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Dear Stephen

Discussion in 'Governors' started by gettingout, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. I am a new headteacher, with a new chair of governors and I am finding establishing the right kind of relationship very difficult.

    My new CoG has done various things over the last term including:

    Giving another governor responsibility for specific area of school without discussing with me first.

    Asking teachers in school what they thought of my performance so far without my knowledge before my performance management!

    Then reading out verbatim extracts from my PM statement in a FG body meeting without consulting me.

    When I have tackled these things in the past, I am always quoted that they have checked with Governace or the Chair. But what I am looking for is more consultation, a dialogue about these things.

    This time my CoG has made changes to a school policy and wanted to send it out to govs without letting me see it first. When I asked to see it, everything deteriorated very quickly. Again I was quoted that is was good practice for govs to see policies before meetings, but all I wanted was to see what my CoG had done before they did. (By the way, originally I had simply asked for a review of this policy to be included on the agenda, not for the CoG to make any changes themselves). My CoG became very defensive and feels I have been unfair in my attempts to tackle this situation and that I am being unreasonable and patronising in my manner. Maybe my patience is running out! I have apologised if it had seemed that way - explained how much I value them and just want to work together. That is not good enough though and now they are refusing to take my calls and planning to resign as Chair as a result of all this!!!

    I had not intended any of this at all - I just want to be consulted before my CoG makes those kinds of decisions. Am I in the wrong here? Clarity about roles of Chair are not specific enough to cover this type of situation in the guide to the law. Maybe my CoG does have the right to do all those things.......?????? But surely it is just good manners to discuss things before hand? I really do want a good relationship , but not sure how to move forward here as things have reached a crisis.

    Any help gratefully received.
  2. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Lead commenter

    Welcome back to TES, gettingout
  3. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    It sounds to me that your relationship with the CoG has been deteriorating for some time. Your PM is primarily for your PM sub-committee. I would never expect details of your PM to come out in this fashion without your prior knowledge and acceptance. FB's need to know your objectives for the year ahead and how you have performed your previous years objectives. CoG's should not be asking other members of staff about your performance. What has happened here is unprofessional as indeed is your chronology on school policies. The relationship between HT & CoG is vitally important for a school and you should be working as close partners. If it were me and this chair wants to resign let them.
  4. In my opinion, your Chair is struggling to understand the difference between strategic & operational decisions (amongst other things!) I agree with the suggestion that it might be better if he/she DOES resign, as I suspect he/she isn't going to change. It might be worth you having a look at this, from the excellent Clerk to Governor's website: http://clerktogovernors.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/comparing-the-strategic-and-operational-roles/ Hope you can get things sorted amicably.
  5. Doesn't sound good to me. Your CoG should not be informing the whole of the Governing body in that manner about your performance mangement. That is for the committee who do the PM to discuss. The CoG can report back the full Govs that they have passed. I would NEVER tell the whol Gov body info from the statement. It's not appropriate in my opinion. To go round asking staff about you in that manner - good grief what are they up to! Have you asked your CoG how they would feel if you went round the Govs and staff asking them about them in that way - bet they wouldn't like it!
    Either get someone in from county/governor Services to mediate and help the CoG to understand their role if you think you can salvage it, or let them resign - you may be past a good supportive relationship. Has your CoG had any training? Doesn't sound like they actually understand their role.
    It is completely inappropriate for the CoG to change a policy about the school you are running without discussing these with you, and actually undermining! - in the schools I have have been involved with, the Head and Snr Leadership Teams work on the policies and present their policies to Governors for discussion - it's no good your CoG changing a policy if you don't feel you can apply it on a day to day basis, and they certainly shouldn't be doing it without talking to you.
    Let them resign, get a new Chair, go on several training courses TOGETHER and set the ground rules early on.
  6. The relationship between the Chair and the headteacher is a crucial one. It is not good practice for any member of the governing body to be asking other teachers in the school to comment on the performance of the headteacher - the only way this could be done in a meaningful way is through a process called 360 degree feedback, which would be anonymous. You say that if you raise questions that you are informed that the practice is in line with the regulations. The procedures regulations make specific reference to the fact that staff governors must not be present if the pay or appraisal of any other member of staff is discussed, so they should not have been present if sections of your appraisal statement were read out.
    There may be occasions when the Chair of Governors needs to act without discussion with the headteacher, but as a general rule you would expect a close working relationship. It may be that you could ask the vice chair of governors to mediate the situation between you and the chair, although sometimes when a relationship has become so fractious it may not be possible for a good working relationship to be rescued.
    I think the key thing for any new chair/headteacher relationship is to clarify the relationship and expectations from the start. The National College, in association with NGA and other partners has produced a booklet - Leading Governors: the role of the chair of governors in schools and academies which both you and your current/future chair may find useful.
    Stephen Adamson

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