Welcome to the policies section of the website.
Here you can find the policies of Balcarras School and Balcarras Trust, which explain our philosophy and approach to educating our pupils.
The Trust policies can be found here:
Anti Fraud & Corruption Policy
This policy and procedure defines the expected conduct of all staff engaged by the Trust, whether in paid or voluntary employment, in relation to deterring and/or detecting fraud and corruption, and to whom it should be reported.
It includes clear guidelines on what is acceptable in terms of gifts and hospitality and how these matters are declared and to whom they should be declared. Also, reference is made to other Trust policies where appropriate.
The Balcarras Trust is committed to ensuring that it acts with integrity and has high standards of personal conduct. Everyone involved with the Trust has a responsibility in respect of preventing and detecting fraud. All staff, Trustees and members of Local Governing Bodies have a role to play. The Trust also recognises the role of others in alerting them to areas where there is suspicion of fraud.
Recognising a potential fraud and being able to report it is just as important as the measures to prevent and detect.
It is the duty of all employees, Trustees and members of Local Governing Bodies to take reasonable steps to limit the possibility of corrupt practices, and it is the responsibility of the internal control staff, including the Trust’s Responsible Officer and the External Auditors to review the adequacy of the measures taken by the Trust to test compliance and to draw attention to any weaknesses or omissions.
Any investigation carried out in relation to alleged irregularities is linked to the Trust's Disciplinary & Dismissals procedure and Code of Conduct.
Fraud is a general term covering theft, deliberate misuse or misappropriation of assets or anything that leads to a financial advantage to the perpetrator or others upon whose behalf he/she acts, even if these “others” are in ignorance of the fraud. Fraud is in fact intentional deceit and for this reason it cannot include negligence.
Fraud incorporates theft, larceny, embezzlement, fraudulent conversion, false pretences, forgery, corrupt practices and falsification of accounts.
The term ‘corrupt practices’ is defined for the purpose of this code as the offering, giving, soliciting or acceptance of an inducement or reward which may influence the actions taken by the Trust or any school within the Trust and its staff, Trustees and members of Local Governing Bodies.
Gifts and Hospitality
Any gifts, rewards and benefits that are disproportionately generous or that could be seen as an inducement to affect a business decision should be declared.
The acceptance of gifts and hospitality is a sensitive area where actions can easily be misconstrued. Therefore, employees’ actions should be such that they would not be embarrassed to explain them to anyone.
- Irregularities fall within the following broad categories, the first three of which are criminal offences –
- Theft - the dishonest taking of property belonging to another person with the intention of depriving the owner permanently of its possession
- Fraud - the intentional distortion of financial statements or other records by persons internal and external to the Trust, which is carried out to conceal the misappropriation of assets or otherwise for gain
- Bribery and corruption (Gifts & Hospitality – see Point 5)- involves the offering or the acceptance of a reward, for performing an act, or for failing to perform an act, which leads to gain for the person offering the inducement
- Failure to observe, or breaches of, the Scheme of Delegation, Financial Regulations and the Trust’s financial procedures which in some circumstances can constitute an irregularity, with potentially significant financial consequences
- Examples of what could constitute fraud and corruption are –
- theft of cash
- non-receipt of income
- substitution of personal cheques for cash
- travelling and subsistence claims for non-existent journeys/events
- travelling and subsistence claims inflated
- manipulating documentation to increase salaries/wages received, e.g. false overtime claims
- payment of invoices for goods received by an individual rather than the Trust
- failure t observe, or breaches of, regulations and/or other associated legislation laid down by the Trust
- unauthorised borrowing of equipment
- breaches of confidentiality regarding information
- failure to declare a direct pecuniary or otherwise conflicting interest
- concealing a generous gift or reward
- unfairly influencing the award f a contract
- creating of false documents
- using position for personal reward
The above list is not exhaustive and fraud and corruption can take many different paths. If in any doubt about whether a matter is an irregularity or not, clarification must be sought from the Chief Financial Officer, the CEO or the school’s headteacher.
Similarly, if there is concern or doubt about any aspect of a matter which involves an irregularity, or an ongoing investigation into a suspected irregularity, the best approach is to seek advice from the Headteacher or the CEO.
- Policy Statement
- This policy and procedure defines Anti-Fraud & Corruption and Gifts & Hospitality and offers guidance for all staff in the Trust
- The Trust aims to be an honest and ethical institution. As such, it is opposed to fraud and seeks to eliminate fraud by the way it conducts Trust business. This document sets out the policy and procedures for dealing with the risk of significant fraud or corruption. In order to minimise the risk and impact of fraud, the Trust’s objectives are, firstly, to create a culture which deters fraudulent activity, encourages its prevention and promotes its detection and reporting and, secondly, to identify and document its response to cases of fraud and corrupt practices
- This policy, in line with the Trust’s corporate values of integrity, consistency, impartiality, fairness and best practice, provides both staff and management with mutually understood guidelines for the administration of this procedure
- The scope of this procedure extends to all Trust employees, permanent, voluntary and fixed term
- Time limits specified in this document may be extended by mutual agreement
- If requested, employees may be accompanied by a recognised trade union representative or work colleague, not involved in any part of the process, at any interviews.
- Gifts & Hospitality
- These guidelines will help you to judge what sort of gift, and what level of hospitality is acceptable.
- The following general rules apply and must guide decisions on receipt of gifts and hospitality as an employee of the Trust:
- Acceptance f gifts should be the exception. You may accept small ‘thank you’ gifts of token value, such as chocolates, a diary, a coffee mug or bunch of flowers, not over £25 in value. Acceptance of any gift or hospitality over this value should be notified to the Headteacher of your school who will advise you further.
- Always say “n” if you think the giver has an ulterior motive. Be sensitive to the possibility that the giver may think that even small gifts or simple hospitality will elicit a more prompt service or preferential treatment.
- Never accept a gift r hospitality from anyone who is, or may be in the foreseeable future, tendering for any contract with the Trust, seeking employment with the Trust or is in dispute with the Trust, even if you are not directly involved in that service area.
- Where items purchased for the Trust include a ‘free gift’, such a gift should either be used for Trust business or handed to your headteacher or the CEO/CFO to be used for the benefit of the Trust or charity.
- If yu are in doubt about the acceptability of any gift or offer of hospitality it is your responsibility to consult your Headteacher before acceptance.
- If the judgement is made that the gift is nt appropriate then the school’s headteacher, or the CEO should contact the benefactor to explain in as tactful a way as possible why the gift cannot be accepted and if it has already arrived to arrange a suitable way for it to be returned.
- A gauge of what is acceptable in terms of hospitality is whether the Trust would offer a similar level of hospitality in similar circumstances.
- Occasional working lunches with customers, providers or partners are generally acceptable as a way of doing business provided they are not to an unreasonable level or cost
- Invitations to corporate hospitality events must each be judged on their merit. Provided the general rules have been taken into account, it may be acceptable to join other company/organisation guests at: a sponsored cultural and sporting events, or other public performances, as a representative of the Trust or school; or at a special event or celebration
But, consider the number of these events, and always take into consideration what the public perception is likely to be if they knew you were attending
- Acceptability depends on the appropriateness of the invitations, in terms of the level of hospitality, the frequency and the status of the invited employee. In all such cases the Headteacher or Chief Executive Officer must be consulted
- Paid holidays or concessionary travel rates are not acceptable. Neither are offers of hotel accommodation nor the use of company villas/apartments
- If you are visiting a company to view equipment/services that the Trust is considering buying, you should ensure that expenses of the trip are paid by the Trust. Acceptance of refreshments and/or a working lunch may be acceptable, but care must be taken to ensure that the Trust’s purchasing and/or tender procedures are not compromised
- Acceptance of sponsored hospitality that is built into the official programme of conferences and seminars related to your work are acceptable
- Offers to speak at corporate dinners and social gatherings, or events organised by, for example, a professional body, where there is a genuine need to impart information or represent the Trust must be agreed in advance with your Headteacher. Where your spouse or partner is included in the invitation, and approval has been given for you to attend, it will be acceptable for your spouse or partner to attend as well, but if expenses are incurred, these will be met personally
- Any invitation you accept should be made to you in your professional/working capacity as a representative of the Trust
- Roles and Responsibilities
Staff, Trustees and Governors
The Balcarras Trust has adopted the following measures to demonstrate its commitment to anti-fraud and corruption:
- The Audit and Risk Committee meets regularly
- A requirement for all staff, trustees and governors to disclose any external pecuniary interests which could potentially affected their judgement or create a perceived conflict of interest and for Trustees to make this information publicly available
- All staff, trustees and governors are made aware of the understanding on the acceptance of gifts and hospitality
- Clear recruitment policies and procedures
- Completion and regular review of the ESFA Fraud Indicators checklist
- Staff, Trustees and members of Local Governing Bodies also have a duty to report another member of staff or governor whose conduct is reasonably believed to represent a failure to comply with the above
Internal Control Review (Role of Responsible Officer)
The Trust will undertake regular internal control reviews of all aspects of the Trust’s operations. The main purpose of this role will be to provide the Trustees with on-going independent assurance that:
- The financial responsibilities of the Trust are being properly discharged
- The resources are being managed in an efficient, economical and effective manner
- Sound systems of financial control are being maintained and
- Financial considerations are fully taken into account in reaching decisions
The Internal review will be carried out by a ‘Responsible Officer’ appointed by the Trustees. They will visit the Trust at least twice annually and as well as reporting to the CEO/CFO their reports will be seen by the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. The Responsible Officer will attend this committee once per year.
Chief Financial Officer
The CFO has a responsibility for ensuring that effective systems of internal controls are maintained and will safeguard the resources of the Trust. In respect of fraud it is therefore the responsibility of the CFO to ensure internal controls prevent and detect any frauds promptly. This includes:
- Proper procedures and financial systems
- Effective management of financial records
- Management of the Trust’s financial position and bank accounts
The Trust’s Annual Report and Financial Statements include an Independent Auditors’ Report. This report includes a view as to whether the financial statements give a true and fair view and whether proper accounting records have been kept throughout the financial year. In addition, it reports on compliance with the accounting requirements of the relevant Companies Act and confirms compliance with the financial reporting and annual accounting requirements issued by the Department of Education
- Reporting a Suspected Fraud
All allegations of suspected fraud and irregularities are to be brought to the attention of the CFO and also referred to the Chief Executive Offer or relevant Headteacher, unless this individual is involved in the irregularity in which case the Chair of Trustees should be informed.
Please refer to the Trust’s Whistleblowing Policy for further guidance.
- Response to Allegations
The Chief Executive Officer or relevant Headteacher will have initial responsibility for coordinating the initial response. In doing this he/she will consult with the Human Resource advisors regarding potential employment issues. They may also seek legal advice from the Trust’s solicitors on both employment and litigation issues before taking any further action.
The Chief Executive Officer or relevant Headteacher will ascertain whether or not the suspicions aroused have substance. In every case, and as soon as possible after the initial investigation, they will pass the matter on to the Chair of the Finance, Audit & Risk Committee. Even if there is no evidence to support the allegation, the matter must be reported.
The Audit & Risk Committee will undertake the management of the investigation.
They will, if appropriate, conduct a preliminary investigation to gather factual information and reach an initial view as to whether further action is required
- They will determine whether the findings, conclusions and any recommendations arising from the preliminary investigation should be reported to the Chair of Trustees
- If further investigations are required, they will determine which outside agencies should be involved (police, auditors etc.)
The Chief Executive is required to notify the Trustees of any serious financial irregularities. This action will be taken at the first opportunity following the completion of the initial investigations and will involve keeping the Chair of Trustees fully informed between meetings of any developments relating to serious control weaknesses, fraud or major accounting breakdowns.
If evidence of fraud is forthcoming then the Trustees will inform the Department for Education as required by the Master Funding Agreement and will consider whether or not to refer the matter to the police.
8. Confidentiality and Safeguards
The Balcarras Trust recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make, not least because of the fear of reprisal from those responsible for the alleged malpractice. The Trust will not tolerate harassment or victimisation and will do what it lawfully can to protect an individual when a concern is raised in good faith.
This does not mean that if the person raising the concern is already the subject of a disciplinary, redundancy or other procedure, that those procedures will be halted as a result of the concern being reported.
There is a need to ensure that the process is not misused. For further guidance refer to the Trust’s Disciplinary, Grievance and Capability policy.
- Links with other Policies
The Trust is committed to preventing fraud and corruption. To help achieve this objective there is a clear network of systems and procedures in place for the prevention, detection and investigation of fraud and corruption. This Anti-Fraud and Anti-Corruption policy attempts to consolidate those in one document and should be read in conjunction with the following Academy policies:
- Whistle-Blowing Policy
- The Trust Financial Procedures
- Disciplinary Policy
Date updated: May 2021
Date approved by Trustees: July 2021
Review Date: July 2023
Business Continuity Plan
The Balcarras Trust Business Continuity Plan
Business Continuity is a management process that provides a framework to ensure the resilience of our Trust in the event of an incident or business disruption. It ensures the continuation of services while protecting our reputation – a failure to deliver services could potentially put children at risk. In putting this document together we recognise that Business Continuity Plans need to be clear, concise and tailored to the needs of the organisation – but that no ‘one size fits all’ solution exists.
The causes of service disruptions that may have a significant impact include:
- Loss of premises
- IT failure (including a Ransomware attack or some such assault on the Trust’s IT systems)
- Loss of utility supply (e.g. electricity, gas, water)
- Loss of personnel
- Loss of telecommunications
- Loss of supplier
Business Continuity Plan
This Business Continuity Plan is simply the documentation of agreed procedures and information that is developed and maintained in readiness for use in an incident or service disruption to enable a service or organisation to continue delivering its critical activities. It is important to note that the plan should be accessible given a range of scenarios and stored both in hard copy and electronically, with at least one copy held off site for added resilience.
Non-critical activities may need to be suspended. The plan may need to be read in conjunction with the individual school’s ‘Emergency Response Procedure’. It is also worth noting that each school in the Trust will maintain a risk register.
Identify any other stakeholders required to be involved in the business continuity response
Depending on the incident, you may need additional/specific input in order to facilitate the recovery of critical activities. This may require the involvement of external partners
Evaluate the impact of the incident
Take time to understand the impact of the incident on the normal operations of the Trust and its schools
Log all decisions and actions, including what you decide not to do and include your decision making rationale
Log all financial expenditure incurred
Financial expenditure log
Allocate specific roles as necessary
Roles allocated will depend on the nature of the incident and the availability of staff members
Secure resources to enable critical activities to continue or be recovered
All IT systems to be backed up twice a day so that all records can be accessed even in the event of a Ransomware attack. The only risk to this would be a sustained regional powercut. Each school min the Trust should keep paper records of contact details
Deliver appropriate communication actions as require
Ensure methods of communication and key messages are developed as appropriate to the needs of your key stakeholders
Recovery and Resumption
The purpose of the recovery and resumption phase is to resume ‘business as usual’ working practises for the Trust and its schools as quickly as possible. Where the impact of the incident is prolonged, ‘normal’ operations may need to be delivered under new circumstances e.g. from a different location.
Agree and plan the actions required to enable recovery of normal trust/school operations
Agreed actions will be detailed in an action plan and set against timescales with responsibility for completion clearly indicated
Respond to any ongoing and long-term support needs of staff members and pupils
Depending on the nature of the incident, there may be a need to consider the use of counselling services
Once recovery actions are complete, communicate the return to normal school operations
Ensure all staff members are aware that the business continuity plan is no longer in effect via briefing
Debrief staff members (and possibly pupils) about the incident
Complete a report to document opportunities for improvement and any lessons identified. This report should be read be overseen by the Core Executive team of the Trust (and the Senior Management Team of the individual School) and should be presented to the Trustees for approval
The incident report should be reviewed by all members of the management team. Governors may also have a role in monitoring progress in completing agreed actions to further develop the resilience of the school
The Trustees should review this continuity plan in light of lessons learnt from the incident and the response to it
Implement recommendations for improvement and update this plan. Ensure any revised versions of the plan are read by all members of the management team
Depending on the nature of the incident it might be that The Balcarras Trust would need to seek additional support, help or guidance. As a Multi Academy Trust our first resort would be to make contact with the Regional School’s Commissioner’s Office in Bristol. The RSC has responsibility for all academy schools in the southwest. If we needed emergency support or help, for example, in securing temporary accommodation, then this would be the first avenue to explore.
We might also need to contact the local authority depending on the nature of the incident.
The Trust and each of its schools are members of the RPA Insurance Scheme for Academies.
Each School in the Trust is required to keep an Emergency Response Plan which is updated annually. This includes all of the relevant contact details in an emergency.
If any of our schools entered into a Business Continuity situation then the following information might be important.
The Trust’s contact at the Regional School’s Commissioner’s Office in Bristol is:
Gloucestershire Delivery Team
Regional Delivery Directorate South West
2 Rivergate, Bristol, BS1 6EH
Tel: 01325 792554
The Trust’s important contacts at the local authority is:
Head of Service - Commissioning for Learning
Education, Children’s Services
Tel : 01452 328686 Mobile: 07770 302439
Universal Commissioning Manager
Gloucestershire County Council
Shire Hall, Westgate Street, Gloucester. GL1 2TP
Tel: 01452 427547
In the event that the Balcarras site was not useable we have an agreement with Pittville School that they would provide us with an office which could be used as a central base to plan our Business Continuity Response. The contact details of Pittville School are:
Richard Gilpin, Headteacher
Tel 01242 524787
Contact Details for RPA are:
Tony Pickstock MCIPS
Risk Protection Arrangement Team| Commercial Lead
Operations Group | Commercial Directorate| Schools Commercial Team
Piccadilly Gate, Store Street
Manchester, M1 2WD
Date updated: May 2021
Date approved by Trustees: July 2021
Review Date: July 2023
Click here for the Pay Policy.
Click here for the Financial Procedure.
Click here for the Grievance Policy.
This is a Trust Policy. All schools in Balcarras Trust are required to follow the guidance set out in this policy. Where the policy uses the phrase “school”, this refers to the relevant school, which is part of the Balcarras Trust.
- The Trustees recognise the importance of good working relationships with its employees and seeks to ensure that concerns with capability are dealt with in a fair and timely way.
- When an employee is not meeting the performance standards of their role or is not doing so consistently, this procedure provides a framework to manage employees’ work to an acceptable standard in a consistent and supportive manner, and ensure these standards are sustained. Managers are responsible for the successful operation of this procedure with the school.
- This policy sets out the measures available to managers in cases where the appraisal procedure has failed to achieve sufficient improvement in performance or where the matter is so serious that formal action is required.
- It is based on the principles of the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures and current employment and educational legislative requirements.
- This policy applies directly to the following employees:
- Supprt staff: where there are concerns which informal action has been unable to address or which are serious enough to require formal action.
- Teachers: where there are cncerns which the appraisal process has been unable to address or which are serious enough to require formal action.
- This policy does not form part of an employee’s contract of employment and is entirely non-contractual. It may be amended, withdrawn, suspended or departed from at the discretion of The Trust at any time.
- Headteacher / school managers:
- Regularly review the perfrmance of employees and respond to any situations where an employee’s performance is unacceptable
- Give emplyees regular feedback
- Have early discussins with the employee about problems, possible causes and solutions
- Supprt the development of employees
- Maintain acceptable standards f attendance, job performance and conduct
- Take respnsibility for their own development
- Raise with their manager any prblems that are affecting their work as soon as possible
- Accept respnsibility for their own work performance
- Respnd constructively to advice, guidance and development provided by their manager
- Are flexible and coperate with changing work requirements
- Capability is an employee’s capacity to apply appropriate knowledge and skills in order to achieve effective and efficient work standards and practices.
- Employees should have a clear understanding of what is required of them to meet work standards and practices, with the first point of reference being their job description and person specification, although these documents should not be regarded as exhaustive.
- Managers should give regular feedback on how well an employee is fulfilling the requirements for their post and it is recommended this is a minimum of an annual formal review. For teachers, this will be the appraisal period and it is recommended there is a similar arrangement in place for support staff. Teachers and head teachers should be assessed against their relevant Professional Standards.
- The headteacher should consider whether certain teachers should also be assessed against other relevant sets of standards.
- A capability concern is when expected work standards are not achieved or maintained. This could include when an employee:
- Des not make sufficient progress towards the objectives set in their appraisal review
- Des not meet the professional standards required for their teaching status
- Des not carry out the duties and responsibilities of the post to an acceptable standard
- Is unable t carry out their duties effectively due to long-term absence or frequent absences (unacceptable absence is dealt with under the school’s attendance policy)
- Capability differs from conduct, with capability relating to inability to reach required performance standards and conduct normally relating to an employee’s behaviour. For instance, it is usually a conduct issue if the employee has control over their actions e.g. deliberately not following a process, versus lacking the skill to sufficiently perform said process which would be a capability concern.
- Informal action would normally be taken:
- When the emplyee has a previous good work standard and the matter appears easily rectifiable and
- When an bservation (normally teachers) has taken place or other evidence has come to light, which indicates less-than-acceptable performance
- Issues should be addressed using normal management processes (normally the appraisal process) in the first instance. These should not be left until the next planned meeting but addressed as soon as possible.
- Informal action could include an informal action plan with planned support and/or training for the employee.
- Formal action should be taken when the employee has:
- Repeated ccasions of poor performance or where matters have not improved following informal action
- Perfrmance concerns that are so serious they cannot reasonably be addressed through informal action
- Previus formal warnings on file for any reason that are still current and there is a continued or new performance concern
- No formal action should commence against a trade union representative until the circumstances of the case have been discussed with the appropriate branch or full-time officer, with the prior permission of the employee. If the employee does not wish there to be any prior discussion with the branch or full-time officer then formal action will proceed in the normal way under this procedure.
- Although there is an expectation that formal action is generally progressive, in some situations the initial formal meeting could be under stage two, dependent on the severity of the situation and the circumstances.
- At each stage, a formal meeting will be arranged with the employee.
- If the concern is established the outcome would normally result in a warning and sanction or ultimately dismissal. The maximum warning for each stage is detailed in the table below, however the chair has the flexibility to apply lesser sanctions if appropriate (i.e. issuing a first written warning at a stage two meeting, if the concern was not enough to warrant a final warning as detailed).
- Sanctions (including associated financial outcomes) will not disproportionately impact employees covered under the Equality Act 2010 and will be considered on a case by case basis.
- The stages of formal action and potential sanctions are given below:
Maximum level of sanction at each stage
Suggested period of review
One – formal capability meeting
First warning. Withholding an increment for support staff or preventing progression to the next pay point/grade for teachers
Between four and ten weeks
Two – formal review meeting (this stage only applies if a first written warning was issued at stage one)
Final written warning
Withholding an increment for support staff
Preventing progression to the next pay point/grade for teachers
Between four and ten weeks
Three – decision meeting (will normally progress to this stage after a final written warning has been issued at stage one or two)
- Stage one:
- The warning cautins the employee that if their capability does not improve, it may be necessary to consider further formal warnings, up to and including dismissal
- A decisin can be made to issue a first written warning at stage one depending on the severity of the issue
- If imprvement is not achieved at this stage or sustained thereafter, then it is likely to result in progression to stage two
- A decisin can be made at this stage to withhold any incremental or salary progression at the next salary review date
- Stage two:
- A decisin can be made to go straight to stage two (without a first warning being in place) depending on the seriousness of the issue. This might occur where the employee’s unacceptable performance has had, or is liable to have, a very serious or harmful impact on the school and/or pupils
- The maximum sanctin at this stage is a final written warning
- A decisin can be made at this stage to withhold any incremental or salary progression at the next salary review date
- Stage three:
- An emplyee can only progress to this stage if a final written warning is already in place
- The maximum sanctin at this stage is dismissal
- Any ntice will be in line with normal contractual arrangements or statutory notice depending on which is greater
- The start date of the formal warning will commence when the related action plan and support programme is finalised. Therefore, any outcome will be confirmed in writing to the employee within three working days of the decision, including as appropriate:
- The nature of the concern
- The required imprvement
- Supprt arrangements including any additional training if appropriate
- The monitoring arrangements and handling of the formal review stage (only applicable after a first written warning) including the review date
- What will happen if there is n, or insufficient, improvement and the further formal action that could be taken as a result
- Hw long the warning will remain in force
- Any effect n pay
- Actin plan
- Details f how the employee can appeal
- A written warning will remain live for the duration as set out in the outcome letter, usually 12 months.
- If an employee appeals against an outcome, the sanction will remain in place until the outcome of the appeal is known.
- An investigation is the gathering of information relating to a capability issue which the manager will normally arrange. An investigation must be carried out before calling a formal meeting and will usually include a discussion with the employee about the issue.
- Following the investigation, a decision will be made as to whether to drop the matter, provide informal support or, in cases which require action under the Capability Policy, to arrange a formal meeting.
- All parties to the proceedings have an obligation to co-operate to ensure that processes and timescales are followed without delay.
- The employee has a right to be represented/supported by a trade union representative or workplace colleague during formal capability meetings.
- If the employee’s representative is unavailable for any of the formal meetings, an alternative date (usually within five working days) will be arranged. There will normally be only one postponement allowed for this reason. If the representative subsequently becomes unavailable for the re-arranged meeting the employee may be advised they will need to find a different representative and it is the union’s responsibility to ensure an alternative representative is provided.
- The employee does not have a specific right to be accompanied at an informal meeting by a trade union representative or workplace colleague. However, it is recommended they be given the opportunity to be accompanied if there is the possibility of formal action being taken at a later date.
- The headteacher and/or a governor, or a panel of governors can conduct a formal meeting. The Governing Board may delegate responsibility to the head teacher for formal action including the decision to dismiss.
- For the formal stages up to stage two, the holding of formal meetings and the issuing of warnings may be delegated to an appropriate member of the leadership team e.g. business manager.
- Where the headteacher is the subject of the formal meeting, the Trustee Board will determine the make up of the panel.
- However, the headteacher or same governing board representatives cannot take dismissal decisions if they have been directly involved in making decisions on previous formal warnings. And where practicable, different people should carry out the investigation and disciplinary hearing.
- The manager should make it absolutely clear to the employee that formal action is being taken:
- At least five wrking days’ notice will be given to the employee attending the formal capability meeting. For a formal meeting where dismissal is being considered, at least 10 working days’ notice should be given.
- The letter shuld include details of the right to representation, the Capability Policy and the documents to be discussed at the meeting (i.e. documentation about the performance concerns). There should be an additional copy for the representative that the employee can send, or it can be sent directly to the representative if the employee has advised the school who their representative is, provided the employee has agreed.
- The letter must state the frmal stage at which the meeting is being held and the possible outcome/sanction that may result.
- The emplyee must be given a date by which to provide any documentation to support their case (five working days). Sufficient time shuld be given to allow papers to be distributed to the chairperson/panel to be read prior to the formal meeting. If this is nt possible, they should contact a relevant person to make appropriate arrangements.
- Fr a formal meeting where dismissal is being considered, the employee must ensure the school receives any documents at least five working days before the meeting to ensure all parties receive the documentation at least three working days before the formal meeting to allow time to read and understand the content.
- Any frmal action taken and the reasons for the decision will be confirmed in writing to the employee, including details on how they can appeal. The employee should be informed of the consequences of failing to improve sufficiently within the set period following a final warning, including confirmation that it may result in dismissal.
- It is good practice to make a note of performance reviews and informal meetings to inform future proceedings. Where a formal meeting takes place, minutes must be taken. Where dismissal is a potential outcome, minutes should be kept, and consideration should be given to having note-taker present. Employees are not permitted to make their own audio recording of a capability meeting.
- Action Plan
- Action plans are developed to suit individual circumstances but would normally include clear expectations regarding work standards and practices, the criteria for success, time scales for improvement and any agreed support and review arrangements. The employee may be given the opportunity to discuss the content of this plan with their trade union representative before agreeing to it.
- Whilst it is for the manager to determine the criteria it is important that the employee understands what is required of them and to help identify potential support. Employees are expected to co-operate with the process and engage fully with any agreed support.
Should the employee not achieve a successful outcome following the action plan they would normally progress to the next stage of the capability policy, and ultimately could be dismissed.
Arrangements for monitoring and review will be agreed as part of the action plan.
- The school may delegate the head teacher (or manager), a single governor or a panel of governors to hear a formal case as appropriate (see above).
- A panel of governors (up to three) will hear an appeal.
- Where collaborative arrangements with another Governing Board are in place regarding staff capability, governors from any of the collaborative schools may be delegated to conduct a formal meeting or appeal.
- The Role of GCC and the Diocese
- If the employee becomes absent during the capability process the head teacher is advised to contact their HR provider as soon as possible to ensure that the best course of action is followed.
- Sickness absence should not normally delay any part of a capability process. If during the process the employee is signed off as medically unfit for work, the employee should be referred immediately for Occupational Health assessment (if available) including in the referral details of the process including the stage reached in the procedure, and the question of whether they are fit to attend formal meetings.
- Where the employee is unable to attend capability related meetings for health reasons, the meetings may proceed in the employee’s absence, considering all the circumstances of the case. They may submit a written statement and/or their representative may attend on their behalf. It is advised that further guidance is obtained from The Trust’s HR provider if there are difficulties in arranging for an employee to attend meetings.
- If the employee is absent during the period of any formal warning being in force, the warning will be extended by a period equivalent to this absence from work. Any such extension must be confirmed in writing to the employee.
- The absence will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s attendance policy.
- In all Schools, Governors will send the employee a dismissal notice.
- Where dismissal is with notice, any notice period will be in accordance with the employee’s contractual arrangements, or the statutory period, whichever is greater. The employee will receive normal pay throughout the period of notice.
- There is a right of appeal at every stage of the formal absence process as specified in the warning or dismissal letter.
- The appeal is not a rehearing of the case but is a review of the reasonableness of the decision. Determining reasonableness may include consideration of procedural irregularities or any relevant new evidence which could not have been available at the time of the formal meeting.
- Whilst the outcome of the appeal is pending, an action plan, warning or dismissal will remain in force.
- The appeal letter must be received within five working days of the date of the outcome letter and should specify the grounds of the appeal including why and in what respects the decision of the original meeting was unreasonable. The appeal needs to be sufficiently clear to enable the initial chair whose decision is being appealed to respond at the appeal hearing.
- Any supporting documents or information should be provided with the appeal letter. If this is not possible, documents should be submitted to allow reasonable time for the employer to prepare their case and collate, paginate and distribute the bundle for receipt by all parties at least three working days before the appeal meeting.
- Where the appeal period overlaps with a pre-determined holiday period (i.e. out of term-time for term-time only employees), the letter of appeal needs only to register the intention of appeal. A fully detailed letter should arrive within five working days following the end of the holiday period.
- A panel of up to three governors not previously involved with the case will conduct appeal meetings. Where there has been an appeal at an earlier stage of the procedure, the same governors may conduct the appeal.
- Arrangements for the appeal meeting should normally be notified to the employee within 10 working days of receipt of the request for an appeal. The employee should be reminded of the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or workplace colleague.
- At appeal, the original sanction will be reviewed and may be amended or withdrawn but it cannot be increased.
- The decision of the appeal panel will be final and will be confirmed in writing to the individual within three working days. Should the outcome of the appeal change the original decision, the panel will need to make clear the terms and reasons of that decision.
- If an appeal is successful, any outcome will be amended or withdrawn without detriment to the employee. In the case of dismissal, there will be no detriment to pay or continuous service.
Risk Management Policy
The management of risk is ultimately the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. In carrying out this responsibility the Trustees will at all times follow the statutory guidelines set out in the Academies Financial Handbook.
Oversight of Risk and the Risk Register
The Trust will consider risk carefully and will regularly review the Risk Register:
- Overall responsibility for risk management, including ultimate oversight of the risk register, will be retained by the board of trustees, drawing on advice provided to it by the Finance, Audit and Risk committee
- Other committees may also input into the management of risk at the discretion of the Trustees
- Aside from any review by individual committees, the board itself will review the risk register at least annually
- Risks management covers the full operations and activities of the trust, not only financial risks
In reviewing the risk register regularly the Trustees will:
- Identify the major risks that apply to the Balcarras Trust, including:
- operational risks (employment issues, health and safety, fraud, service quality and development etc.)
- financial risks (accuracy of financial information, cash flow, reserves, over-reliance on funding sources etc.)
- external risks (changes in gvernment policy, economic factors, demographic changes, adverse publicity etc.) and
- regulatory risks (compliance with legislation, changes in policies of the regulators etc.)
- Assign named individuals to manage each area of risk
- Make assessing risk a key part of the work of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee
- Make decisions (based where appropriate on advice from professional advisors) as to how to respond to those risks
The risk register will identify the scale of the identified risk using the following formula:
The Trustees Annual Report
In addition to regularly reviewing the risk register the Balcarras Trust will also report on its management of risk during the Annual Trustees Report. The Trustees' report will include a description of the principal risks and uncertainties facing the Academy Trust and its subsidiary undertakings, as identified by the Trustees. The report will also include a summary of the Trustees plans and strategies for managing these risks. The Trustees must identify specific risks and describe ways to combat each one, rather than making general statements regarding risk management.
Management of Risk
In addition to the risk register the Trust’s management of risks will include contingency and business continuity planning. To do this the Trust will have:
- An Emergency Response Procedure in place which is updated annually for each of the Trust’s schools
- A business continuity plan for the Trust which is reviewed annually
- A Reserves Policy which is reviewed annually
The Trustees will ensure that the Trust has adequate insurance cover in compliance with its legal obligations or be a member of the academies risk protection arrangement (RPA). The Balcarras Trust’s position is that we are currently content to be member of the RPA although we keep this under annual review. Not all risks are covered in the RPA. The Finance, Audit and Risk Committee will consider whether additional insurance is required on an annual basis.
One of the key risks relates to fraud. The Trust has a Financial Procedures Document and an Anti Fraud and Corruption Policy which sets out policies and procedures in this area.
Responsibility of employees/trustees
We expect employees and trustees to report any risk which they identify as part of their work to their line manager. In the case of the trsutees the most appropriate place to raise these is via the Trust’s Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.
Date updated: May 2021
Date approved by Trustees: December 2021
Trust Safeguarding Statement
Balcarras Trust is committed to the safeguarding of all students in the Trust.
The welfare and safety of all students are paramount. The Trust is fully committed to ensuring that consistent safeguarding procedures are in place in all the schools in Balcarras Trust. To that end, Balcarras Trust will ensure that all schools in The Trust take the following actions:
- Have a thorough Safeguarding Policy and Child Protection Policy* in place, that are up to date and reviewed regularly.
*These can be separate or in one document
- All staff are trained regularly in line with the most up to date guidance. All staff are aware of their responsibilities to safeguarding students. All staff know who the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) is at their school and follow the school’s procedures for reporting and upholding the safeguarding of students.
- There is a designated governor with responsibility for Safeguarding at every school. Governors are regularly trained and understand the latest safeguarding guidance. Governors ensure that each school is monitored carefully with their safeguarding procedures and practices.
- Governors are annually appraised of the safeguarding outcomes at their school. Governors are well informed about the issues and consequences of safeguarding incidents that have occurred in the last 12 months at their school.
- There is a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and also a Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead (DDSL) who are regularly trained on the most up to date legislation, in line with national recommendations. The DSL and DDSL at each school understand fully their duties and regularly champion the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all students at their school.
Balcarras Trust is a secure and welcoming place for all students. When students feel safe and supported, they are able to achieve their best: academically, socially and physically. Safeguarding underpins all that we do at Balcarras Trust, and our commitment to the children and young people in our care is the foundation to all the successes achieved by students.
Trust Equality Statement
Balcarras Trust is a diverse community, serving a richly varied society. The Trust is committed to equality of provision and opportunity for everyone at the Trust.
No individual will be restricted because of their race, gender, culture, religion or any other characteristic. Balcarras Trust requires all schools in the Trust to provided equal opportunities to all its pupils and staff. To this end all schools are required to take the following actions:
- Have a thorough Equalities Policy in place, that is up to date and reviewed regularly. Each school’s Equalities Policy must make transparent the school’s approach to equality for all; including racial, cultural, and gender based discrimination.
- There is a robust anti-bullying policy and underlying culture in the school that is followed by all staff.
- All staff understand and uphold the school’s approach to equality and non-discrimination in all aspects of their work for the Trust, including in teaching, appraisal, interviewing, appointing staff, promotion, and student behaviour.
- The Headteacher, alongside the Senior Leadership Team is responsible for the monitoring and championing of equality across the school.
- The governors of each school have a clear understanding of the school’s approach to equality and monitor carefully the school’s approach to sanctioning discrimination. The governors monitor closely appointments, promotion, appraisal and student behaviour to ensure that equality is always upheld.
- There is a healthy approach to all education in the school to ensure that all teaching is sensitive to background, challenges stereotypes, promotes equality and embraces the differences between people.
Balcarras Trust embraces the differences between people and welcomes the rich experience this brings. Skills taught at school are skills taught for life. Balcarras Trust is determined that all students should leave school having had the best possible opportunity to succeed with their education. Balcarras Trust students will go into the world with a respect for others that transcends differences and embraces the variety of people they will meet in future life.
Allegations against staff Policy
Click here to read the policy.
Code of Conduct for Staff Policy
Objective, Scope and Principles
This Code of Conduct is designed to give clear guidance on the standards of behaviour all Trust employees are expected to observe. The Trust employees are role models and are in an important position of influence and must adhere to behaviour that sets a good example to all the pupils within the Trust’s school. As a member of a school community, each employee has an individual responsibility to maintain his/her reputation and the reputation of the school and The Trust, whether inside or outside working hours.
This Code of Conduct applies to all employees of The Balcarras Trust.
In addition to this Code of Conduct, all employees engaged to work under Teachers’ Terms and Conditions of Employment have a statutory obligation to adhere to the ‘Teachers’ Standards 2012’ and in relation to this policy, Part 2 of the Teachers’ Standards - Personal and Professional Conduct.
- Setting an Example
All staff who work in schools set examples of behaviour and conduct which can be copied by pupils/students. Therefore:
- Staff must avoid using inappropriate or offensive language at all times.
- All staff must demonstrate high standards of conduct in order to encourage pupils to do the same.
- All staff must also avoid putting themselves at risk of allegations of abusive or unprofessional conduct.
This Code helps all staff to understand what behaviour is and is not acceptable. Regard should also be given to the disciplinary rules set out in The Trust’s Disciplinary Procedure.
- All staff are expected to familiarise themselves and comply with all Trust and school policies and procedures. All policies can be found on the U: drive under School Policies.
- Safeguarding Pupils/Students
Safeguarding is an essential part of the school policies. All staff should read carefully the Safeguarding Policy and the Child Protection Policy. Staff should also read the most up to date KCSIE (Keeping Children Safe in Education) document.
- Relationships with students
- Relationships with students must be professional at all times. Physical relationships with students are not permitted and may lead to a criminal conviction.
- Contact with students must be via school authorised mechanisms. At no time should personal telephone numbers, email addresses or communication routes via personal accounts on social media platforms be used to communicate with students.
- If contacted by a student by an inappropriate route, staff should report the contact promptly to the nominated Pastoral Lead of the school or, if they are not available, to a senior member of staff.
- Staff should aim to support pupils with their learning and also pastorally support pupils to enable them to maximise their potential. However, staff must maintain a professional distance from pupils and ensure that relationships remain always at a professional level.
Certain actions are clearly inappropriate and should not take place. These include, but
are not limited to, the following:
- unwanted physical contact (e.g. hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing) or the threat of the same
- sexual harassment (including romantic relationships between staff and learners in which the member of staff has authority over the learner’s academic progress) or harassment based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability or sexual orientation
- loss of personal civility including excessive shouting, personal attacks or insults, displays of temper (such as throwing objects)
- discrimination of any form including in teaching and assessment based upon age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation
- requests for others to perform inappropriate personal errands unrelated to the didactic, investigational, or clinical situation at hand
- grading/evaluation on factors unrelated to performance, effort, or level of achievement
- Pupil Development
- Staff must comply with Trust and school policies and procedures that support the well-being and development of pupils.
- Staff must co-operate and collaborate with colleagues and with external agencies where necessary to support the development of pupils.
- Staff must follow reasonable instructions that support the development of pupils.
- Honesty and Integrity
- Staff must maintain high standards of honesty and integrity in their work. This includes the handling and claiming of money and the use of school property and facilities.
- All staff must comply with the Bribery Act 2010. A person may be guilty of an offence of bribery under this act if they offer, promise or give financial advantage or other advantage to someone; or if they request, agree or accept, or receive a bribe from another person. If you believe that a person has failed to comply with the Bribery Act, you should refer to the Whistleblowing procedure.
- Gifts from suppliers or associates of The Trust must be declared to the Headteacher of the school. Where it is judged that a gift might possibly lead to bias or favour in procurement, that gift will be returned.
- Personal gifts from individual members of staff to students are inappropriate and could be misinterpreted and may lead to disciplinary action.
- Gifts from pupils or parents to individual staff members are considered acceptable, provided the total value is less than £10 and the gift is given openly and transparently. Gifts of greater value should always be declared to the Headteacher of the school, who will make a judgement about suitability.
- Conduct outside of Work
- Staff must not engage in conduct outside work which could seriously damage the reputation and standing of The Trust or the school or the employee’s own reputation or the reputation of other members of the school community.
- In particular, criminal offences that involve violence or possession or use of illegal drugs or sexual misconduct are likely to be regarded as unacceptable.
- Staff may undertake work outside school, either paid or voluntary, provided that it does not conflict with the interests of the school nor be to a level which may contravene the working time regulations or affect an individual's work performance in the school.
- E-Safety and Internet Use
All staff must read carefully The Trust’s ICT Acceptable Use Policy, which can be found on the U: drive. Staff must follow all the requirements set out in this policy fully.
- Where staff have access to confidential information about pupils or their parents or carers, staff must not reveal such information except to those colleagues who have a professional role in relation to the pupil.
- All staff are likely at some point to witness actions which need to be confidential. For example, where a pupil is bullied by another pupil (or by a member of staff), this needs to be reported and dealt with in accordance with the appropriate school procedure. It must not be discussed outside the school, including with the pupil’s parents or carers, nor with colleagues in the school except with a senior member of staff with the appropriate authority to deal with the matter.
- However, staff have an obligation to share with their line manager or the DSL / a senior member of staff any information which gives rise to concern about the safety or welfare of a pupil. Staff must never promise a pupil that they will not act on information that they are told by the pupil.
- Dress and Appearance
- All staff must dress in a manner that is appropriate to a professional role and promoting a professional image.
- Staff of The Balcarras Trust are expected to be formal and conservative in their appearance.
- Staff should dress in a manner that is not offensive, revealing or sexually provocative.
- Staff should dress in a manner that is absent from political or other contentious slogans.
- Disciplinary Action
Staff should be aware that a failure to comply with this Code of Conduct could result in disciplinary action including, but not limited to, dismissal.
Date updated: April 2021
Date approved by Trustees: June 2021
Review Date: June 2023
Data Protection Policy
Click here to see the Data Protection Policy,
Early Career Teacher Policy
Click here to see the Early Career Teacher Policy
Freedom of Information Policy
- FreeRequests for Information must:
- Be in writing (e.g. in a letter, an email).
- Include the requester's real name or the name of the person or organisation on behalf of whom they are acting.
- Include an address for correspondence (e.g. a residential or work postal or email address)
- Describe clearly the information requested
- There are circumstances when the school is not obliged to provide information. There are certain reasons for not complying with a request for information:
- One or more of the exemptions (see the FOIA for details) apply. These exemptions are intended to protect sensitive or confidential information.
- The information is not held.
- The cost threshold is reached (£450).
- The request is considered vexatious.
- The request is excessively repeated.
- The school will comply with requests for information under FOI in 20 school days or 60 working days if that is sooner. If there is a charge, or further clarification of the request is required, the time scale will commence when the payment or clarification has been received.
- A Lead Officer will be appointed by the school and will be responsible for collecting, preparing, sending, recording and dealing with follow-up correspondence for each request.
- The school will ensure that all staff are aware of their obligations under FOI.
- The following charges will apply:
- A charge will be made for photocopying or printing (at 15p a sheet), and first class postage.
The school will normally not charge for any other costs, such as staff time spent searching for information, unless the cost of compliance exceeds £450. (A £25 charge per hour will be used to calculate the staff costs of answering requests.)
- Payment is required before the work is started.
When this policy was reviewed, an equality impact assessment was conducted to ensure any changes did not have an adverse effect under the terms of the Equality Act 2010. Should you have any comments regarding this policy, please contact the school.
Freedom of information request template
Please fill in the form below to make your request. Feel free to delete the parts highlighted in blue, which provide more instructions to help you.
Send the completed form to Admin@Balcarras.gloucs.sch.uk. Put “Freedom of Information Request” in the subject box of the e-mail.
Name of requester
Please specify your real name or the name of the person or organisation for whom you’re requesting the information.
This can be any postal or email address to which you can receive correspondence, including personal and work addresses.
Information you want to access
Please be as specific as possible. We may return to you for further clarification if we’re not clear for what it is what you are looking.
How you want to receive the information
The means of communication here can be one or more of the following:
ICT Acceptable Use Policy
This policy has been drawn up by The Balcarras Trust and it applies to all schools in The Trust.
- Guidelines for Staff, Governors and Trustees
The school has provided computers for use by staff as an important tool for teaching, learning, and administration of the school. Use of school computers and laptops, by members of staff is governed at all times by the following policy. Please ensure you understand your responsibilities under this policy, and direct any questions or concerns to the IT Network Manager in the first instance.
All members of staff have a responsibility to use the school’s computer system in a professional, lawful, and ethical manner. Deliberate abuse of the school’s computer system may result in disciplinary action and civil and/or criminal liability.
The school recognises that the distinction between computer use at work and at home is increasingly blurred, with many of us now using our own computers for work. Staff should consider that this policy applies whenever you are undertaking an activity that stems from your employment with the school.
- Computer Security and Data Protection
- You will be provided with a personal account for accessing the computer system, with your own username and password. This account will be tailored to the level of access you require, and is for your use only. As such, you must not disclose your password to anyone, including IT support staff. You will be prompted to change your password every 180 days.
- You must not allow a pupil to have individual use of a staff account under any circumstances, for any length of time, even if supervised.
- When leaving a computer unattended, you must ensure you have either logged off your account or locked the computer (eg. by pressing the WINDOWS key + L) to prevent anyone using your account in your absence.
- You must not store any sensitive or personal information about staff or students on any device (such as a USB memory stick, portable hard disk, personal computer etc.) unless that storage system is encrypted and approved for such use by the school.
- You must not publish material about a pupil where parents have requested the school not to do so.
- To ensure data is safely backed up, it must be stored centrally on the school network. This is the safest place to store data to minimize the risk of accidental loss of information.
- You must ensure that items of portable computer equipment (such as laptops, digital cameras, or portable projectors) are securely stored in a locked room or cupboard when left unattended.
- Equipment taken offsite is not insured by the school. If you take any school computer equipment offsite, you should ensure that adequate insurance cover has been arranged to cover against loss, damage, or theft.
- School-related sensitive and confidential material should only be printed to the FindMe queues or to printers located in staff offices or the staffroom.
- Personal Use
The school recognises that occasional personal use of the school’s computers is beneficial both to the development of your IT skills and for maintaining a positive work-life balance. Such use is permitted, with the conditions that such use
- must comply with all other conditions of this AUP as they apply to non-personal use, and all other school policies regarding staff conduct
- must not interfere in any way with your other duties or those of any other member of staff
- must not have any undue effect on the performance of the computer system
- must not be for any commercial purpose or gain unless explicitly authorized by the school
Personal use is permitted at the discretion of the school and can be limited or revoked at any time.
- Use of your own Equipment
- Any mains-operated personal computer or electrical equipment brought on site, for any use, is subject to a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) by site maintenance staff, and must not be used until approved. This test must be performed at regular intervals as required by school’s normal rules on electrical safety testing.
- You must not connect personal computer equipment to school networked computers without prior approval from IT Network staff, with the exception of storage devices such as USB memory sticks and personal digital cameras.
- If you keep files on a personal storage device (such as a USB memory stick), you must ensure that other computers you connect this storage device to (such as your own computers at home) have an up-to-date anti-virus system running to protect against the proliferation of harmful software onto the school computer system.
- You must at all times ensure your computer usage is professional, ethical and lawful, which includes being polite and using the system in a safe, legal and business appropriate manner. Among uses that are considered unacceptable are the following:
- Using, transmitting, or seeking inappropriate, offensive, pornographic, vulgar, suggestive, obscene, abusive, harassing, threatening, racist, sexist, or defamatory language or materials
- Making ethnic, sexual-preference, or gender-related slurs or jokes
- (This list is not exhaustive)
- You must respect, and not attempt to bypass, security or access restrictions in place on the computer system.
- You must not intentionally damage, disable, or otherwise harm the operation of computers.
- You must make efforts not to intentionally waste resources. Examples of resource wastage include:
- Excessive downloading of material from the Internet
- Excessive storage of unnecessary files on the network storage areas
- Use of computer printers to produce class sets of materials, instead of using photocopiers
- You should avoid eating or drinking around computer equipment.
- Use of Social Networking websites and online forums
Staff must take care when using social networking websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat , even when such use occurs in their own time using their own computer. Social Networking sites invite users to participate in informal ways that can leave you open to abuse, and often make little or no distinction between adult users and children.
- You must not add a pupil to your ‘friends list’.
- You must ensure that personal information is not accessible via a ‘Public’ setting, but ensure it is set to a ‘Friends only’ level of visibility.
- You should avoid contacting any pupil privately via a social networking website, even for school-related purposes.
- You should take steps to ensure that any person contacting you via a social networking website is who they claim to be, and not an imposter, before allowing them access to your personal information.
- Staff should also take care when posting to any public website (including online discussion forums or blogs) that their comments do not harm their professional standing or the reputation of the school – even if their online activities are entirely unrelated to the school.
- Misuse of online activities, in school or outside of school, can lead to disciplinary action being taken by the school.
- Unless authorised to do so, you must not post content on websites that may appear as if you are speaking for the school.
- You should not post any material online that can be clearly linked to the school that may damage the school’s reputation.
- You should avoid posting any material clearly identifying yourself, another member of staff, or a pupil, that could potentially be used to embarrass, harass, or defame the subject.
- Use of Email
All members of staff with a computer account are provided with an email address for communication both internally and with other email users outside the school. The following considerations must be made when communicating by email:
- E-mail has the same permanence and legal status as written hardcopy (paper) documents and may be subject to disclosure obligations in exactly the same way. Copies of e-mails may therefore have to be made available to third parties. You must be cautious when sending both internal and external mails. The professional standards that apply to internal memos and external letters must be observed for all e-mail.
- E-mail to outside organisations has the same power to create a binding contract as hardcopy documents. Check e-mail as carefully as written contracts, always use a spell checker and, where appropriate, obtain legal advice before sending. You must not purchase goods or services on behalf of the school via e-mail without proper authorisation.
- All school e-mail you send should have a signature containing your name, job title and the name of the school.
- E-mail is not a secure method of communication, and can be easily copied, forwarded and archived. Unless explicitly authorised to do so, you must not send, transmit, or otherwise distribute proprietary information, copyrighted material, trade secrets, personal data or other confidential information belonging to the school.
- Having an external e-mail address may lead to receipt of unsolicited e-mail containing offensive and/or sexually explicit content. The school will take measures to minimise the receipt and impact of such content but cannot be held responsible for material viewed or received by users from the Internet.
- You must not send chain letters or unsolicited commercial e-mail (also known as SPAM).
- Supervision of Pupil Use
- When arranging use of computer facilities for pupils, you must ensure supervision is available.
- Supervising staff are responsible for ensuring that the Acceptable Use Policy for pupils is enforced.
- Use of the school computer system, including your email account and storage areas provided for your use, may be subject to monitoring by the school to ensure compliance with this Acceptable Use Policy and applicable laws. This may include remote monitoring of an interactive logon session. In particular, the school does keep a complete record of sites visited on the Internet by both pupils and staff, however, usernames and passwords used on those sites are NOT monitored or recorded.
- You should avoid storing non-school related data on the school computer system that is unrelated to school activities (such as personal passwords, photographs, financial information etc.).
- The school may also use measures to audit use of computer systems for performance and diagnostic purposes.
- Use of the school computer system indicates your consent to the above described monitoring taking place.
- Confidentiality and Copyright
- Respect the work and ownership rights of people outside the school, as well as other staff or pupils.
- You are responsible for complying with copyright law and licenses that may apply to software, files, graphics, documents, music, messages, and other material you wish to use, download or copy. Even if materials on the school computer system or the Internet are not marked with the copyright symbol (©), you should assume that they are protected under copyright laws unless there is an explicit permission on the materials to use them.
- You must consult a member of IT Network staff before placing any order of computer hardware or software, or obtaining and using any software you believe to be free. This is to check that the intended use by the school is permitted under copyright law (as well as to check compatibility and discuss any other implications that the purchase may have). Do not rely on the claims of suppliers, who do not have specific knowledge of the school’s systems.
- Reporting Problems with the Computer System
It is the job of the IT Network Manager to ensure that the school computer system is working optimally at all times and that any faults are rectified as soon as possible. To this end:
- You should report any problems that need attention to a member of IT support staff as soon as is possible. Problems that seriously hinder your job or teaching and require immediate attention should be reported by telephone; any other problem must be reported via email, using the address:
email@example.com (do not use individual IT-staff e-mails)
- If you suspect your computer has been affected by a virus or other malware, you must report this to a member of IT Network staff immediately.
Reporting Breaches of this Policy
All members of staff have a duty to ensure this Acceptable Use Policy is followed. You must immediately inform a member of the IT Network staff, or the Headteacher, of abuse of any part of the computer system. In particular, you should report:
- any websites accessible from within school that you feel are unsuitable for staff or student consumption.
- any inappropriate content suspected to be stored on the computer system. This may be contained in email, documents, pictures, etc.
- any breaches or attempted breaches, of computer security; or
- any instance of bullying or harassment suffered by you, another member of staff, or a pupil via the school computer system.
- Review and Evaluation
This policy will be reviewed regularly and in response to any changes affecting the basis of the original risk assessment, for example: significant security incidents, new vulnerabilities and significant changes to the organisation or technical infrastructure. Changes to this policy will be communicated to all staff.
"Sensitive personal information" is defined as information about an individual that is protected by law. An exact definition can be found in GDPR/DPA 2018 under the title of “special category data”. Examples of such data include addresses and contact details of individuals, dates of birth, and pupil SEN data. This list is not exhaustive.
When this policy was reviewed, an equality impact assessment was conducted to ensure any changes did not have an adverse effect under the terms of the Equality Act 2010. Should you have any comments regarding this policy, please contact the school.
Date updated: April 2021
Date approved by Trustees: December 2021
Recruitment, Selection & Disclosure Policy & Procedure Policy
Recruitment & Selection Procedure ……………… …………………………….……………..
Pre-employment checks …………….….…………………..………………………………………
Policy on recruitment of ex-offenders ………………………………………………………….
Retention of Records …………………………………………………………..…………………….
Balcarras Trust (“The Trust”) is committed to providing the best possible care and education to its pupils and to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. The Trust is also committed to providing a supportive working environment to all its members of staff.
The Trust recognises that, in order to achieve these aims, it is of fundamental importance to attract, recruit and retain staff of the highest calibre who share this commitment.
The aims of The Trust’s recruitment policy are as follows:-
- To ensure that the best possible staff are recruited on the basis of their merits, abilities and suitability for the position
- To ensure that all job applicants are considered equitably and consistently
- To ensure that no job applicant is treated unfairly on any grounds including race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or religious belief, sex or sexual orientation, marital status, disability or age
- To ensure compliance with all relevant recommendations and guidance including the recommendations of the DfE in “Keeping children safe in education” Sept 2020 and the Code of Practice published by the Disclosure and Barring Service
- To ensure that The Trust meets its commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people by carrying out all necessary pre-employment checks
Employees involved in the recruitment and selection of staff are responsible for familiarising themselves with and complying with the provisions of this policy.
Successful candidates need to be aware that they are appointed by The Balcarras Trust and as such can be deployed across The Trust’s schools.
- Recruitment and Selection Procedure
All applicants for employment will be required to complete an application form containing questions about their educational and employment history and their suitability for the role. Incomplete application forms will be returned to the applicant where the deadline for completed application forms has not passed. A CV will not be accepted in place of the completed application form. The applicant may then be invited to attend a formal interview at which his/her relevant skills and experience will be discussed in more detail.
Every interview will explore the candidate’s attitude to working with young people, as well as any gaps or discrepancies in the application form. Notes from the interview will be kept in the successful candidate’s personnel file. It will also include a standard question as follows:
“In the light of the requirement for a DBS disclosure, is there anything you wish to declare?”
If it is decided to make an offer of employment following the formal interview, any such offer will be conditional on the following:
- The agreement of a mutually acceptable start date and the signing of a contract incorporating The Trust’s standard terms and conditions of employment
- The receipt of at least two satisfactory references, one of which must be from the applicant’s most recent employer, which The Trust considers satisfactory
- The receipt of a Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service with which the Trust is satisfied
- Pre-employment checks
In accordance with the recommendations of the DfE in “Keeping children safe in education” Jan 2021 The Trust carries out a number of pre-employment checks in respect of all prospective employees.
3.1 Verification of Identity and Address
All applicants who are invited to an interview will be required to bring the following evidence of identity, address and qualifications:
- Current driving licence (including photograph) and passport or full birth certificate and
- A utility bill or bank/building society statements (from different sources) showing their name and home address (dated within the last three months) and
- Documents confirming any educational and professional qualifications referred to in their application form
Where an applicant claims to have changed his/her name by deed poll or any other mechanism (e.g. marriage, adoption, statutory declaration) he/she will be required to provide documentary evidence of the change.
References will be taken up on short listed teaching candidates prior to interview, unless there are exceptional circumstances such as a delay on the part of a referee or because a candidate has expressed a strong objection.
All offers of employment will be subject to the receipt of a minimum of two satisfactory references, one of which must be from the applicant’s current or most recent employer. If the current/most recent employment does/did not involve work with children, then the second referee should be from the employer with whom the applicant most recently worked with children. Neither referee should be a relative or someone known to the applicant solely as a friend.
All referees will be asked whether they believe the applicant is suitable for the job for which they have applied and whether they have any reason to believe the applicant is unsuitable to work with children.
If the referee is a current or previous employer, they will also be asked to confirm the following:
- The applicant’s dates of employment, salary, job title/duties, reason for leaving, performance, sickness and disciplinary record
- Whether the applicant has ever been the subject of disciplinary procedures involving issues related to the safety and welfare of children (including any in which the disciplinary sanction has expired)
- Whether any allegations or concerns have been raised about the applicant that relate to the safety and welfare of children or young people or behaviour towards children or young people.
The Trust will only accept references obtained directly from the referee and it will not rely on references or testimonials provided by the applicant or on open references or testimonials. The Trust will also verify, by a phone call, that the references have been written by the referee. This is particularly important if the email address for a referee is a personal email address.
The Trust will compare all references with any information given on the application form. Any discrepancies or inconsistencies in the information will be taken up with the applicant before any appointment is confirmed.
3.3 Disclosure and Barring Service
Due to the nature of the work, The Trust applies for criminal record certificates from the Disclosure and Barring Service (“DBS”) in respect of all prospective staff members, governors and volunteers.
There are two types of check that are requested from the DBS:
- Enhanced: a check of the Police National Computer (PNC) records of this provides information about convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer (PNC), regardless or not of whether they are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. The law allows for certain old and minor matters to be filtered out and any additional information held by the police which a chief officer reasonably believes to be relevant and considers ought to be disclosed.
- Enhanced with barred lists check - This checks the same information as the enhanced list but also includes checking of the barred lists of individuals unsuitable of working with children.
For a candidate to be employed as a teacher, a check that that the candidate is not subject to a prohibition order issued by the Secretary of State. The Teaching Regulation Agency will be accessed to check that the teacher is registered, if there are any restrictions in force, if they hold qualified teacher status (QTS) and if they have completed their induction period.
An Enhanced Disclosure will contain details of all convictions on record including current and spent convictions (including those which are as “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) together with details of any cautions, reprimands or warnings held on the Police National Computer.
An Enhanced Disclosure with barred lists check will also reveal whether he/she is barred from working with children by virtue of his/her inclusion on the lists of those considered unsuitable to work with children maintained by the Department for Education and the Department of Health.
Applicants with periods of overseas residence from the last 10 years and those with little or no previous UK residence will be asked to apply for the equivalent of a Disclosure, if one is available in the relevant jurisdiction(s). The Teacher Regulation Agency can no longer be used to conduct checks on teachers from EEA. The school will consult with the Home Office guidance on the link here to ensure that relevant checks are carried out for the specific country.
Applicants for roles that would include management of The Trust will also be checked against the Section 128 on the Teaching Regulation Agency portal.
The Trust expects supply/temporary worker agencies/contractors that are used by The Trust to register with the DBS on their own account and to follow their policy or their own comparable policy. Proof of registration will be required before The Trust will commission services from any such organisation.
3.4 Satisfactory Medical Fitness
Successful candidates will be asked to complete and return a Trust medical questionnaire. This will be sent out with other official documentation after the interview. This will be viewed only by the CEO/ Headteacher, who then may discuss any issues that arise with another relevant member of senior management team.
4. Policy on recruitment of ex-offenders
The Trust will not unfairly discriminate against any applicant for employment on the basis of conviction or other details revealed. The Trust makes appointment decisions on the basis of merit and ability. If an applicant has a criminal record this will not automatically debar him/her from employment within The Trust. Instead, each case will be decided on its merits in accordance with the objective assessment criteria set out in paragraph 4.2 below.
In view of the fact that all positions within The Trust will amount to “regulated positions” within the meaning of the Protection of Children Act 1999 (as amended by the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000), all applicants for employment must declare all previous convictions (including those which would normally be considered “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974). A failure to disclose a previous conviction may lead to an application being rejected or, if the failure is discovered after employment has started, may lead to summary dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct. A failure to disclose a previous conviction may also amount to a criminal offence.
Under the relevant legislation, it is unlawful for The Trust to employ anyone who is included on the lists maintained by the Department for Education and the Department of Health of individuals who are considered unsuitable to work with children. This will be checked on the Teaching Regulation Agency portal. In addition, it will also be unlawful for The Trust to employ anyone who is the subject of a disqualifying order made on being convicted or charged with the following offences against children: murder, manslaughter, rape, other serious sexual offences, grievous bodily harm or other serious acts of violence.
It is a criminal offence for any person who is disqualified from working with children to attempt to apply for a position within The Trust.
- The Trust receives an application from a disqualified person
- is provided with false information in, or in support of an applicant’s application or
- The Trust has serious concerns about an applicant’s suitability to work with children
it will report the matter to the Police, DBS and the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA).
4.2 Assessment Criteria
In the event that relevant information (whether in relation to previous convictions or otherwise) is volunteered by an applicant during the recruitment process or obtained through a disclosure check, The Trust will consider the following factors before reaching a recruitment decision:
- Whether the conviction or other matter revealed is relevant to the position in question
- The seriousness of any offence or other matter revealed
- The length of time since the offence or other matter occurred
- Whether the applicant has a pattern of offending behaviour or other relevant matters
- Whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed since the offending behaviour or other relevant matters and
- The circumstances surrounding the offence and the explanation(s) offered by the convicted person
If the post involves regular contact with children, it is The Trust’s normal policy to consider it a high risk to employ anyone who has been convicted at any time of any of the following offences:
- Against adults: murder, manslaughter, rape, other serious sexual offences, grievous bodily harm or other serious acts of violence
- Against children or adults: serious class A drug related offences, robbery, burglary, theft, deception or fraud
- If the post involves access to money or budget responsibility, it is The Trust’s normal policy to consider it a high risk to employ anyone who has been convicted at any time of robbery, burglary, theft, deception or fraud
- If the post involves some driving responsibilities, it is The Trust’s normal policy to consider it a high risk to employ anyone who has been convicted of serious driving offences within the last 10 years
4.3 Risk Assessment Procedure
In the event that relevant information (whether in relation to previous convictions or otherwise) is volunteered by an applicant during the recruitment process or obtained through a disclosure check, the School will carry out a risk assessment by reference to the criteria set out above. The assessment form must be signed by the Headteacher before a position is offered.
If an applicant wishes to dispute any information contained in a Disclosure, he/she can do so by contacting the DBS direct. In cases where the applicant would otherwise be offered a position were it not for the disputed information, The Trust will, where practicable, defer a final decision about the appointment until the applicant has had a reasonable opportunity to challenge to Disclosure information.
4.4 Retention and Security of Disclosure Information
The Trust’s policy is to observe the guidance issued or supported by the DBS and DfE on the use of Disclosure information.
In particular, The Trust will:
- Store Disclosure information and other confidential documents issued by the DBS in locked, non-portable storage containers, access to which will be restricted to members of the School’s senior management team
- Not retain Disclosure information or any associated correspondence for longer than is necessary. In most cases, The Trust will not retain such information for longer than 6 months although The Trust will keep a record of the date of a Disclosure, the name of the subject, the type of Disclosure, the position in question, the unique number issued by the DBS and the recruitment decision taken
- Ensure that any Disclosure information is destroyed by suitably secure means such as shredding
- Prohibit photocopying or scanning of any Disclosure information
- Retention of Records
The Trust complies with the provisions of the DBS Code of Practice, a copy of which is available on request. If an applicant is appointed, The Trust will retain any relevant information provided on their application form (together with any attachments) on their personnel file. If the application is unsuccessful, all documentation relating to the application will normally be confidentially destroyed after six months.
When this policy was reviewed, an equality impact assessment was conducted to ensure any changes did not have an adverse effect under the terms of the Equality Act 2010. Should you have any comments regarding this policy, please contact The Trust.
Reviewing Member of Staff: Dominic Burke
Date updated: Feb 2021
Date approved by Trustees: December 2021
Reserves and Investments Policy
Review of Reserves and Investment Policies
The Balcarras Trust is an exempt charity, regulated by the Department for Education (DfE). The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) expects Academy Trusts to have reserves and investment policies.
The following shows the End-of-Year Carry Forward for recent years:
The total level of free reserves declared:
Reserves for The Balcarras Trust were £912,000 excluding fixed assets and pension liability.
Unrestricted = £912k, Restricted = £0k
During the financial year The Balcarras Trust generally held bank balances of between £1.3m and £2.5m, with between £802k and £804k held on deposit during the course of the year.
Charity Commission Guidance
The Charity Commission sets out guidance to charities on setting a reserves policy (Charities and Reserves: Building Resilience), which includes:
3.4 What level or range of reserves is required?
There is no single level, or even a range of, reserves that is right for all charities. Any target set by trustees for the level of reserves to be held should reflect the particular circumstances of the individual charity. To do this, trustees need to know why the charity should hold reserves and, having identified those needs, the trustees should consider how much should be held to meet them.
In more detail
The charity’s target level of reserves can be expressed as a target figure or a target range and should be informed by:
- its forecasts for levels of income for the current and future years, taking into account the reliability of each source of income and the prospects for developing new income sources.
- its forecasts for expenditure for the current and future years on the basis of planned activity.
- its analysis of any future needs, opportunities, commitments or risks, where future income alone is likely to fall short of the amount of the anticipated costs.
- its assessment, on the best evidence reasonably available, of the likelihood of a shortfall arising which means that reserves are necessary, and the potential consequences for the charity of not being able to make up the shortfall.
- if the reserves policy is set at zero or a low level, its strategy for an orderly closure in the event of an unplanned shutdown and insolvency and particularly where there are vulnerable beneficiaries, the care of its beneficiaries.
Trustees who hold (or do not hold) reserves without attempting to relate their need for reserves to factors such as these will have difficulty in satisfactorily explaining why they hold (or do not hold) the amount of reserves that they do.
Capital funding and reserves
The Department for Education (DfE) provides nominal capital funding, through the Devolved Formula Capital Grant, to support property maintenance or capital costs. The Balcarras Trust is occasionally able to bid (on a competitive/needs basis) for additional limited funding from the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).
The Balcarras Trust may also receive restricted capital funds from individuals or organisations towards capital projects. These may be donated by a benefactor for particular projects. The Trust would designate any such funds exclusively to the project for which they were donated and monitor carefully to ensure that the funds are used accordingly.
A capital reserve identifies those capital funds that relate to future projects or capital funds set aside to help meet future unfunded capital expenditure (planned capital development and unforeseen capital works).
Revenue funding and reserves
The Balcarras Trust’s main revenue funding is the General Annual Grant (GAG), which are restricted funds for the purposes of running The Trust.
The Balcarras Trust generates additional revenue funding through the use of its facilities, other activities and from its areas of expertise. The Trust also benefits from donations and gifts from individuals or organisations, which are usually un-restricted funds and treated as revenue.
Under Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) guidance, The Balcarras Trust is expected to hold reasonable reserves from its annual GAG funding and other income.
A revenue reserve represents those revenue funds identified to meet future expenditure (in support of The Trust’s strategic aims and developments), as well as to meet the shorter term operational demands of its activities and any volatility in funding.
A revenue reserve may therefore comprise restricted and unrestricted funds.
The Education Funding Agency (EFA) Academies Financial Handbook 2020 states:
The board of trustees may invest to further the trust's charitable aims, but must ensure investment risk is properly managed. When considering an investment the board must:
- act within its powers to invest as described in its articles
- have an investment policy to manage and track its financial exposure, and ensure value for money
- exercise care and skill in investment decisions, taking advice as appropriate from a professional adviser
- ensure exposure to investment products is tightly controlled so security of funds takes precedence over revenue maximisation
- ensure investment decisions are in the trust's best interests
- review the trust's investments and investment policy regularly
The board should follow the Charity Commission's guidance: CC14 Charities and investment matters: A guide for trustees. ESFA's approval must be obtained for novel, contentious and/or repercussive investments.
The Balcarras Trustees have a responsibility to consider and regularly review the level and deployment of the funds that it has available and the reserves that are considered appropriate and reasonable.
When considering an appropriate level of reserves, the Trustees will take into account:
- The day-to-day cash flow requirements of The Balcarras Trust and its activities
- The risk of unforeseen operational costs, property maintenance costs or unexpected need for funds
- Any risk of a fall in sources of core income or income from additional activities
- Planned or future commitments, that cannot be met from future income alone (e.g. capital projects)
- The need to fund potential operating deficits in a current or anticipated future budget.
These considerations, together with others thought appropriate at the time, will determine the amount of reserves that The Balcarras Trust aims to hold.
The Balcarras Trustees will remain mindful that levels of reserves which are too high can tie up money which should be spent on current school activities. Equally, that levels of reserves which are too low may put the future activities of The Trust at risk and prevent investment in future activities or facilities.
- To assist strategic and financial planning by considering how operational demands, new projects or future activities will be funded.
- To inform the budget process by considering whether reserves need to be released during the financial year or built up for future years or projects.
The policy of The Balcarras Trust is to carry forward a prudent level of resources; designed to meet working capital requirements, fund long-term cyclical needs of renewal, support future capital improvements and meet any other unforeseen contingencies. The reserves will represent capital and revenue and will be identified as Restricted, Unrestricted (of which some will be Designated Reserves).
Reserves (Revenue Reserves, Working Capital)
Sufficient working capital should be retained within the level of reserves to cover delays between expenditure and receipt of funding as well as to provide contingency for any unexpected costs.
The Balcarras Trust considers that the level of revenue reserves for each school in The Trust should be equivalent to 4 weeks’ revenue expenditure.
For Balcarras School this equates to £575,000.
For The High School Leckhampton, this equates to £230,000 (by Year 3 of operation 2023/24)
Restricted Reserves will comprise revenue and capital funding received by The Balcarras Trust for specified purposes (i.e. restricted funds).
Restricted revenue reserves are mainly represented by the statutory funding for The Balcarras Trust (i.e. the General Annual Grant (GAG) for the running of The Trust’s schools and other revenue funding received for specific project or purpose). These funds are restricted according to the funding agreements or conditions.
GAG funding and other restricted revenue funding will mainly be used for the benefit of current pupils and the specified activities. However, The Balcarras Trust may carry forward GAG restricted funds to be used for future years, in order to support future capital plans and/or to meet anticipated operating costs and contingencies.
The Balcarras Trust may identify other restricted funds or carry forward restricted funding which have been allocated to a future project or purpose. These will be considered as additional restricted revenue reserves.
Restricted capital reserves will comprise any capital funds that have been received either from statutory sources, individuals or organisations for a specified capital project purpose and which will be expended in the future.
These are derived from contributions paid to The Balcarras Trust as part of the funding agreement with individual schools in The Trust.
The Balcarras Trust will top slice funds from each school in The Trust, to run the central services costs of The Trust. Balcarras Trust will look to build up a central services reserve that is separate from the reserves held by each school in The Trust. This reserve will be used for future projects/costs that meet the objectives of The Balcarras Trust. The Balcarras Trust will hold reserves of:
A maximum of £150K
Individual schools in Balcarras Trust will also hold reserves. These reserves will be ring fenced for the use of each school. However, The Balcarras Trust reserves to right to allocate the reserves from any school in The Trust to meet exceptional costs should The Trustees decide it is necessary.
The Balcarras Trust considers that unrestricted reserves may be held by each individual school to a total of
A maximum of £850K
(This includes the Revenue Reserve)
before being committed or designated by each individual school in the furtherance of The Balcarras Trust’s objectives.
The Balcarras Trust and individual schools in The Trust may choose to designate part or all of their unrestricted reserves for a specific purpose or future need. In this instance, any designated reserves will be excluded from the assessment of the individual school’s available free reserves.
The Designated Funds List will make clear any funds donated for a particular project by a benefactor.
The Balcarras Trust holds reserves to support its activities and objectives (restricted revenue or capital reserves, unrestricted and designated reserves). These funds may not necessarily be needed for immediate access by The Balcarras Trust.
The Balcarras Trust may at times hold large cash balances due to the nature of the funding cycle, which may not be required for immediate use.
Therefore, The Balcarras Trust will hold sums of money that are available to invest. The Trust will consider its long and short term financial commitments, as well as expected income and expenditure, in order to identify those funds available for investment.
This policy aims to ensure that:
- The Balcarras Trust’s funds are used only in accordance with the law, its articles of association, its funding agreement and the Academies Financial Handbook
- The Trust’s funds are used in a way that commands broad public support.
- Value for money (economy, efficiency and effectiveness) is achieved.
- Trustees fulfil their duties and responsibilities as charitable trustees and company directors.
The Academies Financial Handbook states that academy trusts are required to have an investment policy to:
- Manage, control and track their financial exposure.
- Ensure value for money.
This policy is based on the Academies Financial Handbook and guidance from The Charity Commission. This policy also complies with our funding agreement and articles of association.
Roles and responsibilities
Balcarras Trustees will ensure that investment risk is properly managed. When considering whether to make an investment, trustees will:
- Act within their powers to invest, as set out in our articles of association
- Exercise caution in all investments, reducing risk and ensuring that The Trust acts with the utmost integrity
- Take investment advice from a professional adviser, as appropriate
- Ensure that exposure to investment products is tightly controlled so that security of funds takes precedence over revenue maximization
- Ensure that all investment decisions are in the best interests of The Trust and command broad public support
Trustees will seek prior approval from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for investment transactions that are novel or contentious.
(Novel transactions are those of which the academy trust has no experience, or are outside the range of normal business activity for the trust.
Contentious transactions are those which might give rise to criticism of The Trust by Parliament, the public, and the media.)
Finance, Audit and Risk Committee
Balcarras Trustees delegate responsibility for the trust’s investments to the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.
This committee is responsible for:
- Controlling and tracking financial exposure
- Reviewing the trust’s investments
- Reporting to trustees on investments
The Chief Financial Officer
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is responsible for overseeing the production of cash flow forecasts and for making decisions on investments. The CFO also ensures that information is provided to the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee and Balcarras Trustees, as appropriate.
- The Balcarras Trust will only invest funds in low risk accounts. The priority will be to achieve best financial return available whilst ensuring that security of any deposits/investments takes precedence over revenue maximisation.
- Funds will only be placed with banking institutions that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and with good credit ratings.
- A sufficient cash balance must be held in The Trust's 'no notice' accounts so that The Trust’s financial commitments can always be met.
- The Trust will not invest funds that are conditional on chance/luck or gambling.
The following information will be recorded about investments:
- Amount and description of the investment
- Length of investment
- Interest rates/expected return
The CFO will ensure that interest rates are reviewed and compared with other investment opportunities annually.
Cash flow and current account balances will be monitored regularly by the CFO to ensure immediate financial commitments can be met and that the current account has adequate balances to meet forthcoming commitments
- When there are funds surplus to immediate cash requirements in the current account, The Balcarras Trust will transfer these to an account with a higher interest rate.
- Investments will normally be for a fixed term that does not exceed one year, unless there is a clear rationale for longer-term investment that would benefit The Trust.
- Funds, and any interest earned on those funds, will be automatically reinvested unless money is required for immediate or anticipated expenditure.
The CFO oversees the monitoring and implementation of this policy.
The following table outlines the designated funds:
6th Form Extension Contribution
Flat Roof CIF Contribution
Safeguarding and Safer Working Practice Policy
Please click here to read this policy.
Definition of whistle-blowing
Procedure for staff to raise a whistle-blowing concern
Trust procedure for responding to a whistle-blowing concern
Malicious or vexatious allegations
Escalating concerns beyond The Trust
Links with other policies
This policy links with our policies on:
- Grievance policy
- Complaints procedure
- Child protection policy
This policy aims to:
- Encourage individuals affected to report suspected wrongdoing as soon as possible in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and investigated and that their confidentiality will be respected
- Let all staff in the trust know how to raise concerns about potential wrongdoing in or by the Trust
- Set clear procedures for how the Trust will respond to such concerns
- Let all staff know the protection available to them if they raise a whistle-blowing concern
- Assure staff that they will not be victimised for raising a legitimate concern through the steps set out in the policy even if they turn out to be mistaken (though vexatious or malicious concerns may be considered a disciplinary issue)
This policy does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment and may be amended at any time. The policy applies to all employees or other workers who provide services to the trust in any capacity including self-employed consultants or contractors who provide services on a personal basis and agency workers.
The requirement to have clear whistle-blowing procedures in place is set out in the Academies Financial Handbook
This policy complies with our funding agreement and articles of association.
- Definition of whistle-blowing
Whistle-blowing covers concerns made that report wrongdoing that is “in the public interest”. Examples of whistle-blowing include (but aren’t limited to):
- Criminal offences, such as fraud or corruption
- Pupils’ or staffs’ health and safety being put in danger
- Failure to comply with a legal obligation or statutory requirement
- Breaches of financial management procedures
- Attempts to cover up the above, or any other wrongdoing in the public interest
- Damage to the environment
A whistleblower is a person who raises a genuine concern relating to the above.
Not all concerns about the Trust, or individual schools in the Trust, count as whistleblowing. For example, personal staff grievances such as bullying or harassment do not usually count as whistle-blowing. If something affects a staff member as an individual, or relates to an individual employment contract, this is likely a grievance.
When staff have a concern, they should consider whether it would be better to follow our staff grievance or complaints procedures.
Protect (formerly Public Concern at Work) has:
- Further guidance on the difference between a whistle-blowing concern and a grievance that staff may find useful if unsure
- A free and confidential advice line
- Procedure for staff to raise a whistle-blowing concern
Detailed below are the procedures for raising a concern.
4.1 When to raise a concern
Staff should consider the examples in section 3 when deciding whether their concern is of a whistle-blowing nature. Consider whether the incident(s) was illegal, breached statutory or trust procedures, put people in danger or was an attempt to cover any such activity up.
4.2 Who to report to
School-based staff should report their concern to the headteacher of their school. If the concern is about the headteacher, or it is believed they may be involved in the wrongdoing in some way, the staff member should report their concern to the CEO.
Central team staff should report their concern to the CEO. If the concern is about the CEO, or it is believed they may be involved in the wrongdoing in some way, the central team staff should report the concern to the Chair of Trustees.
4.3 How to raise the concern
Concerns should be made in writing wherever possible. They should include names of those committing wrongdoing, dates, places and as much evidence and context as possible. Staff raising a concern should also include details of any personal interest in the matter.
5. Trust procedure for responding to a whistle-blowing concern
Detailed below are procedures the Trust will undertake when a concern in raised.
5.1 Investigating the concern
When a concern is received by the headteacher/CEO/Chair of Trustees - referred to from here as the ‘recipient’ - they will:
- Meet with the person raising the concern within a reasonable time. The person raising the concern may be joined by a trade union or professional association representative
- Get as much detail as possible about the concern at this meeting and record the information. If it becomes apparent the concern is not of a whistle-blowing nature, the recipient should handle the concern in line with the appropriate policy/procedure
- Reiterate, at this meeting, that they are protected from any unfair treatment or risk of dismissal as a result of raising the concern. If the concern is found to be malicious or vexatious, disciplinary action may be taken (see section 6 of this policy)
- Establish whether there is sufficient cause for concern to warrant further investigation. If there is:
- The recipient should then arrange a further investigation into the matter, which may involve the CEO, or the Chair of Trustees if appropriate. In some cases, they may need to bring in an external, independent body to investigate. In others, they may need to report the matter to the police
- The person who raised the concern should be informed of how the matter is being investigated and an estimated timeframe for when they will be informed of the next steps
5.2 Outcome of the investigation
Once the investigation – whether this was just the initial investigation of the concern, or whether further investigation was needed – is complete, the investigating person(s) will prepare a report detailing the findings and confirming whether or not any wrongdoing has occurred. The report will include any recommendations and details on how the matter can be rectified and whether or not a referral is required to an external organisation, such as the local authority or police.
They will inform the person who raised the concern of the outcome of the investigation, though certain details may need to be restricted due to confidentiality.
Beyond the immediate actions, the CEO, trustees and other staff, if necessary, will review the relevant policies and procedures to prevent future occurrences of the same wrongdoing.
Whilst we cannot always guarantee the outcome sought, we will try to deal with concerns fairly and in an appropriate way.
6. Malicious or vexatious allegations
Staff are encouraged to raise concerns when they believe there to potentially be an issue. If an allegation is made in good faith, but the investigation finds no wrongdoing, there will be no disciplinary action against the member of staff who raised the concern.
If, however, an allegation is shown to be deliberately invented or malicious, the trust will consider whether any disciplinary action is appropriate against the person making the allegation.
7. Escalating concerns beyond the Trust
The Trust encourages staff to raise their concerns internally, in line with section 4 of this policy, but recognises that staff may feel the need to report concerns to a recognized external body, such as the police or the local authority.
However, when an employee has a genuine concern, this should not be raised with persons outside of the Trust, who are not part of a recognized reputable authority, such as friends, social media acquaintances, local media, local parents or other similar people.
The Protect advice line, linked to in section 3 of this policy, can also help staff when deciding whether to raise the concern to an external party.
These procedures have been agreed by the Board of Trustees, who will approve it whenever reviewed.
Date updated: November 2021
Date approved by Trustees: December 2021
We would encourage parents and friends of the school to read our policies and familiarise themselves with our protocols. If you are worried about a particular policy then please do contact the school to discuss it further. We always listen to concerns and consider all comments when reviewing policies as part of our annual review process.
Balcarras School Policies can be found below:
For all information and advice regarding exclusions, Balcarras follows the guidance set out by the DfE (Department for Education). A link to the information page can be found here