Sticking to the Deadlines
The DfE has been clear that all statutory guidance that has been published still needs to be followed unless they have passed emergency amendments. Specifically, they have stated that Keeping Children Safe in Education and the statutory guidance on school exclusion needs to be adhered to. They have published amendments to admissions regulations meaning that admissions appeals can take place virtually.
In terms of statutory deadlines, the DfE has published a full list of which reporting and data collection deadlines are cancelled, postponed, or remain. Review this regularly to keep track of any changes to the returns due. Remember, also review your local authority website for information on more localised returns, especially if you are a LA maintained school.
What’s Changed and What Hasn’t
Key deadlines coming up in this term that is particularly relevant to governors are:
|Budget Forecast Return Outturn||Trusts||Cancelled|
|Summer Census||All Schools||Cancelled|
|All Key Stage 2 Assessment Submissions||Primary Schools||Cancelled|
|Financial Management Governance Self-Assessment (FMGS)||Trusts||Postponed|
Some data collections remain open so you must make sure that you keep the ‘Get Information About Schools’ information up to date. The DfE will contact you through the details held there with any important information. The DfE are also still expecting that academy trusts will continue to declare or seek approval for related party transactions.
Who and How
Depending on the upcoming deadline you may need specific staff members to provide information to you. It is important to understand whether staff are working in a school or able to complete tasks from home. Working remotely means that information can take longer to compile so make sure all parties are aware of the timetable for completion.
Another consideration is if the deadline requires approval by Governors or Trustees. Although some Local Authorities have relaxed requirements for formal approval of documents before submission, there is no provision under the current legislation for either maintained schools or academies to make decisions via email. Any discussions via email must be recorded in the minutes of the next available Governing Body or Trust Board meeting and ratified accordingly.
Admissions, Complaints and Exclusions
The DfE announced that from the 24th April 2020 new, non-statutory regulations will come into force until 31st January 2021. The changes give greater flexibility to the appeals process. Panels will not have to be held in person but can take place by telephone, video conference or through a paper-based appeal. The rules have also been relaxed for how many people must sit on the panel if one person has to withdraw.
Schools are not currently expected to handle new or existing complaints whilst they are closed. Governors should be ensuring that communication with parents is ongoing during this time. Governors should still be made aware of complaints and a timeline set up so that once it becomes safe to do so outstanding and new complaints can be dealt with in accordance with the school policy.
Statutory deadlines are currently still in place. However, if governing bodies are late with their considerations, they must acknowledge this in the documentation. They must give reasons why it was late and why they believe that the delay was necessary.