Legal guidance teaching in a Secondary school

Key legal changes in Secondary School Settings

All educational settings have to comply with legal guidance and legislation. This covers all aspects of running a school, including everything from administration to the curriculum to safeguarding. As a secondary school Teacher it is important to be aware of key legal guidance and to keep updated of any changes.

Secondary school settings

After primary school, children move on to secondary school at age 11, continuing their education through Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 until they are 16. Secondary school ends with pupils taking their GCSE exams, prior to going on into sixth form, a further education college or an apprenticeship. There are various teaching roles in secondary schools including subject specific Teachers, Senior Leadership, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Teachers, Cover Supervisors and classroom support staff such as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA), Teaching Assistant (TA) or Technician.

Secondary schools that are funded and controlled by their local authority are required to follow all government statutory guidance set by the Department for Education (DfE). Free schools and academies are independent of their local authority and so have more freedom to set their own rules.

To learn more about the different types of secondary schools read Teaching in a Secondary School Setting. 

Guidance on changes to summer exams

For pupils that took their GCSE, A and AS level exams during the summers of 2020 and 2021, the assessment and grading system was changed to reflect the impact of the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic had on their education. Exams did not take place as normal and grades were awarded based on Teacher assessments, the nature of which varied between schools and this different approach to assessment saw higher than usual grades.

Summer 2022 will be treated as a transition year to reflect the fact that these pupils also have not had a normal classroom education during their exam preparation years. Exams will return as the main form of assessment, with grading aimed at being midway between that in 2019 and 2021, but there will be a few adaptations. These include:

  • A choice of topics or content in some GCSE subjects.
  • Advance information on exam content to aid with revision.
  • Provision of formula sheets in GCSE maths and science.
  • Changing requirements for practical science work and art and design assessments.

The goal is that for those taking exams in summer 2023, grading systems will be back in line with the standards of pre-pandemic years. By this time all pupils in schools across the country should have received an equal amount of normal face-to-face classroom education in preparation for their exams. The fairest means of assessment is for them to all take the same tests, which are set, marked and graded by the exam board.

You can find more information about exams in 2022 on the government website.

Teaching secondary pupils about mental wellbeing, health and safety

Teaching young people about mental wellbeing and its connection to physical health is important at all ages and is part of the statutory guidance throughout the school curriculum. Pupils should be able to understand and recognise the signs of mental health problems and know where to go and who to speak to if they have concerns.

The DfE has specific statutory guidance that secondary schools should follow to teach physical health and mental wellbeing. At this age there is more of an emphasis on pupils making their own informed, positive choices in all aspects relating to their health and wellbeing. This includes also teaching them about physical health and fitness, healthy eating, personal hygiene, basic first aid, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and internet safety. It is also important to give young people the information needed to understand how to form healthy, safe relationships with family, friends, partners and colleagues. This should cover positive relationships, understanding sexuality, being self-aware and self-confident, and understanding the need to make safe choices.

The DfE has some useful training modules for Teachers to support them in teaching the relationships, sex and health education curriculum to secondary school pupils. These include mental wellbeing, being safe and the changing adolescent body.

School Teachers’ pay and conditions and early career payments

The most recent guidance on Teachers’ pay and conditions included a few changes from previous years. This came into effect on the 1st September 2021 and applies to all permanent teaching staff in local authority maintained schools in England.

The main changes are:

  • All Teachers who have a basic earning rate of less than £24,000 per year will get an award of £250 (the base rate figure is higher in London).
  • Unqualified Teachers will have an advisory pay points structure.
  • Teachers who have done extra tutoring as part of the education catch up following the pandemic can receive additional payments.
  • The induction of Early Career Teachers (ECT) will see some changes.
  • The extra Bank Holiday on 3rd June 2022 will result in Teachers having to work one day less in the academic year.

For full details, read the most recent guidance here

In the academic year 2018-2019, the government introduced early career payments to encourage more Teachers to stay in the profession after qualifying. These were initially available to maths Teachers who either started a postgraduate Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course or completed an undergraduate ITT course in the academic years beginning in 2018, 2019 or 2020. The scheme later added physics, chemistry and language Teachers who completed postgraduate or undergraduate ITT courses in the 2020-2021 academic year. To be eligible you must have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and be employed directly by a state-funded secondary school in England. 

Guidance on limiting the spread of COVID-19

Following the pandemic, the main goal now in terms of education is to limit any further disruption to secondary school pupils in these important years of their academic studies. It has been seen that remote learning is not ideal and that pupils of all ages need social interaction with their peers as well as face to face contact with their Teachers to reach their full potential.

It is no longer mandatory for secondary school pupils and Teachers to wear masks, social distance or stay in set groups. 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, they will be required to take a PCR test. Schools still need to be prepared for increased cases of COVID-19 in their local area and must have a contingency plan in place to reduce the risks to their pupils and staff.

More information about managing local outbreaks of COVID-19 in education settings can be found on the government website. 

As a secondary school Teacher it is necessary to recognise the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest government guidance and regulations. Staying informed will help you do the best job you can.

To find your next secondary school teaching job, search our latest vacancies in Secondary Jobs.

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