Move to ban staff parent governors

Karen Thornton

School staff who work in their children's school may be barred from standing as parent-governors under proposed rules aimed at preventing governing bodies from becoming too cosy, writes Karen Thornton.

A leaked report from a Department for Education and Skills working group cites inspection evidence suggesting too many school employees on a body can lead to "a closed approach" and "a tendency not to tackle weaknesses". Problems have also arisen, it says, when suspended staff governors have continued to attend board meetings.

But governors have warnedministers that the proposal could fall foul of human rights legislation, and also make it harder to recruit new governors.

The working group, set up to revise government proposals for reforming school governance, has already told ministers that giving private contractors a controlling interest on failing schools' governing bodies would be "unwise".

Instead the group has called for more freedom from regulations to allow governors, the biggest volunteer force in the country, to get on with helping schools improve.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said the group's proposals were patronising.

He said: "Parents can make their own decisions about whether they want a parent who happens to be a teacher to represent them as a governor. It's a slur on teacher-parents and parents as a whole."

But both the National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads' Association said problems arose when any one interest group dominated a governing body.

Meanwhile, the group argues governors should retain the flexibility to be involved in staff appointments outside the senior management team, although guidance would make it clear that this would usually be the head's responsibility.

But they should give up the right to hear dismissal cases, except in the case of heads. Instead, heads would decide on sackings, with staff having the right to appeal to governors.

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Karen Thornton

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