Agenda

6th August 2004 at 01:00
Joan Sallis answers governors' questions

The governors of the school where I am a co-opted governor are fed up with a parent governor who blatantly supports or opposes - or even suggests - policies on the basis of what is best for her own child. We might, for instance be discussing a change in the tutorial system that would involve a few children changing tutor group, and because her child would be affected she opposes it violently without any real argument. If we are discussing dropping a subject option because of inadequate take-up, she argues and votes against it because her daughter wants to take that subject. She regularly presses for one or other difficult student to be removed from her daughter's class, and once even tried to get her class tutor changed.

Now she is agitating outside meetings for one of the staff, whom her daughter doesn't get on with, to be disciplined for imagined misdemeanours.

Should we ask the head to speak to her? Or can we get her removed on the grounds that she was elected to represent all parents and isn't doing so? Could her fellow parents remove her?

It isn't acceptable behaviour, but it isn't up to the head to deal with it, and although there is a procedure for suspending a misbehaving governor for six months, I don't think this is appropriate here. The governing body must accept responsibility for any threats to its efficiency or reputation arising from the actions of its members. A quiet word from your chair may be the best first step.

Other parent governors could also help, pointing out that they were all were elected to contribute from the point of view of parents as a whole, and such frequent interventions on behalf of one's own children bring the job into disrepute. But if she proves thick-skinned you must all be ready to confront her openly. We cannot afford to let the crucial role of parents in school governance get discredited.

A compilation of Joan Sallis's columns has been published in Questions School Governors Ask. Copies are available at pound;7.95 from the TES bookshop: call 0870 4448633 or see www.tes.co.ukbookshop. Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Fax 020 7782 3202, or see www.tes.co.uk governorsask_the_expert where answers to the submitted questions will appear

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