Why having a policy?
In a policy you write down how you run your organisation or business in important areas of your operation and why. Being clear about what it is you want to achieve, rules follow which tell everybody how to conduct themselves in certain situations. A policy gives a clear basis for expectations, helps with accountability and observance of the law and regulations put on your organisation by other parties.
For whom do you write a policy?
Policies and procedures are for
- yourself, i.e. the managers, trustees, directors
- people who work for you, both paid and voluntary, and potential applicants
- your families, i.e. parents and students, sometimes the wider community and
- other interested parties such as regulatory bodies, landlords, banks, insurers and sponsors.
Possible structures of a policy
Title of policy and procedures, Name of organisation
Body/person responsible for policy /Date of approval/Review date for policy
- Reference to relevant laws/regulations/etc
- Other policies and documents that this policy interacts with
- Audience / Scope
- Procedures / Roles and responsibilities
- Index of Definitions
- Rules for review
Avoid passive language as it conceals who should do something/is responsible.
Which policies should you hold and how do they work together?
There are some policies that you have to have working with children and employing people (even if only volunteers), which are
- Safeguarding policy
- Health & Safety policy
- Equal Opportunities policy
I also strongly recommend having a Complaints & Comments policy.
There are other policies, procedures and documents that you will find useful to have, and the bigger your school, the more areas you will want to have properly thought through and regulated:
- Behaviour policy for students / Code of conduct for adults
- Parental consent form / Application Form
- Reporting safeguarding concern form, Health and Safety incident report form
- Privacy/data protection policy
- Admissions policy
- Finance policy
- Homework policy
- Environmental policy
You will find that some policies impact each other such as Safeguarding and Health & Safety, Equal Opportunities, Recruitment and Health & Safety. It is important to make appropriate references between policies and to make sure they do not contradict each other.
Something else to keep in mind is that there are some procedures, especially around Safeguarding and Health & Safety that teachers should have with them at all times to be able to refer to. A Health & Safety policy easily becomes quite long, especially if it contains detailed procedures for business as usual and emergencies. It may therefore make more sense to have two documents, i.e. the policy itself and the detailed procedures.
Finally, you can add addendums for special circumstances as needed (think online teaching) so you won’t have to re-write and approve the whole policy outside its normal cycle.
How to use your policies?
You may understand by now that discussing and writing the policies is an important – perhaps the most important – step in using them since you have to thing through your organisation or business and become clear in your heads about most aspects of daily operations or what-if scenarios.
The next step is dissemination, which is making people aware of your policies. Generally, in small organisations like ours all policies should be published and available to everybody, for example through your website. Also your regulatory body (Charity Commission or Companies House) should be able to easily find and read the central policies. This is why your policies should be in English with – if necessary – copies in your own language also available.
Depending on the nature of each policy you need to make sure that certain groups are aware of its content and follow the procedures, i.e. implementation. One obvious group would be your teachers and classroom assistants who need to know about the Safeguarding policy for instance. You can make sure people know about a policy by organising induction and regular refresher trainings/parents evenings, or for example by handing out a copy to them and have them sign later that they have read and understand it, and will follow it.
Finally, policies need regular reviews to make sure they are still fit for purpose. These reviews can be annual/biannual/every three years or triggered by certain events. Questions to ask yourselves:
- Have there been changes in legislation/requirements from other bodies?
- Are there new circumstances that we need to take into consideration? (Just think online teaching…)
- Have we found weaknesses in our operations? Could we do things better?
- Have we received any complaints/comments relevant to this area of our operation?
- Whom should we consult about this policy?
- Has this policy and procedure become unwieldy and needs some straightening or subdivision?
- Have we approved new policies or documents that interact with this policy? Please note them in the policy and make sure they don’t contradict each other.
I hope the above has shown you that policies and procedures are not boring things that you just somehow need to get out of the way, but are useful and exciting. Good luck with your discussions and writing of policies!
A policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. A policy is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol. Policies are generally adopted by a governance body within an organisation. Policies can assist in both subjective and objective decision making.