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Joan Sallis Answers governors' questions

We need a new chairperson for our student affairs committee, and I have been proposed. I am an education welfare officer but I am well-known among the families where exclusions often occur and know a great deal about some of the students most often in trouble.

I am not sure if I should take on this role because I'll presumably be chairing panels reviewing exclusions where previous knowledge might be considered unfair. We do not have a standing pupil discipline committee as we took the option of an elected list of governors (all members of the student affairs committee) from whom we choose three as and when we need them.

It would be a pity if you could not chair the student affairs committee, although I agree that you should not chair or take part in an exclusion review in the case of a student with whom you have been involved professionally.

Many schools have no pupil affairs committee. But you don't automatically chair the discipline committee. It may have been the practice in your school, but it is not laid down nationally. If your governors decided on such a rule they could vote at a full meeting to vary it for such a reason, then the committee can elect another member to this role, or allow the three taking part to decide which of them chairs.

You may feel you should keep away from exclusion reviews altogether because we have to be careful not to give anyone cause to claim unfairness.

Do take on the chair of the student affairs committee if you feel able, as I'm sure in other subjects it will find your experience on attendance, punctuality and family problems valuable.

My husband works for a company that provides "back-room" services for other firms and some public authorities. With the talk of private finance in schools, and some schools I have heard of already buying in services on contract, is it proper for me to be on possible premises, personnel and finance committees?

As long as your school is not actively considering farming out any services, you need not worry, although you should record the fact of your husband's employment on your governing body's declaration of interest statement.

You should be ready to withdraw from any discussion connected with employing a company to take on school services. If it becomes a recurring item you might feel more comfortable resigning from that committee.

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