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Too many statutory requirements mean we are busy demonstrating compliance rather than getting on with our real job


Michael Pettavel: 'I am worried regulations are counterproductive and keep us from focusing on children'

I was listening to Sara Thornton, the chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), when she said officers should focus on ‘core policing’. Now this may sound some distance away from the trials and tribulations of the early years, but it struck a chord for me. The ever-growing list of responsibilities that draw services away from their prime objective is true of many sectors.

Things do seem to have become much more complicated. The increasing demands on schools and nurseries to tick a series of boxes – including GDPR (the mention of which simply induces a high-pitched whine in my ears), website compliance, British values, Prevent, paediatric first-aid training, allergens, dietary needs, asbestos registers, food hygiene, legionella testing and so much more – place so much accountability on the small setting. Now, I am not against the requirements to keep children safe and ensure that we don’t negligently fill the water tray with bleach, but I am worried that the regulations are counter-productive and keep us from focusing on children.

As a school we need to be compliant in many different areas. An example of this is our website. This needs to meet certain criteria, helpfully identified in a seven-page checklist. In the ‘old days’, interested parties simply contacted us and asked for the information they required – it was easy and, as it didn’t often happen, quite manageable. Now, however, huge swathes of information need to be fully accessible and updated and it is easy to get something wrong, simply because there are not the resources available to meet the requirements. As a result we focus less on our ‘core priorities’ and more on demonstrating our compliance.

So I ask, much like Sara Thornton, please let us get on with our job. Trust us to get it right without having so many policies that they become easily forgotten. Remove the avalanche of paperwork that proves we have common sense and that we do things appropriately and safely.

We all know resources and funding are scarce (contrary to the ‘it’s never been better’ messages from the Department for Evasiveness, sorry, Education). So make statutory requirements sensible and meaningful, remove those that don’t have a direct impact on children and judge us on how well we do our jobs, not how we jump through hoops.

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