1st October 1994 at 01:00

Joan sallis answers your questions. This is a Roman Catholic school but many non-Catholic parents favour it because of its good academic reputation and discipline. A number of them withdraw their children from assembly. Is this correct? Surely if they choose us they are accepting our faith?

I'm afraid the legal right of parents to withdraw children from RE and collective worship applies in county and voluntary schools alike.

We should like our caretaker to come to governors' meetings as he would be able to contribute on many things we discuss and we always regard him as part of our team. Is there any reason why he shouldn't?

None at all. The governing body decides what visitors to invite, and it is quite in order for you to give the caretaker a standing invitation if that is what a majority of you want.

He wouldn't be able to vote, of course. If you wanted him as a full member with voting rights you could also co-opt him when you have a vacancy.

Our head is spending an awful lot of time out of school: weeks in total in every term at conferences, courses, his association work, and his work as a trustee of a charity.

It has begun to worry us, as it is having an effect on the staff's time-keeping and general conscientiousness. The deputy doesn't always know his movements and it is difficult for her. Should he let us know, at least, or even as a courtesy ask our permission?

Even when he is in school he is becoming remote from the staff and the school's social life.

I think you must tackle it. A governing body should not feel it has to give permission for a head to be off the premises. But we trust the head to display professional honour and moderation to ensure the good management of the school, and if this trust proves misplaced and the staff lack proper leadership, we may have to be more formal.

I would hope that a cautionary word from your chair, saying that the matter is causing comment, would be sufficient in the first instance.

If that fails you have to consider more formal approaches and involve your staff disciplinary committee.

The governing body as a whole should not be involved in a disciplinary action because some may be needed for an appeal, and the committee should keep a record of events as soon as a case looks like getting serious.

Our LEA has very little nursery provision and the area abounds in playgroups. Every church hall seems to be full.

We have a spare classroom only used for storage since the school was reorganised some years ago from one-form entry 5-11 to two-form entry infants only, and we have been approached by a new play-group looking for a better home than their leaky scout hut.

We have a delegated budget. Is there any reason why we shouldn't let a room for a reasonable rent?

No reason at all. It is in fact quite common. It would be even better if you could persuade your LEA to let you have a nursery class. Is this out of the question?

Send questions to Joan Sallis, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. She regrets that she cannot answer questions privately.

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