WE are a small school with only nine governors. Until now we have had just two committees: finance and buildings, and curriculum and staffing, with members to be chosen ad hoc for pupils or staff discipline should it ever arise.

We are bothered now about the new statutory committees, and thought we might set up just one "investigation committee" of three experienced governors, to cover staff grievance and discipline, parents' complaints, exclusion and anything else of a formal nature. Is this acceptable?

WHAT you did before was fine. Until this year it was left up to governors which committees to have and on what. It still is, except for the two compulsory committees plus an appeal

committee for staff dismissal. I think there is a clear implication that these must be separately established.

Remember they only meet when there is a case, which might be never.

Remember also that there is an option to cover exclusions just by formally naming now a pool of people from wom you form a panel when necessary. In a

small primary you might never need to do more.

On dismissals, to help very small schools, the regulations say that if it's impossible to find six people for dismissal and appeal panels who haven't had prior involvement, you can have smaller groups (in practice these would be two governors, I suppose) as long as the appeal group is not smaller than the one making the decision.

Your idea of one governors' panel solves nothing in practice even if it met the legal requirements, since you wouldn't be likely to have two cases at the same time.

Believe me, you lose nothing by taking the purely formal

steps required at this stage.

You might like to know that many large schools have in fact taken advantage of the

exclusions pool of governors option, simply because they know how difficult it already is to find people free to serve at a time that suits parents and staff, without restricting themselves even further.

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