If carefully planned and handled this is just about the most informative process governors can take part in and very satisfying for the right teacher.
I would never impose such a practice on unwilling teachers, however. It is far better to build on confident experience and nothing is gained from forcing teachers who find it threatening. In other words the teachers should be volunteers.
Your teacher governors can be very helpful in matching up pairs who will work well with each other, and planning the visit. Interactive subjects like drama and personal and social education lend themselves particularly well to an extra adult presence. Always remember however that you are a guest. Do not in any way hinder or undermine the teacher or make comments which a sensitive one could construe as critical.
Does one elect a vice-chairman as a chairman-in-training?
The fact that a vice-chairman does not simply inherit the role if the chair resigns mid-term indicates that succession is not intended to be automatic, though often governors will want continuity and will think about the succession when choosing.
They will also, obviously, look for someone who will be loyal and useful support to the chairman, able to step in and substitute at any time, so having some leadership qualities.
Having said that I observe that chairman and vice-chairman quite often complement each other and one suspects that the governors have chosen them with that in mind: one perhaps charismatic and broad in approach, the other attending to fine detail, or one cautious and diplomatic, the other the one who'll occasionally be brilliantly indiscreet.
Much depends on the setting: schools go through many different phases and have changing needs. The head's personality is also a key factor.
Should just the chair and head approve admission limits and rules?
No. This is a function which cannot be delegated to a committee: the whole governing body must be involved.
Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to Agenda, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200.