19th August 2005 at 01:00
JOAN SALLIS answers governors' questions.

I have been a hard-working parent governor for five years and have two children still at the school. I was re-elected by a large majority for a second term. Our chairman likes to get his own way and everyone is afraid of him. Before school broke up we had a preliminary discussion about trips for the coming year; we didn't come to a conclusion but will have it on the agenda when we get back.

I am the only parent governor who thinks we ought to cut trips to expensive destinations such as Florida (mostly in the holidays) because they have little educational value and are divisive, causing envy among children whose parents cannot afford such trips. My fellow parent governors and most of the other governors don't agree with me because they are all well-off. I will be outvoted but will be very upset if I can't have my say and be seen to represent the majority of parents. The chairman said he could suspend me for being obstructive.

I admire you for taking a stand on principle and strongly defend your right to vote as you think fit. Many governors share your unease, though they are often in a minority in their schools.

First of all it is not up to the chair to suspend you. It has to be the will of the majority, and whatever their opinions on the trips issue I can't believe they would follow him unless they are scared stiff of him.

Anyway, it is a totally unsuitable issue on which even to discuss suspension. I'm not sure that I approve of the power to suspend a governor (especially an elected one), but it is the law now.

Nevertheless, this sanction is only intended for gross misconduct which brings the governing body into disrepute. Be courteous but stand your ground. I am sure your local authority will support you if it comes to that.

Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 0171 782 32023205, or see www governorsask_ the_expert where answers to submitted questions will appear

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