9th February 2001 at 00:00
Answers your questions

When an opportunity comes up for staff to apply for a post carrying an extra point, can governors insist on seeing the vacancy notice in advance?

We are often approached by staff who say that the head sets out the requirements to exclude teachers he doesn't like or give an advantage to favourites.

How unpleasant. The governing body has, at present,overall responsibility for all appointments. You may delegate as much or as little of the work to the headteacher as you wish, though you remain responsible.

If you wish to be involved in drafting advertisements and vacancy notices, the head must abide by that wish. It really is important that such processes are seen to be fair, because it is so easy to put words together in a way which, even unconsciously, reflect our own preferences.

Independent scrutiny is a safeguard for the head as well as the staff concerned: he or she might well be charged with offending against equal opportunities principles if there really is bias in the advertisement.

QUESTION Can we co-opt a finance officer? She would be an excellent governor.

ANSWER I'm afraid co-option of persons employed at the school ceased to be legal when elected staff representatives were introduced in September 1999. Your finance oficer may stand for election when there is a vacancy for a support staff governor. You may also co-opt her to your finance committee, though this does not make her a governor. It needs a formal vote at a full governors' meeting, when the governing body must decide whether the person concerned is to have a vote on that committee. The co-optee may not chair the committee, and governors must be in a majority when any vote is taken.

Governors, according to The TES (January 5), are clamouring to pay headteachers more. I have to say that, out here in the shire counties, we clamour very quietly.

Of course, the current pay scales for heads and deputies in small schools are too low. We would love to pay our management team more, just as we would love our brilliant classroom assistants to earn more than their neighbours in the local supermarket. But even if we had the money, would it solve the headship recruitment crisis?

The Government's answer to the teacher shortage - to keep throwing money at it - clearly isn't working. Why should it work for heads?

I hate to say I told you so, but I left the Labour party when Chris Woodhead was reappointed as chief inspector, forecasting just this dire effect on teacher morale. Me, I wouldn't start from here.

Joan Dalton

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