New year: new term – school obligations this 2018/9 academic year

With the start of September, we publish a handy guide setting out obligations and considerations for schools (independent, academies and maintained) as they start the new school year.

Safeguarding

Safeguarding obligations on schools have changed significantly since the end of last year, and schools need to be aware of this new landscape.

In July 2018, a new version of statutory guidance, Working together to safeguard children, was published which sets out the revised arrangements for multi-agency safeguarding and reforms the 2015 arrangements. All schools should be aware of their obligations in relation to the three local safeguarding partners: police, local authority and clinical commissioning groups.

3 September 2018: Revised statutory guidance, Keeping children safe in education, is now in force which revises the obligations on all schools in relation to safeguarding. It contains an entirely new section peer-on-peer abuse and harassment which can be read alongside new departmental advice on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment between Children in Schools and Colleges which provides support to schools and colleges in this area.

Staffing and employment

On 31 August 2018, new statutory guidance, Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006, was published for schools to understand their responsibilities under the Childcare Act 2006, where staff are providing childcare in schools.

From 1 August 2018, changes to Charity Commission rules, will mean that there will be more restrictions on who can run a charity. The new restrictions will extend to senior management positions, and also cover an individual on the sex offenders register and certain additional unspent convictions including money laundering and terrorism.

In May 2018, the Department for Education published revised guidance, Staffing and employment advice for schools: Departmental advice for school leaders, governing bodies, academy trusts and local authorities. Although this is for academies and maintained schools, it aims to assist employers in all schools with staffing and employment issues, and to inform their decision making. It advises on matters contained within the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 for maintained schools and for independent schools, which include academies and free schools, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 and on wider staffing and employment issues. Issues covered include: appointing staff; transfer of undertakings; agency staff; safeguarding; and staff management.

GDPR

Following the passing of the Data Protection Act 2018 in May 2018, schools have been acutely aware of their enhanced obligations under the GDPR.  The DFE have published a series of ‘Privacy Notice Model Documents’ for academies and maintained schools (but which could be helpful to all schools) to issue to staff, parents and pupils about the collection of data.

Schools and health

In July 2018, Public Health England published its analysis of the National Child Measurement Programme showing the proportion of children in Year 6 with severe obesity reaching an all-time high. Schools will be starting the new year with an enhanced focus on the extent to which their curriculums encourage children to pursue healthy lifestyles. A helpful Briefing paper: School Sport has been published by the House of Commons Library on the provision of PE and sport in schools, including national curriculum requirements, funding, the School Games and regulations relating to school playing fields.

Academies and Maintained Schools
School census

The deadline for all maintained and academy schools census returns to reach the Department for Education is provided in the table below.

Data collection

Census day

Deadline for returns

Autumn census

Thursday 4 October 2018

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Spring census

Thursday 17 January 2019

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Summer census

Thursday 16 May 2019

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Admissions

1 October 2018: Admissions authorities (the Academy Trust, governing body or the local authority) must publicly consult on relevant changes to admission arrangements for entry in September 2020 or unchanged arrangements if they have not been consulted on within the past 7 years. Consultation must be completed by 31 January 2019. Whether consultation takes place or not, all admission authorities must determine admission arrangements each February for the following year: i.e. September 2020 arrangements must be determined by 28 February 2019.

General

The DFE have published guidance to help schools set out their policies on charging for school activities and visits – this has been updated to reflect new Universal Credit regulations.

Academy Information

In July 2018, a new version of the Academies Financial Handbook 2018 published. This sets out the financial management, control and reporting requirements that apply to all academy trusts. It describes a financial framework for trusts that focuses on principles rather than detailed guidance and reflects their accountability to Parliament and to the public. Compliance with the handbook is a condition of each trust’s funding agreement.

The ESFA has produced a number of Academies general annual grant allocation guides: 2018 to 2019 to help explain the general annual grant allocation statement issued to each academy. Different guides have been produced for different types of academies, including those opening in-year. The guide can be read alongside an academy’s statement to understand the funding it will receive, how it has been calculated, the funding factors that have been applied, and the sources of the data used.

The pupil premium grant provides additional funding that publicly funded schools in England use to support disadvantaged pupils. The Pupil premium: allocations and conditions of grant 2018 to 2019 explains the terms of such grants, which pupils are eligible and how they should be spent.

October/November 2017: Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is an annual bidding round for academy trusts to apply for capital funding. The ESFA is likely to publish guidance on the 2019-20 CIF in October 2018. The guidance will specify the deadline for new CIF applications to register on the online portal (expected to be November 2018) and the deadline for the submission of the bids themselves (expected to be beginning December 2018).

5 November 2018 is the deadline for academy trusts to complete land and buildings collection tool (LBCT) which will be available from 1st October 2018. The return needs to be completed by each academy trust to provide land and buildings details for each academy school operated by the academy trust as at 31 August 2018. If an academy joins an academy trust on 1 September 2017, it will be accounted for in the LBCT next year.

31 December 2018 is the deadline for Academy trusts must submit to the ESFA audited accounts for the period ending 31 August 2018. The ESFA is expected to issue guidance on the 2017/18 academies accounts return by October 2018. Additionally, accounts must be published on an academy trust’s website as soon as possible after approval by the trustees, but by no later than 31 January each year.

 

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