In the heady days following Tomorrow’s Schools, every board and principal in the country was tasked with developing its school’s own set of policies, which meant coming to grips with the requirements of the Ministry and the new legislation – namely the 1989 Education Act.
After an initial burst of enthusiasm which saw some churning out literally hundreds of policies, things calmed somewhat during the early 2000s.
However, it was clear to schools that many of these statements would be required, and one of the most vexing was the school’s EEO policy. Schools were required to appoint an EEO officer, and to record compliance with all things EEO in the school’s annual report. This included surveying staff annually, and then maintaining a database of staff needs and issues.
More recently the Ministry of Education has removed any reference to reporting EEO compliance in the Annual Report. This is slightly problematic as the requirement still sits squarely within the State Sector Act 1988, and is quite specific.
Here’s section 77A (1):
Every employer in the education service must—
a) operate a personnel policy that complies with the principle of being a good employer; and
b) make that policy (including the equal employment opportunities programme) available to its employees; and
c) ensure its compliance with that policy (including its equal employment opportunities programme) and report in its annual report (if any) on the extent of its compliance.
To add to this expectation, the Education Review Office includes it in their June 2017 Assurance Checklist for schools preparing for a visit.
So, what to do? An EEO policy is still a requirement to be a ‘good employer’. We can’t remove a legal requirement from the content without placing schools at risk.
We have removed the specific action of maintaining a database so given schools room for their own implementation and left the broad principles of an EEO policy. However, we have left the bullet regarding including a summary of the year’s compliance in the annual report. By adding a simple sentence or statement to the annual report, a school can report on its compliance with its EEO policy.