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The information in this section clarifies a number of issues raised by schools in relation to strike action. The information has been requested by headteachers and governing bodies in maintained schools and academies, but may also be useful for school staff, local authorities and parents.
Whilst the governing body of a maintained school has general responsibility for conduct of the school, the decision to open, partially open or close a school is an operational one and therefore falls to the head teacher. For academies, the academy trust has overall responsibility for running the school but in practice the decision to open, partially open or close a school may be delegated to the headteacher. It is best practice for heads to consult parents and governors before making a decision. Headteachers normally ask staff in advance if they intend to strike to enable them to make an informed decision and plan how to manage the strike.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the employer in a school must take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and pupils are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This applies to activities on or off school premises. The Department has recently issued simplified and clearer guidance about health and safety. Headteachers and academy trusts should take account of this guidance in considering how to manage any risks in the arrangements they make to keep schools open.
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