22nd September 1995 at 01:00
Joan Sallis answers your questions.

This year we have a substantial turnover of parent and co-opted governors. That means that a number of members won't be able to take part in the election of the chair. Some of us think this isn't very democratic - and is more likely to lead to the election of the same person, since with the holidays between, we haven't had a chance to discuss possibilities. Can we postpone the election?

I sympathise. Indeed, if I ever had a chance to suggest changes in the regulations I think I would suggest postponing the election of chair until the first meeting after Christmas - for the reasons you give and one or two others. One is that you have continuity over the holiday period extending well into the new school year. Often there are things to discuss at this meeting which rest on experience and knowledge - looking at the exam results for instance. At present I don't see any way round it.

I have heard of a school the existing chair was re-elected on the private understanding that he would resign after one term to enable a permanent choice to be made.

This can only work if the existing chair wants to give up and, even then, rests on goodwill only - it can't be enforced. It doesn't help you when making a change proves difficult.

Whatever you decide, don't miss the opportunity - either at this meeting or the next - of looking afresh at how you work together, refreshing your shared understanding of important principles like keeping the responsibility corporate, being loyal to majority decisions, and treating with professional discretion any information about individual teachers, children or homes which has come your way as governors.

You can also discuss work sharing, commitment to school visiting, behaviour when on school visits and your information networks.

This is a chance to put right any tensions or misunderstandings which have arisen without putting a name-tag on them. Perhaps in your case, with several new governors joining you, it had better be the first meeting at which all are present. Do you by the way have a planned process of induction for new governors?

Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to Agenda, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 322. e-mail:

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