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Joan Sallis answers your questions

I AM involved in a serious relationship which now threatens my impartiality as a governor in helping to appoint a deputy head. We have managed to keep this relationship secret in order not to embarrass our children who attend the school, though they, of course, know about it.

The trouble is that he is a senior teacher at the school and I am an administrative assistant working on premises and finance matters and a non-teaching staff governor. He has now decided to apply for the deputy's job and I am being pressed to be on the panel because I have detailed knowledge of the work the new deputy will do. Do I have to give reasons for standing aside, or would it be proper for me to go ahead on the panel?

IT certainly wouldn't be proper for you to be involved in any way with the appointment, even if you continue to keep your secret, and I have to say I am doubtful whether you will be able to conceal your relationship for long even if no one suspects it already.

It could do your friend great harm if he were appointed by a group which included you and it later became known that you were close. But I do not think you need give full reasons if you say that it might not be appropriate within the declaration of interest rules for you to participate.

At most you could say you had a personal friend whom you thought might apply. Or you could just say that you don't wish to be involved for personal reasons, which could be interpreted as work or family commitments.

ONCE we have approved the head's draft budget, which is very general, we have no further information about spending, not even reports about moving money from one heading to another to avoid an overspend. Is this sufficient?

No. Governors shouldn't do detailed book-keeping, but to monitor the finances in any meaningful way you need a monthly print-out. You should have agreed in advance on a sum the school could move to another heading without reference back, but even this should be apparent from the monthly record, and any higher transfers than the sum agreed should at least have prior approval of your finance committee.

The TES welcomes your queries. Joan Sallis does her best to answer all letters, but please keep requests for private replies to a minimum, since we aim to provide helpful information for ALL readers and always protect the identity of schools and individuals. Send your questions to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 020 7782 3202, or visit our website at www.tes.co.ukgovernorsask_the_expert

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