Councils given power to vet heads

20th February 1998 at 00:00
The Government has conceded that local education authorities should be able to make an early intervention into a governing body's choice of headteacher, writes Frances Rafferty.

The School Standards and Framework Bill had said that councils could only object once a governing body had selected its head. Responding to amendments by the Liberal Democrats and lobbying by the Local Government Association, ministers have ruled that councils will now be able to state their objections to any shortlisted candidates in advance of the appointment.

But the Government decided against a local authority having a role on a school's appointments committee. It was agreed that any appointment must have agreement of an absolute majority of the governing body.

A local authority will also be able to inform the chair of a governing body if it is seriously concerned about the performance of its head. School standards minister Stephen Byers said there was no attempt to dilute the ability of governing bodies to run their schools, but local authorities would have responsibilities when they had serious concerns over the selection of heads and serious concerns about the actions of individual heads.

If governing bodies disregard the advice of councils or their chief education officer, appeals can be made to the Secretary of State.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Don Foster said: "I'm glad the Government accepted our amendments, even if they pretend they were their own."

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