With only weeks to go until the summer break, HR professionals and those that are responsible for staffing issues in schools may be considering which policies to review and update for September. As disciplinary and grievances procedures in schools are among the most commonly referred to policies, these can be a good place to start.
Disciplinary And Grievance Procedures in Schools
It is important for any school to have the necessary disciplinary and grievance procedures in place in the event of allegations being made about or by staff in the course of their employment.
For maintained schools this is a statutory requirement set out in The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009. Non-maintained schools will, however, still be subject to the general rules of employment law, which require employees to be given information at the beginning of their employment about the disciplinary and grievance procedures that will apply to them.
It is common for maintained schools to adopt the policies issued by their local authority as they are usually negotiated and agreed with trade unions before being implemented. It can be impractical for individual governing bodies of maintained schools to consult with unions directly in order to adopt their own tailored policies and procedures. If a school later becomes an academy, the employment of staff will transfer to the new academy trust and often the policies and procedures will transfer with them. This can result in many schools, both maintained and non-maintained, having generic policies in place, which can be unnecessarily lengthy when aiming for an all-encompassing “one size fits all” approach.
Time To Review Your Procedures?
If the above sounds familiar maybe now is the time to consider reviewing the current policies that you have in place for disciplinaries and grievances, and to tailor them to the particular school or academy trust, as doing so could have a number of advantages, including the following:
- Values and culture change from one school to the next and over time. Those with their own policies can take time to consider what is important to them and their students, and have this reflected in them.
- Levels of responsibility for the different stages of the disciplinary and grievance processes may differ depending on the experience of those within the School Leadership Teams (SLT). In one school the Assistant Heads may be comfortable in carrying out investigations, for example, whereas another may want to limit this responsibility to the Head Teacher.
- Disciplinary policies often list the types of conduct that they would consider to be misconduct or gross misconduct. If an organisation has a problem with a certain kind of behaviour they can seek to address this by emphasising it in their policy.
- Where an academy trust operates over a number of local authorities, adopting one set of polices across the trust prevents inconsistent treatment towards staff from one area to the next.
Disciplinary and grievance procedures in schools can be useful for education providers in setting the tone and expectations for staff. They can be a useful tool for encouraging school improvement and ensuring all parties, including the unions, are on the same page when dealing with any issues. However, they can quickly become outdated and turn into an inconvenience for schools if they are left following procedures that are no longer relevant.
How Can Nelsons Help?
We can help make sure that you have disciplinary and grievance procedures that work for your organisation. This may mean reviewing and updating your current arrangements or providing suggested template polices where you are starting from scratch.
Laura Evans is a specialist Education and Employment Law Solicitor at Nelsons.
If you require any further information about the subjects discussed in this article or if you have any other employment law or HR queries, please contact Nelsons’ Education team on 0800 024 1976 or contact us via the online form to find out how we can help.