20th August 1999 at 01:00
You may think this is a silly question, but how can we avoid re-electing the same chair? Most of us in our school have been dissatisfied with our chairman from time to time, so much so that last year we were even talking about invoking the procedure for removal. He doesn't put in the time and thinks he and the head are the only ones who matter when it comes to making decisions.

Yet with the holiday half over, everybody's already forgotten and forgiven, and nobody else has come forward for the position. We'll turn up at the meeting, one of his cronies will propose him, there'll be a deathly and embarrassed silence and he'll be back in. Is there no escape?

It's not a silly question and you are not the only ones. Maybe the best time for changing chairs would be February, when memories of any dissatisfaction are strong enough to motivate governors and they are in frequent contact with each other. But the regulations provide otherwise, and they also leave the formalities of electing unhelpfully vague. I know that the DFEE have thought about introducing a little more formality, with nominations required before the meeting and included in the agenda, and perhaps a secret ballot.

Meanwhile what can people do? First, get into the habit of talking to each other briefly before dispersing for the holiday so that you don't forget important problems you have had. Second, do remember that unless you already have a willing alternative lined up before you meet in the autumn, you will inevitably face the predictable outcome. Third, at the meeting, do at the very least talk about the kind of qualities you look for in a chair and the relationship you want before any election. Then even if you do get the same person, he or she has a job description, and you will have contrived a positive statement of what is wanted, instead of a list of gripes.

Most governors waste the opportunity given by the first meeting to sort out some of their teamwork problems. October can be the chance to get yourselves established in better ways without attacking individuals. So have "how we work together" on the agenda and establish patterns of work-sharing, team-building, respect for each other, corporate loyalty, as though you were just beginning.

This way you turn the summer euphoria into a circuit-breaker instead of a numbing amnesia.

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