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Dear Stephen

Discussion in 'Governors' started by Louisewright050472, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. We are a small (120) primary school with a head who is part time teacher, part time head. Our head has been off sick twice since taking the job 3 years ago - first time for a year, then came back for 2 terms then went off sick again for elective surgery and has still not returned one year later. We employed an interim head from a local primary school who has dropped her teaching responsibilities there to cover the head role at our school. The part time teaching role has been covered by a series of supply teachers this year. Our county HR department has handled the head being of sick and receives monthly sick notes from a private doctor. The governing body are informed each time this happened but are not involved in discussion (privacy issues apparently). My questions are - does the governing body have any rights to be involved in the future with the employed head or do we just have to leave this to county HR as they tell us. Do we have any power to change this situation? What are the other possible outcomes that we can affect. If OFSTED come in will they be satisfied with our management of the situation?
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Ryvitamad, can you confirm what type of school you are, eg Community? Voluntary Aided (VA)?
  3. C of E voluntary controlled.
  4. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    Yes you do have control over the decision to appoint a head teacher. As you are a small school you are being rightfully supported by your LA.

    Your current situation is not a long term solution for the children of your school and they deserve a more permanent arrangement. I feel sure your chair will be fully involved with the predicament of your current HT. I would be seeking a resolution with the LA about your HT.

    If that difficult situation can be brought to a conclusion then it is for the governing body to decide on a replacement if the head does not return to the position. See the following link for guidance.

  5. This is all fine, but what are our rights regarding the head who is off sick. Can our LA be pushed to conclude and report back on the conclusions to us? Is this all covered under employment law and the rights of the sick head? Can we get a private solicitor involved to force the issue to conclude? The hurry and panic at school is that the interim head will push to amalgamate 'her' 2 schools and we will be federating for all the wrong reasons.
  6. Does she have the authority to do that? I don't know, but just wondering.
  7. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Of course she does not. Formal amalgamation of schools is the responsibility of the governors.

    'Nuff said.
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    re Federation, you don't need to worry that the interim head might force through an amalgamation or federation. Heads have no power to do any such thing, although I know some can be forceful advocates of it and seek to persuade governing bodies to agree. A federation can only happen with the formal agreement of both governing bodies and after following a statutory consultation process. If this is on the horizon you might want to read the DFE guidance here:


    Of course federation might be something you should be thinking about anyway - it may be the only viable future for small primaries - but that's drifting a bit. (BTW federating and amalgamating are two different things. Amalgamating schools - eg when LA amalgamates separate infants and junior schools - forms a new single school. With federation the two schools remain as separate schools with separate admissions and budgets but have a single governing body (and, usually, headteacher).)

    Back to your headteacher.

    Responsibilities aren't always clear in VC schools. The governing body has, by law, the hiring and firing powers for all staff including the head but the LA is the head's contractual employer. The LA will also have financial powers on what governors can do when it comes to dismissing staff as it's the LA that would have to appear at any subsequent Employment Tribunal and pay any compensation if governors get it wrong.

    Even so your LA seems to be treating you in a very patronising way and side-lining you to what in my opinion is an unacceptable extent. What's more this continued uncertainty cannot be helping standards, it's difficult in your situation to set a long-term strategy.. Part of me wonders whether it's the LA, not the interim head, who has a hidden agenda to amalgamate or federate you. If it was a staff member other than the head would it have been allowed to go on so long? I doubt it, although none of us can know because we don't know what the medical prognosis is. But something is being kept from you. Elective surgery doesn't normally result in needing a year off.

    Privacy issues is a red herring. Of course the head is entitled tom privacy, but the governing body are entitled to know what is happening - you are, in effect, the head's line manager. It's confidential TO the governing body, not FROM the you. Are you the chair? If not has the chair been told more than they are sharing with the rest of the GB?

    I wouldn't recommend getting a solicitor involved. I suggest that you form a working party of say 3 governors with a remit to meet the LA at appropriately senior level to investigate the options and report back to the GB with a recommendation. Then ask for a meeting with the DCS (or whoever is the most senior appropriate person in your LA - not HR! ) to discuss your concerns about the affect the head's long term absence is having on standards and progress. Make standards and progress your focus - don't present it as a HR-related problem or you'll get shunted back to HR. Depending what comes out of that my question to the LA would simply be that if there is no immediate prospect of the head returning then you and the LA should be moving to ill-health dismissal so that you can recruit a permanent head.

    Surely you have a school policy on sickness absence which will say when a staff member can be dismissed for ill health absence? That policy should be followed, and if LA is circumventing it you also have valid grounds for complaint.

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