Joan Sallis answers your governors' questions

10th September 2004 at 01:00
I am a parent governor and concerned that the head of our primary school is having an affair with his deputy. It was going on when he appointed her.

They make no secret of their relationship and some of the older children know. I do not think this is right in a school. It is not just a matter of morality, I believe that the relationship unduly influences the head's policy decisions.

It is upsetting to think of the possible effect such a relationship could have on the children and the running of a school. A clear distinction needs to be made between the relationship itself and individuals whose conduct in their jobs is affected by it, and the personal influence of one upon the other. The relationship is only a concern for governors if it distorts decision-making. Then the chair should consider having a judicious word with those concerned. If you all think that the deputy is having an inappropriate input into decisions the challenge should be more direct. I am a little worried about your reference to the head's having "appointed" the deputy. It is the governing body's job to appoint deputies, and I hope that the decision was not unduly influenced by the head's opinion. If you have evidence of undue influence in policy in which governors should be involved you must tackle it directly.

I am a teacher governor and we shall be reconstituting when term begins.

Our governors don't want to lose anybody before their term is up so they are going for the easy option and remaining roughly the same size, 20 members. They say they will be going up to seven if not eight parent governors - which I think excessive - and the same three staff including the head. Isn't this out of proportion?

The rules say at least one third parents and not more than one third staff so your colleagues are within the rules. But I agree that if you go to as many as eight parents you should be more generous with staff places. It is up to you to press this as a group. Many schools will appoint teachers to appropriate committees as associate governors.

TES welcomes your queries. Joan Sallis does her best to answer all letters, but please keep requests for private replies to a minimum, since we aim to provide helpful information for ALL readers and always protect the identity of schools and individuals. Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 020 7782 3202, or see www.tes.co.ukgovernorsask_the_expert

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