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WE NOW have to have many more meetings to consider

disciplinary matters and I can't find guidance about whether the head should always have to attend. I am not objecting to

the head's presence, just thinking that it is going to be a big time commitment for him or her and wondering how the

law stands.

FIRST, it is quite clear that the head cannot be a member of a governors' disciplinary committee - which means not taking part in the decision. It has long been the case that the head or hisher representative had to leave before decisions were made, but the regulations previously achieved it in a slightly different and to me somewhat clearer way.

Now that there is a requirement for governors to have a specific committee for discipline, the headteacher is specifically debarred from being a member. However, the new regulations say that the head is entitled to attend any meeting of a committee, subject to the rules dealing with circumstances in which any governor might have to withdraw because f pecuniary interest or a danger of partiality, and to the regulations on pupil disciplinary and staff dismissal committees set out above.

So much for being a member or having access to the committee as of right.

However, the regulations also say that nothing in their relevant parts shall be construed as preventing the governing body or one of its committees from allowing a person to attend for the purpose of giving evidence. I think this can be construed as an oblique invitation to have the head or hisher representative at the first part of a meeting to give governors the background and explain the school's action. That to me is common sense anyway. Since only the head can exclude, she is the person who can best explain why.

My view is that in almost every exclusion case governors will need to have the head (or a senior person to whom she delegates the task) to set out the school's case and answer questions. After that the governors' committee must be left alone to make the decision.

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