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Joan Sallis Answers your questions.

This is a Church of England primary school and I am a parent governor, not yet very experienced but keen to learn. Our last head, a very good man, retired on health grounds just before Christmas and the governors appointed the deputy acting head. I was new, so I did not question this but naturally assumed some permanent arrangements would be made soon. However, nothing has been done.

I think that this woman is good and the vicar seems to get on extremely well with her. But she is not all that popular with the parents and they are beginning to ask questions which I cannot answer, not just about the headship but about the fact that another teacher is acting deputy and obviously the staffing is under pressure altogether. How long can this continue?

It cannot continue at all if your former head has really left. It would be understandable if he were merely off sick, but from what you say this is not the case.

A governing body should advertise a headship vacancy as soon as possible and invoke the selection procedure when it has all the applications. And if the deputy were to be appointed, the same procedure should apply to that vacancy. It is not acceptable to maintain an acting post longer than necessary.

Speak to your chair about it. If necessary your local education authority will have to intervene. But make sure the previous head did resign, since what has happened would be quite regular during illness.

Does the governing body have to adjudicate on the fairness of a permanent exclusion?

Only if the parents appeal, and then they elect a small panel to act on their behalf. But details of all exclusions, even short term, should be reported to the governing body from time to time, without names.

Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent 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 where answers to submitted questions will appear

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