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Fallen at the first hurdle?

Discussion in 'Governors' started by motheroftwoandacat, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. Hi all

    I'm new here. My son started at new junior school a few weeks ago. The school is currently ranked by oftsed as poor and we put careful thought in before enrolling him; we had a long meeting with the head teacher who is new and working hard to improve things and we liked her. At the time I expressed an interest in becoming a parent governor and she informed me that there would be 2 post available as of November this year.

    Today the school sent out a letter (signed by the Chairman of the Governors) about the parent governor vacancies but instead of what I was expecting (something along the lines of "we are now accepting nominations...") the letter actually states that although there are 2 vacancies coming up a current governor would like to continue and they want to give the second post to the parent that was runner up in the elections they had 8 months ago. The letter goes on to name those individuals and praise their virtues and ends by stating that "objections to this must be made in writing....then if necessary there will be an election.

    I am really angry for two reasons;

    Firstly I now have lodge a written object to their plans just to be able to apply which is going to make me look \ feel like a troublemaker right from the off. Surely if they need 2 new parents they have to hold an election?

    Secondly, I think that these 2 "candidates" now have a hugely unfair advantage. The chairman obviously thinks they are best for the roles but, since he is not eligible to vote, should he not be impartial?

    Am I over reacting here or are my concerns reasonable? To make matters worse the Head we liked is leaving due to health issues. I think this school has wonderful potential and I would like to be part of raising its standards.



  2. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    It is a very difficult situation for you. I'm sure you don't want to be, or look like, a troublemaker.

    Other people who post here a far more clued up on the legal aspects than I am.

    However, my opinion is that it should have been managed as a straightforward election.

    I think it is reasonable not to like what has happened. I also feel it would be better not to object. You may become part of a body which possibly would resent the people they wanted being denied a place. Do not forget you may not be elected ; in which case a lot of negativity would have been stirred unnecessarily.

    If you sincerely want to help the school there are other ways than being on the governing body. Why not become an active member of the P.T.F.A (assuming there is one) ? By being a supportive parent you are also making a real contribution.

    After you have shown your commitment you will be in a stronger position to seek election another time.

    To sum up. I would avoid conflict. Establish your worth as part of the school community in other ways. Then you will contribute without risk of unpleasantness which I'm sure very few people ever want. In the future you may then become a governor in a positive way.
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    It sounds very dodgy to me - and you'd think that with all the Trojan Horse hoohah schools would be making sure they stick strictly to the rules. If it's an LA school, I think I'd be inclined to send a copy of the letter to the LA, and ask whether this is correct procedure.

    As far as I can see, this still holds for maintained schools:

    Where a vacancy for a parent governor arises, the appropriate authority must take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that every person who is known to them to be a parent of a registered pupil at the school, and where the school is a maintained nursery school, a parent of a child for whom educational or other provision is made on the premises of the school (including any such provision made by the governing body under section 27 of EA 2002(2)), is—

    (a)informed of the vacancy and that it is required to be filled by election;

    (b)informed that the person is entitled to stand as a candidate and vote in the election; and

    (c)given the opportunity to do so.

    I suppose the letter you've had may do that, but I think it's distinctly dodgy to be basically telling you that they don't want to hold elections and will only do so if you complain.

  4. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    Even though you do not have any experience you have sussed out straight away that the school are doing something wrong. A parent governor will have been elected for a 4 year term by the parents/carers of your school. That term will come to an end.

    At such point it is the responsibility of the head to conduct an election for a replacement as this function will more than likely have been delegated by the LA to school. The governor who has just finished or about to finish their term can of course stand again against whom ever may wish to put their hat it the ring.

    Perhaps one can see an ingredient here as to why your school has the judgement it does.

    You would need to check the school's current instrument of government. I assume the school is maintained by your LA, i.e. is not an academy. The LA will along with the school hold the IOG. It is simply 1 sheet of paper that says how you GB is made up, x numbers of staff, LA, parent, co-opted governors. Your school should if they haven't already started looking at re-constituting for 1st September 2014, with the emphasis on skills needed for GB's.

    You need to look in particular at schedule 1 of the The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012. Also look at other references to parents in this piece of legislation. There was also an amendment in 2014, The School Governance (Constitution and Federations)(England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.

    I would certainly make a complaint to the school. What they have done is out of order and indicates that they and or their advisers are clueless. It's like saying next time their is an general election those MPs who would like to stay in office can do so and we will forgo an election for them or we can fill a constituency with someone that came close last time. .
  5. grrmummy

    grrmummy New commenter

    Gosh, nothing surprises me anymore! Governing bodies seem to make it up as they go along! The bottom line is that unless the School Governing Body?s Constitution says that parent governors are to be appointed rather than elected, then parent governor elections should take place, and it is not good enough for the Chair of Governors to attempt to bypass the process. The fact that an existing (elected) PG wants to continue is irrelevant ? they have to stand again for election if their existing term of office is up. And if the school has been judged less than good by Ofsted then parents are entitled to make judgments and choices about who they would like to elect (or re-elect) to the GB as a representative parent.

    If the school is LA maintained then the LA delegates the responsibility for parent governor elections to the Headteacher, and reading between the lines it seems to me as if the newly appointed HT may not be entirely happy with the proposal either and there may well be a lot going on behind the scenes that you know nothing about. Yet this is exactly the sort of practice that needs to be challenged. Nodding dog governors are completely useless and frankly they place children?s education and even teachers? jobs at risk.

    My personal advice would be to first check whether the school is LA maintained (voluntary controlled) and if so to contact your Local Authority to see whether you could have a quiet word with someone from governor services. But if you do so, my advice would be to choose your words carefully as you never know who can be trusted! For example, by expressing your ?disappointment? to governor services that parent governor elections are not to be held you could then enquire whether there are any LA governor vacancies at the school (highly unlikely but it may be worth a try). This way you have bypassed the requirement to ?object? via the governing body and you have dropped as heavy a hint as you possibly can to the LA (without formally making a complaint) that all may not be well in terms of standards of governance at the school.

    OTOH, if the school is an academy, the LA may not have a role to play but you could check their Articles of Association to clarify whether parent governors are elected or appointed. But be minded that there may be little you can do short of complaining (which trust me will blot your copy book with an unreasonable CoG and/or GB) and if the CoG is acting unreasonably then (in my experience) you are unlikely to get a fair hearing so my advice (sadly) would be, don?t waste your time.

    Look up the 2014 DfE Constitution of GB?s of maintained schools (sorry can?t seem to create a link)

    Also check out the UK governors website

    Good luck whatever you decide :)
  6. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    i posted motivated by a wish to enable a more harmonious resolution. Also that others were much more knowledgeable about the legal aspect than me. Delighted that belief is shown to be correct.

    Since OP has made no further contribution I reread the original. Ofsted does not rank schools as poor. Is her desire to be a governor based on helping the school ? or is it a wish to be 'important' etc. There is no information about why she would be a valuable governor.

    I hope I am wrong, and would be delighted to be proved so, but I suspect this has been a waste of time.
  7. Hello all

    Thank you for your helpful advice. I have also sought the opinion of 4 friends of mine who are all teachers plus a family member who is a retired OFSTED inspector.

    The catch appears to be that the school is an Academy; it converted this year so it's Academy status is brand new since September. As such it officially has no OFSTED reports now (but it was previously a 4) nor does anyone seem to know what the rules are. One friend suggested that the CofG may simply be being "lazy" in trying to bypass an election and may not have intended to phrase the letter the way he did. I have today written a short note to the CofG simply stating that I am interested in putting myself forward but asking if I could have a copy of the rules regarding the election process of parent governors. I have done this as one of my friends has sadly pointed out to me that I may not be eligible to stand as it is a religious school (CofE) and I am not a member of the CofE church although my husband and children have all been Christened.

    I don't really see the need to post my CV here; it will be the parents of the school that I need to persuade to elect me and not anyone reading this, but yes as a degree educated professional person in a senior role (albeit part time now so I can focus on my children rather than furthering my career) I think that I do have some valuable skills to offer, especially as I come from outside a teaching background; the other parent governors seem to all be teachers or school employees and I think it would be good to improve the diversity of the board.

    I would be of less use on the PTA which already does a wonderful job but has an unfortunate habit of holding meetings on weekday mornings \ lunchtimes when I am at work.

    I suppose the proof of what's going on here will be with what happens next. I have no issues with being out- voted I just want an opportunity to stand!!

    Thanks again for your help
  8. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    Delighted that my suspicions were totally wrong.

    I take my hat ( if I had one ) off to you - you would obviously be an ideal governor.

    I wish you every success and repeat how pleased I am that you have returned to update the thread.

    People like you have a lot to offer and I hope you are elected.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Go to the DfE Performance Tables page


    Find your school and on the right had side look for documents called Articles (of Association) or Funding Agreement. They should be there for all academies although if you are a new academy from this term they might not have been posted yet. Search the Articles and you should find the rules for who can be a Parent Governor and how they get elected - although it tends to be a pretty brief desciption. It should, however, tell you if parent governors have to be a practising CofE member.

    The only slight doubt I have about all of this is that you were an Ofsted 4 - Special Measures or Serious Weaknesses - and usually if you convert to an acdemy from that position you are taken into an academy chain, a MAT (multi-academy trust). Their governance arrangements are very varied but often the governance powers are all with the central trust and the local governing bodies have a limited role.
  10. Oh yes this makes sense; the footer at the bottom of all the newsletters states that they are part of a multi academy trust. Like I said at the start I am totally new to all of this; but keen and ready to learn. How do I find out what responsibilities lie with the school's governing body and what powers are passed "up the chain" to the central trust? Where would I be best placed to be the most helpful?

    This school takes local children from years 3-6 inclusive. The local infant school is Ofsted ranked 2 and the senior school is a 1; yet it's the same set of pupils. In my opinion this school has a huge potential for improvement and no significant detractors that affect many failing schools (eg pupils not speaking English; poor social backgrounds of pupils etc) and I simply want to make the best contribution that I can to achieving that for the benefit of my own children and others.

    I've checked out the link above; the new academy details exist and were last updated yesterday but the document marked funding agreement only details who is financially responsible for what and ends with the school's pupil admission policy but nothing about governance. I guess it's not been added yet but I will keep checking.

    I will post again when I get a response from the CofG.

    Thank you all
  11. Update on action:

    The CoG phoned me to ask if I would prefer to wait for 12 months as one of the other candidates only wanted to restand for a year (?) and insisted that I give a reason for my objection to their plans so I simply said "because I wish to stand". He did however confirm that there was no religious qualification required. He then said that he would have to ask for nominations and if there were more than 2 candidates there would be an election (so presumably the other "chosen ones" hadn't actually asked to stand - ?? very odd). Anyway the school sent out a letter which was appropriately worded, I put in my nomination and today I have been told that there was only 1 other candidate and since there are 2 places available we have both been successful. So I am now a parent governor and my first meeting is in a couple of weeks. I guess the real journey starts here.....

    Thank you again for your help, I'm sure I will find myself back here again.
  12. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Congratulations and welcome to governance!

    Might be worth also registering on UK Governors Forum which tends to be a bit more active than TES with governors seeking advice

  13. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    Allow me to add my congratulations.

    Think I'll register with Governors forum as well.
  14. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    I echo the congratulations and yes ukgovernors knocks the socks of this site as a specific place to assist school governors with any problems you may have.

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