Developing policies and procedures for schools

Like any organisation, schools need policies and procedures to help them run efficiently.

Polly Kerr, Cambridge
Polly Kerr, family and school specialist in Royston

School policies provide source documents setting out the responsibilities of the school, guiding behaviour, provision of education and the work of staff and governors, plus they help resolve conflicts when they arise. They play a vital role in helping to ensure fairness and consistency of management throughout the school.

Legal advice for writing school policies

A headteacher can ask any member of staff to write a school policy and you don’t need legal advice for them all.  However, it can be prudent to get legal advice for some areas which are more complex. This can stand you in good stead in the future, should for example, your school face a serious complaint.  A well-written policy makes stakeholders aware of all their obligations and this has the advantage of helping your school to avoid difficulties in the first place.  Some areas of policy comprise significant and complex legal obligations. If you want to be certain you have everything in place, it can save you time and peace of mind to consult an education law specialist.

How should school policies be written?

The drafting process should include relevant stakeholders, be written in clear language and the documents be made available for relevant people to see, such as: teachers, parents, governors, Ofsted inspectors and local authority officers. When writing one policy, the implications for other policies should be considered, for example changes to social media policy may lead to updates in the behaviour policy or BYOD policy. It’s important to keep school policies under review and updated to reflect current law and best practice. A review date should be set and adhered to. Some policies must be updated annually by law.

What school policies are required by law?

Policies cover a wide range of issues and the requirements differ for different types of schools. You can find a complete list of school policies on the government website and  The National Governance Association also has helpful information. Below is a list of some of the policies required by law; there are also policies which are optional.

  • admissions
  • bullying
  • charging (for independent schools)
  • child protection 
  • complaints
  • curriculum
  • equal opportunities
  • health and safety
  • performance management
  • school behaviour
  • sex education policy
  • special educational needs (SEN) and disability
  • staff discipline and grievance procedures
  • teachers’ pay and conditions.

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