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Dear Stephen - Governors and Head ignoring result of school uniform vote.

Discussion in 'Governors' started by kate2521, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. kate2521

    kate2521 New commenter

    My son's Primary School held a referendum recently - they called it this - on whether to adopt a school uniform or not. The Governors said they would not seek to proceed with a uniform if the results were not in favour. The results were announced today and they were 52% against and 48% for. They have decided to ignore this and go ahead with uniform on the basis that 55% of KS1 voted for it.

    Parents are understandably angry but what can we do? Can they do this? We know they could have gone for uniform without a vote but having had one and said they would honour the result, surely they cannot act like this?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Your governors were extremely foolish to say they were holding a referendum in the first place and only have themselves to blame for the position they will surely now find themselves in. It was an abdication of their responsibility. It's right that they should consult parents and take their views into account but they shouldn't have said, in effect, we can't decide ourselves so we're gpoing to hand it over to you to decide.

    Like politician's promises however, they are not binding and there's nothing legally to stop the governing body deciding as it has.
     
  3. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    Time to do some lobbying ...
     
  4. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Maybe the opponents of the decision should remove their children from the school. That'll get the governors thinking.
     
  5. kate2521

    kate2521 New commenter

    The point is they lied. They put in writing that they would honour the result and they haven't. Who are the Governors accountable to? If we now have no confidence in the Head or Governors, where do we go from here?
     
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Or they changed their mind, or they have done what they promised but parents misunderstood their letter, or.... or.... or....

    I'm not defending your governors kate2521, I think they've been very foolish, just making the point that like politicians' promises what they said can probably be interpreted several ways.

    But to answer your specific question governors aren't accountable directly to one single authority, there's no-one you can complain to who can 'order' the governing body to change their decision. On this matter the governors' decision is final and, to be blunt, parents have to put up or shut up. Accept the school's uniform policy or remove your child from the school.

    The accountability question would have a different answer if governors had acted illegally but they haven't. They've consulted parents and considered parents' views and then made their decision. That's their legal power and duty. They don't have to accept the parents majority view on uniform or anything else.

    Bear in mind also that the difference between parents voting for and against was tiny. Depending on how big your school is and the turnout the difference between 48% of parents in favour of uniform and 51% in favour could be just 1 or 2 parents. With parents fundamentally split on the issue governors did what they should have done all along and made their own decision.

    Have you asked them to explain why they didn't follow the majority vote? What did they say?

    As a matter of interest what have you got against school uniform? In my LA every primary school has uniform, and I'd think a large majority of primary schools nationally do too.
     
  7. kate2521

    kate2521 New commenter

    We didn't misunderstand the first letter with the voting slip. It said clearly that if the result was a "no", they would not pursue the matter at this time. When they announced the results, they said that KS1 votes had been in favour, so they were going to go ahead with uniform in KS1 now and KS2 later. The Chair was bombarded with emails which she didn't answer except to say we would get another letter. This letter said that including teachers' votes, it's a "yes" majority. The uniform isn't the issue. I voted no but would have accepted a "yes" vote. The issue is the going back on their word, the manipulation and the massaging of figures to suit their purposes. It would seem they can do as they please but lots of parents are very angry as they haven't explained themselves at all, and have created bad feeling when they needn't have asked us in the first place.

    Thank you for your replies.
     
  8. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    The simple matter here is integrity or more accurately the lack of integrity. The head perhaps did not like the outcome of the vote and messaged matters so that they would get the right result. Its a dishonest outcome. To even make it a dishonest outcome tells me something about those that control this school.

    We all face as governors decisions we don't like but democracy has to be seen to be clean. If you could get a sufficient number of parents to put in for a transfer to another school and let every single governor know it is in protest at the probity of the uniform result, they might just sit up and take notice. You could all then retract your threat.
     
  9. kate2521

    kate2521 New commenter

    Thank you all for your replies, and Montiagh, you're spot on. It's in the local paper now and has led to a division in the community, which is sad. Some parents don't seem to get the lack of integrity and are making it out to be a for or against question, but it's anything but. We're going to the LEA as the next step.
     
  10. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    www.bristolpost.co.uk/.../story.html



    head teacher Tim Browse, above, told them: "I would like to clarify that although I personally think a uniform would be a strengthening addition to the Hillcrest identity, I have always stressed that the decision would not be mine alone.

    Of course the decision could not be the Head's alone, as the Head has no say in uniform issues, other than as a member of the governing body.





     
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Thanks to h-b-f's research the picture is much clearer and the issue is wholly in the public domain. Anyone interested can see the governor's and head's full response on the school's website here:

    http://www.hillcrest.bristol.sch.uk/site/25277-letters/page-98804-letter-about-uniform-decision

    kate2521's title of this thread - "Governors and Head ignoring result of school uniform vote" - is hardly justified by the evidence, the governors have devoted pages and pages to providing detailed analyses of the voting data and explaining how they went about their decision-making.

    It doesn't unfortunately include the original letter but the Chair of Governors doesn't substantially dispute what kate2521 posted about it.

    As someone without a dog in the game on this I do not agree that the decision reached shows the lack of integrity alleged by kate2521, but I accept that what 'integrity' means is subjective and likely also to depend on whether you agree with the decision - I didn't see any parent who had voted in favour making accusations of lack of integrity in the press article.

    Far more likely to my reading is that the governors had failed to think through sufficiently the possible outcomes their 'referendum' might deliver - it's more lack of competence than lack of integrity. They hadn't anticipated that while the overall parent vote was narrowly against there were major differences both in the number of parents voting and their opinions depending on the year groups. There was a healthy 60% 'turnout' in the 'referendum'. Two thirds of those voting were in Y1/Y2/EY and voted 55% in favour. In contrast Y5/Y6 voted only 30% in favour. I sympathise with the governors' dilema faced with this result. As they say themselves, the KS1 parents who voted in favour will have their children in the school for the next 5-7 years while those in say Y6 who voted against have just a couple of months left in the school. The decision they made - to introduce uniform for KS1 only, not to require it at all for the curent Y5/Y6, and not to require it for current Y3/Y4 until 2015 - may not be perfect but speaks to me of compromise not dishonesty.

    Had they wished to 'manipulate' the voting they could have advanced a very respectable argument that as it was a vote on uniform for next year Y6 parents shouldn't have had a vote at all as their children won't be there. Then there probably would have been an overall vote in favour.

    kate2521's assertion that the governors' decision "has led to a division in the community" is disingenuous. The near 50/50 split for and against shows the community was already divided over school uniform.

    The argument seems to me to be a proxy for the real causes of dissent which are around the changing culture of the school as the governors and head lead it out of Ofsted RI, and the head's observation that the nature of the school's intake is changing and the culture with it

    "Hillcrest has a history of being a non-uniform school and the culture of the Hillcrest community was one that embraced this. The future of Hillcrest is changing and as new families come into our community so does the school’s culture. It would seem that there is a desire for a uniform in the families rising up through the school and it is right for governors to address this. It does not mean Hillcrest is being destroyed; it means that Hillcrest is moving on."
     
  12. kate2521

    kate2521 New commenter

    Rott Weiler, the community division that's causing problems is not over uniform but a difference in reaction to the Chair of Governors' decision to ignore a majority vote. She and tbe Head have gone back on their word.

    Some of us are angry, some not, but the ones who accept the decision are angry with us for speaking out. In her blog on Friday, the Chair called us "bullies" and accused us of "perpetrating attacks". She has now taken this blog down but not before we took copies of it. She didn't mention the school by name but it would have been very easy to find out where she was Chair.

    I don't think this is appropriate behaviour for a C of G. I'm pretty sure she also divulged to a friend (a parent at school) the contents of emails she had been sent by parents, protesting about her actions. I think this because of a comment the friend made on Facebook about the Chair having to endure abuse from people who should know better.

    As we speak, the Chair is trying to get her blog made private but it was public.
     

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