Every school and business must have policies and procedures in place. School’s policies and procedures are an agreement between parents, staff, governors and volunteers with the school rules which they all need to follow up. Policies come from laws passed by the Government. These are in place to ensure schools are run correctly, and that staff, pupils, and any other individuals involved with schools are protected and meeting expectations and guidelines. Usually, schools have a large number of policies in place within a school. As mentioned in the previous assessment, these can include policies such as Child Protection, Health and Safety, Fire Safety, Confidentiality, Anti-Bullying, Teaching and Learning, Homework, and many more. These policies and procedures are relevant to staff, pupils and parents and must be updated regularly. In fact, educational policies and procedures need to be reviewed on a regular basis to keep them up to date with the changes within the school establishment and the Government legislation.
Any member of school staff can be given responsibility for the drafting of the school’s policies, and not all of them need to be signed off by the governing body. The first step for creating a primary or a secondary school’s policies and procedures manual would be to appoint a team responsible for the task. Various teachers would be responsible for individual policies based on their experience, training and knowledge. A good school policy will have a clear target audience. This could be pupils, parents, teachers, support staff or governors. Policies should be written in such a way that the audience clearly understands the requirements. For example, when writing primary school policies on behaviour, abuse or violence, the language used should be appropriate for the primary age range. Quality policies will be informative, unambiguous and concise as well as up to date and will clearly communicate the principles which should be established as one of the first steps in their creation. Once a school policy is drafted, the next step is to consult all the parties who would have an interest in it. For example, when creating a school policy for physical training, it would be appropriate to consult with the PE teaching staff, and when compiling school policies concerning pupils’ health such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye), varicella-zoster (chickenpox) infection, and hepatitis b, liaising with health professionals such as the school’s nurse will assist in ensuring the policy is accurate and relevant.
After the consultation process, any required reviews should be made to the draft policy before submitting, where required by law, to the full governing body for approval. In some cases, this is not required, and approval can instead be delegated to a member of the school’s staff, a committee or an individual governor. If it is approved and falls within the domain of the national curriculum, the new policy will have to be trained out to all the relevant staff and perhaps even parents and children. Each individual policy should be made available in the school’s offices for reference via hard paper copy and electronically online, including labels for governors to details of its effective date and its next review date.
It is important that each school policy is monitored on an ongoing basis for effectiveness once it has been adopted, and its impact regularly reviewed. Sometimes the local education authority may require a new policy to be introduced to the school. Again, all existing staff may require training to ensure the new policy is implemented adequately; this may involve communication with others such as children, parents or external professional bodies.
When a policy is put into writing it can be communicated in a variety of ways including:
• Put on noticeboards;
• Sent to the membership by email or in a letter;
• Put on the school’s website;
• Displayed in the school’s newsletter;
• Made available in a policy manual kept in the school’s office.
Communication can therefore be written, for example the classroom rules can be displayed on posters and hung in a high-profile area of the room. It can be verbal, for example the principal may present at the school assembly a topic of concern and what the school policy is for this concern. Letters and email, for example these can be posted to parents informing them of any new or change to current policy. This is often used when a written signed confirmation note is required back from the parents. When the policy is coming up for review, the school’s system should set to send an email reminder to the staff to prompt them to initiate the review process. Communication should be reinforced through daily emails to all staff each morning. The emails should highlight important events, tasks and meetings. Teachers need to check their email box daily for any correspondence from other members of staff and the Head Teacher of the school.
To conclude, every school needs to develop and communicate policies. In fact, schools develop and update policies all the time. This is because decisions are made in regard to new situations, and often where there is no previous policy. Such decisions are made by people who have the appropriate authority and knowledge, and when decisions are made about what actions must be taken in certain situations, it is necessary that they are:
1. Written down and recorded;
2. Communicated to all people who need to be aware of policies and procedures.
Overall, the best way to inform all of school’s policies would be through meetings between the Head Teacher and the relevant people. Unfortunately, this would be highly impractical due to the day-to-day workload required.