Staff and Members - FAQs
HOW MANY HOURS SHOULD A HOUSEMASTER/HOUSEMISTRESS WORK?
Most of our member schools are independent, with their own terms and conditions for staff. Reputable boarding schools will have contracts of employment, as advised by their professional associations, but possibly varying according to the type and circumstances of the school - do housestaff also teach? Are there House tutors as well as houseparents etc?
Everyone is aware that the role of a houseparent is very demanding, but it is also considered one of the most fulfilling and deeply satisfying of all the roles a member of staff in a boarding school could have.
Advice on this topic is available to Bursars on the website of the ISBA.
BSA does not intervene in matters of dispute between Heads and staff. Should a member of staff feel he or she has cause for concern, our advice is always to talk directly to the Head, who may be unaware that there is a difficulty and may be able to resolve it quickly.
STAFF ACCOMMODATION? In all the paper work I have read it says it needs to be separate. Does this mean by one door or more than that? If we were to employ a married couple for weekend boarding, can they sleep in a room separated by one door or do male staff have to be more separate?
‘Separate’ is tricky because the school building regs say it must be separate accommodation for adults and the NMS say ‘There is at least one adult member of staff sleeping in each boarding house at night responsible for the boarders in the house.’ (15.7)
So the reasonable assumption is that they are in the house but separate from it – which I would take to mean staff have, effectively, a front door to their premises, which is separate and private from boarders. So staff should not have to come out into boarding accommodation to get to their bathroom, for instance. Or to get to a personal washing machine which has been placed in the pupils’ bathroom because of awkward plumbing.
For standard housemaster/mistress accommodation, this is usually easily enough done, and the door to the staff accommodation will have a bell or knocker so that a pupil in difficulty at night can get to the member of staff – the reason for being in the house.
Many schools find it more awkward if they are trying to provide ‘occasional’ accommodation, e.g. for a relief houseparent, who comes in for a night or two, and cannot be in the houseparent’s accommodation for obvious reasons, and the school finds it hard to provide a second unit of separate accommodation. A bed-sitting room with en suite accommodation is probably the best answer, self-contained but again with a knock-on-able door, but some schools will find this an expensive provision if it means losing a boarder’s bedroom to provide it.
Another difficulty is external access – we seriously recommend that houseparents’ accommodation has separate access so that visitors do not have to traverse boarding accommodation at all if possible. Not always possible, particularly perhaps in girls’ schools or small schools, often in listed buildings. But if there is no external access, then school needs clear policies agreed with occupants about supervising visitors absolutely door to door etc.
Make your decisions and be prepared to defend them if challenged.