The Education Service

Governing Bodies: Role of a Teacher Governor: Guidance (August 1999)

Each School's Instrument of Government sets out the composition of the Governing Body and the Education (School Government) England Regulations 1999 (SGR 1999) provide details of many areas of procedures for governors. Elected governors, whether parent or teacher, as full members of the governing body are subject to the provisions of these documents.

In Voluntary Aided Schools it is the governors (not the LEA) who are responsible, directly or by delegation, for the correct conduct of the election of teacher governors in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 4 to the SGR 1999. Instruments of Government allow for 1 elected teacher governor for primary schools and 2 for secondary schools. Only those employed as teachers (full or part-time) at the school may stand for, and vote in, teacher governor elections. The governing body must determine the position of instructors, licensed or articled teacher and should have regard to the views of the LEA in this matter.

In Voluntary Aided Schools the Headteacher may stand or vote but if elected, cannot also exercise the right to be a governor in the capacity of Headteacher. Headteachers are strongly advised to seek guidance from their professional association if contemplating such involvement in the teacher governor election.

Elected teacher governors hold office for four years but cease to be governors when no longer teaching at the school. It is therefore inadvisable for those on short term contracts to stand for election. When a vacancy for a teacher governor occurs, an election must be held in accordance with arrangements made by the Governing Body and the successful candidate is eligible to serve from the date of election for four years.

Once elected, teacher governors serve in a personal, rather than a representative, capacity. As teachers in a Catholic School they should have a clear vision of the school's Mission and be able to contribute a professional perspective to the educational issues of concern to the governors. The role of a teacher governor is quite distinct from that of a representative from a professional association. It is not, and must not be seen by staff and governors as a conduit between teachers and governors, which bypasses the headteacher.

Matters, which concern staff, must be communicated in the first instance to the headteacher before referral to the governing body. Regular and open communication between headteacher and teacher governors is clearly desirable.

Teacher governors share in the governing body's corporate responsibility for the school's well being and to ensure the school's aims are effected. In company with their fellow governors they must exercise prudence in discussing governors' matters outside of meetings and observe strict confidentiality where governors have so identified an issue. They are bound, as are all, to withdraw from meetings in the circumstances described in Regulation ?? of the SGR 1999. Teacher governors should also consider the desirability of voluntary withdrawal in situations which are acknowledged to be unusually sensitive.

Elected teacher governors should not sit on a panel considering the admission or exclusion of a pupil in the School. Like the Headteacher, and any governor employed at the school, the teacher governor may not be Chairman or Vice Chairman of the governing body or any of its committees.

Finally, in this context, it will be appreciated that circumstances also arise, for example when the treatment or conduct of a pupil or an employee is being investigated and an appeal situation may follow, where recommended procedures will not, in the interests of fairness and natural justice, involve every member of the governing body at the outset. This ensures that governors will ultimately be able to offer opinions and give decisions from an objective and unprejudiced position i.e. without involvement prior to the hearing. Governors must therefore respect the position of the Chairman and Head or others of their number charged with the task of carrying out an investigation on a confidential basis at a stage before governors themselves are called upon as a body or committee to hear the matter.

Notes:

The following may be helpful sources of further information:

Teachers as Governors (AMMA).

The School Governors Legal Guide (Croner).

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