Follow advice on right side of law

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
IN his letter Mr Betts (TES, December 6) suggests that I invariably advise governors to consult the (wise but bureaucratic) local authority, but not the (wise and experienced) head.

I welcome criticism but do not really think this is fair. I always urge governors to take the headteacher's judgment into account in all matters where the school can safely act alone, but on personnel procedures, where going it alone can lead to disastrous and expensive consequences, I must continue to advise staying close to the LEA. This is (a) because they have a lot of experience in this area and (b) because if we act illegally or in conflict with their guidance, the school has to take any consequences arising in the courts or an industrial tribunal and pick up the tab.

But there are other good reasons for not involving the head in the appointment of a successor. I agree heads know the school well, but moving on is a very emotional business, and emotion can sometimes affect judgment. However in this, my opinion is of no consequence because the law forbids it, and Mr Betts will have to attack the lawmakers, not me, for that. He is entitled to advise readers to ignore me, but it is irresponsible to advise them to ignore the law, however strongly he believes it to be an ass.

Joan Sallis TES columnist

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