Regulations: Staying compliant

Written by: Marianne Pope | Published:
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What do you really have to do to stay compliant this year? Do you know the requirements from the myths? Marianne Pope puts some commonly (mis)understood expectations to the test

As a school leader, not only is it tricky to keep track of statutory obligations, but it can be time-consuming to record and report what you have done, especially when there is always so much other work to be getting on with.

Knowing what exactly you really have to do and the things that are more of a “nice to have” is one way to reduce your workload (and your team’s). Statutory requirements always prompt a few misunderstandings, so here’s a quick “true or false?” quiz to clear up some myths.

True or false? Health and safety risk assessments must specifically cover new and expectant mothers

True. If your school has female employees of child-bearing age, then you must have a risk-assessment which specifically addresses the health and safety of new and expectant mothers. You’ll find this requirement nestled in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Given that the majority of teaching staff in England are female, the chances are that this rule will apply to your setting.

True or false? Schools are required to have a curriculum policy covering each subject taught in the school

False. This is one of the most common misconceptions we see in schools, and it is easy to see where the confusion comes from. A curriculum policy is not one of the policies that schools are required to hold. Since it isn’t mandatory, if you do choose to have one, how you write it and what you include are entirely up to you. However, whether you’re in a maintained school or academy you must publish certain information about your curriculum online, including the curriculum content for each subject every year and how parents can find out more.

True or false? Ofsted requires schools to have certain information on their websites

False. Another point of confusion, related to school websites, is the role of Ofsted. While the inspectorate will be checking your website for all the statutory information before you even know a visit is coming, it does not actually stipulate what needs to be there.
As long as you keep your website compliant with the Department for Education’s lists of requirements for maintained schools and academies (see further information) and fully up-to-date, then you will keep the inspectors happy in this respect.

True or false? Schools must publish the destinations of their key stage 5 pupils online

True. If your secondary school includes key stage 5 provision, you must publish on your website the percentage of your students who continue in education or training, or move on to employment at the end of 16 to 19 study.

True or false? Schools must carry out ‘right-to-work in the UK’ checks on governors

True. Or do I mean false? Actually, this was a bit of a trick question. It can be true or false, depending on what type of school you’re in. Since March 2016 maintained schools have needed to carry out enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on their governors, but no other checks are required. If you are in an academy, on the other hand, you must carry out a wider range of checks on your trustees, including whether they have the right to work in the United Kingdom.

True or false? Schools must pass a parent’s phone number to the local authority whenever a pupil is removed from the roll

True. As of September 2016, schools must share much more information with the local authority when a pupil is removed from the roll than was previously the case. This includes an emergency contact telephone number for any parent with whom the pupil normally resides, as well as the parent’s address, and the grounds for deleting the child from the admission register.

True or false? Schools must record DBS certificate numbers on the single central record (SCR)

False. This is another of the most common doubts we encounter among school leaders. While there are plenty of pieces of information that must be recorded on the SCR – see the guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016 – a member of staff’s DBS certificate number is not one of them.

Get it right in 2017

This true or false exercise highlights a small selection of the misconceptions and lesser known requirements school leaders juggle with when trying to ensure compliance. Always seek advice if you are in doubt about what you have to do – not only to make sure you’re always compliant, but also to avoid spending time on something unnecessarily, time that could be better spent on so many other aspects of school leadership.

  • Marianne Pope is a senior researcher at The Key, which provides information and online solutions to the education and wider public sector. The Key is launching Compliance Tracker, a tool to help schools and multi-academy trusts to track their statutory obligations and monitor compliance, in spring 2017. Visit

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