Joan Sallis answers your questions. Q. We have been having an argument about the way in which accounts are kept for a project which has been sponsored in the school by a private company.
A. grant was given to us to investigate something of interest to this company. We thought it also had value within the curriculum so we were delighted to co-operate. The school maintains that it is not possible to separate 100 per cent accurately the costs attributable to the project. Some of us are concerned that the sponsor won't at the end consider the money has been properly accounted for.
A Someone I fear is making heavy weather of this. I have no doubt at all that the grant you have received must be the subject of separate accounting and that everything connected with it must be properly costed, with the account submitted at the end to the sponsor. The trouble is that experience of this sort of thing in schools is not extensive, and I find that they are often quite sloppy about isolating budgets.
In universities, research organisations and voluntary bodies the kind of project funding you describe is common. When bids are submitted to sponsors every element is costed, with nearly always an attempt to quantify not only the staff time but also the element of overheads attributable to the activity. It is up to you whether you assume some contribution to the overheads for activities which have been subsumed into the curriculum and normal lesson time. Nor would you be likely to charge for wear and tear on school computers. But such items as transport for students, materials, staff time and opening of the school out of hours can easily be costed. It would be good experience for the students to observe the process of budgeting this activity too.
Q. Several times a very able teacher has failed to get promotion in the school. We think that being outspoken as a teacher-governor she has earned the head's disapproval. We don't think she oversteps the mark. On the contrary she is most conscientious, represents the staff faithfully and always tries to see issues objectively. The trouble is our head clearly feels teacher-governors are there just to back him up.
A. I am afraid it is not unknown for teacher governors to become unpopular for doing their job well. Being unfairly treated over appointments, if this is indeed happening, is more serious, but difficult to prove unless you have been directly involved as governors. Do you delegate all staff appointments to the head? If you do, you can't help your colleague as you cannot be sure that there were not better candidates. Yet another reason for saying, as I often do, that it is dangerous for governors to opt out of their responsibility for teacher appointments. You should agree how you wish to be involved, and those governors who serve on an appointments panel must be specially watchful that the criteria for the post are fairly applied in relation to internal candidates.
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