Legal guidance for teaching in Primary schools

Key legal changes in Primary School Settings

Following the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), primary schools provide the important first years of education to the next generation. To ensure school environments are safe and treat each child and Teacher equally, there is specific legal guidance and regulations that govern primary schools. It is important that all teaching professionals are aware of this and stay up-to-date with any changes.

Primary school settings

Children in England attend primary school from the age of 4 to 11. This encompasses EYFS in the reception year and Key Stage 1 (KS1) for Years 1 and 2 and Key Stage 2 (KS2) for Years 3 to 6. You can work in a teaching role in a primary school as a class Teacher, Teaching Assistant (TA) or special education needs and disability (SEND) Teacher.

Many primary schools are owned and run by the local authority, and so must abide by their regulations and guidance. There are now also now many free schools and academies, which, whilst still funded by the government, are independent in terms of setting some of the rules and regulations. You can learn more about primary school settings here.

Legislation in primary schools

The statutory guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) sets out what schools must do to comply with the law. There are also statutory policies for schools and academy trusts which all school leaders, governors and trustees must abide by, although academies and independent schools have more freedom within these policies than local authority maintained schools.

The guidance and policies for primary schools cover many key areas. Some are more applicable to the local authority and school administrators, but some are also important for teaching staff to understand. These include those relating to behaviour and attendance, the curriculum, relationships education, safeguarding, special educational needs and Teachers’ pay and conditions.

See Key legal changes in Early Years Settings for more information on legislation specific to EYFS.

School Teachers’ pay and conditions

The most recent school Teachers’ pay and conditions document came into effect on the 1st September 2021. The guidance applies to permanent teaching staff at all maintained schools in England and provides the framework for pay and conditions.

The main changes in the most recent update are:

  • An award of £250 to all Teachers whose basic earnings are less than £24,000 (this figure is higher in London).
  • An advisory pay points structure for unqualified Teachers.
  • Flexibility in payments for Teachers doing extra tutoring as part of the education catch up resulting from the pandemic.
  • Changes to the provisions for the induction of Early Career Teachers (ECT).
  • A reduction of 1 day that Teachers must work this academic year to reflect the extra Bank Holiday on 3rd June 2022.

For full details you can read the most recent guidance here

Limiting the spread of COVID-19 and keeping children safe 

Although there are no longer the restrictions in place that we faced during the height of the pandemic, it is still important for staff in primary schools to take precautions to help protect themselves and their pupils and reduce the risk of infection.

With respect to schools, the main government goal now is to reduce the disruption to education and get children back on track to achieve their academic potential. It is recognised that face-to-face contact with Teachers and friends is important to help them learn and interact with others.

Masks, social distancing and ‘bubbles’ are no longer a requirement in primary schools. Pupils do not need to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone who has tested positive and neither do Teachers or staff if they have been fully vaccinated. However, along with all other education and childcare settings, a contingency plan should be in place in case of a local outbreak of COVID-19. This should include actions that can be put in place to help reduce the risks within the school, how the pupils would continue to receive good quality education and, how the changes would be communicated to the children and their parents or carers. You can find out more about managing COVID-19 in education settings on the government website.

Primary schools also have a responsibility for the overall safeguarding and welfare of the children in their care and it is important that all Teachers understand what this involves. The most recent DfE statutory guidance for keeping children safe in education came into force in September 2021. It covers safeguarding information for staff and provides information on what they should know and how to deal with any concerns they may have about a child. The most recent changes include additional guidance on online safety, how to respond to peer-on-peer abuse, further information on child criminal and sexual exploitation, and a new section on how to respond to low-level concerns and allegations. You can find the safeguarding guidance here.

Guidance on teaching about mental wellbeing in schools

Time out of school and the effect it may have had on some children has highlighted the importance of understanding mental wellbeing and how it can affect overall health. Most primary school children are too young to really understand mental health, but it is especially important to begin teaching about mental wellbeing in the primary years. Children are given the skills they need to recognise and respond to their emotions. Talking about mental wellbeing and the connection with physical health at this young age encourages children to understand that it is a normal part of life, helping to remove any stigma.

There is statutory guidance available for teaching physical health and mental wellbeing in primary schools. The DfE has further resources which support the guidance and can be used to train Teachers to teach mental wellbeing and help with curriculum planning for health education in primary schools. 

Mentally Healthy Schools is another good resource for Teachers to learn more about teaching young children about the importance of mental wellbeing.

Government guidance is not only necessary, it also provides information that can be used to improve your knowledge and expertise, enabling you to do the best you can in your job as a primary school Teacher.

If you are looking for your next primary school teaching opportunity, check out our latest Primary Jobs.

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