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The governing body of each school makes decisions about school policies. Some of these are statutory and schools are legally required to have them, whilst others are important in the overall management and ethos of the particular school and its pupils. A new member of staff should be shown where they are located and it is their responsibility to become familiar with them.
Since the Education Act 2005 (in England and Wales), schools have to provide a school profile that includes a wide variety of information that would be useful for a new teacher. The profile includes responses to questions such as:
• What have been our successes this year?
• What are we trying to improve?
• How are we making sure that every child gets teaching to meet its individual needs?
• How do we make sure our pupils are healthy, safe and well supported?
• What have we done in response to inspection?
(Teachernet. School profile)
Of course there are also government policies with which you should be familiar, although these will differ depending on whether you are teaching in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland. These may include:
1. Strategies for Literacy and Numeracy . These were introduced in 1998 in a bid to raise standards in schools. For the first time teachers were not only told what to teach but how to teach it and many support materials were developed centrally.
2. Every Child Matters. In 2003 the government published a green paper, which aimed to improve the way that individuals and organisations work with children and young people. In 2004 the Children Act was passed leading the way for more effective services to provide for the needs of children, parents and young people. This is a very important piece of legislation, which has had a huge impact on teaching as well as other services. Following consultation with parents, children and children’s services Every Child Matters: The Next Steps (DfES 204b) was published. This set out the five outcomes of the Change for Children agenda. The five outcomes are:
• Be healthy
• Stay safe
• Enjoy and achieve
• Make a positive contribution
• Achieve economic well-being.
Excellence and Enjoyment introduced in 2003, contains a vision for primary education in which schools are encouraged to be more innovative and creative and to plan a more flexible curriculum.
Primary National Strategy (2004) Excellence and Enjoyment ; Learning and teaching in the Primary Years PNS/ DfES, London
DfES (2003, 2004a, 2004b) Every Child Matters/ Every Chid matters: Change for Children DfES , Nottingham