Teacher governors in firing line

4th November 1994 at 00:00
Public appointments, payments to MPs and the role of quangos are under scrutiny. The TES examines the likely impact of the Nolan inquiry on the world of education. Local authority leaders warned this week of conflicts of interest over pay and personnel in schools which have heads and teachers as governors. The Association of Metropolitan Authorities claimed heads could use their position on governing bodies to achieve better pay deals.

It added it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between the role of teacher governor as the representative of staff, and his or her own views. And in a report published today, the association said: "One of the weaknesses of local management of schools (LMS) is the lack of checks or balances when decisions are school-based."

It has now called for heads' and deputies' salaries to be negotiated on an authority-wide basis in consultation with governing bodies, and said staff should not be co-opted nor be entitled to stand for election as parent governor at the school where they work.

The association's report proposes several changes in the operation of LMS.

These include an annual evaluation of headteacher performance by the chief education officer, and schools being required to provide six-month budgetary forecasts.

"While no system can guarantee that there will never be any conflicts of interest, it seems more likely that, because of their relatively small size, school-based decisions on appointments and pay are liable to be open to more personal influence than is normally acceptable in public life."

The AMA said local authorities should issue guidelines on personnel to ensure governors were aware of the legal implications of their decisions and situations involving conflicts of interest.

It added that heads, currently ex-officio members of the governing body, should relinquish membership but be entitled to speak at meetings.

The report also says that LEAs should be given power to direct schools on pay and staffing structures and review existing equal opportunities policies. Sue Nichols, assistant secretary with the National Association of Head Teachers, said guidelines were helpful, but could not be binding. "We cannot accept directions on staffing structures. If you do that you might as well scrap LMS."

Commenting on allegations that heads could mis-use their position to negotiate better salaries, she said: "Prove it."

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