on flexible working here.

Changes to academy conversion grants

The Department for Education (DfE) is changing the way it awards grants to schools that voluntarily choose to become academies. 

Currently, schools that apply to become academies are eligible for a £25,000 conversion grant.

From 1 September 2024, the qualification criteria will change; schools that choose to convert to academy status and join a MAT will only be eligible for the grant if the application is made with two or more other schools.

Each school in the group will be entitled to the full £25,000. 

If your school has not already started a conversion application and would like to receive the £25,000 grant (without the need to group together with other schools), you must register your interest to convert to an academy by 26 April 2024 and submit your application by 7 June 2024. You can find out more information here.

Updates to significant change guidance 

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance on making significant changes to academies. The changes came into effect on 22 April 2024. 

The updated guidance sets out a new process for academies to follow when looking to make a significant change and expands the circumstances in which the process must be followed.

Academies should consult the new guidance before making any organisational changes, such as changing the capacity or changing the age range.

The new guidance can be accessed here

For more information on safeguarding children, improved workloads and wellbeing for school staff or flexible working, please contact Jill using [email protected] or 0191 211 78 99. If you'd like to know more about academy conversion grants or the significant change guidance for academies, please contact [email protected] or call 0191 211 7958.

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