Agenda

I AM an education authority governor but do not represent a party. In elections, I vote against the local ruling party. The party is anti-government but not unsympathetic to some policies, particularly specialist schools and use of private companies. The school is heading unstoppably towards specialist status and private finance and I find it hard to support this. I feel like a stateless citizen. Yet in all other respects I am very supportive of my school. If I express my misgivings, I may seem to others to be disloyal to the school, and I am also afraid that the LEA will try to remove me. Can it do so?

THEY did not tell us how political it could get, did they? You are not alone. There is no need to make a secret of your views on the current fashions in general. But when it comes to whether we support changes in our own school our first duty as governors is to the school's well-being, and no one could deny that there are dangers in turning one's back on unstoppable developments in which one's own school might become isolated. If that situation arises and you go along with what the majority want, you will not be doing it because you fear the wrath of those who appointed you, but because you do not want your school to miss out on opportunities. Can you live with that? If not, perhaps you should leave. But if you can, you have the comfort that if something is inevitable, you may at least be there to ask the right questions and avoid some dangers which more committed colleagues could miss.

All governors must vote according to the good of the school. I cannot guess how your LEA would react to outright opposition, but there were two interesting court cases a while ago following the replacement of appointed governors who had appealed against dismissal for not following the "party line". The courts ruled in one case against the appointing body (a church) on the grounds that appointees were not obliged to follow any line and could not be dismissed for not doing so. But they did find in favour of a council where the ruling party had changed, on the grounds that their party appointees had ceased to be politically representative. Your council is not in that situation and you are not a political nominee, so they would find it very hard to claim that you were obliged to promote their policies. Do not worry.

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