Is your body still fit to govern?;Matters arising;Governors;Briefing

19th November 1999 at 00:00
Daunted by the mountain of new regulations? Jane Martin lists actions governors should take this month if they want to do things by the book

ARE YOU working within the new regulations? Do you have any non-governor committee members? They can be a good way of drafting in extra expertise - or involving those from the local community who can't commit themselves to full membership. Now is the time to decide if non-members of committees can have voting rights.

Check the new general provision for governors to withdraw from meetings - the governing body can agree to require a governor to withdraw for any item where there is a conflict of interest or other reasonable doubt about impartiality. Make a note on each agenda, just to remind everyone.

Check with the clerk about the new, much clearer disqualification procedures. Governors absent from the full meeting for a continuous six months are now automatically disqualified - although that doesn't apply where apologies have been accepted. Ensure the clerk requests and records acceptance of apologies.

There are new powers to remove co-opted governors - make sure the clerk is aware of the process just in case.

Does the chair know that her powers under chair's action are now restricted - and that any action taken must be reported back to the next governing body meeting? Best to suggest a report-back as a regular agenda item.

Ensure all personnel matters are up-to-date in preparation for performance management. New statutory requirements on heads and deputies' pay must be dealt with this term. Governors should be assimilating headteachers' pay on to new pay-scales (back-dated from September) and agreeing performance objectives for heads and deputies for this year. The Department for Education and Employment's Guidance for Governors is recommended reading.

Discussions to agree objectives with head and deputies are best done with a small group of governors - you could use the personnel committee. It's important to use performance data such as the PANDA (performance and assessment) reports. Check with the education authority - do they have information to help compare your performance against that of your peers? Agree at most six, measurable, objectives. Suggest a timetable to review performance throughout the year to inform the next pay review.

Jane Martin is a Dudley education authority officer, with responsibility for school governance.

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