Education Newsletter Autumn 2019
3 September 2019
Welcome to the Autumn edition of our newsletter for schools.
We hope that you have enjoyed a well-deserved break over the summer.
In this edition we look at some topical issues from county lines to increased holiday pay for workers with irregular hours as well as the use of trading subsidiaries and a quick round-up of the new guidance for schools.
If you would like any further information on these topics or wish to discuss a live issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We wish you all the best for the new Academic Year!
The Education Team at Wilsons
Line of Duty - County Lines
Teachers are placed on the front line every day. How do you support your staff in their duties to identify and support vulnerable students who may be targeted as part of county lines operations?
The UK Government definition:
"County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons."
If you look at your current student body, how many are certainly involved? How many more might be involved? Although the most commonly targeted age range is 15-17 years, 12 year old children and younger have reportedly been victims of county lines exploitation.
Can a grievance amount to a whistleblowing disclosure?
Many readers will be familiar with receiving and dealing with grievances, but could you spot a whistleblowing disclosure? It is often the Bursar or the Head who are appointed to chair the grievance meeting and governors become involved later in the process.
The contents of a grievance can, depending on the specific facts, also amount to a whistleblowing disclosure, referred to throughout this article as a "protected disclosure".
It is important that the person dealing with the grievance reads the contents carefully to identify whether any of the complaints could amount to a protected disclosure. We regularly advise school clients on the appropriate way to deal with complaints and whether this should be under a Grievance or Whistleblowing Policy.
Guest Article from CEO of Shout Out UK, “Political Literacy, would mean an end to apathy”
We live in a society where most people gain their political information from their parents, whom vote Labour or Conservative because of their out of date belief in what the parties stood for years ago, the media, and vote due to vague social customs. Politics unfortunately has remained the playground of the financially better off and while the sons and daughters of the higher echelons of society are educated in politics, the rest of us are not, creating a division, which can be seen when looking at the background of MPs and the ever-expanding Oxbridge bubble in Parliament.
Yet, the issue becomes bigger because everyone in our democracy is entitled to a vote, hence, the divide not only secures the political industry for the elite, but it also lets loose a very politically illiterate populace during elections and referendums, leaving us vulnerable to decisions fuelled by misinformation, media spins, and ignorance. This can't carry on if we wish to have and continue to hold on to a healthy democracy. The real issue here is a lack of political education in all but the top end schools.
Increased holiday pay for term-time workers
The Court of Appeal confirmed that pay for term-time staff with irregular hours should be calculated on the average of the previous 12-weeks' pay, rather than 12.07% of hours worked. The 12.07% calculation has been commonly used for these working arrangements and has been supported by Acas guidance. In this case, the claimant's holiday pay, when calculated correctly, amounted to around 17.5% of annual pay.
The claimant, Mrs Brazel, was a clarinet and saxophone teacher who was employed on a permanent basis as a 'visiting music teacher'. Her working hours depended on the number of students that signed up for tuition that term. Lessons were only scheduled in term-time and she was paid separately for any other duties she carried out. The school year varied between 32 and 35 weeks, and although her contract of employment continued throughout the year, Mrs Brazel did not give lessons during school holidays or perform any substantial duties. Mrs Brazel's pay was calculated using an hourly rate and she was paid monthly for the hours worked in the previous month.
The impact of Brexit on EU workers
We have summarised our advice to schools on the rights of their EU workers and schools' obligations leading up to and after Brexit below. We refer to 'EU workers' throughout, which includes EEA and Swiss nationals.
What rights will EU workers have?
Those who have been in the UK legally for 5 years before the end of either the implementation period or exit day (depending on whether we leave the EU with or without a deal) will be able to apply for 'settled status' to stay indefinitely. If EU citizens have been in the UK for fewer than 5 years by this date, they can apply for pre-settled status until they have 5 years' continuous residence, when they can apply for settled status. We haven't set out the process for applying for settled status here, but further information is available in the Government's 'employer toolkit' (link below). If EU nationals have not acquired settled status by the deadline date, they will be considered illegal immigrants and subject to removal from the UK.
Round-up of recent guidance for schools
Our round-up of recent guidance has been created as a quick reference point for schools, including the updated "Keeping Children Safe in Education" guidance (September 2019) and the Brexit guide: data protection for education providers (August 2019).
Trading by schools and other charities – what to consider
If a charity charges fees for the provision of goods, property or services it may be engaging in trading activity. The sale of goods or services is an essential feature of any trade, although there are cases in which charities may sell goods or services, without the activity constituting "trade" and without the income it produces being regarded as trading profits. This is important, as significant trading profits may be taxable.
Time limit for disability discrimination claims against schools
If your school receives or is threatened with a SEND Tribunal claim, it is worth noting the recent finding by The Upper Tribunal, which has confirmed that the Tribunal rule that seeks to extend the six month time limit for bringing a claim under the Equality Act 2010 is unlawful.
Save the date
Independent Schools' Conference
"Schools Managing Risk"
Friday 24 January 2020
9:00 for 9:30 - 13:00
Our annual conference for Independent Schools 2020 will focus on the topic of managing risk from a number of different angles.
Please save the date, a formal invitation will be released in the coming months.
Thank you for reading our newsletter.
If you have any questions raised by our newsletter, please contact us for an informal and confidential chat.
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The content of this newsletter is intended as a summary of the law for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Our newsletter is not a substitute for specific legal advice and consequently we do not accept liability for the consequences of any action taken or refrained from as a result of using the information provided.