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Dear Stephen , Chair and Vice Chair telling untruths

Discussion in 'Governors' started by samtheman, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. We are in an awful position currently. Without going into too much detail Unions are involved due to bullying and intimidation tactics on the part of the HT. A meeting took place with the Unions involved, the HT, the Chair and Vice and a rep from the LEA HR dept. Allegations were made and were refuted and the Chair and Vice both flatly denied they were aware of any " concerns" re bullying, etc. This is not the case as they were approached by fellow govs, who in turn had been approached individually and privately by staff members at varying levels, to report such concerns. The Chair reported these to the HT and the HT then spoke to an SLT member to say that the Govs had complained but "would speak to staff as he wished"(One of the complaints had been re shouting at staff).It is also " alleged" that the election process of Chair/Vice recently was rigged.
    Please advise.
     
  2. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Lead commenter

    What proceedure does your GB use for electing Chairs?
     
  3. A secret ballot - the candidates exit whilst this is happening - post its are used and then checked and counted by the Clerk to the Govs - out of sight of the rest of the Govs - no numbers divulged!!
     
  4. Whilst there are no rules for this, it does sound dodgy to me. I would expect results to given and /i would expect th count to take place in front of the GB (may be even after the candidates have retuned).
     
  5. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    GBs. Should have explicit standing orders for how your chair/vice chair is chosen. Secret ballot is the fairest way to avoid intimidation. Your clerk provides a vital role in the election of chair and for a short while becomes the chair for the chair's election. The clerk should provide voting slips and the candidates should leave the room whilst a discussion and vote takes place.

    As has been mentioned there are no set rules or legislation for elections and each GB chooses it's own way. In my opinion the clerk should have someone independent to verify the count. We recently had an election and used an associate governor, you could equally use an SLT member. Like all elections in life you should if your GB is transparent be able to verify the actual count. It seems that yours was not transparent and very iffy. However, the result counts. You appear to have two issues here, the integrity of the chair/ vice chair / head and the way your election was run. There are mechanisms within the legislation for three governors to call a meeting at which you can discuss these matters and should you wish you can put a resolution to remove the chair/vice chair and even the clerk. A resolution if used must be called with at least 7 clear days notice which is a minimum 9 day process.

    What kind of clerk do you have and what relationship do they have if any with the chair/ vice chair? Chairs and vice chairs telling porkies is in my book a very serious matter.
     
  6. <h2>GBs. Should have explicit standing orders for how your chair/vice chair is chosen. Secret ballot is the fairest way to avoid intimidation. Your clerk provides a vital role in the election of chair and for a short while becomes the chair for the chair's election. The clerk should provide voting slips and the candidates should leave the room whilst a discussion and vote takes place. As has been mentioned there are no set rules or legislation for elections and each GB chooses it's own way</h2>What kind of clerk do you have and what relationship do they have if any with the chair/ vice chair? "

    We did all this - but it was the clerk (the school's administrator who has recently been appointed to SLT) who counted and then announced the results - the slips were pocketed and never reappeared.
    In school there is an atmosphere of fear and distrust with SLT,Chair and Vice very much in the HT's pocket ( not necessarily financially I must add!).
    We are ina very precarious situation with the Head, Chair and Vice all pushing to become and Academy!

     
  7. Sorry - no idea why the text went so large!!!

     
  8. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    In this day and age it is old hat to have a clerk who works at the school. The NGA believes quite rightly that it is not good practice for the clerk to the governing body to be employed in the school in another capacity, e.g. school secretary, SLT member. Such a dual role can lead to hazy reporting structures and an inherent conflict of interest.

    It is vitally important these days that school?s have clerks of the highest quality whether it be from independent clerks or the LA School Governance department.
    Further it is the NGA?s view that it is bad practice for a governing body to appoint a clerk who does not provide at least a Level 2 service. The Level 2 Service includes:

    ? Convening meetings
    ? Taking and distributing termly governing body meeting minutes
    ? Maintaining attendance records
    ? Offering procedural advice and guidance during and between meetings
    ? Taking follow up action as required.

    The most important role for the clerk that is often quoted is:-

    A clerk?s first loyalty must be to the whole governing body - not the LA, not the diocese, not the headteacher, not the chair. The clerk should be the constitutional conscience of the governing body. If yours does not fit this description then you should as a GB look to review your clerking position.

    You also seem to indicate that there is an undercurrent of an agenda for converting to an academy. This is a whole GB decision not just for a nucleus and stakeholders must be consulted (even though they may not be listened to) before arriving at the way forward.

    If there are sufficient members of your governing body who feel as you do that probity within you GB is lacking then you have the apparatus to do something about it.
     
  9. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    Interesting that it's considered bad practice to have a clerk who works for the school. I didn't know that. The clerk to the governors of my last school was a long-standing senior member of staff. He personally intercepted my grievance letter to the chair of governors and passed it to the Head. The Head and LA officers then planned between them how to manage the grievance and then told the Chair how to react.
     
  10. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter


    GL What you have said clearly illustrates why clerks need as to be completely independent and be the social and constitutional conscience of the governing body. They need to be the 'speaker of the house' and treat every governing body member with complete equality. I believe that there needs to be a major shake up in the quality and independence of clerking in the UK and an absolute minimum level of competency set before individuals can become clerks to governing bodies. Also GH the content of your post is shocking and if the outcome to your complaint to the chair was not to your satisfaction you could have requested an independent panel of your governors to review it.

    Too many governing body encompass these shady shannigans.
     
  11. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    What about a clerk who is a parent? As another parent I find that uncomfortable, and does not assure me of "independence" either.
     
  12. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Lead commenter

    Do you? Why?
     
  13. So clerks now need to be childless do they?

    Total utter nonsense.
     
  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    No of course I didn't mean that clerks had to be childless. You're a stroppy lot! [​IMG]

    Large LAs who provided clerks as part of the service to governing bodies certainly always used to try to provide a clerk with no connections to the school. It avoids a potentially difficult situation for a clerk. Imagine a clerk in the situation described by the OP who is also a parent and is maybe being put under pressure in some way. Very awkward. The person without children at the school will feel much freer to do the right thing, and much happier about doing the right thing.
    I'm not up to date but isn't it a paid position usually now? This should make it much easier to find someone who is independent to clerk the governing body. Otherwise I can understand that on a voluntary basis you may never find someone with the right skills and experience who is not connected with the school.
     
  15. grrmummy

    grrmummy New commenter

    [quote="montiagh" GH the content of your post is shocking and if the outcome to your complaint to the chair was not to your satisfaction you could have requested an independent panel of your governors to review it].
    The trouble is that (in my exeriemce) GB's do no always agree to this. And advice from Governorline at the time was that they could refuse to do so.
    [quote="montiagh. I believe that there needs to be a major shake up in the quality and independence of clerking in the UK and an absolute minimum level of competency set before individuals can become clerks to governing bodies]
    I am in complete agreement. I really see professional clerking as the only way to ensure that GB's fulfil their statutory responsibilities and are properly run
    I too have known HT's and Chairs to tell very big porkies... This cannot be right.



     
  16. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    Grrmummy - irrespective of what governor line have said, all schools have to have a complaints policy in place and published on it's website (yes many still do not) or openly available. I do not know the detail of yours but I would be very surprised if it did not contain the right if satisfaction was not gained in a prior stage of the process for you to complain to an independent panel of governors and if all governors were tainted the right for the complaint to be heard by another school's panel. There is a major weakness in governance for who polices those heads and chairs who have no idea what integrity looks like. The department of education for this type of occurrence are not fit for purpose.
     
  17. grrmummy

    grrmummy New commenter

    No it was not in the school complaint policy and my reasonable request for an outside panel was refused outright... I am still (12 months on) waiting to hear the complaint outcome from the DfE... [​IMG]
     
  18. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    From articles I have read, very few of the complaints referred on by parents from the GB stage to the Secretary of State are investigated. If yours is being investigated you are then one of the lucky few even if it is taking so long! I think where integrity is lacking and the governing body are not particularly "independent" of the chair and the head you are between a rock and a hard place.
     
  19. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    grrmummy - I have never heard of a complaints policy that does not include the final stage being the right to have the complaint heard by a panel of the GB who have no conflict of interest or have not been tainted by the complaint. If all members of your governing body were tainted then the Dfe advice would be that the complaint must be heard by an independent governing body panel. This can be facilitated by your Children's Sevices/Governor services. I have never heard of a GB denying that right.
    As I said in a previous post the Dfe are not fit for purpose in dealing with this type of complaint or abuse in school's. It appears that if you are not of school age, you have no protection in school governance from bullies or the power to ensure that all aspects of your school are held to the highest level of integrity that we all expect.
    If your complaint has gone on this long with the Dfe then something is very wrong. You have the right to have the complaint looked or reviewed by an assistant director of education and the right to an audience with them if need be.
    One major flaw in any investigation from the Dfe (if they do bother to investigate) is that they will only communicate with the chair. So if the chair wants to tell porkies then porkies is what the dfe will believe.
    In defence of the Dfe, their governance unit at Darlington only has a handful of people. Perhaps Mr Gove might funnel a bit of cash from Free Schools into supporting an area of his kingdom that is in desparate need of more support.


     
  20. grrmummy

    grrmummy New commenter

    But no I am not holding my breath re the DfE outcome. I am definitely between a rock and a hard place (thanks mystery 10). After all school officials are just not expected to lie and bully even when evidence exists to show they do. Typical criminal fraternity thinking: admit to nothing and hang onto your position of power(Apologies to Samtheman for the thread drift: Your school sounds very similarly run to the one I have concerns about!) [​IMG]
     

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