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Joan Sallis Answers your questions

Our teacher-governor has never respected the privacy of our meetings and has carried everything straight back to the staffroom.

Particularly damaging to the school recently was her leak about a forthcoming appointment. And on an exclusion case, this teacher actually spoke indiscreetly to parents whose children were involved in the incident for which a boy was excluded. Because of this the head has initiated disciplinary action. We were annoyed about her indiscretion anyway and propose to vote her off the governing body. Can you tell us how to proceed? What happens if she is suspended anyway?

There is no means of voting an elected teacher or parent-governor off the governing body. Only co-optees can be sacked by their colleagues, and even this is - rightly - covered by rigorous procedures.

The school disciplinary action is a different matter and, of course, if proved, these are damaging actions meriting serious investigation. The law does not at present say what a governing body does about teacher governors who are suspended, but the Government is considering new regulations to exclude them from governors' meetings.

I would distinguish between loose talk that damages the school and indiscretion. This is not to say gossip about an appointment or an exclusion is not serious, since these are both matters where careless talk could do the school real damage. But we must draw a distinction between matters classified by the body as confidential - normally things affecting the privacy of an individual - and governors' ordinary business. The records of the latter are public documents. Governors cannot be required to keep silent about them.

What we can expect of all school governors is that reporting is responsible. This means not sensationalising proposals which may never happen, and not "stirring".

Please keep requests for private replies to a minimum. We always protect the identity of schools and individuals. Send questions to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 0171 782 32023205, or see www.tes.co.uk governorsask_the_expert

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