As part of the recent Budget, the Government announced that it was their intention to force all schools in England to convert to academies by 2022 at the latest.
This would have meant upheaval for some schools, as they would be moving from being under the control of the local education authority to being under the control of the academy itself. National frameworks would not need to be followed, and neither would standard employee terms and conditions for new staff taken on.
However, the Government has since backed down on the change and now, there will be no blanket requirement for schools to convert to academies. The conversion strategy will remain as it currently is i.e. that schools will need to convert if they are deemed to be failing.
What does this mean for me?
- Schools which are not failing will not now be automatically be forced to convert to an academy;
- It is likely that transfer of undertakings law would have applied to the conversion process, which would have put obligations on schools to keep employees informed and consulted, and protect current terms and conditions of existing employees who would have transferred to the academy. Obviously, this will not now be a consideration.
Changes to Disqualification by Association?
The Government is considering making changes to the system which disqualifies individuals from working with children, and specifically to the disqualification by association scheme. This scheme operates by preventing anyone from working with children because they live with someone who has been disqualified, even though they personally would not be disqualified otherwise.
The Government thinks that the system is unfair and disproportionate; something that is supported by Ofsted data. The following changes are proposed:
- Removing disqualification by association in schools and non-domestic registered settings; or
- Retaining disqualification from association but introducing a new right to make representations to Ofsted before the disqualification takes effect; or
- Retaining disqualification from association but reducing its scope and introducing a new right to make representations to Ofsted before the disqualification takes effect.
Any of the above proposals would have the effect that people who could potentially be disqualified under the current association rules, would no longer fall to be considered for disqualification and would not be prevented from working with children.
A consultation exercise on the above will end on 1st July 2016, after which a better picture on the way forward will be available.
What does this mean for me?
- Employers should continue as normal under the existing disqualification by association rules until the law changes, if it changes at all.