Joan Sallis Answers your governors' questions

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
We have a much-valued chair at this CE school whom we don't want to lose.

We will have four parent-governor representatives when reconstituted, and already rival groups of parents are talking about getting "their" candidates to stand for election as chair. As head, do I have to accept all nominations even though I know that some would be totally unsuitable and cause trouble in the governing body?

Let me say at once that you must not obstruct the election process in any way. As head you have no right to do so and it could be very serious.

I know that parents do sometimes get the bit between their teeth about some real or imagined problem, and that heads tend to feel threatened by school gate pressures. Often to an outsider it seems healthier to let whatever it is come out because repressive tactics increase the pressure. And occasionally an important point emerges.

But I am mainly concerned that you let things take their course. I assume yours is a voluntary aided school in which case it will have an overall majority of foundation governors and an even bigger majority in total of governors other than parent governors. So it puzzles me that you so fear the outcome of the election process.

If there is strong feeling among parents about any issue, these will surely be of concern to governors even if they don't support them. But if they are considered unreasonable there will be a big majority against and some attempt to explain why. If you are a voluntary-controlled school you will have fewer foundation members, but even so parent-governors will be in a minority and a wide range of viewpoints will be represented.

If you as head have chosen to be a member of the governing body you can play some part in speaking against views you consider damaging and also you would then have a vote if there were competition for the chair's role. (If you are not a member your influence is much more restricted, indeed you do not strictly speaking have any part to play, and certainly no vote).

But either way it would be highly improper for you to intervene in or influence the election even indirectly.

You most certainly could not refuse to accept a nomination properly put forward. The democratic voting arrangements for governors are part of the law of the land.

Send questions to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 020 7782 3202, or see governorsask_the_expert where answers will appear. Please keep requests for private replies to a minimum

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