School leaders and governors aren’t expected to know the answer to every question, and we know there’s plenty of questions on your mind. That’s why, through a subscription to TheSchoolBus, you have access to our question and answer service, where our dedicated research team are on hand to answer any questions you have.

Our research team conduct extensive research to find you the answer you need – we’ll read through any relevant guidance or legislation, liaise with our sector specialists and contact other organisations, such as the DfE, ICO and HSE, to make sure we have all the necessary information to answer your questions.

To showcase the wonderful work our research editors do, we decided to give away the answer to our most popular question of the week!

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Q: Are there certain types of information that schools are required to publish within their ‘guide to information’, such as a schedule of fees?

Guide to information

Schools are required to publish information to the public within their ‘guide to information’, wherever possible this should be provided on your school’s website. Otherwise, you should indicate how this information can be obtained by other means.[1]

The ICO has established seven model categories that your school can use when publishing information:

  • Who we are and what we do – organisational information, locations and contacts, constitutional and legal governance
  • What we spend and how we spend it – projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts
  • What our priorities are and how we are doing – strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews
  • How we make decisions – policy proposals and decisions, decision-making processes, internal criteria and procedures, consultations
  • Our policies and procedures – current written protocols for delivering your functions and responsibilities
  • Lists and registers – information held in registers required by law and other lists, and registers relating to the functions of the authority
  • The services we offer – advice and guidance, booklets and leaflets, transactions, media releases, and a description of the services offered (ICO, 2015, p.2)

You are expected to make this information publicly available, unless:

  • Your school does not hold the required information.
  • The information is exempt under one of the Freedom of Information Act 2004 exemptions or Environmental Information Regulations 2004 exceptions, or its release is prohibited under another statute.
  • The information is readily and publicly available from a third-party website, such as an MAT’s website rather than a specific academy’s. If this information has been provided previously, either by your school or on its behalf, you must provide a direct link to that information.
  • The information is archived, out of date or otherwise inaccessible.
  • It would be impractical or resource-intensive to prepare the material for routine release.[2]

In instances where any of the seven categories are not applicable, or you do not have access to the information required, your school should publicise why the suggested information will not be published.

Schedule of fees

If your school does not have standard fees, such as boarding or tuition, then your school does not need to publish a schedule of fees – this is only applicable for charges that are payable specifically under the publication scheme.[3]

You can click here to access the ICO’s guidance for information to include within your guide to information.

[1] ICO (2019) ‘Model publication scheme’ p.2-3

[2] ICO (2019) ‘Freedom of Information Act 2000 Definition document for the governing bodies of maintained and other state-funded schools in England’ p.1-2

[3] ICO (2019) (Online message regarding schedule of fees) [Personal communication: 7 October 2019]

Tuesday 08 October 2019

Q: Do schools need to give pupils that are leaving the premises during school hours an authorisation slip?

We can confirm that this is a local decision, usually made by the headteacher or governing board, and that there is no statutory requirement for schools to provide pupils with a slip that authorises them to be off the school premises during school hours, e.g. to attend a medical appointment.[1]

[1] DfE (2019) (Telephone communication regarding pupils leaving the school site) [Personal communication: 1 October 2019]

Tuesday 01 October 2019

Q: Are governing bodies in a VA school obliged to read Keeping Children Safe in Education? And if so, is it the whole document or just Part 1?

In line with the guidance set out in ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE), all staff must read at least part one. Governors of maintained schools, which includes voluntary-aided schools, are also required to read the guidance in full.

You can find this requirement on page four of KCSIE, where it states the statutory guidance should be read and followed by:

  • Governing bodies of maintained schools (including maintained nursery schools) and colleges;
  • Proprietors of independent schools (including academies, free schools and alternative provision academies) and non-maintained special schools. In the case of academies, free schools and alternative provision academies, the proprietor will be the academy trust; and
  • Management committees of pupil referral units (PRUs).[1]

In addition, part two of KCSIE states governors ‘must have regard to this guidance, ensuring that policies, procedures and training in their schools or colleges are effective and comply with the law at all times’.[2]

Part two of KCSIE also outlines the responsibilities of governors in the school’s safeguarding arrangements. The DfE’s ‘Governance handbook’ states it is ‘best practice’ for governors to make sure they have the knowledge and information needed to carry out these arrangements.[3]

Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 places a statutory duty on maintained schools to promote and safeguard the welfare of children, and to have due regard to related guidance issued by the DfE.[4]

In summary, your school’s governors are required to read KCSIE in full so they understand their responsibilities to ensure the school’s safeguarding arrangements are robust and meet legal responsibilities.

[1] DfE (2019) ‘Keeping children safe in education: Statutory guidance for schools and colleges’ p.4

[2] DfE (2019) ‘Keeping children safe in education: Statutory guidance for schools and colleges’, para.54

[3] DfE (2019) Governance Handbook: For academies, multi-academy trusts and maintained schools’ para.168

[4] Education Act 2002, section 175, (2) and (4)


Tuesday 24 September 2019

Q: Are Looked After Children and Adopted Children entitled to free school meals?

Looked-after children (LAC) and previously looked-after children (PLAC), including adopted children, are not automatically eligible for free school meals (FSM). [1] FSM are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (provided they have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of their most recent assessment periods)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit (DfE, p.5)

Whilst pupils may not be eligible for FSM by virtue of their LAC or PLAC status, LAC and PLAC may of course be eligible under the above criteria. It is worth noting that both LAC and PLAC are eligible for the pupil premium.[2]

[1] DfE (2018) ‘Free school meals’, p.5

[2] ESFA (2019) ‘Pupil premium: conditions of grant 2019 to 2020’, paras. 3.2 and 10

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Q: Can we use the Sports Grant to help fund a holiday club (with a sports focus)?

You can use the PE and sport premium to help fund your school’s sports-focussed holiday club. [1] 

The DfE’s ‘PE and sport premium for primary schools’ guidance indicates that the PE and sport premium should be used to:

  • Develop or add to the PE, physical activity and sport activities that your school already offers.
  • Build capacity and capability within your school to ensure that improvements made now will benefit pupils joining the school in future years.

This means that funding allocations include supporting and involving the least active children by providing targeted activities, and running or extending school sports and holiday clubs. You can also use this funding to partner with other schools to provide sports activities and clubs. (DfE, section 6)

The DfE will be providing further information on allocations and guidance on the PE and sport premium for 2019/2020.

[1] DfE (2019) ‘PE and sport premium for primary schools’, section 6 <> [Accessed: 9 September 2019]

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Q: Does Ofsted have a published opinion on the use of mock Ofsted inspections?

Ofsted has publicly shared the view that they “do not expect, or want, schools to prepare for inspections. Schools should do nothing other than focus on providing a good education”.[1]

Ofsted has also banned inspectors from offering such services to schools: “Unless asked to do so as part of their role with Ofsted, OIs [Ofsted inspectors] must not use the ‘Ofsted Inspector’ title or Ofsted’s branding in any activity, especially those that include speaking publicly on matters related to the work of, or within areas of interest to, Ofsted. Ofsted does not support the notion of preparing for inspection. Therefore, OIs who provide this type of service (‘mocksteds’) will be unable to continue in their role as an OI.”[2]

The NUT, now part of the NEU, also advised against the use of mock inspections, stating: “Mocksteds are becoming a common characteristic of schools across the board, regardless of Ofsted ranking… This cannot be the best use of teachers’ time and is subjecting young people in schools to unnecessary stress.” (The Independent, para. 6)

Finally, the DfE, commenting on Ofsted’s decision to ban inspectors from conducting mock inspections, stated that “headteachers do not need to prepare for visits from Ofsted”. (The Independent, para. 16)

[1] The Independent (2015) ‘Schools spending thousands of pounds of public money trying to unfairly boost Ofsted results’ <> [Accessed: 5 September 2019]

[2] Ofsted (2019) ‘Conflicts of interest’, para. 23

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Q: Is there a list of Trust policies an MAT should have? Recently some academies have been asked by the ESFA for their MAT policies, and whether the academies within the trust have the same policy. Is there a list of MAT-wide policies that Trusts should have? If not, can you suggest one?

As per the ‘Academies financial handbook 2019’, trusts are required to have the following in place:

  • A whistleblowing procedure, which could take the form of a policy
  • When considering an investment, an investment policy
  • For procurement and spending decisions, a tendering policy [1]

Apart from the above list, MATs are not required to implement trust-wide policies; however, you may choose to do so to ensure there is a consistent message, ethos and procedure for areas such as health and safety and HR which reflect your trust’s core values and meet statutory responsibilities. While it is for your MAT to decide whether policies are implemented on a trust-wide basis, it is recommended that policies or procedures for the following areas are implemented on a trust-wide level:

  • Accessibility
  • Admissions
  • Allegations of abuse
  • Anti-bullying (separate policies for pupils and staff)
  • Behaviour
  • Business and pecuniary interests
  • Charging and remissions
  • Complaints procedures
  • Child protection and safeguarding
  • Children missing education
  • Conflicts of interest
  • The control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
  • Critical incidents
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Educational visits and school trips
  • Equal opportunities and dignity at work
  • Exclusions
  • Fire safety
  • Gifts, hospitality and anti-bribery
  • Grievances
  • Invacuation, lockdown and evacuation
  • Managing investigations
  • Marketing and communications
  • Performance management
  • Records management
  • Redundancy and restructuring
  • School uniform
  • SEND
  • Staff and volunteer code of conduct and confidentiality agreement
  • Staff expenses
  • Staff IT and electronic devices
  • Teachers’ and support staff pay
  • Trustee expenses
  • Supporting pupils with medical conditions [2]

It would also be considered good practice to implement policies covering the following:

  • ICT acceptable use
  • Communications
  • Debt recovery
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Environmental issues
  • Bereavement
  • Flexible working
  • Infection control
  • Injury at work
  • Job sharing
  • Lettings
  • LGBTQ+
  • Premises management
  • School security (Wadley, personal communication)

Please note that the policies listed above are not statutory for MATs and some of the procedures included in the policies we have suggested may be covered within an overarching policy, which is for your trust to decide. If you choose to implement trust-wide policies, these will need to include information that can be amended to ensure they reflect the needs and processes of each academy within your trust. (Wadley, personal communication)

You may wish to refer to the DfE’s ‘Statutory policies for schools’ document which outlines the policies that are statutory for individual academies.

If you are still in doubt regarding which policies to implement on a trust-wide level, the ESFA recommends that you seek advice from your trust’s legal advisors.[3]

[1] ESFA (2019) ‘Academies financial handbook 2019’, p.19-22

[2] Wadley, N., (2019) (Email conversation regarding recommended MAT policies) [Personal communication: 21 August 2019]

[3] ESFA (2019) (Email conversation regarding MAT policies) [Personal communication: 19 August 2019]

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Q: In what circumstances should the Allegations of Abuse Against Staff Policy and Complaints Procedures Policy be initiated?

An allegation would need to meet the criteria outlined in ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) to be considered under the school’s Allegations of Abuse Against Staff Policy. This policy should be used in all cases where it is alleged that a teacher or member of staff has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child.
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child.
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children.[1]

Any claim that relates to non-compliance with policies or procedures, or dissatisfaction with actions taken or a lack of action, should be considered under the Complaints Procedures Policy.[2]

A key part of decision making will be ensuring that these policies make clear the remit and circumstances in which each policy will apply, to ensure the school is able to respond to each case appropriately. (Wadley, personal communication)

For example, if a parent has accused a member of staff of unlawfully restraining a pupil, this would need to be considered under the Allegations of Abuse Against Staff Policy, as it is a potential criminal offence and the pupil may have been harmed. Whereas, if a parent has accused the school of not providing sufficient SEND support for their child, and this has had a negative impact on their child’s wellbeing, this should be considered under the Complaints Procedures Policy, as it can be regarded as dissatisfaction with a lack of action to support the pupil. (Wadley, personal communication)

In all circumstances where it is alleged a pupil has been harmed as per the criteria in paragraph 188 of KCSIE, the Allegations of Abuse Against Staff Policy should be used – the safeguarding of pupils is paramount and must be considered a priority in all cases. (Wadley, personal communication)

Our model Allegations of Abuse Against Staff Policy and Complaints Procedures Policy outline the criteria under which you can determine whether a claim would be considered an allegation or a complaint and the processes for handling these.

[1] DfE (2018) ‘Keeping children safe in education’, p.51, para. 188

[2] Wadley, N., (2019) (Email conversation regarding allegations and complaints) [Personal communication: 5 July 2019]

Tuesday 09 July 2019

Q: Can a member of staff who is being seconded to us be a staff governor?  If the answer is 'yes' would they have normal voting rights?  If the answer is 'no', could they come 'in attendance' with no voting rights (they are our deputy head)?

Any member of staff employed by the governing board or LA under a contract of employment to work at the school is eligible to be a staff governor.[1]

For the staff member that has been seconded to your school, the contract of employment lies with the substantive employer, i.e. where they were seconded from. If the staff member has been seconded to your school from within your LA, then they would meet the staff governor eligibility requirements and would have normal voting rights.[2]

If the staff member is employed substantively by an academy (i.e. they were seconded to your school from an academy), and not part of the LA, they would not be eligible for staff governor elections. (FusionHR, personal communication)

In these situations, the staff member can attend governing board meetings, but will not have voting rights. The governing board should decide which meetings the staff member will attend – how this decision is made is up to the board, e.g. they could do this on an annual basis or prior to each meeting. The board also needs to decide what meeting paperwork and information the attendee would have access to, if any. (Wadley, personal communication)

[1] Wadley, N., (2019) (Email communication regarding staff governor eligibility and voting rights) [Personal communication: 3 July 2019]

[2] FusionHR (2019) (Email communication regarding contracts of employment for seconded staff members) [Personal communication: 3 July 2019]

Tuesday 02 July 2019

Q: Which first aid course should employees within a school environment take in order to meet the school’s legal requirements?

A first aider must hold a valid certificate of competence. Information on some organisations that offer training is available in Annex B of the DfE’s ‘First aid in schools’ guidance. Providers will often tailor courses to schools and their specific needs – you should ensure that your training provider offers guidance on resuscitating children and any other needs specific to your school. [1] 

The DfE and HSE are unable to recommend or approve first aid training programmes and providers. Schools are best placed to establish staff members’ needs and organise appropriate training. It is, therefore, your headteacher’s and governing board’s responsibility to:

  • Determine how many members of staff should be first aid trained – note that not all members of staff need to receive first aid training and they cannot be made to do it.
  • Establish how many first aiders should be available on the school site at any time.
  • Decide which provider will be used to deliver first aid training.[2]

First aid certificates are valid for three years and refresher training should be arranged before certificates expire – if the certificate expires, the staff member will not be considered capable of administering first aid. The HSE recommends that refresher training is delivered annually. You should keep a record of first aiders and certification dates. (DfE, p.9-10)

The minimum first aid provision that you must ensure is:

  • A suitably stocked first aid container.
  • An appropriate person to take charge of first aid arrangements.
  • Information for employees about first aid arrangements. (DfE, p. 3)

The above requirements must be supplemented with a risk assessment to determine any additional needs. First aid provision must be available at all times while people are on the school premises, and also off the premises whilst on school visits. (DfE, p. 3)

[1] DfE (2014) ‘First aid in schools’, p. 3-10

[2] DfE (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding first aiders in schools) [Personal communication: 24 June 2019]

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Q: Can schools use dashcams in school-owned vehicles?

Schools are able to use dashcams on school vehicles; however, they must have due regard to the GDPR.[1]

When installing a dashcam, schools must:

  • Identify a lawful basis for processing data – find more information on lawful bases here.
  • Include the use of the dashcam in the school’s privacy notice – access our range of privacy notices here.  (ICO, personal communication)
  • Provide suitable signage on the vehicle to ensure all data subjects, including pedestrians, are aware of the dashcam. Find more information on suitable signage here.[2]

Please note that, because dashcams are a type of surveillance, the school’s practices must also be in line with their CCTV policy. Schools can access a copy of our policy in the ‘Related content’ section (found to the right of this page).

[1] ICO (2019) (Email communication regarding the use of dashcams in school-owned vehicles) [Personal communication: 20 June 2019]

[2] TLT (2018) ‘Dashcams and data protection’, para.4 <> [Accessed: 20 June 2019]

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Q:  Do we need to obtain consent from parents to use educational apps? 

How does this apply to sixth form pupils whoa re 16+ to 18+? Do we need specific consent from the student to inform parents/carers via a messaging app of the students absence, attendance, behaviour, progress and achievement? Do all these need to be separate consents or specifically listed on one privacy notice (or consent form) for students to choose?How often does this consent (if needed) need to be reviewed and does it have to be reviewed at the point the student turns 18?

Also, is there any provision in the Education Act (or other such legislation) that allows a sixth form to inform parents and carers of the above?

Once a student reaches 18-years-old, parents do not have a right to access their educational information, e.g. behaviour and attendance. This means that students’ permission would need to be sought before it can be disclosed.[1]

For students under 18-years-old, as an academy, you are not required to provide students’ educational information to parents in the same way a maintained school is. The duty to provide students’ educational information is set out in your funding agreement, so you should review this. The lawful basis for providing parents with the data will depend on your funding agreement. (DfE, personal communication)

When disclosing any information, you must ensure that the disclosure is fair, lawful and transparent. You need to identify (depending on what is detailed in your funding agreement) your lawful basis for the disclosure and the information provided should be limited to what is necessary. If you are using consent as your lawful basis, you should ensure students know exactly what information you will be sharing with parents.[2]

You should ensure that consent is kept under review and refreshed if anything changes; however, there are no set timescales for how long consent remains valid under the GDPR. (ICO, personal communication)

Our article, Everything You Need to Know About the Lawful Bases for Processing Data, will help you to identify your lawful basis. Additionally, the ICO has produced this interactive tool to help you identify the basis for processing data. If you are using consent as your lawful basis, read our Seven Things Schools Need to Know About Consent to be GDPR Compliant article.

[1] DfE (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding sixth forms sharing educational information with parents) [Personal communication: 21 May 2019]

[2] ICO (2019) (Online conversation regarding sharing educational information with parents) [Personal communication: 21 May 2019]

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Q: Are we obliged to take in a pupil who we have previously excluded now that we have received a consultation form from the LA asking us to reply about offering him a place? They have now issued an EHCP. Are we obliged to take him in again now he has been issued an EHCP? Does an EHCP overrule a permanent exclusion?

Parents of children with EHC plans are asked to express a preference for a school when the first EHC plan, or a revised EHC plan, is being finalised. The LA must name the parents’ preferred school, unless it is unsuitable for the child’s age, aptitude, ability and SEND, or if placing the child at the school would be incompatible with the efficient education of others or the efficient use of the authority’s resources. The LA must consult the school before naming it on the EHC plan, but once the plan has been finalised, the school is under a duty to admit the child.[1]

Paragraph 1.6 of the DfE’s ‘School Admissions Code’ provides more information on this, stating that “All children whose statement of special educational needs (SEN) or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan names the school must be admitted.”[2]

[1] DfE (2019) (Email correspondence regarding EHC plans) [Personal communication: 29 April 2019]

[2] DfE (2014) ‘School Admissions Code’, p.9-10, para.1.6

Tuesday 3 June 2019

Q: Does the legislation on Headteacher deadlines for resignations apply to Academies?

Academies are free to set their own terms of employment – the notice period for a headteacher’s resignation should be outlined in their contract of employment.[1]

If the headteacher has been transferred from a maintained school, you must have due regard for any TUPE arrangements as these will supersede any standard terms of the trust. (Wadley, N, personal communication)

If the headteacher has been appointed directly to the trust post academy conversion, there will be no TUPE regulations in place so the notice period will be determined by their contract. (Wadley, N, personal communication) You can use the same notice periods as maintained schools, but you are not obliged to do so.[2]

[1] Wadley, N., (2019) (Email communication regarding a headteacher’s resignation) [Accessed: 29 May 2019]

[2] NEU (2018) ‘Notice Periods’ <> [Accessed: 29 May 2019]

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Q: In the Academies Accounts Direction 2018-19 it states that consideration should be given to whether ‘the board of trustees and accounting officer have given formal representations of their responsibilities’. (Annex B, p.153, para 4.14). Please could you explain what this means?

“Formal representations of their responsibilities” refers to formal declarations by the board of trustees and accounting officer that they have met their responsibilities for the resources that are under their control during the financial year.[1]

For the board of trustees, the formal representation confirms the board has met their responsibilities to:

  • Prepare the trustees’ report and financial statements.
  • Maintain adequate accounting records.
  • Safeguard the assets of the charitable company.
  • Ensure the financial statements show a true and fair view.

The board of trustee’s statement should also explain the financial reporting framework that has been applied and include any additional responsibilities of the trustees in your academy. The statement should be signed on behalf of the board by a trustee – the date of approval should be stated, together with the name of the trustee who has signed it.[2]

For the accounting officer, the formal representation confirms they have met their responsibilities to:

  • Ensure that public money is spent for the purposes intended by Parliament.
  • Ensure that appropriate standards of conduct, behaviour and corporate governance are maintained when applying the funds under their control.
  • Ensure good value for money and for the efficient and effective use of all the resources in their charge.
  • Advise the governing board and ESFA of any instances of irregularity or impropriety, or non-compliance with the terms of your funding agreement.

You should ensure that the formal representations of responsibilities from the board of trustees and accounting officer are included within your annual report. (Wadley, personal communication)

[1] Wadley, N. (2019) (Email conversation regarding formal representations) [Personal communication: 2 May 2019]

[2] ESFA (2019) ‘Academies accounts direction 2018 to 2019’, p. 21

Tuesday 21 May

Q: Can a parent withdraw a child from participating in KS1 SATs?

Parents wishing to remove their child from the KS1 SATs would need to speak to the school’s headteacher. The decision whether a pupil can be removed from the KS1 SATs ultimately lies with the headteacher.[1]

Pupils should not take the tests if:

  • They have not completed the relevant KS1 programme of study.
  • They are working below the overall standard of the KS1 tests (and are considered to be unable to answer the easiest questions)
  • They are working at the standard of the KS1 tests but are unable to participate, even when using suitable access arrangements. [2]

The pre-key stage standards should be used for pupils engaged in subject-specific study who are working below the standard of the KS1 SATs.

Where the headteacher considers that a pupil should not participate in the tests, they should:

  • Discuss the pupil’s circumstances and needs with their parents and teachers (more information can be found in section 11 of the ARA).
  • Consult, if appropriate, with their SENCO, educational psychologists, medical officers or other specialist staff to consider access arrangements that might be appropriate to enable pupils to demonstrate their full abilities. (STA, p. 24-25)

Where parents wish to withdraw their child from the KS1 SATs, the headteacher should consider the information provided above and establish why the pupil’s parents want their child to be withdrawn. (STA, personal communication)

For more information on the KS1 SATS, view our up-to-date Assessment and Reporting Arrangements (ARA) 3-Minute Read.

[1] STA (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding removing pupils from the KS1 SATS) [Personal communication: 16 May 2019]

[2] STA (2019) ‘Assessment and Reporting Arrangements (ARA)’ p.24-25

Tuesday 14 May

Q: Do all school staff need to undertake emergency first aid training? How often should it be refreshed?

There is no statutory number of first aiders a school should have – it is up to the headteacher to determine how many first aiders your school requires, based on the school’s circumstances and a suitable risk assessment.1

In accordance with the DfE’s ‘Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage’, paediatric first aid training must be renewed every three years.2

With regards to how often first aid training should be renewed, the HSE strongly recommend that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training for a half day.3

For more information regarding the legal requirements for first aid training in schools, visit our article here.

[1] DfE (2000) ‘Guidance on first aid for schools’, p.7, para.43

[2] DfE (2017) ‘Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage’, p.22, para.3.25

[3] HSE (2013) ‘First aid training providers’, para.20. <> [Accessed: 1 May 2019]

Tuesday 7 May 

Q: Does a teacher on paternity leave for 2 weeks have to set cover work for the time he is off work?

A teacher who is going on paternity leave is not obliged to set cover work for the time they will be absent from school. This is because the delivery of the child could happen at any point, and the planning the teacher may have organised for the set time of absence may not be appropriate at the actual time of absence. [1]

Adoptions and deliveries via c-section may be more predictable, allowing for planning to take place. In this case, the school can ask the teacher to plan cover work; however, it should not be expected. (FusionHR, personal communication) 

[1] FusionHR (2019) (Email communication regarding setting cover work during paternity leave) [Personal communication: 26 April 2019]

Tuesday 30 April

Q: Are there any statutory requirements related to checking student data, such as contact numbers, medical information and address information? We have previously collected this annually, but it is a time-consuming exercise with many parents not returning the forms to the school.

There is no statutory time frame in which schools must check pupil data, meaning that schools are not under a legal obligation to send annual requests for updated information. The ICO did confirm that schools are under an obligation to ensure any information that you hold is accurate, though there is no statutory method for doing so.[1]

Schools are required to hold the accurate pupil information needed to comprise the common transfer file (CTF) and keep it up-to-date – read more about the CTF here. Schools are also required to hold the information needed for the school census, which must also be up-to-date – section five of the DfE’s ‘School census 2018 to 2019’ document outlines the required information.[2]

You should ensure that you keep accurate pupil information for the purpose of safeguarding, e.g. emergency contact details and home addresses. This is considered best practice as, without up-to-date information, a school may unintentionally breach their duty of care. For example, not having accurate medical information could result in your school’s medical response being ineffective or dangerous to the pupil in question. (DfE, personal communication)

[1] ICO (2019) (Online conversation about checking pupil data) [Personal communication: 25 April 2019]

[2] DfE (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding the statutory pupil data that schools must keep) [Personal communication: 25 April 2019]

Tuesday 23 April

Q: What are the requirements for a teacher to join the teachers’ pension scheme (TPS). We are looking to recruit a new person into the school improvement team, but need to check their eligibility to the scheme, and if they have to work to teaching standards.

I can confirm that, if the individual is in a teaching post, e.g. does classroom teaching as part of their role, and is aged 16-75, they should be automatically enrolled onto the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). Individuals can, however, decide to opt out.[1]

To set up new teachers who have no reference code, log into the TPS website, go to the ‘monthly data collection’ tab and enter 0000000 (seven zeros). (TPS, personal communication)

The teaching standards have no effect on the TPS. (TPS, personal communication)

To summarise, if the employee is not in a teaching position, they cannot be enrolled onto the TPS. To enrol onto the TPS, individuals must be in a teaching role and be aged between 16-75.

[1] TPS (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding enrolling staff onto the TPS) [Personal communication: 9 April 2019]

Tuesday 15 April

Q: I was made SENCO this year, and I was SENCO for nine months in 2010 – do I still need to complete the National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination qualification now that I am in the role?

I can confirm that if you haven’t already achieved the National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination qualification, you must complete it before the three-year anniversary of becoming your school’s SENCO.[1]

In accordance with The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) Regulations 2008, a SENCO must be a permanent or acting headteacher of the school or be a qualified teacher who works at the school and has completed their induction period.[2]

[1] The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009, 2009/1387, reg 2. (5) - (8)

[2] The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) Regulations 2008, 2008/2945, reg 3. (2) - (3)

Tuesday 8 April

Q: We have received a letter from a parent requesting information about her children under regulation 5 of the Pupil Information Regulations.

This states that we only have 15 working days to respond; however, the data requested is excessive – they want all records since 2014, including all send records, all emails, all electronic records, admin records, attendance, disciplinary, RAS, incidents, etc.

With GDPR though we would normally have up to 3 months. Where do we stand, if they make the request under the regulation act rather than as a subject access request?

If the parent has requested access to information contained in the pupil’s educational record only, this would fall under the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 (the Regulations) and you would need to respond within 15 working days.[1]

If the parent’s request includes access to additional personal data that is not included as part of the pupil’s educational record, it constitutes an SAR under the GDPR, rather than the Regulations. Where this is the case, your school has one calendar month to respond.[2]

Personal data only includes information relating to pupils who can be identified or who are identifiable directly from the information in question, or who can be indirectly identified from that information in combination with other information.[3]

Please note that, once your school has completed its conversion to an academy, the Regulations will no longer apply. If a parent requests access to their child’s educational record, you will need to respond within the timeframe that is set out in your individual funding agreement.[4]

[1] The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005, reg 5

[2] ICO (2019) (Online conversation regarding requesting access to pupils’ information) [Personal communication: 28 March 2019]

[3] ICO (2018) ‘What is personal data?’ <> [Accessed: 28 March 2019]

[4] DfE (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding requesting access to pupils’ information) [Personal communication: 29 March 2019]

Tuesday 2 April

Q: Can schools charge parents for paid services that the school subscribes to?

The decision to charge parents admin fees lies with schools; however, schools would need to consider the consequences before moving forward with this charge. For example, parents may wish to pay using cheques, which may push schools’ admin costs back up.1

The ESFA would expect schools to ask for voluntary contributions and not demand mandatory payments. (ESFA, personal communication)

Our Voluntary Contributions Letter for Parents (found in the ‘Related Content’ tab to the right of this article) encourages parents to submit payments, and ensures that the school can communicate with parents in a way that does not make them feel obliged to contribute.


1 ESFA (2019) (Email correspondence regarding charging parents admin costs for paid services) [Personal communication: 28 March 2019]


Tuesday 26 March

Q: With e-security, GDPR, etc. in mind, are we able to use Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. in school? If so, are there any limitations to what we can save in there?

The GDPR does not specify on the use of websites such as Dropbox and Google Drive; however, it outlines that you must process data securely by means of ‘appropriate technical and organisational measures’.[1]

Please note, what is ‘appropriate’ for you will depend on your own circumstances, the processing you’re doing, and the risks it presents to your school.[2]

This means that, when deciding whether to use these websites, you should assess:

  • The associated risks, e.g. what information will you be sharing? Will you be sharing personal details via the websites?
  • The website’s data protection policies, e.g. is the website part of the European Economic Area (EEA)?
  • The physical and technical measure you have in place, e.g. firewalls and malware protection. (ICO, para.3)

This assessment will give you a clearer picture on whether it would be appropriate to use these websites.

If the website used is not based in the EEA, you will have additional considerations to make. Individuals risk losing the protection of the GDPR if their personal data is transferred outside of the EEA, and additional safeguards will need to be put in place in line with the Data Protection Act 2018 (75) (3).[3]

If the websites you use are outside the EEA, you can use the ‘International transfers checklist on the ICO’s website to check whether the data processing is restricted by the GDPR.

Overall, you are highly advised to risk assess the use of these websites to consider whether what you will be sharing on them will put any personal data at risk. You can access information on the obligations under the GDPR for Dropbox, Google Drive and Onedrive by following the links – use these pages as part of your risk assessment.

For more information on cloud-based computing, you can access our policy here.

[1] ICO (2018) ‘Security’ para.1 <> [Accessed: 19 March 2019]

[2] ICO (2018) ‘Security’ ‘What level of security is required?’ para.2-3 <> [Accessed: 19 March 2019]

[3] ICO (2018) ‘International transfers’ para.1 <> [Accessed: 19 March 2019]

Tuesday 19 March

Q: Now that nationality has been removed from the school census is there any requirement for a school to keep this data or can it be removed completely?

We confirmed that there are no rules specifically preventing schools from disposing of the data. It is entirely the headteacher’s decision as to whether to keep previous nationality data, dispose of it entirely or continue to ask for the data; however, whatever a school decides to do with the data must adhere to the stipulations in the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018.[1]

Retaining previous data

To retain any nationality data from previous years, you must ensure that you have a lawful basis to process it, i.e. it's not a legal obligation anymore. Once you have established your lawful basis, you should include the processing in your school’s privacy notice. You must also ensure that any data you keep is kept in line with your Records Management Policy, e.g. data is only kept for as long as is necessary to meet its purpose and is stored securely.

Disposing of data entirely

Data should be appropriately destroyed in correlation with the format that the files take and the sensitivity of the data. The GDPR makes it clear that all organisations must provide an appropriate means of destroying confidential information, in both paper and electronic format. Our article, here, includes more information about confidential waste bins and electronic waste, so that you can ensure you dispose of any data appropriately.

Continuing to ask for the data

If you want to continue processing the data, you must have a lawful basis for doing so. Once you have established your lawful basis, you should include the processing in your school’s privacy notice. You must also ensure that any data you keep is kept in line with your Records Management Policy, e.g. data is only kept for as long as is necessary to meet its purpose and is stored securely.

If you decide that consent is the most appropriate basis for processing the data, you may find our article, Seven Things Schools Need to Know About Consent to be GDPR Compliant, useful.

[1] DfE (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding nationality data) [Personal communication: 14 March 2019]

Tuesday 13 March 

Q: Please could you provide guidance on the use of part-time timetables for pupils, especially in relation to legality? Specifically, can a part-time timetable be put in place where a child is at risk of permanent exclusion? Is this time limited?

Part-time timetables are not generally permitted; however, in ‘very exceptional circumstances’, they can be used on a temporary basis.[1]

Exceptional circumstances could refer to, for example, when a pupil has a medical condition that prevents them from being in school full-time. (DfE, p. 16)

It is important to note that part-time timetabling should only be used as a last resort once all relevant documents, e.g. an EHC plan or behaviour report, have been reviewed to ensure there are no other options. Any part-time timetable arrangements should be short-term and should be kept under review.[2]

You should ensure that any pastoral support programme or other agreement has a specified time limit by which the pupil is expected to return to full-time education or be provided with alternative provision. (DfE, p. 16)

When considering a part-time timetable for a pupil, ensure:

  • That the LA has been notified and is consulted regrading whether you are able to place the pupil on a part-time timetable.
  • That any specific LA procedures are followed.
  • The pupil’s parents are consulted and agree to the arrangement.
  • A reintegration plan is in place. (Wadley, personal communication)

If you agree to a part-time timetable agreement, the pupil’s absence should be recorded as authorised. (DfE, p. 16)

In terms of exclusions, you should contact your LA and discuss the situation and your proposed plan of action – your LA may have locally-agreed procedures that should be adhered to in terms of part-time timetabling.[3]

[1] DfE (2018) ‘School attendance’, p. 16

[2] Wadley, N. (2019) (Email conversation regarding part-time timetables) [Personal communication: 6 March 2019]

[3] DfE (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding part-time timetables) [Personal communication: 6 March 2019]

Tuesday 05 March

Q: Can we use PE and sport funding for Holiday Club activities, even if children from other schools attend? Also, can we use PE and sport funding to get supply cover to release our sports leader to train other staff and teach PE?

With regards to using the PE and sport premium funding for holiday club activities involving pupils from other schools, the DfE advised: “This use of the premium is not explicitly prohibited by the guidance, and so will be a local decision for your school’s headteacher, PE lead and governors as to whether using the premium to run holiday clubs for external pupils delivers on the aims and requirements of the premium.”1

The aims and requirements of the PE and sport premium, that the holiday club should deliver on, are:

  • To develop or add to the PE, physical activity and sport activities that your school already offers.
  • To build capacity and capability within the school to ensure that improvements made now will benefit pupils joining the school in future years. (DfE, personal communication)

With regards to the training element of your query, the DfE told us: “Use of the premium to purchase supply cover to release staff for training is fully in accordance with the aims and requirements of the premium. This covers both releasing staff to attend training and releasing staff to run training for other staff within the school.” (DfE, personal communication)

To summarise, the decision to invite pupils from other schools to a holiday club run by your school and funded by the PE and sport premium should be discussed with your governing board, the headteacher and sports leader. Your school can, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the funding, use the PE and sport premium to supply cover to allow your sport leader to train other members of staff.

Tuesday 26 February

Q: What policies should schools consult parents on prior to adoption?

There is no statutory duty to consult with parents on any specific policies; however, you may decide that holding parent consultations on appropriate policies is helpful. [1] 

If the policy places a duty on parents, e.g. a homework policy, it could be appropriate to consult. In essence, if parents are expected to do something in line with the policy, parents could be consulted. (DfE personal communication)

Parents wouldn’t necessarily be able to overrule a decision – policy decisions are ultimately the responsibility of the school’s headteacher and governing board. The consultation could take the form of a focus group or a letter and feedback form that could be sent out to parents explaining the policy and inviting feedback. Parents should be asked:

  • Whether they understand their duties in the policy.
  • If they are happy to comply with the policy.
  • Whether they have any suggestions for the policy.
  • If they have any questions about the policy. (DfE, personal communication)

It is important to remember that policy consultations with parents must not come in the way of any statutory duties, e.g. in terms of safeguarding or data protection. For example, if parents suggested a change to the Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy that contradicted statutory guidance. (DfE, personal communication)

[1] DfE (2019) (Telephone conversation regarding policy consultations with parents) [Personal communication: 22 February 2019]

Tuesday 19 February

Q: What are the rules and regulations around cleaning up vomit in schools?  Who should and shouldn't do it?  Can sawdust be used?

Apart from a general duty (under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) to protect the health, safety and welfare of staff and pupils, there are no rules or regulations surrounding the cleaning up of bodily fluids.

Public Health England (PHE) states that all spillages of bodily fluids, including blood, faeces, saliva, vomit, and nasal and eye discharges should be cleaned up immediately, using appropriate PPE to protect the eyes, nose, mouth and any open sores.1

Spillages of bodily fluids should be cleaned up using disposable paper towels or cloths, followed by a product which combines both detergent and disinfectant, and is effective against both bacteria and viruses, e.g. bleach.

For blood, vomit and urine, a spillage kit should be available. (PHE, para.2) Although there is nothing in legislation or statutory guidance that prevents the use of sawdust, spillage kits commonly contain absorbent powder – which could be used instead for the same purpose.

Contaminated material, such as disposable gloves, should be disposed of in a plastic bag, which should itself be securely sealed and disposed of according to local guidelines. Contaminated clothing should be laundered at the hottest wash that the fabric will tolerate.2

Teachers have a duty of care towards the health and safety of their pupils, yet they cannot be obliged to assist with cleaning up procedures. Procedures should be in place whereby teachers may notify another member of staff who will deal with such matters, e.g. the school caretaker. (NUT, p.1)

Tuesday 12 February

Q: Is there a legal time limit for parents/guardians to submit admissions appeals?

The ‘School Admissions Appeals Code’ (2012) states that the school’s admission authority must set out a timetable for organising and hearing appeals from appellants, i.e. parents, which includes the deadline for parents to appeal. The deadline for an appeal is at least 20 school days from the date they received notification of the unsuccessful application. 

When parents receive notification of an unsuccessful application, it must include the reason why the admission was refused and their right to appeal, including the specific deadline for appeal. There must not be a limit to the grounds on which appeals can be made. 

If a parent wants to appeal and is unsure of the deadline for them to do so, they should consult their original notification of rejection, or consult the admission authority’s webpage – up-to-date timetables for appeals are published by the 28 February of each year. (School Admissions Appeals Code, 2.1-2.2)

Tuesday 05 February

Q: What are the disqualification criteria for being a governor of a maintained school?

The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012 (as amended) state the conditions under which an individual is disqualified from being a governor of a maintained school.

Under Schedule 4 of the regulations, a person is disqualified from holding or continuing to hold office as a governor in a maintained school, if, in summary, that person:

  • Is under 18 years of age.
  • Is a registered pupil of the school.
  • Is the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order; an interim bankruptcy restrictions order; debt relief order; an interim debt relief order; or their estate has been sequestrated and the sequestration has not been discharged, annulled or reduced.
  • Is subject to a disqualification order or disqualification undertaking under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986; a disqualification order under the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 2002; a disqualification undertaking accepted under the Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002; or an order made under section 429(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (failure to pay under county court administration order).
  • Has been removed from the office of trustee for a charity by an order made by the Charity Commission or Commissioners or High Court on grounds of any misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of the charity, or under section 34 of the Charities and Trustees Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 from being concerned in the management or control of any body.
  • Has been removed from the office as an elected governor within the last five years.
  • Is included in the list of people considered by the Secretary of State as unsuitable to work with children or young people.
  • Is barred from any regulated activity relating to children.
  • Is subject to a direction of the Secretary of State under section 142 of the Education Act 2002 or section 128 of the Education and Skills Act 2008.
  • Is disqualified from working with children or from registering for child-minding or providing day care.
  • Is disqualified from being an independent school proprietor, teacher or employee by the Secretary of State.
  • Subject to certain exceptions for overseas offences that do not correlate with a UK offence, has been sentenced to three months or more in prison (without the option of a fine) in the five years ending with the date preceding the date of appointment or election as a governor or since becoming a governor.
  • Subject to certain exceptions for overseas offences that do not correlate with a UK offence, has received a prison sentence of two and a half years or more in the 20 years ending with the date preceding the date of appointment or election as a governor.
  • Subject to certain exceptions for overseas offences that do not correlate with a UK offence, has at any time received a prison sentence of five years or more.
  • Has been convicted and fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school or educational premises during the five years ending with the date immediately preceding appointment or election or since appointment or election as a governor.
  • Refuses a request by the clerk to make an application to the DBS for a criminal records certificate. [1]

An individual would be disqualified from being a governor at the school they currently hold office at if they:

  • Have, without the consent of the governing board, failed to attend their meetings for a continuous period of six months beginning with the date of the first such meeting the governor fails to attend. A foundation, LA, co-opted or partnership governor who is disqualified on these grounds is not qualified for election, nomination or appointment as a governor of any category at that school for 12 months starting on the date on which they are so disqualified. (SI 2012/1034, Schedule 4)

In addition to the criteria stated above:

  • A person is disqualified from election or appointment as a parent governor of a school if the person is an elected member of the LA or is paid to work at the school for more than 500 hours in any 12 consecutive months.
  • A parent governor is not disqualified from continuing to hold office if they cease to be a parent of a registered pupil at the school.
  • A person is disqualified from appointment as a LA governor if the person is eligible to be a staff governor of the school.
  • A person is disqualified from nomination or appointment as a partnership governor if the person is a parent of a registered pupil at the school, is eligible to be a staff governor, is an elected member of the LA or is employed by the LA in connection with their education functions.
  • Upon ceasing to work at the school, a staff governor is disqualified from continuing to hold office as such a governor. (SI 2012/1034, Schedule 4)

[1] The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012, SI 2012/1034, Schedule 4

Tuesday 29 January

Q: As part of our PSHE curriculum we teach children using the CHIPS programme (challenging homophobia in primary schools) using age appropriate materials e.g. Elmer the Elephant, Tango etc. Is this covered under our duty to promote equality (Equality Act 2010) or do parents have a right to request for their children to be withdrawn for elements relating to LGBT?

We can confirm that parents may exercise their right to withdraw a child from any element of RSE, apart from the statutory sex education elements of the national curriculum.[1] In primary schools, these include anatomy, puberty, biological aspects of sexual reproduction and the use of hormones to control and promote fertility.[2]

As LGBT elements are not included in the statutory elements, parents’ requests must be adhered to.

The DfE has confirmed that this is not in breach of a school’s duty to promote equality under the Equality Act 2010.[3]

[1] DfE (2013) ‘The national curriculum’ <> [Accessed: 24 January 2019]

[2] FPA (2011) ‘Sex and Relationships Education Factsheet’ <> [Accessed: 24 January 2019]

[3] DfE (Telephone conversation regarding parents’ right to withdraw) [Personal communication: 24 January 2019]


Thursday 15 November

Q: At a recent Social Services meeting, the school was asked to fund after school childcare for a Looked After Child. Is this an appropriate use of the pupil premium?

We confirmed that what the school spends their pupil premium funding on is entirely at their discretion. Spending must benefit disadvantaged pupils and raise their attainment – this includes LAC.[1]

When making a judgement on what to spend pupil premium on, the DfE stipulates that the school must:

  • Report how much pupil premium is received in the academic year.
  • State what the current barriers are to disadvantaged pupils’ attainment.
  • State what they will be spending the pupil premium funding on to overcome these barriers.
  • Justify their spending.
  • State the intended impact of the spending.
  • State how they will improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

This information should be published on the school’s website.[2]

For more information on assessing your school’s pupil premium strategy and examples of what it can be spent on please read our article here.


[1] DfE (2018) (Telephone communication regarding how schools can spend pupil premium) [Personal communication: 8 November 2018]

[2] DfE (2018) ‘What academies, free schools and colleges should publish online’ para.26

Thursday 8 November

Q: Can teachers object to their school emails being available to parents?

Our HR experts, FusionHR, advised that, as these accounts are school-based, it would be the school’s decision as to whether these addresses are made available or not – this decision would usually fall to the headteacher. If your school already has a policy in place outlining that teachers must make their email addresses available, or if it is already considered ‘normal practice’, then teachers would need to comply.[1]

If, however, you don’t have a policy in place and/or teachers don’t currently share their email addresses with parents, you would need to seek HR advice regarding a management instruction/disciplinary action if you believe your request is reasonable. (FusionHR, personal communication)

[1] FusionHR (2018) (Email conversation regarding email addresses) [Personal communication: 9 November 2018]

Thursday 1 November

Q: Under the GDPR are staff allowed to access work email addresses through personal mobile phones? Does it make a difference if it is the school's general email account or a work email account for a specific person?

We can confirm that whether or not staff members can access work emails on their personal devices is at the school’s discretion, as they are the data controller.[1] When assessing whether or not teachers can access work emails on personal devices, your school should consider the following:

  • What type of data is held
  • Where data may be stored
  • How it is transferred
  • Potential for data leakage
  • Blurring of personal and business use
  • The device’s security capacities
  • What to do if the person who owns the device leaves their employment
  • How to deal with the loss, theft, failure and support of a device (such as software updates) [2]

Whilst the ICO’s ‘Bring your own device (BYOD)’ gives reference to the Data Protection Act 1998, I was assured by them that this guidance is still relevant under the GDPR. (ICO, personal communication)

Our Staff ICT and Electronic Devices Policy states:

“All personal devices that are used to access the school’s online portal, systems or email accounts (e.g. laptops or mobile phones) will be declared and approved by the headteacher before use and submitted for routine security checks”. (point. 7.2)

To summarise, staff members can access their work emails on personal devices; however, your school should ensure the devices are fit-for-purpose before allowing staff to access their work emails.

[1] ICO (2018) (Online conversation regarding the use of personal devices for work-related emails) [Personal communication: 22 October 2018]

[2] ICO (2014) ‘Bring your own device (BYOD)’, p.4-5

Thursday 25 October

Q: There was an update to Keeping Children Safe in Education in September 2018, but we had updated our Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy in April 2018. Do we need to update it immediately or is it reasonable to wait until the date planned in our policy review cycle, which would mean the policy would be reviewed and updated in April 2019?

We spoke directly with the DfE, who advised that the school must update the policy as soon as possible. The changes to ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) were effective from 1 September 2018, so schools should ensure their policies are updated immediately to reflect these updates – not doing so will risk non-compliance.[1]

TheSchoolBus model Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy is fully up-to-date with the latest changes to KCSIE. 

[1] DfE (2018) (Telephone conversation regarding updates to policies) [Personal communication: 18 October 2018]

Thursday 18 October

Q: Will I receive a section 5 or 8 Ofsted inspection? How does Ofsted decide if we will receive a one-day short inspection or a longer two-day inspection?

The type of inspection that schools will receive depends on the outcome of their most recent section 5 inspection.

Section 5 inspections are generally set at intervals within five school years from the end of the school year that the previous inspection took place.

Section 8 inspections are commonly referred to as a ‘short’ inspection. 

Schools that were judged to be:

  • ‘Outstanding’ in their overall effectiveness at their last section 5 inspection are exempt from inspections under section 5 – they will instead receive a section 8 inspection.
  • ‘Good’ at the previous section 5 inspection usually receive a one-day short (section 8) inspection roughly every four years – providing the quality of education remains good at each short inspection.

Special schools, PRUs and maintained nursery schools judged outstanding in their overall effectiveness are not exempt, and are inspected in line with section 5 of the Education Act 2005 and the five-year interval.

Please note, where an exempt school makes structural changes, such as adding a new key stage or amalgamating with another school, the school will receive a section 8 no formal designation inspection.

Ofsted use risk assessments to ensure that its approach to inspections are appropriate – the outcomes of the risk assessment are used differently depending on the previous inspection grade of the school.1

It is important to note that exempt schools are subject to a risk assessment. If the risk assessment process raises concerns about the performance of an exempt school, it may be inspected after the risk assessment is complete. Around a fifth of good schools automatically receive a full section 5 inspection instead of a section 8 short inspection – this happens when Ofsted’s risk assessment process indicates that the quality of education may have decreased significantly. (Ofsted, para.23)

Additionally, schools may receive a no formal designation section 8 inspection at any time, if the relevant criteria are met, e.g. Ofsted receive a high number of complaints or reports of safeguarding concerns.

If, during the inspection, the lead inspector finds that a school’s overall effectiveness has declined to less than ‘good’, a section 8 inspection may be deemed as a section 5 inspection.

There are four possible outcomes for the short inspection:

  • Outcome 1 – the school continues to be a good school.
  • Outcome 2 – the school remains good and there is evidence to suggest enough of an improved performance that the school may be judged outstanding. The school will be informed that its next inspection will be a section 5 inspection and will typically commence within one to two years.
  • Outcome 3 – the lead inspector is not satisfied that the school would receive at least its current grade if a section 5 inspection were carried out now. The school will be informed that its next inspection will be a section 5 inspection and will typically commence within one to two years.
  • Outcome 4 – evidence has been gathered to suggest the school may be ‘inadequate’ in one or more of the graded judgements under section 5 inspections, e.g. there are serious concerns about safeguarding. The short inspection will be converted to a section 5 inspection, usually within 48 hours.

For schools that have been judged as ‘requires improvement’, they may be subject to monitoring by Ofsted; however, this will not normally apply to schools that have been judged as requires improvement for the first time. Requires improvement schools who are being monitored will be re-inspected under section 5, usually within 30 months after the publication of the report.

If the school has established improvement in some areas and there is a general upward trend, but key aspects of performance remain less than good, the school may be judged as requires improvement again, in which case there may be monitoring before another section 5 inspection takes place within 30 months.

For more information pertaining to the types of Ofsted inspections, you may find our ‘School inspection handbook 2018’ and ‘School inspection handbook – section 8 2018’ 3-Minute Reads useful.

1 Ofsted (2018) ‘School inspection handbook’ para.12, 18 and 19

Thursday 4 October

Q: Our MAT has recently appointed a member of staff as co-principal with the existing principal (who is also the CEO of the MAT and a trustee). They want to take it in turns to attend local governing body meetings and sometimes they will both attend. They both want to be named as ex-offcio governors with voting rights. The co-principal who is not a trustee also serves as a local governor on one of the other MATs school's LGBs. Is this OK?

To answer this request, we contacted our governance expert who advised that membership and voting rights within an LGB are determined by the MAT’s board of trustees – this is because an LGB is a committee of the trust board. This means that only the board of trustees of the MAT has the power to stipulate, within their own articles of association, whether the co-principal has voting rights.

Going forward, we recommend that you refer to your MAT’s articles of association as information may vary depending on how old the articles are. If any changes to voting rights or the appointment of trustees have been made, then it should be recorded within minutes of meetings.

Furthermore, our governance expert recommends that you consult with the company secretary (if the trust has one) or the chair of the board of trustees to seek clarification of the arrangements the trust has agreed upon regarding this matter. [1]

[1] Wadley, N., (2018) (Email communication pertaining to the role of a co-principal as an ex-officio governor) [Personal communication: 26 September 2018]

Thursday 27 September

Q: If disqualification by association is no longer a requirement following the change in legislation, do we need to remove this data from the single central record for previous periods?

To answer this question, we spoke to our HR experts, FusionHR, who told us that the SCR does not need updating (unless it specifically mentions disqualification by association) – this is because the only part of the DfE guidance, ‘Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006’, that has changed is the ‘by association’ section. 1

With this in mind, schools still need to adhere to the rest of the Act – in essence, people can still be disqualified under the Childcare Act 2006, but they can’t be disqualified by association. (FusionHR, personal communication)

The clause relevant to disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 in TheSchoolBus’s SCR states: “If required, date childcare disqualification disclosure form completed (DD/MM/YYYY)” – this does not need updating, as it is still relevant to the rest of the Act as mentioned above.

1 FusionHR (2018) (Phone conversation regarding disqualification by association legislation changes) [Personal communication: 19 September 2018]

Thursday 20 September

Q: Are there any statutory risk assessments for schools?

With reference to the DfE’s guidance document ‘Health and safety: advice on legal duties and powers’, schools are required by health and safety law to assess the risks to school staff and others whilst on their premises, and should “use a common sense and proportionate approach” to managing risk.1 This document does not outline any statutory risk assessments that schools are required to produce. To clarify, we spoke directly with the DfE, who confirmed that it is up to schools to decide which risk assessments are required to effectively meet their duties under health and safety law.2

Aside from health and safety, in the statutory ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) document, it states that schools should undertake a risk assessment when employing volunteers and deciding whether to obtain an enhanced DBS certificate for any volunteer not engaging in regulated activity. Within KCSIE, it is clarified that any statement referring to “should” means that the advice “should be followed unless there is good reason not to”.3

So, whilst there are no statutory risk assessments, it is advised that schools follow any good practice advice, such as conducting risk assessments for volunteers, and ensure they adopt a common-sense approach to managing health and safety.

 1 DfE (2014) ‘Health and safety: advice on legal duties and powers’, p.4

2 DfE (2018) (Telephone conversation regarding statutory risk assessments) [Personal communication: 13 September 2018]

3 DfE (2018) ‘Keeping children safe in education’, p.3,45


Thursday 13 September

Q: Can a teacher deputise for a headteacher in their absence or do schools have to have a deputy headteacher?

We spoke with our HR experts, FusionHR, who advised that whether or not a school has a deputy is a decision entirely at the discretion of the school. Where a deputy headteacher is assigned, they must deputise in the headteacher’s absence for at least 28 days of the school year, as it will be part of their contract.1

Where schools choose not to have a deputy, they can make arrangements for a staff member, such as a teacher, to deputise in the headteacher’s absence, but they are under no obligation to do so, unlike an official deputy headteacher. As such, schools can ask teachers, or other staff members, to deputise in the headteacher’s absence, but they cannot be instructed to do so. It is also important for schools to have due regard to whether staff members are skilled enough to deputise in the headteacher’s absence. (FusionHR, personal communication)

If there is no assigned deputy, it is common for schools to have an agreement in place with another school, where their deputy headteacher or headteacher will come to the school and act as head in the headteacher’s absence – this is known as a secondment, where schools share staff members. (FusionHR, personal communication) Schools may find our ‘Creating a Secondment’ guidance useful, which explains the process and what may be included in the agreement, should they wish to implement this.


1 FusionHR (2018) (Phone conversation regarding deputy headteacher requirements) [Personal communication: 5 July 2018]

Thursday 6 September

Q:  When parents make appointments to come to school to speak with class teachers about their child's progress, attainment and targets. Is there a statutory number of times this should happen each academic year?

To answer this query, we contacted the DfE, who advised that there is no statutory guidance on how many parents’ evenings a school should hold; ultimately the decision falls to the headteacher and governing board.[1]

When setting parents’ evenings, the NUT recommends that schools consider the following information:

  • Parents’ evenings should be few in number during the academic year
  • During the week where there are parents’ evenings, only one other evening meeting should be called
  • Parents evenings must be within the 1265 hours annual maximum directed time and within 195 days when the teacher is required to be available to work [2]

To conclude, it is for the school to decide how many parents’ evenings they set per academic year – you should, however, have due regard to the points of consideration outlined above to ensure teacher workload does not become excessive.


[1] DfE (2018) (Telephone conversation regarding parents’ evenings) [Personal communication: 3 September 2018]

[2] NUT (2014) ‘Teachers’ working time and duties’, p.32-33


Tuesday 19 June

Q: How many pupils can a teaching assistant (TA) supervise alone in a before or after-school club?

To answer this query, we contacted the DfE who stated that it is entirely at the discretion of headteacher to decide whether a TA is capable of supervising a specified number of pupils – there are no limits on pupil to TA ratios.1

Headteachers should conduct a risk assessment to establish a TA’s capabilities when deciding upon the number of pupils that will be in their care. (DfE, personal communication) In addition, headteachers should consider the following factors when determining the appropriate ratio:

  • The activities that the pupils will be doing – some activities, e.g. sports, may require more supervision due to the higher risk of injury
  • Any arrangements that are needed for specific pupils – some pupils may require further assistance for an activity due to a specific need, e.g. a medical condition
  • The ages of the pupils – e.g. if there is a mix of ages and the pupils are participating in a sporting activity, more supervision may be required

Headteachers should consider the safety of the pupils in attendance and decide whether the risks require the ratios to be amended. This may mean that the ratios could vary depending on the activity the pupils are participating in, as well as the pupils who are in attendance. (DfE, personal communication)

1 DfE (2018) (Telephone conversation regarding a TA supervising pupils in a school club) [Personal communication: 13 June 2018]


Related terms: assistant, clubs, running a club, organising, leading. 


Tuesday 12 June

Q: Can schools share safeguarding information without consent?

In order to share information lawfully without consent, schools first need to identify the lawful basis for sharing the data – one of the lawful bases is consent, but consent will not be required if schools can justify another lawful basis for sharing the data. More information on the lawful bases and when they may be used can be found in our guidance here. For further clarification, we have spoken directly with the ICO who advised that schools will need to ensure they can satisfy a lawful basis, or determine whether the information can be shared under an exemption or requirement under another law – which will mean consent would not be required.1

The sharing of safeguarding data is included within our Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy 2018; section 28 (and specifically point 28.6) references how safeguarding data may be shared without consent: “Where it is in the public interest, and protects pupils from harm, information can be lawfully shared without the victim’s consent, e.g. if doing so would assist the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime.” – i.e. a lawful basis, exemption or other requirement in law is satisfied.

The DfE’s ‘Data protection: a toolkit for schools’ (2018), also states that “GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe”, and that information can be shared “without consent if to gain consent would place a child at risk”.2

When sharing safeguarding information, schools will also need to establish whether a data sharing agreement should be in place to set the provisions under which data will be shared – depending on who the information is shared with, the organisation/individual will either be a data controller or data processor and a data sharing agreement may be required. More information on controllers and processors can be found here – an example data sharing agreement can be accessed from the Related Content section of this article.

Finally, the ICO advised that schools will also need to outline their intention to share safeguarding information in their privacy notices – our resource pack contains various privacy notices which may be of use. (ICO, personal communication)

To conclude, if schools are able to satisfy a lawful basis other than consent, an exemption or requirement under another law, safeguarding information can be shared without consent – schools’ justification as to how they meet these must be clear.


1 ICO (2018) (Online conversation regarding sharing safeguarding data) [Personal communication: 29 May 2018]

2 DfE (2018) ‘Data protection: a toolkit for schools’, p.21


Related article: sharing data, processing agreement, sharing agreement, consent, lawful basis, lawful bases, GDPR


Tuesday 5 June


After speaking with the DfE, we can advise that schools are able to decide how they use their pupil premium funding allocation. If a school believes that the best use of this funding would be for free school meals (FSM), they will be able to do so.

However, schools should be aware that they must prepare evidence for inspectors with regards to the use of their pupil premium funding. When reviewing the usage of this, inspectors will gather evidence about the effectiveness of pupil premium funding in schools in relation to

  • The level of pupil premium funding received by the school in the current, and previous, academic year(s).
  • How leaders and governors have spent the pupil premium, their reasons for this spending and its intended impact.
  • How the use of the funding has impacted on disadvantaged pupils’ learning and progress, detailed by outcome data and inspection evidence.1

If Ofsted recognise the need for improvement in the provision of pupil premium funding, they will recommend an external review of the school’s usage, with specific regard given to the improvement of outcomes and progress for disadvantaged pupils. (Ofsted, p.46)

Whilst the usage of pupil premium funding is up to schools to decide, they must be prepared to justify their reasons for their spending and how it impacts on the learning and progress of disadvantaged pupils.

1Ofsted (2018) ‘School inspection handbook’, p.45, para.158


Tuesday 29 May

Q. What are the statutory requirements for school reports sent to parents at the end of the Summer term?

The DfE outlines that schools must send a written report to parents pertaining to their child’s performance in school; the reports need to be sent at the end of the Summer term, and at the end of each KS – there are no statutory requirements to send a report in other years in the KS.1

The table below shows what must be included in a school report for the end of KS1 to KS4.


Statutory information

Year 2 (end of KS1)

Year 6 (end of KS2)

Years 7, 8 and 9 (KS3)

Years 10 and 11 (KS4)

General progress





Notes of achievement, including strengths and weaknesses





How to arrange a discussion about the report with a teacher





Attendance record





The grade achieved at GCSE





Any other qualifications






The DfE advises that this information is the minimum requirement for schools, and that, if they so choose, they can include additional, non-statutory, information they wish to report on to parents. (DfE, para.4)

Schools should report on the compulsory national curriculum subjects at the end of each Summer term.2 A full list of compulsory national curriculum subjects can be found for each key stage, here. Schools can utilise our Annual Reports Resource Pack to ensure they are prepared for the end of an academic year.

1 DfE (2014) ‘School reports on pupil performance: guide for headteachers’, para.1 [Accessed: 09 May 2018]

2 (2013) ‘The national curriculum’, ‘overview’ para.5 <> [Accessed: 09 May 2018]


 Monday 22 May

Q: How do you make CCTV signs GDPR compliant?


The ICO confirm that for schools to ensure their CCTV in operation signs are GDPR compliant, they should:

  • Ensure signage is clear and visible, e.g. outdoor signs are not covered by overhanging branches.
  • Ensure signage is an appropriate size, e.g. if the CCTV is located near a drop off point it needs to be big enough for driver to see it from inside a car.
  • Ensure, if it captures images outside the school site, signs are clearly displayed for pedestrians.
  • Ensure staff know who to talk to if they get asked about the images captured on CCTV.1

Furthermore, when creating CCTV in operation signs, the wording used must include:

  • The details of the organisation operating the system.
  • The purpose of its use, e.g. crime prevention.
  • Who to contact if individuals have any enquires pertaining to the images being captured by the CCTV, e.g. the data protection officer (DPO) or headteacher.2

Schools can learn how to operate CCTV within their school, in compliance with the GDPR, by accessing our Surveillance and CCTV Policy in the related content section, below.

1 IFSEC Global (2017) ‘Watch: CCTV signage – How to avoid GDPR penalties’ para.6 <> [Accessed: 17 May 2018]

2 ICO (2018) (Email conversation regarding GDPR compliant CCTV signage) [Personal communication: 17 May 2018]

Monday 14 May

Q. How long can data be retained for?

Firstly, to comply with the GDPR, schools must have a lawful basis for seeking and holding data, these are the following:

  • Consent
  • Contract
  • Legal obligation
  • Vital interest
  • Public task
  • Legitimate interests 1

Schools should determine which of the above is the most appropriate justification for seeking, processing and storing data. To read more on lawful basis, click here.

In terms of retention, as per Article 5 of the GDPR, personal data should not be kept for longer than it is necessary for the purposes for which the data was originally obtained.2 In other words, once the data has been obtained, it should only be retained until its purpose has been fulfilled.

A Records Management Policy should be in place and should establish the retention periods that types of data will have. Please find our template Records Management Policy as a related article. When establishing the retention periods of data, you must be able to justify why it is kept for the specified length of time, and in line with any local arrangements.  

To be GDPR compliant, schools must justify seeking and processing the data with one of the lawful bases and retain the data in line with the above.

To effectively keep track of archived files, please see our Archived Files Log in the related articles bar which allows schools to log their archived files by providing space for them to enter the date the data was created and its retention period, then the tracker will work out the disposal date for you.

Related terms: General data protection regulation, kept, holding, retaining, information. 

2 ICO (2016) ‘Principles’, para. 7 <> [Accessed: 1 May 2018]


Tuesday 8 May

Q.Who needs safer recruitment training and how often does it need to be renewed?

In accordance with Regulation 9 of The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 (as amended), at least one member of the recruitment panel must have completed safer recruitment training.1

It is important for schools to be aware that, depending on which provider this training was undertaken with, the validity length can vary by certificate.

Therefore, the governance experts GovernorLine advise that whilst the majority of safer recruitment training certificates are open ended, it is good practice to ensure that this training is renewed at least every five years.2

1 The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009, regulation 9 (a)

2 GovernorLine (2016) (Telephone conversation regarding renewal dates of safer recruitment training) [Personal communication: 30 September 2016]

Monday 30 April

Q. Can the PE and sports premium for primary schools be used for mental wellbeing?

We spoke to one of our experts who stated that using some of the PE and sports premium for mental wellbeing is allowed; however, schools must have good justification for spending the premium on mental health provision. Additionally, it must represent the link into the healthy lifestyles aspect of the curriculum; for example, raising the self-esteem of pupils with weight issues may increase their confidence to participate in sporting activities.1

Our expert also advised that any spending on mental wellbeing should only represent a small percentage of the total PE and sports premium spending. (Masterson, personal communication)

The DfE and the ESFA provide some examples as to how the premium can be used, they are as follows:

  • Provide staff with professional development, mentoring, training and resources to help them teach PE and sport more effectively
  • Hire qualified sports coaches to work with teachers to enhance or extend current opportunities
  • Introduce new sports, dance or other activities to encourage more pupils to take up sport and physical activities
  • Support and involve the least active children by providing targeted activities, and running or extending school sports and holiday clubs
  • Enter or run more sport competitions
  • Partner with other schools to run sports activities and clubs
  • Increase pupils’ participation in the School Games
  • Encourage pupils to take on leadership or volunteer roles that support sport and physical activity within the school
  • Provide additional swimming provision targeted to pupils not able to meet the swimming requirements of the national curriculum
  • Embed physical activity into the school day through active travel to and from school, active playgrounds and active teaching 2

The DfE and ESFA also state how the premium should not be used, including:

  • To employ coaches or specialist teachers to cover planning, preparation and assessment arrangements – these should come out of your core staffing budgets.
  • To teach the minimum requirements of the national curriculum – including those specified for swimming (or, in the case of academies and free schools, to teach your existing PE curriculum). (DfE and ESFA, section 4)

According to the DfE and ESFA, when using the PE and sports premium, there are five key indicators that schools should expect to see improvement across:

  • The engagement of all pupils in regular physical activity - the Chief Medical Officer guidelines recommend that all children and young people aged 5 to 18 engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, of which 30 minutes should be in school.
  • The profile of PE and sport is raised across the school as a tool for whole-school improvement.
  • Increased confidence, knowledge and skills of all staff in teaching PE and sport.
  • Broader experience of a range of sports and activities offered to all pupils.
  • Increased participation in competitive sport. (DfE and ESFA, section 4)

1 Masterson, E., (2018) (Email communication about the spending requirements of the PE and sports premium) [Personal communication: 05 February 2018]

2 DfE and ESFA, (2017) ‘PE and sport premium for primary schools, section 4 ‘How to use the PE and sport premium’, <> [Accessed: 05 February 2018]

Monday 16 April

 Inspecting a policy

Q: In an MAT, should the board of trustees ratify each school’s safeguarding and SEND policies, or can this be delegated to the local governing board (LGB) of the respective schools?

In accordance with the DfE’s ‘Multi-academy trusts’ guidance, the board of trustees will be held accountable for non-compliance and it is responsible for ensuring schools within the trust are compliant with statutory requirements. The document also specifies that the MAT’s board of trustees has the authority to “delegate governance functions to LGBs or other committees including to oversee one or more individual academy.”1 Unfortunately, after calling for clarification, the DfE couldn’t provide any further guidance regarding policies that could be ratified at governing board level. 

To overcome this, we referred to our governance experts who confirmed that it is good practice for the board of trustees of an MAT to ratify each school’s safeguarding and SEND policies and allow each academy to amend their policies to ‘reflect local circumstances, including the academy’s specific LA’.2

Furthermore, the responsibility for the strategic oversight of safeguarding sits with trustees/ directors of the trust. That being said, trusts can consider delegating some of that responsibility to its LGBs to ensure that individual academy policies pertaining to safeguarding and child protection complies with the requirements, and practices, of the Local Safeguarding Children Board which, of course, is a function owned by the LA. There should be no bar to safeguarding or child protection issues being dealt with immediately and effectively. 3

Overall, it would be considered good practice for the MAT to ratify any policies pertaining to safeguarding and SEND, yet policies should be amended at LGB level to enable individual academies to account for their LAs safeguarding and SEND protocols.  

1 DfE, (2016) ‘Multi-academy trusts’ p.21

2 Wadley, N., (2018) (Email conversation regarding ratifying policies at trust level) [Personal communication: 12 April 2018]

3 Hodsman, S., (2018) (Email conversation regarding ratifying policies at trust level) [Personal communication: 12 April 2018]

Monday 9 April

 Q. How do you decide whether legitimate interest is the most suitable lawful basis for processing data?

On the whole, legitimate interest is the most commonly used lawful basis but it will not always be applicable.1

To judge whether you can use legitimate interest for processing data, such as using pupils’ photographs as part of the school’s management information system, you should carry out three different tests, these are:

  • Purpose test – establishing why you want to use the data, what will be achieved and whether the benefits are justifiable.
  • Necessity test – establishing whether the processing of the pupils’ data will be useful and whether there is a less intrusive way of reaching a means to an end.
  • Balance test – establishing the impact it will have on the data subject by processing the data for said reason.

These three tests make up a ‘legitimate interest assessment’ (LIA) – you should carry out a LIA prior to obtaining the data and it should be recorded in a physical copy so that you are compliant with the GDPR.

A LIA is designed so that you can judge whether processing data in the ways you are suggesting is necessary and expected from the data subjects. The LIA is designed so that the data processors (the school) consider the impact the processing would have on the individual's own rights and freedoms.2

2 ICO (2018) (Email conversation regarding lawful basis for processing personal data) [Personal communication: 06 April 2018]

Monday 2 April

Q. Is a separate privacy notice required for governors?


We spoke directly with the DfE, who confirmed that governors are considered to be part of the school workforce and are therefore covered by this privacy notice - a separate privacy notice for governors is not required.1


1 DfE (2018) (Telephone conversation regarding privacy notices for governors) [Personal communication: 21 March 2018]



Monday 19 March

Q. What should our office staff prepare for before Ofsted inspections?

1. Preparing office staff for Ofsted

In addition to all aspects of their prescribed role, office staff should be up-to-date on the school’s attendance and absence data, punctuality and lateness, and the visitor’s procedure aspects of the school’s Safeguarding Policy.

2. Greeting inspectors

Inspectors must be treated in-line with your visitor’s procedure. For this reason, greet them with warmth and, as with any other visitor, ask to see their photo ID, sign in the visitor’s book, and ask them to read/take note of whatever safeguarding arrangements the school has in place for visitors.

3. What might inspectors ask office staff to do during inspection?

  • More often than not, it is the office manager who will have the single central record and so they may be asked to produce it.
  • During the inspection the inspector might ask office staff (or the headteacher) directly about their arrangements for checking visitors.
  • The office staff (or headteacher) might be asked to print off the parent view results during the second day.
  • The office staff (or headteacher) might be asked about present attendance, past attendance, arrangements for following up absences, attendance of different pupil groups, punctuality and lateness. 

4. Sources of further reading

The most important documents for any section 5 inspection are “The Inspection Handbook”, “The Framework for School Inspections” and “Inspecting Safeguarding in Maintained Schools”.

Monday 12 March

Q. Who can be a school's data protection officer (DPO)?

The role of data protection officer (DPO) can be undertaken by any individual either internally, for example by a staff member or governor, or externally, such as by a third party data specialist; however, the GDPR requires the appointed person to have professional experience and knowledge of data protection law.1

Whilst the GDPR does not specify any particular qualifications a DPO should have, when appointing someone to the role, it is important to ensure that the proposed person has knowledge proportionate to the type of processing the school carries out, as well as an understanding of the school’s IT, technical and organisational infrastructure. (ICO, 2016)

It should be noted that, when appointing the role internally, it must be ensured that the individual’s duties as DPO do not lead to a conflict of interest within their other role. For example, where a governor is appointed as DPO they should not be given any other responsibilities.2

To help you further understand the role of the DPO and appoint an appropriate person, explore our Role of the Data Protection Officer guidance.

2 Data Protection Education (2017) ‘The GDPR and Your School - The Data Protection Officer’, <> [Accessed: 7 March 2018]


Monday 5 March

Q. Under the GDPR, how often do privacy notices need to be signed?

To answer this question we reviewed the ICO’s Consent webpage, which states you should “keep consents under review and refresh them if anything changes”1; therefore, privacy notices need only be signed once.

Consent will need to be sought in the event the reasons for processing change and consent isn’t specific to the new processing purposes, e.g. if the school needs to collect more data, such as employment history. To ensure consent remains compliant with the terms of the GDPR, the ICO recommends “building regular consent reviews into your business processes”. (ICO, para.29)

The ICO website also suggests:

  • Keeping records to evidence consent – who consented, when, how and what they were told.
  • Making it easy for people to withdraw consent at any time they choose. (ICO paras. 27 & 28)

 In summary, consent should be sought when initially issuing a privacy notice and when any adjustments have been made that affect the original consent.


1 ICO (2017) ‘Consent’, paras. 27, 28, & 29 <> [Accessed: 14 February 2018]


Monday 26 February

Our question of the week is: How long should schools retain pupil records, including sensitive data?

We spoke to the Information Commissioner’s Office, who confirmed that the Data Protection Act 1998 does not stipulate how long records should be kept for and by whom.1 However, it is considered good practice for pupil records to be kept until the pupil reaches the age of 25 and that the responsibility for keeping these records lies with the school which the pupil attended until they reached statutory school leaving age.

Our team also sought the opinion of the DfE, who advised that maintained schools should liaise with their LA in regards to the storing and retention of sensitive data, such as special educational needs and disabilities information.2

For this reason, it is suggested that schools contact their LA to clarify retention details in order to ensure that their school is fully compliant with procedures within their relevant area.


1 ICO (2016) (Telephone conversation about record retention in schools) [Personal communication: 19 October 2016]

2 DfE (2016) (Telephone conversation about record retention, particularly SEND and child protection information) [Personal communication: 19 October 2016]

Monday 19 February 

Q. How does Ofsted define good attendance when inspecting schools?

In terms of what Ofsted would define as good or better attendance when conducting inspections, our Ofsted expert advised that 96 percent is the key indicator of good attendance (the current national average), but schools must monitor the attendance of all key groups using the relevant figure tables.1

In light of the above, our governance expert, Nicki Wadley, further advised that Ofsted consider the attendance statistics for a school and national averages (relevant to the specific school type, e.g. a primary school), and will also use these as an indicator of good attendance.2

As well as using statistical information, Ofsted will also consider a school’s approach towards improving and tackling poor attendance, and will therefore use procedures as well as figures to decide on a school’s overall attendance performance. Our Ofsted Expectations of Pupil Attendance guidance document explains what Ofsted look for when assessing attendance.


1 Ofsted Expert (2017) (Email communication regarding attendance percentages) [Personal communication: 8 September 2017]

2 Nicki Wadley (2017) (Personal communication regarding Ofsted’s expectations of attendance) [Personal communication: 6 September 2017]


Monday 12 February


Q: Are schools required to publish information relating to swimming on their website? 

In accordance with guidance from the DfE, we can confirm that from the 2017/2018 academic year, it is now a requirement for schools to publish information relating to swimming on their school website, specifically in relation to the PE and sport premium grant. This includes how many pupils within a school’s Year 6 cohort are meeting the national curriculum requirements to:

  • Swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres.
  • Use a range of strokes effectively.
  • Perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations.1

Schools may choose to use some of the PE and sport premium to improve swimming provision – if they choose to do so, they must also publish certain information relating to the distribution of their funding; this includes the following:

  • The amount of premium received
  • A full breakdown of how it has been spent, or will be spent
  • The impact the school has seen on pupils’ PE and sport participation and attainment
  • How the improvements will be sustainable in the future

In order to help schools meet this requirement, we have created a PE and Sport Premium Strategy Template in line with our pupil premium expert, which helps schools address each criteria effectively and set out their strategy for using the funding.

1 DfE (2014) ‘PE and sport premium for primary schools’, para ‘Accountability’, <> [Accessed: 5 February 2018]



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