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Open season looms for opted-out sector

Grant-maintained schools may be encouraged to hold an annual governors' meeting open to the press and public under proposals due to be unveiled by the Nolan committee this week.

Lord Nolan was expected to recommend that the code on openness published last year for quangos and NHS trusts should be applied to other institutions.

The code says board meetings should be more open, minutes should be published and decisions outlined in newsletters.

The recommendations are the latest thrust by the Nolan committee, set up after the Commons cash-for-questions row two years ago, to make public bodies more accountable.

This week's report covers grant-maintained schools, higher and further education, training and enterprise councils and housing associations.

Lord Nolan was expected to stress that the Government is duty-bound to make sure local institutions supported by taxpayers are accountable.

"Whistleblowers" were also to be helped with recommendations that students or employees who believe there has been wrong-doing should have access to independent bodies. This follows investigations into several colleges.

Lord Nolan was also expected to confirm that governors of colleges and GM schools should not be paid. He was due to recommend that elected governors at GM schools should not be able to outvote appointed members and should face re-election after four years.

He was expected to say that to avoid conflicts of interest TECs should comply with their national council's local accountability guidelines before awarding a licence or contract to an outside body.

Following confusion over financial liability when the south London TEC collapsed in late 1994, he was due to recommend that the relationship between the Government and TECs should be made more formal.

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