Policies within teaching establishments are created based upon legislation, government policy, experience and historical policies. Legislation is very broad and applies to a variety of situations and organisations, policies are based on elements of these laws but focused specifically for teaching establishments requirements. The location, demographic and sector will have an influence of the policies, for example, with the current high levels of knife crime in London resulting in metal detectors being installed in teaching establishment premises and passing these metal detectors are becoming a requirement of some organisational policies. Policies are an essential element of any organisation, but particularly education, in order to maintain consistency and create a safe inclusive learning environment. Teaching organisations will have a wide selection of policies for both staff and students, often ranging from a Teacher Development Process Policy to a Student Trips Policy; I will focus on the Equality Policy, Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy and the Safeguarding Policy.

Equality Policy

The Equality Policy documents how the teaching establishment will fulfil its commitment to the UK Equality legislation and how it goes beyond compliance with the Equality Law. The Equality Policy makes it clear to all parties what the teaching establishment expects from them and what they can expect from the it. The aim of policy is to “create and maintain an inclusive organisation where all can work, learn and reach their full potential.” (Lye-Forster, 2014) A key element is that any applicants to the teaching establishment, either students or staff, will not be discriminated against based on any of the protected characteristics. The policy also ensures all teaching, teaching materials, schemes of works and lesson plans account for the diverse perspectives of learners in terms of the protected characteristics but also the preferences of learners in relation to their learning needs and styles. The Equality Policy also outlines a series of objectives, such as to increase the success rate of males to match females across all levels and increase the percentage of Black and Minority Ethnic staff by 4%. The impact is anyone who may face inequality due to one of the nine ‘protected characteristics’ will be safeguarded, as staff and students will be informed, staff are suitably trained and the rules outlined in the policy will be enforced.

Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy

The Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy details the type of behaviour that is deemed unacceptable, along with guidance and definitions in relation to bullying and harassment. The policy documents the procedure that should be followed in the event that bullying or harassment has occurred and also includes the referral process for when bullying has been considered a serious incident. An important aspect is that students who feel they have been the victim of, or have been accused of, bullying and harassment have a resource where they can find more information in relation to what they can expect from the teaching establishment and what do next. The policy also documents how it will be publicised to the staff and students, including in the induction process, student handbook, the Feel Safe poster campaign, personal tutors, Student Welfare and Participation Team and the Student Advice Centre. The impact is that all staff and students are aware of what constitutes bullying and harassment, while having an accessible resource for reference purposes, clearly informing everyone at the teaching establishment that all types of harassment and bullying are unacceptable and enforcing the commitment that everyone is equally valued and must treat one another with respect.

Safeguarding Policy

“Safeguarding can be summarised as measures to prevent a young person or vulnerable adult from experiencing harm or abuse of any kind.” (Lye-Forster, Safeguarding Policy, 2015) The Safeguarding Policy documents how the teaching establishment approaches its commitment to best practice and meets its duties in terms of the safeguarding of students. Safeguarding includes both child protection and the preventative approach to keeping all children, young people and vulnerable adults safe. The Safeguarding Policy goes beyond targeting deliberate physical harm and includes crossover to other policies, covering areas such as health and safety, bullying, meeting the needs of students with medical conditions and learning difficulties/disabilities, radicalisation, etc. Safeguarding aims to provide early effective help in terms of safe people, safe places, safe practices and procedures. While every staff member has a duty to promote safeguarding, the safeguarding policy clearly defines who the designated people are, along with their roles and responsibilities in relation to safeguarding. The policy documents the roles and responsibilities of the safeguarding panel, which are in place to ensure the safeguarding policy is being implemented effectively.

The communication between staff and students in relation to confidentiality is defined as staff “can never guarantee confidentiality to a young person as some kinds of information may need to be shared with others.” (Lye-Forster, Safeguarding Policy, 2015) In the event a learner chooses to disclose to a member of staff a series of requirements are documented that the member of staff must follow, including keeping a record of what was said, and must take the matter seriously, along with a list of activities that should never be conducted, such as taking photographs or asking leading questions. An essential element of the policy is “if staff have significant concerns about any young person, they should make them known to the Duty Safeguarding Lead without delay in accordance with the college’s reporting and recording procedures” (Lye-Forster, Safeguarding Policy, 2015).

The Impact of Current Educational Policies

The impact of the Safeguarding Policy is that all staff are trained to Level 1 in safeguarding and also trained in the teaching establishments Safeguarding Policy and the code of conduct. Another impact is that all prospective staff are checked to ensure they are eligible to work in the UK, their professional qualifications, their identity and if they have a criminal record in the form of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The safeguarding panel meet at least 4 times a year to ensure the Safeguarding Policy is being complied with within the teaching establishment. An important aspect of the Safeguarding Policy is that a member of the safeguarding team will always be accessible via mobile phone, so that in the event a student makes a disclosure the safeguarding team is always accessible. The safeguarding team is also always accessible via email to answer questions and allay any concerns so if you are in doubt, it is important to refer the matter to safeguarding as a best practice.

Along with the large array of policies that most teaching establishments utilise there are also series of guidelines, such as templates for assisting in the creation of lesson plans and schemes of work, while it is not a requirement to use these templates it saves time and increases consistency between staff and students. Another useful set of guidelines is the marking guidelines created with criteria from the awarding body. These marking guidelines are not used across the entire teaching establishment and are implemented on a departmental basis due to the targeted nature, each assessment has a series of graded boundaries, when marking a piece of work selecting the suitable boundary for each of the gradings provides a final mark and a selection of feedback related directly to the awarding body criteria, this can then be built upon with lecturer’s own comments, allowing direct targeting of the student with the comments. This is a clear example of a template increasing consistency as all the students receive consistent feedback covering all aspects of the assessment, this makes marking easier, faster and better for students.

The Scheme of Work Template includes a clear description at the top of the page, including which course, lecturer and unit the scheme of work is designed for, this makes the process of locating the correct scheme of work much easier. Below the description is a grid, including the week number and date, the topics that will be covered, how equality and diversity will be included, the resources that will be utilised and the type of assessment that will be deployed. Using a template provides numerous benefits, including that it encourages embedded equality and diversity, planning the course into the future rather than on an ad hoc basis, which is generally a teaching establishment requirement, an awarding body requirement and an Ofsted requirement. The template also reduces the risk of elements being forgotten in the planning process and, by including suggestions in the grid header, promotes what the teaching establishment considers best practice. While lesson plans are not promoted as much as they have been in the past, many teaching organisations still provide a template that can be used. The template includes a description at the top of the document that includes the lecturer, course, unit and the academic year, below this description is a section for smart objectives and how these will be assessed. This structures the creation of the smart objective easily and improves the process of a task that many lecturers find challenging. Within the main body of the document is a grid that structures what the learner and lecturer will be doing at particular times, along with a description of how Maths/English will be embedded, equality and diversity will be promoted and how health and safety has been checked for each activity. For each of these sections, information relating to how a stretch and challenge is being implemented and how assessment will be performed. A benefit of the use of templates within schemes of work and lesson plans are that staff who are covering lessons are able to quickly and easily discover the progress of the group and what should be covered as all are produced following the same format and design.

Many teaching organisations promote the Society for Education and Training Code of Professional Practice for staff and have a Code of Conduct that clearly documents their commitment to students but also the student’s commitment to the teaching establishment, along with what will not be tolerated from students and staff. The Code of Conduct is comprised of a variety of policies and provides an easy to digest method of providing the required rules to staff and students. The impact is that all students and staff are aware of how they should behave, there are constant reminders of the Code of Conduct as it is located in every classroom; this allows lecturers to highlight sections of the Code of Conduct to support behaviour management within the classroom. The Society for Education and Training Code of Professional Practice provides a series of mandatory requirements that the Society for Education and Training feel all teachers should comply with. The Code of Professional Practice includes elements such as to “respect the rights of learners and colleagues in accordance with relevant legislation and organisation requirements.” (Society for Education and Training, 2018) The Code of Professional Practice also extends beyond the class room and education setting, including aspects such as to “uphold the reputation of the profession” (Society for Education and Training, 2018), the impact of this requirement means that teachers should always act professionally, both while working and at leisure. 

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