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Governors Code of Conduct

Discussion in 'Governors' started by Steve5737, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. Steve5737

    Steve5737 New commenter

    I would appreciate some advice please?

    Is the Code of Conduct a legal document? Do governors have to sign this?

    My query relates to anonymous letters coming from governors to a headteacher. These are concerns over the leadership of the school.

    How does a headteacher deal with this?

    The governors have a duty regarding the wellbeing of the headteacher so something needs to be done.

    My view would be an investigation as this is a continuing issue. Otherwise, this may well lead to a grievance against the governing body? Is that then likely to end up in an employment tribunal? Sorry, but I’m just fearing the worst!

    Or, is a more sensible solution to have a very strong chair who receives these letters on the heads behalf and “squares up?”

    I really look forward to anyone’s views?

  2. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Gosh, what a dreadful situation.

    If you are the headteacher you need to contact your union immediately. You must have union representation. Do not go through this alone.

    Are the letters about the headteacher? If so, then the C of G will investigate.

    In my experience, the governor code of conduct means little to some governors but that is just my experience.

    Please get help immediately.
    Oh dear, I am so sorry is is happening.
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I recall you are a recently retired HT Steve so I guess you are asking this on behalf of a HT colleague.

    In my experience as a Chair of Governors and an NLG I have never come across anything as bizarre as anonymous letters from members of the GB to the head. Are you able to give us some idea what's in the these letters? Are they making disciplinary allegations against the HT for instance? Or capability allegations of a 'you're useless' type? Or something else?

    I assume there's no doubt they are from governors? Do you know whether the head has made the Chair of Governors aware of this? Although anonymous does the head know or have a pretty good idea who has sent them? If they are anonymous how does the HT know they are from governors?

    There is no legal requirement for GBs to have a Code of Conduct. But whether they have one or not GBs are required to act as a corporate body and no individual governor has the power to write letters like this without the authority of the GB as a whole - which I assume they don't have! If I were CoG I would be making clear to the GB how unacceptable this was and take every possible step to find out which governors it was and consider suspending them. Or if they are Co-opted governors, to remove them. (Assuming this is an LA maintained school)

    It's clearly a GB that isn't functioning correctly. Is it an LA maintained school where the LA could be asked to intervene? It suggests to me a possible breakdown in governance which would make it a 'School Causing Concern'. The LA could use its formal SCC powers and if necessary replace the GB with an IEB (with the agreement of the Regional Schools Commissioner).

    I'd recommend that the HT consults their union but at this point an employment dispute route doesn't seem to me, from what you've posted, an effective route to go. A grievance against the GB would be difficult to secure because the individuals writing the letters are (a) unknown and (b) have no authority or approval from the GB to write such letters so they aren't written on behalf of the HT's 'employer'. The GB's response to any grievance would likely be 'the anonymous letters weren't written on behalf of the GB and if any letter is found to have been written by a governor they weren't acting in their official capacity. We will take action for bringing the GB into disrepute if we can identify them'. If the GB as a whole in formal meeting, and the CoG in 1-to-1 discussion with the HT, are made aware of this but fail to take action that failure might create grounds for a grievance. But I doubt that would resolve the matter.

    It's hard to see how this could ever end up at Employment Tribunal. In theory acts of the GB could amount to a fundamental breach of contract entitling the HT the HT to claim Constructive Dismissal, and go to Tribunal. Don't even think of that without legal advice. It's generally advised against by lawyers because Constructive Dismissal claims are very hard to win. And in this cases, if the GB denies that the actions complained of were done by them, almost impossible I'd have thought. See what the union solicitors think.

    The underlying issue here needs to be addressed. The apparent lack of confidence by both parties in the other; the HT doesn't have confidence in the GB and governors (some of them at least) don't have confidence in the HT &/or leadership team. Unless that fundamental issue is resolved no amount of legal action is going to solve anything. As CoG I would be considering an independent review of governance by an NLG. (If the LA get involved they might issue a Warning Letter requiring this anyway).
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
    JohnJCazorla and digoryvenn like this.
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I meant to add - or look for another job fast!
  5. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    If the letters have no author then you can put them in the bin with no fear of consequences unless the complaint has a basis of truth and the complainant is threatening to go via official channels ( LA / Ofsted / Police / etc) if nothing is done. Governors that do not abide by Lord Nolans 7 principles of public life will not be tolerated and probably find themselves dumped by the governing body.
    Flanks, install, nomad and 1 other person like this.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Metaphorically not literally though. Keep them, you may need them as evidence in any future action you need to take.

    And for complaints in general (not specifically this situation) the DfE say anonymous complaints about serious matters should be investigated if enough information has been given to do this, not binned.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
    DaisysLot, Flanks and digoryvenn like this.
  7. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    That is all very well but it all depends on the GB and the C of G.You have all given very sensible courses of action but the sometimes the reality is very different. The underhanded lies and backstabbing (with no consequences) certainly shocked me!
  8. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    It is difficult to see how any anonymous complainant can expect to be dignified with any response.... One has to ask questions about the integrity and intent of that governor.
    digoryvenn likes this.

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