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Q We are in a position of falling school population and a deputy head is retiring. If we advertise nationally, as the law requires, and appoint from outside, we shall have to make another member of staff redundant. We have two well-qualified internal candidates. Is there anything we can do?

A You are quite right in saying that the law requires a vacancy for the post of deputy head to be advertised nationally and there is no escape from this procedure.

The law is silent, however, with regard to the criteria which the governors lay down for making the appointment and it imposes no constraints upon them in drawing up their shortlist.

If, therefore, the governors decide that they wish to make an appointment which avoids redundancy, they can place their advertisement with as little ostentation as possible and then shortlist only the internal applicants.

Before deciding on such a course, however, they should reflect that the law in question was made to ensure that schools should, as far as possible, appoint the best available people to senior management and that this may be a more important objective for the long-term well-being of a school than the avoidance of immediate difficulties.

Q Should students on initial teacher training be left alone in charge of classes? What is the legal position?

A Every student needs to have the self-confidence of "flying solo" at the appropriate stage, and it is part of the responsibility of those supervising training to judge when the time is right. It should be a planned phase in development for which the student has been prepared. The mentor should be available, if needed, and the student should know what to do if help is required.

The legal position is no different from the normal situation. The responsibility for ensuring that the pupils are properly supervised and taught rests ultimately with the head.

In this instance, it is delegated to the mentor, who exercises professional judgment that the student is capable of taking charge of the class, a decision for which the mentor is accountable.

The student, who is not an employee, has the duties of any responsible adult placed in charge of young people.

Q Our governing body has stated in its pay policy that no governor who is employed at the school may be a member of the staffing and pay committee. Has it the right to do this?

A Yes. Governing bodies may establish committees with whatever membership and terms of reference they choose, although certain regulations have to be observed in particular cases. For example, no teacher governor may be appointed to chair a committee.

Employees are not automatically barred from sitting on the committee which deals with staffing issues, although they would, of course, be expected to declare an interest and withdraw if any matter affecting their own position was being discussed. Some governing bodies welcome the general advice which employees can give to such committees, while others, like yours, decide that they would prefer to exclude them.

Q Given that local education authorities determine the l95 days in the year when teachers must be available for work, what provision is made for paid religious holidays?

A A decision taken by a denominational school to observe a religious holiday does not remove the obligation to work l95 days. The additional day will have to be made up during the course of the year.

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