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Dear Stephen - reasonable time for HT to reply?

Discussion in 'Governors' started by lola79, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. lola79

    lola79 New commenter

    Dear Stephen, I'm a new governor and I'm feeling my way with this, hoping for some outside perspective.
    It seems to me that despite a positive relationship between the GB and HT, inaction seems to be a big problem. Reportedly, requests are made of the HT which are not addressed. For example, one governor has been waiting about 9 months to be allowed to review the school policies for the purpose of checking they are up to date - not too taxing, just access really. The CoG has repeatedly requested on behalf of this governor too. The Chair has also requested that a key issue with importance for Ofsted to do with the school's website be addressed, and a deadline set. This deadline has passed, with the issue unchanged. What can a GB do if the HT doesn't accede to requests for action / information / facetime?
    I emphasise that everyone seems to get on very well, the school is 'outstanding' - something we all want to maintain in the new Ofsted regime!
     
  2. lola79

    lola79 New commenter

    Dear Stephen, I'm a new governor and I'm feeling my way with this, hoping for some outside perspective.
    It seems to me that despite a positive relationship between the GB and HT, inaction seems to be a big problem. Reportedly, requests are made of the HT which are not addressed. For example, one governor has been waiting about 9 months to be allowed to review the school policies for the purpose of checking they are up to date - not too taxing, just access really. The CoG has repeatedly requested on behalf of this governor too. The Chair has also requested that a key issue with importance for Ofsted to do with the school's website be addressed, and a deadline set. This deadline has passed, with the issue unchanged. What can a GB do if the HT doesn't accede to requests for action / information / facetime?
    I emphasise that everyone seems to get on very well, the school is 'outstanding' - something we all want to maintain in the new Ofsted regime!
     
  3. The school is unlikely to be graded as outstanding if the statutory policies are not in place (and up to date) and the website requirements have not been met (they should have been in place Sep 1st). I wonder what else hasn't been done?
     
  4. In this situation, I would be looking at disciplinary action by now! For a start the GB own the policies not the HT/SMT! Secondly the policies should be available to everyone. Ignoring requests from the GB and Chair is completely unacceptable.
     
  5. It's not a disciplinary matter. It's a Performance Management one.

    The GB are responsible for managing the HTs performance. There is a standard procedure and structure which should be in pace to do this.

    My guess is that in this school these processes are not working robustly in this school. The GB need to make serious efforts to to operate a robust PM process. It is only if and when the HT fails to engage with these attempts would it be possible to execute a successful disciplinary process.
     
  6. In your opinion.

    I'll agree that there are processes to follow BUT the impression given by the OP's initial post is of a HT that feels that he/she can ignore the Governors and (even) the Chair with impunity. I am aware of schools where a single such failure has been used to remove a HT!

    The GB is the employer of the HT; can you think of any where that the failure to carry out (and worse to possibly ignore) the (reasonable, legal) instructions of your employer would be dealt with as primarily a PM issue? I can't! Yes I would Use PM to reinforce expectations and reward good/compliant behaviour.
     
  7. lola79

    lola79 New commenter

    Thanks to all for constructive points - I was a little surprised to say the least when the situation becamse clear, but it probably sounds worse than it is. It's likely everything is just terribly comfortable and no-one wants to cause trouble.Well, I guess I'll be ready to be a squeaky wheel in the new term. Thanks to grrmummy and staxis for the agenda tip - very diplomatic, and should be more productive than hints.
     
  8. grrmummy

    grrmummy New commenter

    Glad you have found the forum to be of help! [​IMG] Another forum you might also find helpful if you haven;t already found it is:

    http://www.ukgovernors.org.uk/
    Enjoy being a sqeeky wheel !
     
  9. The headteacher and governing body should work in close partnership, with the governing body acting as a ‘critical friend' of the headteacher. Acting as a ‘critical friend' means the governing body should offer support and constructive advice, but should also question proposals and seek further information to enable them to make sound decisions. In relation to school policies does the clerk to the governors not have ready access to the school policies? These issues should be made formal agenda items and actions properly minuted. In relation to statutory requirements - i.e. the information required to be on school websites - the school is unlikely to be looked on favourably by Ofsted if information which it is expecting to see is not there.
    The NGA produced a joint document with the two headteacher unions What governors can expect from school leaders and what school leaders can expect from the governing body which in relation to school leaders says:
    "School leaders must have: an understanding of governance, including an acknowledgement of the role of the school's accountable body; willingness to provide information in the most appropriate way in order that the governing body can carry out its role; a willingness to be challenged; and time to devote to ensuring professional relationships are established with governors."
    You do not say whether the chair has already attempted to address these issues in direct conversation with the headteacher. The first route would be as part of the one to ones that chairs usually have regularly with their headteachers. The governing body is also responsible (usually through a small panel of 2-3 governors) for the performance appraisal of the headteacher and this would be another route to addressing the problem.
    Finally, there is the much more formal mechanism of addressing the issue through disciplinary action. The Education (School Government) (Terms of Reference) (England) Regulations 2000, state that: "the headteacher shall comply with any reasonable direction of the governing body in performing any function delegated to him by the governing body." If the headteacher is consistently failing to do this then technically it would be possible to instigate disciplinary action. In the circumstances of a school in which relations are good then this may be overly draconian. However, if the headteacher is not providing information which the governing body needs to carry out its role properly, then action may be warranted - Ofsted will not just look at whether information is on the website but whether the governing body holds the senior leadership to account - if it is not receiving the appropriate information then it may not be able to demonstrate that it is doing that.
    Stephen Adamson
     

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