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Dear Stephen

Discussion in 'Governors' started by anniestarr, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. A colleague is being disciplined because he contacted governors of our school to discuss our head's proposals to cut support staff hours. He says he principally wanted to check whether they all knew fully what was being proposed (it turned out they didn't), thinking that they can't do their job of scrutinizing the head's role if they haven't got all the information. The head was furious, has charged him with gross misconduct and suspended him! Is this appropriate?
     
  2. A colleague is being disciplined because he contacted governors of our school to discuss our head's proposals to cut support staff hours. He says he principally wanted to check whether they all knew fully what was being proposed (it turned out they didn't), thinking that they can't do their job of scrutinizing the head's role if they haven't got all the information. The head was furious, has charged him with gross misconduct and suspended him! Is this appropriate?
     
  3. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    Welcome to TES, annie.
     
  4. If this person spoke to governors prior to the proposals being put to the GB, then I think it is wrong. There has to be a process for these matters and for someone put up a spoiler should not be tolerated.
    As to whether it is gross misconduct, I wouldn't have thought so, unless there is more to this than has been posted. If the head has suspended the member of staff out of anger, then that may be his/her mistake.
     
  5. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    It certainly does not sound like a case of gross misconduct to me, but I can understand why the head is furious. This is not the correct way to communicate. One assumes that there are staff governors on this GB, that represent the staff. There must be more to this story. Did the individual presume that the head was going to hoodwink the GB and wanted to relay something to governors that may not have been communicated by the head?
     
  6. Yes, my colleague did wonder if the GB knew all they should know at all the right times! A GB sub committee had been asked to approve an expansion of the SLT. They did so but at the time were not told that cost pressures were going to cause cut backs in support staff at the same time that the SLT enlargement was to kick in. He felt they should have known the whole picture before being asked to approve expansion of management. He suspected all this and the governors confirmed it when he went to them. But now he's on the verge of losing his job for getting that confirmation. Doesn't seem fair to any of us!
     
  7. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    It is perfectly acceptable for the GB to delegate the responsibility to a committee to approve or not approve an expansion of the SLT. However, I would expect the chair of that committee to report the outcome to the full governing body. That committee no doubt will have asked certain questions and drilled down on the costs to the budget. If matters were withheld from them on purpose then this goes against openness and integrity and would not have given the committee the full facts on which to arrive at their decision.<font size="2"> </font>There should be minutes of that meeting and they should like your full GB minutes be available to anyone who wishes to see them subject of course to any of the information being deemed confidential, which to my mind there should not be, unless it contained matters like names or pay and conditions. In any case a redacted version should still be provided if requested.<font size="2"> </font>It is a very serious allegation to suggest that the head bolstered the SLT at the expense later on of cutbacks in support staff and might be difficult to prove. What your school should have is a whistle blowing policy that your colleague should have followed and the policy will also include references to informing the chair of governors if there is a serious complaint about the head. Additionally your whistle blowing policy should also suggest contact with the LA for assistance and guidance. The policy must provide an avenue for all staff to raise concerns. So check if you have a WB policy and what does it say. It will certainly at some point allow a concern to come before the GB. I think your colleague if in a union should also seek advice from them.
     
  8. Thank you. I've told him to ask for a copy of the WB policy which he says he's trying to do but it's difficult with school shut for the summer! He says he's in a union but that the local reps are "rather wet"! Please keep checking here as we may have more to ask you as you sound like you know what you're talking about and he's very worried about his job.
     
  9. There are procedures in schools for dealing with concerns of members of staff, in general these are: the grievance policy for individual concerns, the recognised trade union raising matters of concern affecting the staff more generally and commonly whistle-blowing procedures where individuals believe that an improper course of action has been taken.
    In general, I would not expect members of staff to be contacting all governors directly, but to use one of the &lsquo;official' routes to raise concerns. As this issue is apparently about cuts to support staff hours I would have expected the relevant union to be raising concerns. There will be also staff governors who I would expect to be aware of what was being proposed and able to bring a staff perspective to discussions.
    Most governing bodies operate a series of committees which will have delegated responsibility for dealing with specific responsibilities. A staffing or resources committee is common and would be expected to consider staffing issues in the first instance. The business of committees (along with minutes and supporting papers) is reported to full governing body meetings. You do not say whether this decision was to be discussed at committee or full governing body, if the former, then it is highly likely that not all the governors were aware of what was to be discussed because they do not serve on the relevant committee.
    I do not think it should come as a surprise that the head was &lsquo;furious' as, in effect, the member of staff in question has gone to members of the governing body and called into question the head's integrity. It also pre-supposes that the governors would not ask for information about how the changes to the SLT were to be financed.
    Without access to all the information about the case it is not possible to say whether the headteacher has acted appropriately or not in relation to suspension and disciplinary action. The key document will be the school's disciplinary policy which should set out the grounds on which a member of staff can be suspended. It will also set out examples of what is considered to be gross misconduct, although most policies do also state that the list is not intended to be exhaustive. If the headteacher has not acted in accordance with the disciplinary policy then your colleague will have grounds for complaint. In any case, under the disciplinary policy your colleague will have the right to an initial hearing and if necessary an appeal and can be accompanied at those meetings. If he has not already done so I would advise your colleague to contact his trade union representative.
    Stephen Adamson
     

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