Time to commit yourself to the new committees

4th February 2000 at 00:00
Jane Martin gives her monthly round-up of pressing issues for governors

IT'S TIME to make sure you are prepared for all the new statutory committees:

Department for Education and Employment circular 1099 (Social Inclusion: Pupil Support) sets out the procedures for new pupil-discipline committees, which decide whether to uphold exclusion decisions made by heads. The regulations state that the committee must consist of three or five governors with a quorum of three - the head

cannot be a member.

Only the head can exclude a pupil, but the committee has an important role to play in reviewing hisher decision. Membership needs to be flexible and available at short notice.

The regulations are less prescriptive for the staff dismissal and appeals committees. Membership should not be less than three governors, but can be two "if not reasonably practical". Be guided by current staff disciplinary procedures, though these may need amending for consistency. Professional associations and the local education authority should be able to help.

An admissions committee is only needed where the school is the admissions authority (or has deegated authority) - in other words, is a voluntary-aided or foundation school. Policies must be in line with the DFEE's code of practice. Regulations do state that the headteacher must be a member (with a vote whether a governor or not), sitting with at least two other governors. The DFEE website is the best source for guidance documents (www.dfee.gov.ukcircular.htm).

Don't forget, committee chairs cannot be a person employed at the school - so staff and teacher governors are ineligible. Nor can governors or heads act as clerk.

Education authorities should be organising elections for parent governors to sit on their education committees. Talk to other colleagues about who to nominate, and check out the role of the local governors' association. It could help ensure the best possible representation, and feedback to all governors on a regular basis. This is an important new role for parent-governors - appointments must be in place by June 2000. A good leaflet is available from the DFEEand there are details on the website.

Jane Martin is an education officer with responsiblity for school governance at Dudley education authority.

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