Right to sack will hurt us all;Agenda;Briefing;Governors

11th June 1999 at 01:00
Answers your questions

You are right to say that leadership is about encouraging governors to take on their full role, not fighting over territory, and that shared decisions are more robust. But your arguments would be stronger if you were to support some means of removing rogue governors. I am lucky, but some heads suffer greatly from just one impossible governor. (Summary of a letter from a headteacher, May 14.) This thoughtful letter contains a suggestion I often hear: that governors should be sackable. I have sympathy with those governing bodies and heads who are struggling with difficult colleagues. Many have experienced governors who don't pull their weight, who have hobby-horses, who waste time, or who talk about the school indiscreetly or disloyally outside.

Governors appointed by the education authority and foundation governors may be removed by those who appointed them for good and legal reasons. A couple of key court cases have established that failing to "toe the party line" is not sufficient reason.

Elected parent and teacher-governors cannot be removed at all: this would be a breach of the elective principle. Co-opted governors cannot currently be removed either. (Any governor can, of course, become disqualified by reason of bankruptcy or criminal conviction or six months' unauthorised non-attendance, but you are not referring to these in your letter, just those who upset colleagues.) As you will have seen from my piece on the new draft governors' regulations (TES, June 4), the Department for Education and Employment is consulting on a proposal that a governing body should be able to remove a governor it has co-opted, subject to a procedure like that for removing a governor from the chair.

I oppose this change, partly because I am against singling out one category of governor for more severe treatment than others, but also because a sacking facility will in the end damage governing bodies out of all proportion to the problems it aims to solve.

I have had enough experience now to know that the governor who the rest want to get rid of can be the one who stands up for openness and correct procedures, for principles, for assuming legal responsibilities instead of fudging them.

Any hint of a witch-hunt of such governors could set us back a generation.

Even the governor with whom the head would sooner not work is occasionally the one who takes the job seriously, because there are still a few heads who can't live with that.

There is a less tangible objection than this, however, one not easy to express. It is that I and many others find immense strength as governors in the fact that we are bound together in a common task with no possibility of escaping its problems, including the human ones.

Like a family, we have to try to solve these problems within the walls, and tolerate each other because of our bond.

That doesn't mean that we have to remain silent when people offend. Group discipline must be exercised when the matter is important, and this includes situations where colleagues who have the wrong end of the stick won't accept the training and elucidation available.

Group discipline can be a great strength to everyone, and being too nice to adults can end by damaging children.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today