Case Study 15

The governing body of New Parc Community Primary School are in the process of reviewing their policies. A staffing policy has been produced by the Local Authority (LA) and sent to the governing body for adoption at their next meeting. The drafting note at the bottom of page 2 of the policy mentions that “schools may adapt this model policy accordingly whilst still having regard for the statutory provisions”. It also states that “the policy … has been agreed by the governing body, headteacher and the LA following consultation with all staff members and recognised trade unions.” The governors would like to know if they are able to amend the policy to address the needs of the school.

The Governing Body is responsible for the adoption of the school’s policies. Regulation 5 of The School Government (Terms of Reference)(Wales) Regulations 2000 states:-

  1. The governing body shall exercise their functions with a view to fulfilling a broadly strategic role in the running of the school.
  2. The governing body shall establish a strategic framework for the school by—
    – (a) setting aims and objectives for the school;
    – (b) setting policies for the school for achieving the aims and objectives;
    – (c) setting targets for achieving the aims and objectives.

Although the LA is the employer of staff at Community Schools, staffing functions are delegated to the governing body under The Staffing of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2006 However, the LA, as the employer, is ultimately liable for any liabilities incurred in respect of staff in schools.

If the governing body chooses not to adopt this staffing policy, and the LA incurs any future liability as a result, the LA can argue that this liability is not their fault, but rather that of the individual school. Whilst there is no provision within the legislation for the LA to recoup any future liability it may incur from the schools’ delegated budget, there are usually common provisions included within the LA’s scheme of delegation (which funds the school) which state that charges can be made back to the School’s budget in respect of awards made, for example:

  • by tribunals against the LA, or
  • out of court settlements, arising from action or inaction by the governing body contrary to the LA’s advice.

However, the adoption of school policies is clearly a matter for the governing body to determine rather than the LA so it would therefore be difficult for the LA to argue that they should recover any costs incurred from the school’s delegated budget in the event that they suffer any form of financial loss as a result of any decision by the governing body not to implement the policy, though not impossible. The governing body must also be mindful that any amendments made to policies that affect staff at the school, will be subject to consultation, prior to formal adoption, with relevant parties and recognised trade unions.

Note: The School Performance Management Policy is not covered by the advice above, in that, the governing body, Local Authority and headteacher review and amend this policy collectively. If agreement cannot be reached on this policy, then it is the responsibility of the Local Authority to determine the policy. Consultation must be carried out with the teachers at the school also.