17th March 2000 at 00:00
RECENTLY you referred to certain decisions needing a higher quorum. I've looked up what these are in the new guide to the law so now know what they are, but I still don't know why there are these differences. Also could you say how we calculate them?

The thrust of the regulations always seems to be about ensuring that key decisions and those involving adding members,

delegating power, or making important judgments about

people, should be taken seriously and involve adequate participation. Hence the higher quorum for making co-options, delegating functions to small groups or

getting rid of your chair. For most of the routine work the lower quorum is thought enough, but these serious decisions require two-thirds.

The one-third alternative,

however, is calculated in a less generous way - you have to take the full strength of the governing body as your base, including vacancies. The two-thirds is

calculated merely on those

governors you actually have in post and who are eligible to vote (co-opted governors don't vote in later co-options, presumably to avoid self perpetuating categories emerging). If it were two-thirds of the full theoretical voting strength it might be a bit


I think the regulations have always been admirably coherent and sensible on this sort of issue. The message they send is that some decisions are at the heart of governors' corporate responsibility and need to have thoughtful and broadly-based suppot. On others you need to be particularly careful that people with an axe to grind don't participate, or you must make sure that people know exactly what's going to come up at the meeting when they make their judgement whether to attend, and so on. You can also see regulations like this as a protection against dirty tricks of various kinds (see Agenda, TES, February 11), in that it might suit a particular interest group to have a poor attendance for an item.

I AM a one of the grounds staff in a big secondary. Our caretaker has just been appointed staff governor. Is he supposed to consultreport back to me and all the others in the staff groups he represents? I have some grievances about my schedules that I'd like him to report but he seems to think being a governor is just hob-nobbing.

Being a staff governor does entail representing the full range of support staff and that

governor should try to talk to all the groups about what's coming up at meetings and encourage them to comment. All governors deal with general school-policy issues however and are more than representatives of sectional interests. That doesn't mean that they don't represent you. But a dispute about individual job rotas might be more appropriate to discuss within the line management or take up with your union. If it could not be sorted out by these means it might then become a formal grievance presented to the governing body and a committee of governors would consider it carefully.

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