Joan Sallis answers governors' questions
Q: Sadly our chair died suddenly. The vice-chair is a fairly new governor and this is her first term as vice-chair, so nobody feels very confident about her taking over yet. We expected she would have a reasonable time ahead to learn the job. Do we have to let her to take over?
A: Not only are you not obliged to allow it, but you must by law elect a new chair as soon as you reasonably can if you lose a chair for any reason mid-term. The vice-chair cannot automatically inherit, though of course she may stand for election and may also carry out any duties of the chair in the meantime.
Some governing bodies see a vice-chair as the heir-apparent, others do not necessarily envisage that the vice-chair will inherit. But the rule about electing a new chair in mid-term is quite clear and not negotiable.