28th June 1996 at 01:00
Joan sallis answers your questions. Our school has had to make several teachers redundant and appeals are now being heard. I have appeared at these with two colleagues as a "friend". On the first occasion there were four governors present. The second time, I was surprised to find only two - one at least sent an apology on grounds of illness. Did this panel have enough members?

An appeal committee must consist of governors who were not involved in the original decision. I assume you have checked this in all cases.

Regulation 26 of Statutory Instrument No 1503 of 1989 says that any committee to which functions are delegated must consist of at least three governors. Then (and this is important) any appeal against their decision must be heard by a (different) group of people of no fewer members than the first committee. This must make the appeal panel a minimum of three - even if the original committee was only three.

There is a let-out in the regulations for special circumstances (mostly small schools) where fewer than six governors are eligible in all. But even in these cases, the appeal body has to be the same size as or bigger than the first committee. So it looks as if the group of two was not enough.

Governors should regularly check their arrangements for determining personnel and pupil discipline cases to ensure they always have available enough governors not involved in the original decision to service an appeal panel. It would be wise to have named governors - more than the minimum number required by the rules - on a regularly-reviewed list. Apart from illness, something could easily have happened to disqualify one of those originally named - a new relationship with an appellant for instance, a fresh appointment to a relevant committee, or involvement in the events leading to the appeal.

Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to Agenda, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200.


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