Who has the last say?

5th May 2000 at 01:00
When governors at Bridgend College decided earlier this term to appoint Godfrey Hurley as their clerk, they had to seek approval from the Further Education Funding Council for Wales (FEFECW).

But Mr Hurley is already clerk at the college. He combines the post with that of vice-principal, but is due to retire in the summer. Had he stayed on, he would have been counted as an existing postholder and would not have been required to give up the clerk's job.

By asking permission to give Mr Hurley a separate clerk's contract, Bridgend expects to meet the Welsh funding council's newregulations. The principal, Roger Hampton, believes Mr Hurley will be a good person to do the job because he is familiar with how things work.

However, he says, the problem for colleges in the future will be finding suitable people to act as clerk, either from among junior management staff or by turning to outsiders. "Some colleges (with external clerks) say it works very well. Others say there is poor quality," he says.

Mr Hampton questions whether colleges in Waes that are supposedly independent should be required to seek FEFCW approval for any clerk appointments a board of governors makes. "It's almost got to the point where they (the FEFCW) are appointing our clerk," he says.

"The funding council is reacting to situations which occurred in a very small number of colleges."

The new regulations may lead to extra work for external clerks, such as Michael Howells, a retired headteacher and clerk to St David's RC Sixth Form College in Cardiff. He visits the college at least once a week.

He appreciates that colleges do not like the idea of the FEFCW controlling appointments, but recognises that the clerk's work may not appeal to everyone, especially people with previous experience of education who have seen the way that governing bodies operate. Junior college employees, he adds, may not have sufficient knowledge of management or governance issues to become clerks.

"Governing bodies will havedifficulty finding people who can give them the right quasi-legal advice," warns Mr Howells.

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