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CAN I ask about the changes from April onwards to electing a chair? Few people will be thinking about it now, with six months until next time, but our chair is being posted abroad after Easter, so we have been looking at it. Our vice-chair was elected for her complementary qualities and does not want the succession.

I know that we should now try to get nominations on the agenda of the next meeting, but that only if we fail can we make nominations at the meeting instead. Can't we make additional nominations at the meeting, if someone we don't want nominates themselves?

I HAVE already replied to a similar question this term and checked the point with the Department for Education and Employment, but now that you have raised it in terms so close to my own thinking it may be wise to air it here after all.

Yes, the regulations do mean that if there is a nomination in advance no further ones can be made at the meeting, and it bothers me for just the reason you mention. I sympathise very much with the aims of the changes, which are to make us take the election of the chair more seriously and plan it, to make the process more democratic (helped by secret ballot), and to avoid the embarrassed paralysis which so often accompanies the election at the meeting and may lead to the choice of someone nobody really wants.

My trouble is that I think the new rules will lead to just this last happening in schools with a problem. The person they wish to replac may self-nominate and it may be difficult for them to cope with. It's all right with the closely-knit, well-organised governing body whose members meet and talk often and have few inhibitions, but no change was necessary for those anyway, and the best thing for the rest seems to me to encourage them to nominate in advance but give them another chance at the meeting.

WE WERE shocked when we found that our clerk couldn't attend committee or extra

meetings or give us any general guidance. Is this correct?

"Correct" here means no more than what the governing body can negotiate at the time of appointment, and yours has probably made assumptions without discussion. It's a serious problem now that education authorities rarely provide clerking as a service. The Government expects professional standards but frankly the allowance most schools have for clerking will not pay for more than an inadequate minimum.

They may be lucky enough to find a person with interest and commitment to do it for love, and in the past many schools used a governor. That's no longer allowed, but some education authorities do have a system of encouraging staff with experience to do it in their own time.

Until you find what you want I suggest you let a governor clerk the non-statutory committees (this is still legal) and possibly get a member of the school office staff to do the two statutory ones on a time-off in lieu basis.

But carry on complaining!

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