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Publication -

Registration of independent schools in Scotland: guidance

Published: 25 Nov 2014
ISBN:
0755949978

Guidance notes for proprietors of new and existing independent schools.

57 page PDF

533.0kB

57 page PDF

533.0kB

Contents
Registration of independent schools in Scotland: guidance
REGISTRATION

57 page PDF

533.0kB

REGISTRATION

New Schools

Application

10. If a proprietor considers that a proposed school falls within the definition of an independent school set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (see paragraph 6), they should complete and submit an application to the Scottish Ministers. Application forms must be submitted electronically and you can access the link here: http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/piplink?agency_id=132107&service_id=7700030001 If you have any queries or problems accessing the link then please contact Mrs Shirley Anderson on 0131 244 4502 or e-mail Shirley.Anderson@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

11. If any person carries on an independent school which is not registered with the Registrar of Independent Schools then they may be committing an offence, and on summary conviction may be liable to be fined and/or imprisoned for a maximum of three months. [6] Proprietors should therefore not admit any pupils to an independent school until it is registered.

12. Independent schools with boarding facilities must also register their boarding provision with the Care Inspectorate as a school care accommodation service. Operation of a school care accommodation service in advance of such registration is also an offence. [7] Prospective proprietors who want to offer boarding accommodation at their school should therefore contact the Care Inspectorate. This is currently a separate process from that of registering a school with the Scottish Ministers. The Care Inspectorate and the Office of the Registrar of Independent Schools work together to streamline the process and will share and exchange information to keep the duplication of requests for information to the minimum. The Care Inspectorate's contact details are at Annex A.

Registering an Independent School with the Scottish Ministers

13. Any application to register an independent school must include the information required by Ministers as set out in the Schedule to the Registration of Independent Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2006, attached at Annex F. The regulations require the following information to be provided by a proprietor when submitting an application:-

a) the name of the school

b) the postal address, electronic address, telephone number, facsimile number of the school; a description of the heritable property occupied for the purposes of the school; and plans of each building forming part of the school, indicating sanitary facilities and the dimensions of each room;

c) the type of school, detailing which combination of the following describe the school, and the education or other provision made within it e.g. primary, secondary, additional support for learning, church or other denominational, and whether day or boarding facilities are offered;

d) the maximum intended number of pupils in the school, including an indication of whether the provision is to be mixed gender or single sex and whether boarding is to be available.

e) the proposed date from which the school wishes to be operational;

f) for an individual proprietor that person's full name, contact details and residential address;

g) Proprietors communication details if different from f) above;

h) for a proprietor who is not an individual (e.g. a corporate body), the name of the proprietor, address, telephone number and if it has one the proprietor's registered office. The name, address, telephone number of the person who the proprietor wishes communications about the school to be sent to;

i) in the case of a body corporate, Scottish partnership, or unincorporated association (other than a Scottish partnership), the title of the body, partnership or association, a description of its nature and the full name and usual residential address of any relevant person and the capacity in which such person acts;

j) in the case when the school is, or is conducted by, a charity, the name of that charity and details as to its registration as a charity;

k) a copy of the school's

curriculum, statement of aims, prospectus, admission policy, fire risk assessment and procedures, health and safety risk assessment policy and procedures, child protection/safeguarding policy and procedures; proposed leadership/governance arrangements; and

l) a statement confirming that criminal records certificate (also known as a disclosure) appropriate to the position have been obtained and are in accordance with the school's Child Protection Policy and Procedures in respect of the proprietor of the school, all proposed teachers and all other persons in or to be in a child care position relative to the school.

14. It is considered that the above information should provide Ministers with a clear picture of the type of school a proprietor would like to operate, the client group and the type of education which the users can expect to receive.

15. If a school's prospective proprietor is a corporate proprietor (e.g. an unincorporated association) then the application should be signed by the chair of the body, or of the committee of the body, directly responsible for the management of the school.

16. All schools have a maximum roll (previously known as optimum roll), which is the maximum number of pupils a school can enrol, including the maximum number of boarders which can attend a school. The Registrar sets each school's maximum roll based on information supplied by the proprietor and in consultation with HM Inspectors. See paragraph 50 on Maximum Roll for details of how to revise a roll after registration.

17. The Registrar will work with the Care Inspectorate when determining the maximum numbers of boarders which a school will be permitted to accommodate.

18. Once the Registrar is satisfied that the application, including the information required to set the maximum roll, and supporting material received are complete, he will forward a copy to Her Majesty's Inspectors in Education Scotland for advice and consideration in advance of the pre-registration inspection. If boarding is to be provided the application will be considered in conjunction with the application submitted to the Care Inspectorate. It is the intention that information received by the Registrar would be shared with HM Inspectors and the Care Inspectorate to reduce the submission of duplicate information.

Pre Registration Inspection

19. Once the Registrar is satisfied that the documentation provided is complete, HM Inspectors will carry out a pre-registration visit to the school, normally within 6 working weeks, although this may not always be possible.

20. The school cannot be operating with any pupils at this stage of the registration process. The aim of the visit is to check that the proposed school accommodation is fit for purpose; agree the maximum roll; and ensure that appropriate consideration has been given to the care and welfare of future pupils, before the school is registered (i.e. before the school can operate).

21. A pre-registration visit will usually be carried out by one HM Inspector in one day, depending on the size and nature of the proposed school. The HMI will tour the accommodation, interview the headteacher, speak informally to any other staff who may already be in post, and scrutinise any additional relevant documentation. HM Inspectors may ask, as appropriate for copies of documents, including those which are viewed in inspection. The HMI will gather evidence under the quality indicators from the publication How Good is Our School? covering accommodation and pastoral care and any other evidence relevant to the care and welfare of pupils. At the end of the visit, the HMI will provide oral feedback to the headteacher. The HMI will make clear at feedback any concerns and inform the headteacher that the Registrar will be advised accordingly, providing advice as to whether Ministers should register the school at this stage.

Notification

22. Each application will be considered taking account of advice from HM Inspectors, following the pre-registration inspection, and the papers submitted by the prospective proprietor. The Registrar will inform the prospective proprietor as soon as possible of Ministers' decision to:-

a) grant registration (see paragraphs 23 -24);

b) in relation to the granting of an application for registration, whether conditions are to be imposed (see paragraph 25);

c) refuse registration (see paragraphs 26 and 27);

d) in relation to the refusal of an application for registration whether disqualifications are to be ordered (see paragraphs 28 and 29).

23. If Ministers grant the school registration, [8] it may then begin to operate subject to any conditions ordered by Ministers. Unless the letter specifies otherwise, the date of registration will be the date of the letter notifying the proprietor of the Ministers' decision. The letter will also confirm the school's maximum roll. However, it should be noted that proprietors who will also be providing boarding should ensure that registration has been granted by the Care Inspectorate prior to accepting boarding pupils. The Registrar and the Care Inspectorate will work together with the intention of registration with both regulators being granted at the same time.

24. After registration is confirmed, the school details will be added to the Register of Independent Schools, which can be viewed at:-

www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/education/schools/parents/independentsearch.

Conditions

25. Ministers may impose conditions when granting an application for the registration of a new school. They may also impose conditions on the carrying on of an already registered school (see paragraph 53). Once conditions have been imposed, they may be varied or revoked by Ministers. [9] The Registrar will notify the proprietor in writing when conditions have been imposed, revoked or varied. Proprietors may apply in writing to the Registrar asking Ministers to vary or revoke conditions. Proprietors can appeal a decision relating to the imposition, variation or revoking of a condition to the Sheriff Principal (see paragraph 59).

Refusal of Registration

26. Ministers can refuse applications for registration of an independent school if they are not satisfied that: [10]

a) efficient and suitable instruction will be provided at the school, having regard to the ages and sex of the pupils who shall be attending the school;

b) the welfare of such pupils will be adequately safeguarded and promoted;

c) the proprietor of the school is a proper person to be the proprietor of an independent school;

d) every proposed teacher in the school is a proper person to be a teacher in any school;

e) the proposed school premises are suitable for use as a school;

f) the accommodation to be provided at the school premises is adequate and suitable, having regard to the number, ages and sex of the pupils who shall be attending the school;

27. Proprietors can appeal refusal of registration to the Sheriff Principal. (see paragraph 59)

Disqualifications

28. On refusing an application for registration Ministers can also make a disqualification order [11] if they are not satisfied that:

a) the proposed school premises are suitable for use as a school;

b) the accommodation to be provided at the proposed school premises is adequate and suitable, having regard to the number, ages and sex of the pupils who shall be attending the school;

c) the proprietor of the independent school is a proper person to be the proprietor of such a school; or

d) a proposed teacher at the school is a proper person to be a teacher in any school.

29. Proprietors can appeal against a disqualification to the Sheriff Principal (see para 58).

Post-Registration Inspection

30. HM Inspectors will carry out a post-registration inspection within nine months of registration of the school to allow the inspectors to see learning and teaching in the school and to evaluate the quality of education and care provision.

31. The inspection will normally be completed in two and a half days with a report being published within 12 weeks of the notification of the inspection.

32. In the post-registration inspection, HM Inspectors will focus on evaluating the school's provision in respect of the following:

a) How well do children and young people learn and achieve?

b) How well does the school support children and young people to develop and learn?

c) How well do the accommodation and resources support learning?

d) How well does the school improve the quality of its work?

33. HM Inspectors have designed inspection procedures to ensure that inspections are independent, responsive, fair and open. Each inspection will be responsive to the school's individual circumstances. Account will be taken of information provided by the school and the Board of Governors. HM Inspectors operate within the Charter and the Code of Practice for Child Protection.

34. HM Inspectors will make every attempt to minimise disruption to the school being inspected and will ensure that each inspection activity is necessary to forming relevant, well-founded judgements. Schools will be asked to provide the minimum necessary level of documentation in advance of the inspection and additional documentation as required during the inspection. All inspection activities will focus clearly on the evidence and evaluation required for the published report. In gathering evidence and making evaluations, HM Inspectors will refer to the quality indicators (QIs) contained in 'How Good is Our School'? which can be viewed here.

35. Clear oral feedback will be given on the inspection outcomes to the school's management, and a representative from the Board of Governors, where appropriate. After the inspection, a report containing the considered views of the inspection team will be written. A confidential copy of the draft report will be sent to the headteacher and also the chairperson of the Board of Governors. The managing inspector will discuss the report with the headteacher and, if necessary, with the chairperson of the Board of Governors, before it is finalised for publication.

36. The purpose of the discussion of the draft report is to ensure its factual accuracy and to deal with any issues not already covered during the inspection or at the feedback to teachers and senior managers. Additional evidence may be presented at this time and it will be considered in arriving at the final version of the report for publication.  The published report will be written in plain English and will make clear evaluative statements about the school's provision and include the main points for action arising from the inspection.

37. Under normal circumstances the report will be published on Education Scotland's website for parents and carers to access and copies will be sent by e-mail to the school and the chairperson of the Board of Governors within 12 working weeks of the notification of the inspection. The reports must remain strictly confidential until the publication date.

38. A copy of the final report will be sent to the Registrar for consideration by Scottish Ministers as to whether specific conditions should be attached to the continued registration of the school, any conditions set will require to be met within a certain timescale. The Registrar will request an action plan from the school outlining the steps which will be taken to address any improvements recommended in the HM Inspectors report.

39. Following the post-registration inspection, the school will enter the normal cycle of inspections. The extent and nature of further inspection activities will depend on the findings of the post-registration inspection. If conditions are attached to the registration, HM Inspectors will continue to engage with the school to ensure the school has effectively met these. Inspectors will provide this additional evidence to the Registrar.

40. HM Inspectors and Care Inspectorate will co-operate on inspections in respect of any school with boarding provision and any school with early learning and child care provision.  The subsequent report will be available to the public.

Existing Registered Schools

41. Once a school has been registered, its details are added to the Register of Independent Schools which contains information relating to all existing registered schools. The Register is available to the public and can be viewed on the Scottish Government web site. The information is obtained from, and is kept up-to-date through the annual school census. The Register also includes the maximum number of pupils which a school is registered to enrol.

42. To ensure that the quality of education, accommodation and the care and welfare of pupils is being appropriately addressed within independent schools, they like all other schools in Scotland are subject to regular inspection by HM Inspectors. New arrangements for inspecting schools in Scotland were introduced in August 2011 and the details can be viewed here.

43. Inspections provide the opportunity for schools to show that they know themselves inside out and that they are using self-evaluation to focus on improving all the achievements of young people in line with the aims of the school's curriculum. It can also help identify good practice and innovation that HM Inspectors may wish to look at in more detail as part of their continuing engagement after the inspection has been completed. HM Inspectors will refer to the framework of the seven key areas and associated quality indicators ( QIs) contained in How Good is Our School? which can be viewed here.

44 In schools with boarding provision integrated HM Inspectors and the Care Inspectorate inspections will work closely to ensure the inspections are proportionate and in line with the Public Services Reform Act duty of co-operation.

Provision of information

45. In accordance with regulation 4(1) of the Registration of Independent Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2006 ('the 2006 Regulations') proprietors are required, annually, to supply the information listed in schedule 1 and 2. However, in accordance with regulation 4(2) the Registrar will ensure that any of the information in schedule 1 which is already held is not requested. To reduce the burden on independent schools the collection of this information has now been incorporated into the school census form along with the information required under schedule 2.

46. You should also note that in accordance with regulation 5 of the 2006 Regulations, proprietors are required to inform the Registrar in writing, within one month, if any of the information supplied under paragraphs 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 of Schedule 1 to the 2006 Regulations has changed. (see copy of Regulations at Annex F)

47. The information required at Schedule 2 must be submitted in writing, to the Registrar, in September each year. This relates to the pupil and teacher statistics along with confirmation that any new teachers or any other person in a child care position employed by the school for the first time or re-employed in the previous 12 months have had a satisfactory criminal records certificate issued. The school will also have to confirm that it has undertaken assessments in terms of its Fire and Health and Safety Risk Assessment Procedures. Forms requesting this information are issued to schools as part of the Annual School Census undertaken by the Scottish Government. The Annual School Census also collects information provided by independent schools on a voluntary basis, such as the destination of school leavers, and the number of pupils with additional support needs. To reduce the burden placed on schools, the confirmation information referred to above will be included in the Census return.

48. Failure to inform the Registrar of any changes or to submit the annual return under Schedule 4 [12] could result in the Scottish Ministers serving a notice of complaint on the school [13] requiring the information to be submitted. If the information is not supplied then this could lead to the school being removed from the Register of Independent Schools, meaning it could no longer operate.

49. Proprietors can appeal to the Sheriff Principal against a notice of complaint [14] (see paragraph 58)

Maximum Roll (previously known as optimum roll)

50. Setting the initial maximum roll (previously known as optimum roll) for new schools is set as part of the Registration process. (see paragraph 16 to 18). Proprietors should not exceed the approved maximum roll.

51. In accordance with established practice and procedures, if at any time proprietors wish to increase the maximum roll, they must write to the Registrar to seek approval, enclosing supporting information with their request to help the Registrar in reaching a decision. If the information provided is sufficient for the Registrar to come to a decision, the school will be informed in writing. If a visit is required by either the Registrar or HM Inspectors, it will be arranged as soon as practicable and a decision reached as soon as possible after such a visit. Proprietors should not accept additional pupils before written approval has been given to an increase in the maximum roll.

52. If the request is to increase the number of boarders, the request should be made both to the Registrar and the Care Inspectorate who will work together in sharing the information supplied and agree an adjustment to the number of boarders.

Conditions

53. Ministers can impose conditions on a school at Registration (see paragraph 25). Ministers can also set conditions on existing schools under specified circumstances [15] to prevent a school from becoming objectionable upon any of the grounds by which a notice of complaint could be served on a school (see paragraph 54). Once conditions have been imposed, they may be varied or revoked by Ministers. The Registrar will notify the proprietor in writing when conditions have been imposed, revoked or varied. Proprietors may apply in writing to the Registrar asking Ministers to vary or revoke conditions.

54. Proprietors can appeal to the Sheriff Principal against the imposition of conditions, variation or a refusal to vary or revoke a condition (see paragraph 58 ).

Notices of Complaint

55. Ministers have powers to serve upon the proprietor of an independent school a notice of complaint [16] stating that the school is objectionable upon all or any of the following grounds:-

a) that efficient and suitable instruction is not being provided at the school, having regard to the ages and sex of pupils attending thereat;

b) that the welfare of a pupil attending the school is not adequately safeguarded and promoted there;

c) that the school premises or any part thereof are unsuitable for a school;

d) that the accommodation provided at the school premises is inadequate or unsuitable, having regard to the number, ages and sex of the pupils attending the school;

e) that a condition imposed by Ministers on the school is not being or has not been complied with;

f) that the proprietor is not a proper person to be the proprietor of an independent school or that any teacher in the school is not a proper person to be a teacher in any school;

g) that any part of the school premises is disqualified from being used as a school;

h) that any accommodation provided at the school premises is disqualified from being used as such or is being used as such for pupils of such number or such age or sex from which use it is so disqualified;

i) that the proprietor of the school is disqualified from being the proprietor of an independent school, disqualified from working with children, a prescribed person or otherwise not a proper person to be the proprietor of an independent school;

j) that a teacher in the school is disqualified from being a teacher in any school, disqualified from working with children, a prescribed person or otherwise not a proper person to be a teacher in any school;

k) that the proprietor has not provided the Registrar with the information required by the Scottish Ministers annually, or has failed to inform the Registrar of a change in the school's particulars. [17]

56. The notice of complaint will state the ground of the complaint and specify the measures which Ministers consider are necessary to remedy the subject of the complaint. The notice will also specify a period within which such measures should be taken. [18] Where Ministers are not satisfied that appropriate action has been taken in the time specified, they may [19]:-

a) order the school to be removed from the Register (see paragraphs 57 to 58)

b) impose or vary conditions (see paragraphs 53 to 54)

c) If satisfied that the school premises or any part of them are unsuitable for use as a school, make an order disqualifying those premises or any part of them from being so used.

d) If satisfied that any accommodation provided at the school premises is inadequate or unsuitable, having regard to the number, ages and sex of the pupils attending the school, make an order disqualifying that accommodation being used as such or from being used as such for pupils exceeding such numbers or of such age or sex.

d) If satisfied that the proprietor is not a proper person to be the proprietor of an independent school or a teacher in the school is not a proper person to be a teacher in any school make an order disqualifying that proprietor from being the proprietor of any independent school or, as the case may be, that teacher from being a teacher in any school.

Removal from Register of Independent Schools

57. Where a school is no longer operating, or has failed to satisfy Ministers that remedial action taken after a notice of complaint has been served, Ministers may make an order directing the Registrar to remove the school from the Register of Independent Schools. [20]  A school can no longer operate if it is removed from the Register.

58. Ministers can also act without serving a notice of complaint if they are satisfied that the circumstances require urgent action, [21] e.g. where the welfare of pupils is at risk. The actions Ministers can take in this situation include making an order directing the Registrar to remove a school from the Register.

Appeals to the Sheriff Principal

59. Proprietors may appeal to the Sheriff Principal [22] against decisions taken by Ministers to:-

a) refuse registration;

b) impose, vary or refuse to revoke conditions;

c) disqualify a proprietor, teacher, accommodation or premises (whole or part);

d) serve a notice of complaint;

e) order the school to be removed from the Register of Independent Schools;

f) refuse to remove a disqualification relating to school premises or accommodation.

60. Except where the appeal is against disqualification of a person as either proprietor or teacher, appeals should be made to the Sheriff Principal of the local sheriffdom for the school within 28 days of the proprietor being notified. [23]

61. Where the appeal relates to the disqualification of a person as either a proprietor or a teacher, the appeal should be made to the appellant's local Sheriff Principal unless the appellant lives outwith Scotland, in which case it should be made to the Sheriff Principal of Lothian and Borders at Edinburgh. [24]


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