14th January 2000 at 00:00
I AM the deputy head of a school whose head is retiring. The governors do not seem confident about choosing a successor. They wish the current head to be on the selection panel or at least be there to advise them.

I can understand this but I do not think it is right. I am not applying for the post and our present head is greatly respected and liked, so I have no ulterior motive. I just feel that the move may influence the decision or at least restrict the freedom of the panel.

I know there used to be some kind of prohibition but I have searched the new law and regulations in vain. Can you help?

FIRST let me say that I think your reaction is correct. I do not think it is good practice to involve a head in hisher successor's appointment.

Regulation 14 (7) of the 1989 governors' regulations did say that any teacher or other employee must withdraw from a meeting at which the selection of a successor is discussed.

But that provision has not been repeated in the 1999 regulations. The only relevantthing in these regulations is a broader definition of declarable interest. A governor must be impartial when taking a decision - and the definition includes a new concept of "reasonable grounds" for believing that he or she is not. This helps, but is not the answer.

More helpful is the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. Schedule 16 (on staffing), paragraph 19 allows heads the right to be present and to advise at teacher selection panels, in cases where they are not otherwise entitled to be there, "except in relation to the appointment of a headteacher".

Now I know that this is about being present and advising, not about being a member of the panel. Sensibly, however, if the law denies heads the right to be present I cannot think, a fortiori, that it is smiling on their being fully involved as panel members.

I am sure if anyone has a better answer they will write and correct me.

Meanwhile there is doubt, and, in your governors' situation, it would be enough to put me off the idea.

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