23rd December 1994 at 00:00
Joan Sallis answers governors' questions. I guess I'm an unusual vicar - and not just because I urged them to appoint someone else to the chair!

I also feel uncomfortable with the dominance of church-appointed interests on aided governing bodies, though of course I value our distinctive character.

When county schools have up to five elected parents, as well as representatives of the wider public, it seems wrong that church schools, whatever their size, have only one elected parent and no co-optees.

Could the parent we have to have as a member of our foundation group be elected?

And is there any reason why we should not also extend our governing body to include some co-optees and provide for further elected parents?

You can make some changes - if your church community in the form of your appointing body feels the same way. What you cannot change is the majority of two (three in larger schools) of foundation-appointed members that the law provides over all interests.

In fact, the law does not limit the number of elected parents and teachers you can have in voluntary-aided schools above the minimum prescribed, but to increase them and keep the overall majority you would create a large governing body, since you would have to increase the number of foundation governors pro rata.

I know of no schools which have taken advantage of this freedom.

There is no reason why the appointed governors should not include parents, and even teachers and non-teaching staff if you wish, though they would technically always be foundation governors.

nor do I know any reason why the appointing body should not appoint the foundation parent or others on the basis of a popular vote if that was the wish of all concerned - though their representative status could not be the same as the statutory elected parent, since their appointment would remain in the gift of the foundation.

Like any decision made within the law, but without its protection, this could only express the intentions of that body of people at the time and not bind any successors.

In other words, I don't think it's illegal but it cannot become a formal and permanent change in your arrangements.

You cannot co-opt governors in a voluntary-aided school, but once more there is no reason why you should not request your whole governing body to make recommendations on people from the community whom they would like to see appointed as foundation governors when vacancies occur.

Can our school bursar chair the governors' finance committee?

No school employee may chair a committee with delegated powers.

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