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Ethics of LA

Discussion in 'Governors' started by DisheartenedDude, Oct 14, 2018.

  1. DisheartenedDude

    DisheartenedDude New commenter

    Good morning All,

    I’m a fairly new governor but have several family/close friends in senior leadership so not entirely naive to the workings of education.

    I would not usually share details which I feel should probably be confidential but having raised subtly a number of times through the propoer channels and being fobbed off at best I'm feeling quite out at sea over this. Obviously have to be fairly vague here as there is a chance some involved may read this.

    The school with which I’m involved faced some HR difficulties which although fairly straightforward to resolve employment law somewhat tied the hands of the GB on timeframe. The LA quite reasonably acted and issued a warning notice instructing the school to federate with a strong school near by.

    Since this time the GB have taken steps to resolve this issue and attainment, moral even the fabric of the school have taken a sharp upswing.

    Now here is where my concern begins. In a non work setting I happened to be present when a person (in a position to be reasonably expected to know) after a few too many glasses of wine shared (to a group of 5+) the latest gossip the school A would federate with school B, with the head of school B becoming executive head. Now at this time, this should have been very much confidential/undecided. When I asked the person (who didn’t know me from Adam) wouldn’t the governors have to decide that? They gleefully explained how things would proceed. Since this time things have gone exactly as described:

    A number of long standing governors with an educational bias have left - which could be coincidence

    Governors have been appointed to the board of school A from school B (but not the reverse) - would seem to be a conflict of interest

    School A were instructed by th LA not to recruit governors to vacant positions.

    Governors have been appointed by the LA to the board of school A with instruction to “assist with the federation process”.

    Head of school A is in an interim role, the LA have prevented the GB from appointing to a substantive role.

    Suggestion has been made job would be advertised internally meaning head B is only suitable candidate.

    Throughout the various meetings there have been a number or Freudian slips where instead of discussing possible leadership options, school B and others seem to have forgotten we haven’t actually decided head B should be executive.

    When you look at the numbers the LA have engineered a a situation where they have influence over enough governors to ensure school A has any real say if federation is in its best interests nor what any resulting leadership structure would be.

    Now I’m not naive enough not to accept that in some extreme situations to help swing the likelihood of an outcome to one which is clearly in the best interest of the kids may be morally justifiable. However here:

    Head A has strong experience in the key stage of school A and reasonable experience is KS of school B.

    Head B (to be executive) has strong experience of school B but has never even acted as a class teacher at KS of school A.

    Both schools are making good progress independently.

    The two schools already work closely together and neither is outstanding so both require a lot of work.

    The thing I find most concerning Is having shared the above with the few people I am allowed to they have all agreed the actions are fairly questionable but are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.

    I’m now in the awkward position of deciding between allowing things to proceeds as per the LAs plan which I strongly believe not be in the best interest of my child (and 300 others) or making my concerns public with a reasonable risk of damaging the careers of loved ones.

    I’m coming to this process from the private sector where any one of the above considerations would likely result in uproar, when viewed as a whole even discarding what I’ve been told in a private setting it’s hard to view the above as anything other than match fixing.

    I guess my questions are:

    1) is this just normal practice in education?

    2) am I unreasonable to think the above doesn’t sound like the best way to

    3) who should concerns such as this be raised with?
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Your child's school is School A in this story, and you are a governor there, I assume? And both schools are LA maintained Community schools?

    For reasons that I guess you can't post because it would prejudice anonymity the LA has decided you are a school causing concern and (as it seems compulsory federation under s66A Education and Inspections Act 2006 has been approved) the Regional Schools Commissioner (on behalf of the Secretary of State) agrees.

    Again I understand why you can't post full details but I find it hard to believe that the LA and RSC would first issue a warning notice and then invoke their power under s66A solely because of "...some HR difficulties which although fairly straightforward to resolve...". What's the wider context of standards at the two schools? What was your last Ofsted grade? Are you fully subscribed and financially solvent? Are future roll projections up or down?

    This is not a democratic process that needs your approval. It is an intervention by the government who believe that the current governance arrangements are unable to secure a satisfactory standard of education. So they are empowered to do the things you mention - appoint additional governors etc. This is not a situation where you are deciding whether to federate voluntarily.

    I'm also from the private sector and I don't agree with you that "...the private sector where any one of the above considerations would likely result in uproar...". There's no exact equivalent, but if, for example, the shareholders who own company A and company B decide to merge them with B's management running the combined entity they'd very likely do something very similar - probably rather more brutally than an LA - and there would be no public uproar. It happens all the time.

    The person who spoke at the social event of course should not have done so, and I expect if you made a formal complaint about them they would get their knuckles rapped by the LA. But I don't agree the LA lacks ethics. It is carrying forward a statutory function for a school causing concern.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
    Pomza likes this.
  3. DisheartenedDude

    DisheartenedDude New commenter

    Thanks for your words of wisdom. I’m obviously having to miss out much of the detail but they are insummary:

    1) The head of school A was absent on ill health. The board of governors were not in a position to remove that person due to employment law.

    2) The governors have put in an interim head who has very much put the school back on track. This has been shown through data and external observation.

    3) The LA have as you say issued a notice under S66 which said “we must consider federation”. Our interim who was already in place at this time has worked effectively and made great progress.

    4) It’s the view of the governing body (and a number of very experienced education people I’ve discussed with) that making the interim role a substantive role represents our greatest chance of continuing this progress.

    5) The horse favoured by the LA has no leadership/hands on experience in this key stage.

    The LA have then gone about forcing through what amounts to me amounts to regieme change through the back door. If they have the power/justification to for this situation what not act in an open and honest manner?
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    For some time now, where there have been separate KS1 and KS2 schools, mergers/federations have been happening. When most schools are all-through primaries, it probably gets increasingly difficult to argue for keeping them separate. Larger schools, or federations of schools, is the way things are moving. I think the writing is on the wall on that one.

    If they are going to merge them, then there's always that issue of what to do about the headship, and letting head B have it is by far the simplest solution - otherwise they're going to have to leave school A with temporary appointments until head B chooses to leave so they can advertise for the new post. That can't be the best thing for school A, and would probably also mean a rather rushed appointment process when it did happen. I would just make sure that you are ready to push for there to be a deputy post to which someone with experience in school A's KS can be appointed. I'm sure head B will be conscious of their lack of experience in that KS, and will recognise the need to have strong advice from someone with more experience.

    I saw a federation happen where at the parent/community meeting, they told us the headship was yet to be decided, but from the relaxed look of the two heads, and what subsequently happened, I think it had already been pretty much sorted, with one of them moing to an LA post. It sounds as if here, they are taking steps to make sure the disruption to governance is minimised, by getting an overlap between the governors. Head A is probably well aware of the situation - they'll know why it's only an interim role. I met a deputy doing acting head in a similar situation - she knew full well that they'd wanted her to act as head to ease a merger - although to her surprise she'd begun to enjoy being head and was beginning to think she might want to apply if it were an option.

    I would be very careful about what you say - I would imagine anyone who knows school A would recognise it from what you've said.
  5. DisheartenedDude

    DisheartenedDude New commenter

    Thanks for the reply Frustum wise words. it’s just a shame to see nepatisim put before what appears to be in the best interest of the kids/school.

    It was at one point Tory policy that all schools should become academies/federation so it may well be that the LA are under pressure from above to force the process through. I don’t think anyone has a problem with federation it’s mode the questionable methods employed.

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