3rd November 1995 at 00:00
School Governors are flexing their muscles over a number of issues. In many instances they have refused to implement central or local government policies in such matters as collective worship, key stage 3 assessment, setting illegal budgets.

In most cases a blind eye has been turned, occasionally a local authority has taken action.

In one case the former Inner London Education Authority dismissed two governors it had appointed because they voted for their school to become a city technology college against the authority's policy. ILEA relied on section 21(c) of the 1944 Act which allows local authorities to remove governors appointed by them.

In the lower court ILEA was successful in arguing that it was entitled to take action against the two governors even though the school was a voluntary school.

The Court of Appeal, by a majority, overturned this decision on the grounds that governors of voluntary schools and education authorities had different and quite independent types of responsibility.

In the House of Lords, ILEA accepted that it was unreasonable to require governors to indicate how they would vote on each issue and then to dismiss them if they voted against the authority's policies.

But on the other hand ILEA considered that it was not unreasonable to remove governors if they voted against the authority's wishes on a large and important issue affecting the future of the school.

Their Lordships did not accept this. There could be no degrees of unreasonableness, and the dismissal of the governors was contrary to the governors' independent function. (R v ILEA ex parte Brinyate and another 1989).

Chris Lowe is a legal adviser to the secondary heads association.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today