High court backs father who refused to pay
fine for term-time holiday
The High Court has said that a father who took
his child out of school for a seven day holiday
did not commit a criminal offence and found
that parents whose children attended school
“regularly” could be allowed family absences.
The Department for Education (DfE) has said
that its zero tolerance approach to attendance
is “non-negotiable” and has indicated that it
may change the law to close, what it considers
to be, a loophole. It also plans to strengthen
statutory guidance to schools and local
authorities. Read more on the case on the BBCwebsite here.
Enquiry into sexual violence in schools
A Commons committee will look into the scale
of sexual harassment and sexual violence in
England’s schools following fears that the
number of cases are rising and that sexualised
behaviour among pupils is a social norm.
In September 2015, a BBC News report based
on freedom of information requests revealed
there were 5,500 sexual offences recorded in
UK schools between 2011 and 2014. Within
these figures, there were 4,000 alleged physical
sexual assaults and more than 600 rapes,
according to the information from UK police
forces. Read the findings in more detail here.
Controversial safeguarding rules may be
The DfE has launched a consultation on
disqualification by association rules which
currently require staff working with young
children to apply to Ofsted for a waiver if they
live with anyone with spent convictions for
certain types of crime.
Three options are proposed:
- Introducing a right to make representations
to Ofsted before disqualification takes effect
- Reducing the scope of the rules.
It has been reported that no applications have
been rejected since the guidelines changed.
Government’s £8 million academy and free
school bail out
Freedom of information figures show that since
2013-14 the DfE has paid out a total of £8.2m
in deficit funding to help schools balance their
books. The largest single payment of £700,000
was made to The Business Academy Bexley,
one of the first flagship academies.
Mental health champion for UK schools
axed after criticising Government
The Government has ended its partnership with
Natasha Devon, its mental health champion
for schools, after she publicly criticised current
education policies, in particular the testing
regime, which Devon claimed is detrimental to
children’s mental health. The Guardian coversthis in more detail here.
ACAS report highlights increase in bullying
ACAS says that its helpline took over 20,000
calls last year on bullying and harassment
and believes that this might mean that
workplace bullying is on the increase. A public
debate will begin on workplace bullying to
help identify better solutions and ACAS is
considering introducing a new code of practice
on unwanted behaviour in the workplace -
Workplace Trends 2016.
Advice on potential employment
implications of Brexit
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has
published advice, written by Michael Ford
QC, on the potential implications of Brexit on
employment and health and safety law.
The advice states: “All the social rights in
employment currently required by EU law
would be potentially vulnerable” and that
there would be years of uncertainty for workers
and employers if the UK votes to leave the
European Union. You can read more on TUC’s website.
Flexible hiring could help improve
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in
a study of 3.5 million job advertisements found
that only 6.2% of vacancies for “quality” jobs
(those paying at least £10.63 per hour) were
advertised with options to work flexibly. This
rate was considered to be the amount parents,
older people and disabled people need to earn
to meet basic minimum income standards.
It found a wide gap between flexible working
(which is widely available) and flexible hiring
(which is relatively rare). The report suggests
that this cuts employers off from a proportion
of the skilled market and is particularly
damaging for those sectors with skills shortages
such as IT and engineering. You can read the full report on Joseph Roundtree Foundation’swebsite.