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When is a governor not a governor?

Discussion in 'Governors' started by netherhead, Mar 15, 2020.

  1. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    Our chair recently "co-opted" a member of the school staff as a governor alongside the existing staff governor.
    No vote was ever held at any meeting and there is no record in any minutes.
    Is this person legally a governor?
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    I'm not an expert. However the Chair can invite anyone to attend the meeting to observe or advise, even if the person isn't a governor; but they wouldn't have a vote.
    Question for you: what does your Instrument of Governance say? And under what provision of that has this person been brought in?
  3. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    The person was brought into a committee meeting and the chair introduced them as a newly co-opted governor.
    They are now shown on the school website as a member of the governing board with a term of office. There has never been any discussion nor voting in any governors meeting about this person's co-option and there is nothing recorded in the minutes.
    They are voting at meetings and the chair asked them to sit on an appeals panel. I pointed out that this was not permitted as school staff should not sit in judgement of other staff.
    Nobody on the GB other than the chair has ever seen the Instrument of Governance However I will ask for a copy.
  4. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    Just to clarify, the essential question is that the chair was advised of the correct process for co-opting governors and duly followed it for the co-option of another governor in an FGM. Thus the issue of lack of knowledge of the correct procedure was addressed.
    A couple of weeks after the FGM the chair chose not to follow the correct process with this co-option and chose to ignore my challenge about using the correct process.
    No subsequent vote has ever been taken by the FGB.
    Along with other members of the GB, I would like to establish whether that person can be considered as a governor with voting rights in these circumstances.
  5. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I will assume you are talking about a Local Authority maintained school (rules differ for academies).

    This person is not legally a governor. A Co-opted Governor is someone "...who is appointed as a governor by the governing body..." [Paragraph 11 School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012] That means it must be agreed at a formal, quorate, meeting of the GB on the majority vote of those present and minuted accordingly. They cannot be appointed by the Chair alone. In some circumstances the Chair has 'Urgency' powers but I cannot see how they could apply here.

    The Chair is overreaching himself and acting outside his powers.

    But what is the Clerk doing in all this? The Clerk should be robustly advising the whole GB of the status of this person - they haven't been validly co-opted. Also the Clerk should be in possession of your Instrument of Government and should give a copy to each governor on their appointment. Ask the Clerk for it.

    If the Chair resists your attempts to discuss it you could force the issue (providing at least 2 other governors agree with you) by invoking Paragraph 13 (3) of the School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2012 with the Agenda item "To consider whether Ms X has been validly appointed as a Co-opted Governor" or some such. Might be worth getting something in writing from your LA Governor Services first and letting Chair see it before going formal.

    You don't say what sort of appeals panel this person this person sat on (and anyway decisions about who is on panels are also a decision for the whole GB, not the Chair alone, although that can be delegated to the Chair). If it concerned the pay or performance of another staff member then it is illegal [Schedule 1, Paragraph 3 of the Procedures regulations]. For other types of panel there is no express prohibition of staff being on them. It's a factual question of whether staff governors have a conflict of interest in that particular case.

    The Chair doesn't have that power formally, it's up to the whole governing body who is invited to be an Observer. In practice the Chair will often do so though and then ask at the start of the meeting is everyone is OK with that. At least, that's what I do!
    nomad likes this.
  6. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    Many thanks for that.

    Governor services referred me to the School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013.

    (7) The proceedings of the governing body of a school are not invalidated by—

    (a) any vacancy among their number;
    (b) any defect in the election, appointment or nomination of any governor;
    (c) any defect in the appointment of the chair or vice-chair; or
    (d) any person not having received written notice of the meeting or a copy of the agenda for
    the meeting.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    That's not helpful to you for raising it but I don't agree with their interpretation of regulation 7.

    7 (b) means that decisions of the governing body made after the purported appointed of this Co-opted Governor aren't invalid just because that governor's appointment was defective. It does not mean or say that a Chair's assertion that someone is a governor is valid if the governing body has not appointed him in accordance with regulation 11 (3) . This isn't a "defective" appointment, it isn't an appointment by the governing body at all.

    @afternoonclerk may be able to add more.
  8. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    That is precisely my interpretation of regulation 7 because it only refers to the proceedings of a governing body. For me that means matters that occur in quorate meetings following the set procedures and their follow up. etc.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yep, that's my reading of it too.
  10. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Ultimately co-opting 'staff members' could be compromise a boards effectiveness - there are lots of things 'staff' governors need to sit out of in governance. Also, it means you have basically unofficially appointed another 'staff governor', which mitigates the composition of a rounded and representative of the community board.
  11. afternoonclerk

    afternoonclerk New commenter

    Staff members are allowed to be co-opted governors in LA schools, as long as the proportion of governors who are school employees is not above one third of the total membership of the board. Governors who are on staff should not have to sit out of lots of things, just pay and appraisal of individual staff members and items where they have a conflict of interest.

    But yes, all boards should consider whether they have a good balance between staff members and non-staff. And this person hasn't been appointed "unofficially", they are not a governor at all.

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