6th October 1995 at 01:00
Joan sallis answers your questions

Is there any reason why we should not rent a piece of land for the school's use? By providing some car-parking space, which this would achieve, we can release land to improve our restricted play area. We can afford the rent and we are a county school.

I can't find an "it says that you can't do this" anywhere. Now that schools have become corporate, governors may enter into contracts on behalf of the school, which would have been a problem before that change. It would be as well to check with your local education authority, however, just in case there is some local problem that I don't know about.

A new member of our support staff has just started work and is giving complete satisfaction so far. However, we now discover that he was dismissed from another department of the council. Can they force us to dismiss him?

First, I assume that the offence was not anything which would make this person unsuitable to work with children - otherwise you would be concerned yourselves.

Second, I take it that it isn't anything which you can't accept or cope with within the current job given a fresh start. In other words, you want to keep him. If you did not, the answer would be different, since the fact that important information was not divulged at the time of application and interview would probably give you a let-out from the contract if you felt you wanted one.

You might find it helpful to ask yourselves whether your choice would have been the same had you had the information: this is the real test.

On the assumption that you answer yes, and do wish to keep the member of staff, I would think it difficult for the local authority to intervene now, since presumably the contract has been completed. Unless it is an employee working 16 hours a week or less, I understand you would have been required to inform the chief education officer of your choice, and it seems reasonable to expect him or her to check that there was no history within the council at the very least, since this is the most obvious and easy check to carry out.

When governors recommend the appointment of a teacher they have selected, for instance, there are specific checks that the authority has to carry out on qualifications and health, and it is only if these enquiries reveal problems that the local education authority would ever question the governors' decision. In other cases, although we are not technically the employers, we do choose staff and have all the personnel functions short of the contractual one. These include also the recommendation to dismiss.

Questions should be sent to Agenda, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200. e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.

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