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Dear Clare - Headteacher directing staff govenor to meet before meetings to agree on comments to agenda items

Discussion in 'Governors' started by pythagorasdpy, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Hi, our Headteacher is currently appointing a staff governor to fill a vacant position on the school's governing body. He has though insisted, through the advertising literature, that any member of staff who is interested in the position must agree to meet with him before all Governors Meetings and agree feedback to any proposed questions on the agenda from the other Governors. Does this seem right? as I feel that if a staff governor is asked his/her opinion should he/she not have the right to state their opinion even if it differs from the Head's position. I can understand that he may not feel comfortable if staff openly disagree with his answer/opinion but I am not comfortable with the head not being open to discussion to direct questionning of his position to other Governors concerns. Am I right to be concerned or is it normal practice for Heads to direct staff governors to repeat the Heads answers to other Governors questions? Your advice would be welcome as I was thinking of putting myself forward.
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Lead commenter Forum guide

    pythagorasdpy, this is the well known condition of headteacher control freakery. It is, unfortunately, not usually cured merely by pointing out to the head that they are wrong and have misunderstood the role of staff governors! Your head is behaving entirely wrongly and you are right. Staff governors are there as a governor who is a representative staff member. They are not there in their capacity as an employee and they are not accountable to the head for what they do as a staff governor, and the head cannot line manage what you do as a governor. Your head is not the first one to try though, although none of the heads on governing bodies I've been on have tried to do this. You are right to be concerned and might want to discuss it with your Union. Most Unions run courses for their members on the role of staff governor, and all governors, including staff governors, should attend an Induction Training for Governors course run by your LA.
    Bear in mind though that as a staff governor it is not your role to give professional advice to the governing body in relation to the management of the school or education issues. That is the head's role. It follows from that that governing body's shouldn't ask staff governors to give them professional advice, and any such questions should be redirected to the head. Identifying the line between giving professional advice and expressing your personal opinion as a governor can sometimes be a difficult one.
    Incidentally, the head isn't appointing the new staff governor, they have no power to do that. They are running an election in which all staff have a vote (teaching and non-teaching staff). The head's opinion on who should be elected is irrelevant.
    Many LAs have put out guidance for staff governors, here's two examples:


  3. Thanks for very clear advice. Will talk to union in the first place....
    Best wishes
  4. The role of staff governor can be difficult for both the staff governor, who may have to challenge his/her line manager in an open forum and for the headteacher who has to face that challenge.

    I?m interested that you say the headteacher is ?appointing? a staff governor ? if you work in a maintained school (community, foundation, voluntary aided or controlled) then staff governors are elected not appointed. The situation may be different in Academies where the Articles of Association set out the composition of the governing body and if they do have staff governors they are not required to elect them. Working on the premise that this is a maintained school then the headteacher has no right to impose any requirements on staff governors. A staff governor is elected by the staff paid to work at the school ? and once elected has the same rights/responsibilities as any other governor, although they may be more affected by the rules on pecuniary/conflict of interest than other governors.
  5. Hi, thanks for your feedback. Yes, sorry I didn't mean the Head is appointing, he is organising what he wants to happen is a better phrase. I am certain because of the way he is pushing things along that he has not discussed the process with the rest of the governing body, e.g. our LEA procedures for return of ballot papers for staff governor elections stipulate 10 days for their return, the head is insisting on 3 days so the winner can be announced at the last shadow governors meeting this Thursday (Ballot papers to be given to staff tomorrow late Monday). I just feel he is determined to see what he wants to happen, happen without consideration of proper due process. I don't particularly feel confident in my chances of winning the ballot as the other candidate was asked to consider standing by the head anyway as he is a very popular character but has many joint interests with the head. Any feedback on how to insist the Head at least follows the guidelines and how he can be brought to book about his directive that any staff governor appointed has to meet with him prior to any governors meeting to agree feedback would be appreciated. Thanks, David.
  6. I have not come across the term "shadow governors," pythagorasdpy. I am intrigued about what they are and what their purpose is.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Lead commenter Forum guide

    It might have been helpful pythagorasdpy if you'd mentioned in your first post that this was a shadow GB! Although the principle of what I said about Staff Governors' roles isn't different the Procedures and Constitution Regulations, for example, don't apply to shadow GBs and shadow SGs are appointed by the LA not elected by staff.
    Zeberdie, a shadow GB is what is in place when the previous GB has been removed and replaced by an IEB, so I guess pythagorasdpy's school is coming out of Special Measures. IEB's have a limited lifespan and as the IEB nears the end of its term a shadow GB is set up to work alongside the IEB, and when the IEB finishes the shadow GB takes over as the actual GB. It's a way of managing transition from an IEB to normal governance for a school coming out of Special Measures. Shadow GBs have no formal powers until the IEB ceases, except to the extent the IEB delegates any powers to them.
  8. Thanks Rott Weiler, that clarifies quite a lot doesn't it.

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