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Agenda

Q

Because of falling numbers in the area, this school is running below its standard admission figure. The LEA wants us to admit a pupil who has already been permanently excluded from other local schools and who is known to be violently disruptive. Do we have to agree?

A

I am afraid the law is clear: a school which has space cannot refuse to take a pupil except where this conflicts with the published admission criteria. In addition, the 1993 Act gives an LEA the right, after due consultation, to direct any school to admit a pupil who, for any reason, is without a school place. You can obviously treat any subsequent misbehaviour in accordance with your own behaviour policies.

I have assumed that there is no question of a special needs assessment or of the child's being placed in a special LEA unit, but perhaps you could ask whether the authority has considered these.

Q

Our head has ruled it improper for me, as a parent governor, to be involved in a teacher discipline case. I have already been prevented from taking part in a pupil exclusion hearing.

A

It is not for the head to rule on the eligibility of a governor to take part in a governor's duty. If there is any doubt, it is for the governing body as a whole to decide who it wants to elect in the light of any legal restrictions.

Unless you are a spouse or close relative of the teacher concerned, the parent of the excluded child or, in either case, have been a participant in or witness to the events giving rise to the inquiry or stand to gain personally from the outcome, you are eligible to serve.

the rules about a special interest apply equally to all. The implication that a parent governor is going to be less trustworthy or less detached than any other governor is unacceptable.

Q

We are about to appoint a new head and the governors have elected an interviewing panel. But the LEA is doing the short-listing, having written the advertisement, job description and person specification. I feel that those who make the final choice should decide whom they want to interview.

A

Your authority is living in the past. Appointing a head is now solely governors' responsibility, though the director of education has a right to attend, or be represented at, the final interview. The governors do not have to take his or her advice, though most of us are glad to have it.

The people who do the interviewing should also make a shortlist. How can it otherwise be their choice, and how can they be accountable for their choice to the rest of the governors if they don't decide who to interview? Ideally, I think they should also do the preparatory work - the whole point is that every school has different needs and, increasingly, the governors should be the people who know them.

Governors can ask the authority to assist with these preliminaries. But setting out the nature of the job and the sort of person you have in mind is your responsibility in my view.

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