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No voice for Govenors

Discussion in 'Governors' started by calderdalegov, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. I have been a Parent governor for 8 years. 6 years at my children's previous primary and now 2 years at my children's current primary school (we moved house). In my first position it was a positive experience working with the school and the head. All the govenors felt they were making a contribution to the school and enhancing the children's learning experience. We all enjoyed meetings and looked forward to them.I have struggled with the current school. The head is rude and dismissive. The chair is a personal friend of the head and joins in. The other parent govenors have no experience of other schools and accept what happens at meetings as normal. The Head is under the impression govenors have no rights, he runs the school. He makes it very clear. I have many emails to that effect. Things have recently come to a head when I discovered the school had been using and recently constructed modular building without building regulation sign off. This is illegal. I tried to get things sorted out over the summer. I was ignored and there are now children in the building. I tried to report this to the local authority but they said they have no jurisdiction as the school is an academy. Surely an academy is not above the law? I appealed to the Head this morning, explaining how upset I was that my child had been in an ilegal building last year. He told me he thought it was fine, as nothing happened.
    This whole situation cannot continue. I cannot keep attending govenors meetings where the intimidation leaves pepole in tears and on the verge of registration. I cannot keep pursuadeing parent govenors to stay when they are dealt with in such a manner.The meetings are are stressful and any requests of parent govenors are voted down, as friends of the head outnumber independant govenors. Parents have no voice at this Academy. I am at my wits end. How do we end this tyranny? Where do I go for help? I feel I have tried everything.
     
  2. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    calderdalegov - There are many governors up and down the country who feel like you do. An impenetrable wall to get through. If the modular building as you say is in some way illegal contact the Department of Education who have responsibilities for Acadamies (see below).
    No head should have the impression you describe! I am gong to assume that parents being voted down is by a show of hands and if you have a very autocratic head and chair then will not be a surprise. You might suggest a secret vote next time undertaken by your clerk. It can make a result quite different.
    The Secretary of State
    Department for Education
    Castle View House
    East Lane
    RUNCORN
    Cheshire WA7 2GJ
    Telephone: 0370 000 2288
    Typetalk: 18001 0370 000 2288
    Fax: 01928 738248
    www.education.gov.uk/schoolcomplaints


     
  3. As the Complaints Team are based in Sanctuary Buildings at DfE in London, that may be a better address.
     
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I'm sure that's wrong. All building work in your local authority area is subject to building regulations, it doesn't matter whether it's private or public sector building. I suspect you addressed your question to the education/children's services dept of your LA. Very likely they know nothing about building regulations or misunderstood the question. The council dept to refer it to is the dept responsible for enforcing compliance with building regualtions, often called the 'building control' dept. Go direct to them, don't involve your LA education/children's services dept, it's nothing to do with them.
     
  5. I'm afraid that what you are experiencing is becoming all too common. It seems to be getting harder and harder to recruit governors and this means that there are many more inexperienced or unsuitable Chair of Governors around. In truth the same comments also apply to Head Teachers!
     
  6. Thank you all for your replies.
    You are correct in your assumption of a show of hands. I will suggest future votes are secret. I feel the "friends" of the head may act diffrently with a secret ballot.
    I have already reported this to the Secretary of State, via the web site (no response, so far) and Building control. Building Control put me in touch with Education, who told me an academy was nothing to do with them. I have also contacted my MP who has called me back. I wait to see if any action will be taken. This is an urgent issue as pupils are currently in the building in question.
    How can it have got to the stage where Heads can activley flout the law? When I hand my children over at the school gates I would like to trust the school to take good care of them. This is not happening.
    How can I report the Head for misconduct? We need a neutral 3rd party to preside over this and reach a just solution, if we are to continue as govenors. I am guessing, there is nothing for academys'...?
     
  7. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    Your school legally has to have a complaints policy. Ask for a copy of that policy and follow the audit trail which may mean that you end up having your complaint heard by your governors complaints panel, who will (or should be) completely independent of your head.
     
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    This school is an Academy and the legal requirement - I presume you have s29 of the Education Act 2002 in mind - only applies to LA maintained schools. There doesn't seem to be any equivalent legal obligation on academies. Academy model documentation doesn't have a requirement for academies to have a complaints procedure although no doubt most do. I don't share your optimism that the governors complaints panel, if it exists in this case, will take a robustly independent view!
    I still think the two departments of your LA are failing to communicate and don't understand the issue. Building Control appear to think that you were talking about an LA school. Building Control have statutory obligations if this building is in breach of building regulations. I'd write a formal letter of complaint to the Director of the Building Control dept saying that your attempts to report a breach of building regulations are being ignored. State very clearly that the school is not an LA school so you cannot understand why Building Control keep referring you to Education as it is nothing to do with them.
     
  9. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    RW You are correct that academies do not have an equivalent legal requirement, but I suspect that most schools after conversion will still be working to the 'old' complaints policy so it?s worth trying that first. I can see no plausible reason that they would ditch a complaints procedure and replace it with no complaints procedure.

    On the 22nd August 2012, the Dfe updated it's advice on 'Guidance on making a complaint about a school' in which it said:-

    "We hope that you will be able to resolve any complaint concerning the school using local complaints procedures. All schools in England are required to have a complaints procedure and to publicise such a procedure. Some local authorities may also have a complaints procedure available. You can check on your local authority?s website to see if they offer this service.

    Making a complaint to the Department for Education should only happen after other routes have been followed. The exception to this may include such matters as child protection, or where a child is missing education".

    You may also be right RW that the panel may not be as independent as we may expect it to be. The very interesting point here is that the breach appears to be about Building Regulations and at least that can be handled and enforced by a department other than education.


    Michael Gove abolished the Young People?s Learning Agency (YPLA), and then replaced it with another quango (EPA) under the auspices of the Department for Education and that organisation seems to be totally unaware whether it should be dealing with complaints like this one. It seems that no one is that clear as to who should be handling complaints against academies.

    You could also try this guidance on complaints about Academies:-
    http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/e/efa%20academies%20complaints%20procedure%20august%202012.pdf
     
  10. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I was wrong. Thanks montiagh for the link at the end of your post to the EFA guidance on complaints against Academies which explains that there is a statutory obligation on Academies to have a complaints procedure. It's in The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2010, which sets out in considerably more detail than for maintained schools what the complaints procedure has to include. It's in Schedule 1, part 7, of the Regulations -
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/1997/made
    BUT note that while maintained schools must have a procedure for complaints made by anyone for academies it only has to cover complaints from parents (OP is a parent I think though)
     
  11. I have started a complaint, against the Head who, in my opinion, knowingly put pupils in an illegal building, thus putting them at risk. This is not that simple however... The chair, whom I must go through first, is a good friend of the Head. He has arranged to see me. I am not sure this is part of the procedure. None of this bodes well. I have also notified Building control that when the building was first occupied the school was not an academy. I don't know if it makes a difference, but it is worth a try!
    Thanks for your answers. They are useful.
     
  12. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    What is it that you think is wrong with the building?
     
  13. grrmummy

    grrmummy New commenter

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