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Update on School Operations

We partner with School and Academy Trust sector bodies The Confederation of School Trusts (CST)Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and The Trust NetworkThey continue to advocate hard on behalf of schools and trusts and are offering guidance and advice on operational issues.

Some key items are highlighted below.

  1. Academy Trust Handbook

After some delay, the Department for Education and Education and Skills Funding Agency published the new Academy Trust Handbook (AKA The Academies Financial Handbook) earlier this month.

The changes are minimal and summarised on page 8 of the document, which includes new information about:

Financial reporting: confirming the withdrawal of the budget forecast return outturn (BFRO)
Special payments: clarifying that prior approval of staff severance payments only applies to ‘special’ (non-statutory/non-contractual) payments
Indemnities: confirming that trusts will be able to enter into indemnities which are in the normal course of business without seeking approval (further guidance to follow)
Religious character: extending the scope from dioceses to all religious authorities in relation to ‘at cost’

You can view and download the new handbook here

2. HSE inspections of asbestos management in schools

HSE will be carrying out a programme of inspections to primary and secondary schools. The inspections will assess how schools are managing the risks from asbestos within the school estate and meeting the ‘duty to manage’ (DTM) requirements under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The regulations place duties on those with responsibility for the maintenance of work premises, including schools, to manage the risk from asbestos. For the majority of schools, this will be the employer.

The HSE inspector will contact the school before the visit to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspection. The DfE has published the asbestos management in schools guidance to help schools understand and meet their responsibilities in managing asbestos safely, including having an asbestos management plan and register.

You can read our blog and watch Robert Gould discuss the Asbestos Inspections in his webinar here

3. Amended DfE guidance for governors and trustees: understanding your data

The DfE has amended guidance for governors and trustees on understanding your data. Health warning: we have repeatedly told the DfE that they must stop assuming that the proposition of governing a school trust is the same as the proposition of governing a maintained school. Unfortunately, this guidance continues to conflate the two propositions, so the guidance is of limited use to trustees.

4. DfE: Trust and School Improvement Offer

The DfE has updated its guidance to show the improvement support which schools and trusts can get in the 2022 to 2023 academic year.

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