14th March 2003 at 00:00
Answers your questions.

I am a parent governor, a former teacher, and I enjoy the role very much. I particularly like being on the curriculum committee and taking part in staff appointments, and would like to be chosen to help select a head of department post in my own subject which is science.

I have now discovered that my best friend from university days is an applicant, and that makes me even more keen to take part. She is brilliant and would be such an asset to the school, but I have a feeling the headteacher wants a man to provide a better balance in the department. My part could be crucial. Should I declare my interest? Surely it isn't as though I would benefit financially or in my own career?

Telling the truth is the only honourable course. Financial involvement is not the only reason in law for a declaration of interest. But apart from the moral aspect, the friendship would soon be common knowledge if your friend got the job, if not before.

In either case, your failure to declare that there were factors which cast doubt on your impartiality (which is more or less how the current regulations put it) could harm her candidacy or even lead to the appointment being challenged and perhaps overturned - all very unpleasant.

If she is as good as you say she will be appointed - I cannot believe your head would be influenced by her sex - and you could enjoy having her in the same town again without any shadow on your friendship. By the way I realise how much you enjoy tasks that you are good at, but do not typecast yourself too much, try to broaden your interests as a governor.

Please keep requests for private replies to a minimum, since we aim to provide helpful information for ALL readers and always protect the identity of schools and individuals. Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 020 7782 32023205,

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