27th June 1997 at 01:00

I am an RE teacher in a Roman Catholic voluntary-aided school who has been threatened with dismissal because the governors do not approve of my teaching. Can they do this?


teachers of RE in voluntary-aided schools are in a slightly different situation from their colleagues teaching other subjects. Section 145 of the Education Act 1996 lays down that the governing body may dismiss an RE teacher for failing "to give such education efficiently and suitably", without the consent of the local education authority.

This clause recognises the particular powers of voluntary-aided schools in respect of their religious affiliation and commitment.

It does not mean, however, that you do not enjoy the same protection under employment law as other teachers. If you do lose your job, and you believe that you have been unfairly dismissed, you may, assuming you have been in post for more than two years, appeal to an industrial tribunal. Such a case might hinge on whether they were acting reasonably in determining that your teaching was unsuitable.


Some parents have challenged the decision by our head to exclude pupils who have attacked others in the street after school. Must the governors uphold their challenge?


Certainly not for the reasons suggested by your question. It is well-established by legal precedent that the authority of the head extends beyond the school gate and outside the times when the school is in session, although the strength of that authority might diminish as the distance or the time becomes greater. The tests to apply are: * Were the pupils identifiable as belonging to the school?

* Did their conduct damage the good name of the school?

* Was their conduct a challenge to the school's reasonable authority?

If the misconduct satisfies any of these criteria and the guilt of those concerned is demonstrated, the head is entitled to expect the support of the governing body.

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