Understanding policies

Policy users should understand the organisation and hierarchy of the department's policy documents.

Policy statements (or simply policies) define the department’s position on certain risks or issues. They may provide statements of intent or principles on a particular aspect of the department's work.

They may state mandatory courses of action and responsibilities for staff, such as those mandated by legislation or by the department’s executive.

In some cases, policies provide general principles to guide decision-making to suit necessary local variations. Knowledge of these guiding principles helps school principals to consider local factors and make appropriate decisions.

Except for older policies, policy documents have the following sections.

  1. Policy statement - sets out the main objectives and intent of the policy. It states the department's position on a particular risk or issue and states the actions to address them.
  2. Audience and applicability - identifies to whom or to what the policy applies.
  3. Context - states why the policy is in place and/or what works with the policy. It states how the policy relates to best practice, good governance, legislation or other broader organisational policy
  4. Responsibilities and delegations - lists the particular roles (such as school principals or teachers), business units or agencies with details of assigned or delegated responsibilities.
  5. Monitoring and review - lists the roles responsible for monitoring the implementation of the policy.
  6. Contact - lists the position titles of the officers that can provide further information about the policy.

Implementation documents support the policy by providing detailed  procedures or guidelines.

Some policies do not have implementation documents. Most policies have at least one implementation document.

Related documents that are listed on the site provide more information or resources to assist the policy implementation. They may be links to external websites.

Many policies provide a 'Sample evidence of policy implementation' document to guide schools on the types of evidence that may be used to demonstrate local policy implementation for the A-Z Policy Implementation Tool.

Read policy documents carefully. Understand the mandatory and discretionary aspects therein.

When in doubt, contact the policy owner or contact person listed at the bottom of the policy page,

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