Agenda

12th December 1997 at 00:00
Q When a governor is behaving inappropriately, whose responsibility is it to speak to him or her? I am a head, and concerned about one governor who seems to have the wrong ideas. She is upsetting staff by getting too involved in teaching and day-to-day decisions, and taking it upon herself to try to deal with complaints.

A For a start, it isn't a good idea for the head to tick governors off. The chair is the obvious first liner since it is she or he who is responsible for team-building and corporate good behaviour, but if there is another governor who is close to the person, older, more experienced, more likely to do it without offending, by all means let the chair delegate. The main aim is to get the point across with the minimum of hurt, since the governor concerned probably means well and is prepared to put in the time. Sometimes an in-house team-training session by the local authority training officers is helpful in a case like this, and even the chair may be able to bring up matters on which all governors may need to be reminded in an impersonal way.

Q We are very short of primary school places in our authority, mainly because we cannot prevent admissions from adjacent country areas. Because we are the only school in the city with any significant space on the site and very near the most densely populated border, we are all afraid that we shall be the school which will have extra buildings forced upon us to accommodate the extra numbers. The facilities are under pressure with existing numbers, and we feel that the character of the school would be radically different and the children would suffer. What are governors' rights in a country school?

A Governors have rights to be consulted and to object, but not in the last resort to decide. The LEA is responsible for seeing that there are adequate places in their area and planning for expansion or contraction. In a country school it is they who would make proposals for any enlargement sufficient to constitute a change of character, after consultation with the governors. But such an enlargement would also have to be preceded by public notices, and any objections would have to be considered by the Secretary of State who would pass judgment on the proposal.

If yours is the only school with space and no land is available for a new school (which would clearly be desirable if the numbers are there for a viable size), it is difficult to see what can be done as long as the law about admissions across borders (interpreted by the Greenwich decision) remains unchanged.

I would advise you to research alternatives carefully before the formal argument begins and to press strongly, if enlargement of your school is unavoidable, at least for specialised accommodation, extra dining space and other facilities to provide civilised conditions for a larger school. Simply building extra class spaces is like putting another cup of water in the stew when the family grows.Having adequate communal and specialised facilities will go some way to preserving those qualities you value.

I do sympathise and wish something could be done to restrict cross-border trade, which causes such problems.

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