19th November 1999 at 00:00
YOU said that in future the election of the chair would be more formal and that nominations would have to appear with the agenda. I don't see how we can do for our first meeting, which is late November. This will be our first meeting since the summer and nobody has volunteered. How is this going to work?

THE regulation about prior nominations doesn't come into force until April 2000, though the secret ballot requirement operates now. Even after April nominations may still be made at the meeting if none has been received in advance.

Having given you the simple answer, however, I feel some concern about what you say.

Firstly I have to assume that your previous chair no longer wishes to stand, and, unless you have only just discovered this, it seems strange that you haven't even discussed a replacement yet. We are only talking about nominations and these don't have to come from a meeting of the whole governing body.

I also find it surprising that you say you won't have had any contact with each other before late November. The normal pattern would be to have had a series of committees from late September at least, leading up to the full meeting. And haven't you seen each other at other events: say the new parents' evening, the open evening for parents choosing schools, or a session to hear and discuss examtest results?

In other words I am wondering whether being so laid back about getting offers to serve as chair is a symptom of not having much real activity and involvement, or at the very least everyone leaving the thinking to someone else and not accepting individual responsibility for the things that need doing.

The new regulations were intended, I imagine, to make such governors realise that they had to have a chair before this term is over. They also intend that they must do something in preparation. Even if they fall back on nominations at a meeting, it isn't an ideal way to make such an important decision.

Ideally governors should discuss the choice of the next chair before the holiday, since after a break any problems and concerns you have tend to fade.

Meanwhile do ask the question whether you as governors are organised in a way which matches up to the responsibilities we now have. Develop mechanisms for moving the work along, and in particular ask if every member feels responsible.

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