In search of a new leader;Governors

6th March 1998 at 00:00
As the governors' right to select heads is put in the spotlight, Pat Kingerlee reveals what's involved

Day 1. Expected letter of resignation from the head arrives. Reassuring call from local authority adviser who later drops off the authority's Handbook on the Appointment of Heads and Deputies. Head offers schedule of dates that would meet our deadline. Teacher-governor calls in evening to say unwilling to be on governors' selection panel.

Day 2. Meeting of governing body. Local authority adviser attends. Accepts head's resignation. Five governors volunteer for panel, nicely representative of governor categories - including a teacher-governor.

Day 3. Chance meeting with head who suggests possible scenario for interview days.

Day 4. Panel meeting to discuss specification for job (person spec). Suggestions from staff fed in by teacher-governor. Circulate draft to remainder of governing body.

Day 5. Further ideas about person spec discussed with panel member.

Day 6. Note through my letter box from parent governor - person spec must be more specific on discipline.

Day 7. Two separate talks with panel members re person spec. Meeting with head re contents of information package.

Day 8. Authority adviser drops off sample job descriptions. Panel meets after lunch to draft advertisement and job description. Also check person spec.

Day 9. Meet governors' clerk about mass of paperwork. Meet panel member re final draft of person spec. Check ad again. Late evening, at home after a different committee meeting; phone calls from head, panel member and adviser.

Day l0. Ad sent off.

Day 11. Spot error in advertisement. Ring TES just in time. See school administrator re the reception of calls and faxes and the sending out of information - can office staff cope?

Day 12. Panel meeting. Check papers for information package and finalise accompanying letter. Start planning interview days.

Day 13. Meet head to plan head's role on first interview day; prepare invitation to staff to take tea with candidates. Meet panel member who suggests "vital" extra paragraph for accompanying letter. Clerk types it.

Day 14. Sign the letter. The package is ready!

Day 15. The ad is out. Twelve enquiries by lunchtime - 20 by 4pm. Check with librarian that candidates can use library on second interview day.

Day 16. More than 70 enquiries now. Panel meets to plan interview days. What assessment methods shall we use?

Day 17. Nearly 100 enquiries now - and a few strays to come. Head suggests we invite community representatives and feeder school heads to meet candidates at tea. Seems sensible - for a community school.

Day 18. Panel meeting. Inviting community people is a no-no. No room. Tea session just for staff. Develop programme for interviews.

Day 19. Applications coming in. Find travel claim form is out of date; adviser's secretary faxes latest edition. School maps below par - clerk will make improvements.

Day 20. Closing date. Deliver 48 applications to adviser's secretary.

Day 21. Programme of assessment sessions for second interview day circulated to panel. Member comes back with revision.

Day 22. Long listing. Lengthy meeting for two local authority advisers and two panel members. Then look at revised programme. No go. Back to first programme. Lay on tea and cake which go down well.

Day 23. Short listing. Panel members and two advisers. Provide fruit juice and biscuits - totally inadequate. Ring accessible candidates or leave messages. One gives incorrect home phone number and is ex-directory. Two already have interviews arranged, so contact reserves.

Day 24. Clerk sends off information to shortlisted candidates, including details of first interview day .

Day 25. Meet panel member at home. Run through final morning of interviews. Draft letter to the unsuccessful. Plan to invite prospective head to governors' meeting later in the term. Call from clerk - have all governors been invited to the tea ? - no evidence, letter was sent and none has replied. Send reminder in case. Call from adviser's secretary - short-listed candidate who turned us down has changed his mind. Can we accommodate one more? Redraft programme to allow for all contingencies.

Day 26. Realise list of shortlisted candidates prepared for head and staff notice board is in ranked order. Adjust. Concern at bleakness of main meeting room for interviews. Teacher-governor insists place should be seen as it is.

Day 27. First interview day. Check arrangements at school. Smuggle in vase with tulips in tight bud; place in far corner of meeting room. Candidates all arrive early; we seem to have made an excellent short list. While they tour the school, governors' panel agrees salary. Everyone circulates well at tea. Am buttonholed by one who has an interview elsewhere next day. The rest confirm they remain candidates, are informed of salary on offer and, with the next day's programme, depart. Brief meeting of panel; programme will hold with gap in it. Draw lots for order of interviews and assessments.

Day 28. Second interview day. Start at 8.45am Another candidate has withdrawn so two programme gaps. Forget librarian not in till 9 -who has key? No other hitches and day goes well. While collecting phone numbers to call back for final interview, another candidate withdraws. Each assessment group ranks the candidates. The panel meets and members report back. Agree who to call for last lap with no difficulty. Cannot work phone in the only office open so rush home to call them. Those disappointed accept stoically; feedback will be appreciated.

Day 29. Third interview day. Panel with local authority advisers meets first thing; allocate questions, plan timing. Adviser moves tulips, blooming voluptuously, to prominent position. Interviews go well; remember to check each remains a firm candidate. Decision time. Advisers root too strongly for their favourite; manage to ignore hypnotic beam from one of them. Chosen candidate is offered post and accepts. Congratulations all round. Some of us talk things through with the unsuccessful. Give news to head. Put notice in staffroom. Tell staff seen on way out - all pleased. Return to school for full meeting of governing body. Appointment confirmed. Bar writing the formal letters and thanking everyone who helped - mission accomplished.

Pat Kingerlee is chair of governors at Duston Upper School, Northampton

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