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Who hiresand fires now?

Heads of maintained schools in England are now expected to take the lead in hiring and firing all staff below the leadership group. New statutory guidance on staffing regulations which came into effect last term says the governing body should delegate the new functions to the head without delay.

Where the head is inexperienced or unwilling the school can continue as before until April 2004, by which time all heads should have received training. Governing bodies are still responsible for appointing heads and deputies, and deciding if they or the head should appoint assistant heads.

The head can decide how the candidates for a post will be selected and appointed, and the criteria that will be used. Heshe may use a committee of governors or a single governor for advice and support, but will take the final decision. Where the head has been involved in initial disciplinary proceedings against a member of staff, the governing body should take over at the dismissal stage. However, all appeals against decisions taken by the head must be heard by a committee of governors.

Education authorities no longer have to be consulted about the appointment of support staff - except where the pay gradings are not straightforward.

To avoid claims about equal pay, LEAs must be informed of the proposed gradings and be allowed to suggest changes. If the school persists it would have to take responsibility for any legal challenges.

Staffing guidance under sections 35(8) and 36(8) of the Education Act 2002, at www.governornet.co.uk

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