Identify and summarise five pieces of legislation (to include codes of practice) which schools have to follow. Explain how each of these affect work in schools. Legislation refers to the actual law enacted by a governing or legislative body at national or local level. There are legislations for more or less all aspects of life but we are particularly going to discuss the ones that affect schools. These laws are produced and implemented in order to protect children and the people who work with children. Legislations ensure their safety and make sure their rights are respected. Code of practice is a practical guide that provides ways on how to effectively work under legislation. The Code of Practice is not a legislation itself that is why schools are not legally bound to follow them. Examples include: •Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales.
•Safeguarding Children: Working Together Under the Children Act 2004. Let us now look at five different legislations and how they affect work in schools. 1. The Data Protection Act 1998:
The Data Protection Act means that schools need to make sure that all the information they hold is kept securely on site. If its paper storage it should be locked in filing cabinets. If the information is electronic it should be on password-protected computers. This legislation bounds schools to use this information only for the purpose it was collected and not share it with unauthorised people. It affects schools and staff in many ways e.gs as a teaching assistant it puts a responsibility on us to make sure that pupil information is confidential and if it needs to be shared with adults working with a particular pupil (like a speech therapist), we have the parental consent to do it.
2. The UN Convention on Rights of Child 1989:
The UN Convention on Rights of Child 1989 was ratified in the UK in 1991 and adopted by the Welsh Government in 2004. It is made up of 54 articles covering rights to survival, protection, and development of children. It can be summarized by saying it protects children from any form of discrimination. Children have a right to know and access the relevant information about themselves. They have the freedom to practice their own beliefs and come together and enjoy as groups. It states that all children have an equal right to education and a right to privacy. They have the right to express their views and feelings. Children with disabilities have a right to lead full and independent lives and they have a say in the decisions that affect them. This legislation has a major impact on schools as it bounds the staff and teachers to listen to what the child has to say.
E.g. a teacher cannot just make a decision about a child on their own just because he/she is an adult. They have to respect the wishes of the child. This law gives children a voice and control over their lives. It empowers children and brings in confidence but at the same time it can be used by a child in a negative way and teachers may find it hard to discipline a child and to deal with a behaviour problem. That is where the Code of Practice comes in as a useful tool and tells what to do in a particular situation.
3. The Education and Inspections Act 2006:
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 is intended to represent a major step in ensuring that all children in all schools get the education they need to enable them to fulfil their potential. The Act provides greater freedoms to schools, including the possibility of owning their own assets, employing their own staff, setting their own admissions arrangements etc. This gives local authorities more responsibility for managing schools. This law gives staff a clear statutory right to discipline students. By law, all state (not private) schools must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. This policy is decided by the school. All teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is. School staff needs to be well aware of the policy. Although these legislations must be followed but the Children Act overrides all other laws when it comes to safeguarding children.
4. Children Act 2004:
Children Act 2004 is an updated version of the Children Act 1989. The Children Act 1989 allocated duties to local authorities, courts, parents and other agencies to ensure children are safeguarded and their welfare is promoted. (Wikipedia.org ‘Children Act 1989’). It centres on the idea that a child’s welfare is paramount and comes before everything else. Wherever possible, children must be cared for by their own families and that adequate support is available for parents and children in need.
The law suggests that professionals should work in partnerships with parents at every stage. The Children Act 2004 introduces multi agency approach to safeguarding children. Detailed information is available for people in the ‘Working Together Document’. The idea behind the Act is to promote co-ordination between multiple official entities to improve the overall well-being of children. The 2004 Act also specifically provided for including and affecting disabled children. This Act promotes the achievement of the five outcomes of ‘Every Child Matters’ framework, that are:
•Enjoy and achieve.
•Make a positive contribution.
•Achieve economic well-being.
This legislation has a huge impact on schools and on the way they address issues of care, welfare and discipline. Teachers and the support staff’s work has been affected directly by the act and they need to have training or guidance in its implementation.
5. The Equality Act 2010.
On 1 October 2010, the Equality Act 2010 replaced all existing equality legislation such as the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act. It protects the children and staff from being discriminated. It also extends protection to pupil who are pregnant, have recently given birth or who are undergoing gender reassignment. In Wales the Act applies to all maintained and independent schools, including Academies, and special schools.
The Act makes it unlawful for the responsible body of a school to discriminate against, harass or victimise a pupil in relation to admissions, in the way it provides education, in the way it provides pupils access to any benefit, facility or service, or by excluding a pupil or subjecting them to any other detriment. Teachers now have to make sure that children with disabilities or additional needs are also included in and have access to all activities so there is no form of discrimination. (gov.uk ‘Equality Act 2010’)