4th July 1997 at 01:00
Question : We have had reason to be dissatisfied with the behaviour of our chair and we had a big row after which he resigned, thus making it unnecessary to go through the dismissal procedure. In the series of events where the chair let us all down, the vice-chair was equally implicated, and the rest of the governors all feel that she is not the person we want to take over. Unlike the chair, she has not made this easy for us, so we have to take action. Can the procedure you described in a recent answer be adapted for the vice-chair?

Answer. No, there is no parallel procedure for voting out the vice-chair, but in your case there seems no need. Regulation 9(2) of the Governors' Regulations (SI 1503 of 1989) provides that, if there is a casual vacancy for a chair in mid-term, a new chair should be elected at the next meeting for the remainder of the year. In other words there is no automatic succession for the vice-chair, who is not regarded as a chair in waiting.

I have known governing bodies elect someone for qualities complementary to those of the chair where all understand that there is no assumption that the vice-chair will inherit the role. Although it is a pity not to use the vice-chair function to give experience to a possible new chair, there will clearly be relief in your case that you can make a free choice. Just make sure at the first meeting of the new school year that you are ready with candidates for both posts.

Question. Our head insists that parent governors are not there to represent parents and are no different from other governors. I find that parents come to me with little worries and I can often either clear it up from my knowledge or assure them that their concern is important and encourage them to go to the class teacher or head. If I told them it was not my job to listen, I'm sure they would be appalled. Please assure me that I am not doing anything wrong and advise what I can show my head to convince her.

Answer. I can assure you that although parent governors are not delegates (ie, with obligation to take instructions on how to act), they do have a representative role and there is nothing wrong with smoothing the path to the school as you try to do. I would even recommend going with a timid parent to see the head if need be. Always remember, however, that you are only befriending the parent, not championing their cause, and don't ever try to solve something yourself. Especially, don't by-pass the head or spring any-thing on him or her without warning at a meeting. Governors' meetings are not the place for purely individual concerns.

This is not set out in the law anywhere, but a little booklet I have written for parent governors saying this has been published by Northamptonshire County Council, and that makes it very useful for parent governors (and teacher governors in the parallel book for them) since they don't have to take my word for it and can show it to doubting headteachers.

Parent Governors: Your Own Guide and similar booklets for teacher governors, LEA governors and business governors can be obtained from Northamptonshire Governor Services, Education Dept, County Hall, Guildhall Road, Northampton. The parent booklet is #163;2.75; others #163;3.95. They will invoice you.


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today