Who should take on whom?

13th February 2004 at 00:00
The Government's attempt to tinker with the relationship between heads and governors takes the form of school staffing regulations. The suggestion is that governors appoint heads and other members of the leadership group, and heads appoint teachers.

What can they be thinking of? Of course, we governors appoint heads. But it was not always thus. Older readers will remember when education officers andor local councillors made headship appointments. There was debate on the National Governors' Council's email discussion group on whether teacher governors should serve on headship appointment panels. The consensus seems to be that they should, unless there is a clear pecuniary interest. Quite right - all stakeholders should have a voice in selecting the head.

However, the idea that governors alone should appoint assistant heads is quite bizarre. Heads, we are instructed, have a right to attend. But surely heads should take the lead with governors in these appointments?

Having made the senior appointments, governors are then excluded from staff appointments. There is a specific exception for religious schools, where governors should be involved.

There is also an exception to governor exclusion if the head is unwilling to take on sole responsibility for appointments outside the leadership group. I hope many will be. As usual the answer to "who does what" disputes between heads and governors is partnership and co-operation.

Governors should be bringing the perspective of those they represent to the process of devising job descriptions and advertisements, shortlisting and interviewing. Crucially, they need this experience before embarking on the daunting process of making a headship appointment. Governors who have particular responsibility for literacy, special needs or any other area of the curriculum should be involved in appointing the staff with whom they will have to work closely - special educational needs co-ordinators and subject leaders.

Another strange omission is any mention of a role for teachers in appointing their colleagues. My school is a small primary and we have always involved our deputy head in appointments. Shall we just all quietly carry on making appointments in the way which suits our school? After all, who's going to know?

Lindy Hardcastle is a governor of a small primary in Leicestershire.

Something to get off your chest? Email karen.thornton@tes.co.uk

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