Who has the last word on staff pay rises?

12th December 2003 at 00:00
Our head gave increases to all teachers who applied in the last upper pay spine exercise except one, who is making a big fuss and insisting that the governing body reverses this decision. We all know why this decision was made though we do not have the technical information to back it up. Is it up to us to make a judgment on a case like this or is the head's decision final?

I am beginning to feel relieved when I hear that any applications for movement up this new pay scale have been refused, because a combination of sketchy Department for Education and Skills guidance in dealing with applications, and lack of rigour in applying it in many schools, have in my observation devalued the process and contributed to wrecking a few school budgets. However, I cannot judge your case. There is no specific provision for appeal to governors in these circumstances and it is not an easy sort of appeal to handle, given that the governing body is not able to judge teaching quality at first hand and it is not our job anyway. But I see no reason why a teacher cannot make it the subject of a formal grievance which the appropriate governors' committee would have to consider in the usual way.

Can our head issue a directive that all decisions on staff appointments and dismissals, curriculum and organisation, pupil exclusions and budget matters be delegated to her?

It is not up to the head to issue any "directives" on what the governing body should delegate. It is true that the latest regulations allow governors to delegate many more duties to the head than previously, but only the governing body itself can do this. Anyway the governing body has legal responsibility for all sorts of vital matters like school improvement - which implies a degree of involvement in curriculum policy, finance, broad issues of organisation - and they alone decide how to discharge these responsibilities and therefore what to delegate. They also have legal responsibilities in relation to appeals against pupil exclusion and overall responsibility for staff appointments. The only thing I can say in support of the head is that it is her responsibility to manage the school within governing body policies, so she could reasonably make many operational decisions on curriculum and organisation on a daily basis, but that has always been so and does not require any specific act of delegation. It sounds as though you need to be watchful.

Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX, fax 0171 782 32023205, or see www.tes.co.ukgovernorsask_the_expert

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