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Helpline

Q

In your comments on safety in technology classrooms (Helpline, March 7), you seem to be suggesting that the Health and Safety Executive could be called in to protect the safety of pupils. Surely, the HSE is concerned only with employees?

A

You are quite right, but I deliberately did not say that I was recommending this measure as a protection for the pupils.

It can very properly be argued that a situation of overcrowding in a room with potential hazards is as much a threat to the health and safety of the teacher, or indeed a technician, who is an employee, as it is to pupils.

I suspect that the HSE may not always be happy to be used in this way, but they cannot avoid their responsibilities in the matter and should assess the situation on its merits.

Q

My governors are demanding that, as headteacher, I should tell them in detail how the five staff training days are used. Am I obliged to do more than tell them that training has taken place?

A

Yes, you are. Since the beginning of this year, this is one of the items which governors are required to include in their Annual Report to parents and you are the only person in a position to provide that information.

They must also produce a summary of all staff training and professional development which has taken place over the year as well as specific details about the training days.

It is in the school's interest to approach this issue in a positive spirit. After all, a school which devotes time, energy and resources to improving the skills of its staff is likely to have an equally positive approach to raising the standards of its pupils. Both deserve public recognition.

Q

How should a tied vote for the chairmanship of a governing body be resolved? Does the chairman have a casting vote, even if he or she is a candidate?

A

This question is not specifically covered by regulation, although, on most issues, a casting vote is the usual way out It would be improper as well as unsatisfactory for a chairman to cast a second vote to secure his or her own election. It would be useful, therefore, if the governing body, faced with the situation, decided upon its own procedure to overcome the difficulty.

They might agree, for instance, that a second ballot should be held and that, if the outcome is still a tie, the issue should be settled by the drawing of lots or the toss of a coin.

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