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Chapter 3.      Governing body powers, duties and procedures - Download this file

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3   GOVERNING BODY POWERS, DUTIES AND PROCEDURES

 

CHAPTER SUMMARY

 

This chapter gives a brief overview of some of the powers and duties governing bodies have been given by Parliament. Some duties and powers are dealt with in more detail in later chapters. The chapter also explains the procedures for holding governing body meetings and establishing committees.

 

STATUS OF THE GOVERNING BODY

 

1.         The governing bodies of community, community special and maintained nursery schools are corporate bodies. A corporate body has a legal identity separate from that of its members.

 

Text Box: VA
VC
F

 

2.       The governing bodies of foundation, foundation special, voluntary controlled and
           voluntary aided schools are corporate bodies with exempt charitable status (but
           note that once Section 9 of the Charities Act 2006 comes into force they will be
           excepted
charities, which means that they will be subject to a degree of regulation
           by the Charities Commission, and will have to register if they are above the financial
           threshold).

 

 

3.         As a corporate body, the governing body may have a seal to validate documents, such as deeds. Legal stationers can give advice on the type and cost of a seal. When the seal is used, the chair and another governor who has been duly authorised by the governing body should also sign the document to validate the seal.

 

4.         Governing bodies are corporate bodies and, because of this, individual governors are generally protected from personal liability as a result of the governing body’s decisions and actions. Provided they act honestly, reasonably and in good faith, any liability will fall on the governing body even if it has exceeded its powers, rather than on individual members.

 

5.         Individual governors have no power or right to act on behalf of the governing body, except where the whole governing body has delegated a specific function to that individual, or where regulations specify that a function is to be exercised in a particular way. The governing body is legally liable for all actions taken in its name by individuals or committees to which it has delegated functions. The governing body should therefore ensure that decisions to delegate specific responsibilities are properly minuted and recorded. The Decision Planner available on GovernorNet may be useful in deciding where functions can be delegated.

 

Text Box: VAVC
F

 

6.         The governing bodies of foundation, voluntary aided and voluntary controlled        
            schools automatically have charitable status (see paragraph 2, above). Governing
            bodies may wish to contact the Charities Commission to find out how charitable
            status can help them make the most effective use of gifts and other support from
            the business community, parents and others.

 

 

POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE GOVERNING BODY

 

7.         Parliament has given a range of duties and powers to governing bodies under the Education Acts. Later chapters of this Guide explain governing bodies’ powers and duties in more detail, but at maintained schools, the governing body has general responsibility for the conduct of the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement (Section 21, Education Act 2002).

 

8.         Governors should act at all times with honesty and integrity and be ready to explain their actions and decisions to staff, pupils, parents and anyone with a legitimate interest in the school.

 

 

GOING INTO SCHOOL

 

9.         Individual governors do not have an automatic right to enter the school whenever they wish. However, they need to be able to visit from time to time in order to develop their understanding of the school. These visits enable them to fulfil their statutory responsibility for the conduct of the school. Governors should arrange their visits with the headteacher, who has responsibility for the day­to­day management of the school.

 

10.       It is often useful to draw up a policy on governors’ visits to cover matters such as giving notice and holding feedback sessions. The governing body should plan visits to cover a wide range of school work and each visit should have a clear purpose. Visits by governors can be useful and informative. They do not replace professional inspection or the monitoring and evaluation carried out by the headteacher.

 

DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS

 

11.       Section 29 of the Education Act 2002 requires all governing bodies to have a procedure to deal with complaints relating to aspects of the school, and to any community facilities or services that the school provides. The law also requires that the procedure must be publicised.

 

12.       Local Authorities (LAs) are required to set up a procedure for dealing with certain types of complaints, for example, complaints about the curriculum or collective worship in a school. The governing bodies’ complaints procedure will not replace the arrangements made for those types of complaint. In addition, there are certain complaints that fall outside the remit of the governing bodies’ complaints procedure, for example, staff grievances or disciplinary procedures. Separate procedures should be in place to deal with these cases (see chapter 10 of this Guide on Staffing).

 

13.       The governing body should make efforts to ensure that anyone who wishes to make a complaint is given fair treatment and a chance to state their case either in person or in writing. It is recommended that decisions taken, and the reasons why, should be given in writing, and the person complaining should be given details of his or her rights of appeal at that time. It is advisable that timescales are set for dealing with complaints so that the process does not take too long. Governing bodies can get advice on how to deal with complaints from the LA. A toolkit document containing key messages to help schools to draw up a complaints procedure or modify an existing procedure is also available on GovernorNet.

 

14.       A complaint may be made to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if a person believes that a governing body or LA is acting “unreasonably,” or is failing to carry out its statutory duties properly (Sections 496 and 497 Education Act 1996). However, intervention can only occur if the governing body or the LA has failed to carry out a legal duty or has acted unreasonably in the performance of a duty. Intervention would have to be expedient in the sense that there would have to be something that the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families could instruct either party to do to put matters right. The Secretary of State must be satisfied that a decision is unreasonable in the sense that no reasonable authority or governing body, acting with due regard to its statutory responsibilities, would have reached that decision.

 

EQUALITY DUTIES

 

15.       The governing body has responsibility for making sure that the school complies with the Equality duties set out in the Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended by the Race Relations Act 2000), the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005) and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (as amended by the Equality Act 2006). The general duty on schools is to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity in the area of race, disability and gender. Specific duties require schools to implement specific equality schemes in those areas.

 

16.       Governors may find it helpful to ask a senior member of staff to prepare a draft scheme for consideration, involving people inside and outside the school. A senior member of staff or a governor should also be responsible overall for ensuring schemes are implemented and monitored. This would include, for example, monitoring reports of racist incidents and the action taken. (See chapter 17 of this Guide on Equal Opportunities and School Governors, paragraphs 1–34 for a full description of the general and specific duties of governing bodies under the race, disability and gender legislation.)

 

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HEADTEACHER

 

17.       In a well-managed school, the headteacher and governing body work in close partnership. The respective roles and responsibilities of governing bodies and headteachers are set out in the Education (School Government) (Terms of Reference) (England) Regulations 2000.

 

18.       The governing body must exercise its functions with a view to fulfilling a largely strategic role in the running of the school. It should establish the strategic framework by:

 

· setting aims and objectives for the school;

· adopting policies for achieving those aims and objectives;

· setting targets for achieving those aims and objectives.

 

19.       The governing body should monitor and evaluate progress of its strategy and regularly review the framework for the school in the light of that progress. When establishing the strategic framework and reviewing progress, the governing body should consider any advice given by the headteacher and the School Improvement Partner (SIP). The school improvement plan will generally provide the main mechanism for the strategic planning process.

 

20.       The headteacher has responsibility for the internal organisation, management and control of the school and for implementation of the strategic framework established by the governing body. Governors are not expected to be involved in the detail of the day-to-day management of the school.

 

21.       A good headteacher will discuss all the main aspects of school life with the governing body and will expect the governing body to both challenge and support the school. Acting as a “critical friend”, the governing body should offer support and constructive advice, but governors should not be deterred from questioning proposals and seeking further information to enable them to make sound decisions. The headteacher should give the governing body enough information to enable it to feel confident that both it and the headteacher are fulfilling their statutory responsibilities.

 

22.       A good governing body will delegate enough powers to allow the headteacher to perform his or her management duties as effectively as possible. The headteacher must report to the governing body regularly on how those delegated powers have been exercised and the governing body should keep the delegation under regular review. The headteacher is also accountable to the governing body – both for the functions performed as part of the headteacher’s normal role, and for powers delegated by the governing body. Useful advice on the subject can be found in the guidance: Roles of Governing Bodies and Headteachers. The conditions of employment for headteachers are set out in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, which is updated each year. This document has legal force. Please also see chapter 10 of this Guide on Staffing.

 

23.         To assist the governing body in carrying out its functions, the headteacher has a duty to provide the governing body with such reports in connection with the exercise of his or her functions, as the governing body requires.

 

 

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LA

 

24.       The governing body is responsible for raising standards through its three key roles of setting strategic direction, ensuring accountability, and monitoring and evaluating school performance. The LA should support the school’s efforts to achieve continuous improvement. The relationship between schools and LAs is based upon intervention in inverse proportion to success, and maximum delegation of funding and responsibility to schools. These principles enable schools to operate largely autonomously. However, the governing body is accountable to the LA for the way the school is run.

 

25.       Where a school is causing concern, or a governing body is acting in a way that is detrimental to the performance of pupils at the school, the LA must inform the governing body and the headteacher of this. The LA should also inform other stakeholders, for example, the diocese, the foundation or the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) of its concerns and offer appropriate support to the school. Where necessary, the LA can use its powers to intervene to ensure a school can raise standards. For schools causing concern there is statutory guidance to follow: Statutory Schools Causing Concern Guidance, 2007.

 

TARGET- SETTING

 

(N.B. Paragraphs 26 to 31 do not apply to maintained nursery schools.)

 

26.       Governing bodies are required to set targets for their pupils’ performance in Key Stage 2 and 3 national curriculum tests, and in public examinations for the year after pupils reach 15, and submit them to the LA. At some special schools, no children will be expected to meet these levels. Since December 2001, schools that set “zero” targets have been required to set measurable performance targets at the relevant Key Stages using P scales or other performance criteria, where appropriate. The following section gives advice on the duties of governing bodies. More detailed advice can be found in the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ (DCSF’s) Guidance for Local Authorities on setting education performance targets: LA Statutory Targets for Key Stages 2, 3, 4, Early Years’ Outcomes, Children in Care, Black and Minority Ethnic Groups, Attendance.

 

Duty to set targets

 

27.         From 2008–9 onwards, there will be a dual focus on pupils reaching the target levels expected for their age in both English and mathematics, and, at the same time, on improving rates of progress. The Education (School Performance Targets) (England) Regulations 2004 have been amended to reflect the new target-setting requirements from 12 November 2007. This is to help tackle uneven performance and narrow gaps in achievement, particularly between the most challenged and vulnerable groups and their peers.

 

28.         Governing bodies should be involved at an early stage so that they can help set targets and discuss how to make improvements. Governors should talk to the headteacher, SIP and others to ensure the school has effective systems in place for monitoring pupil progress and is using previous results supported by recent teacher assessment to set challenging targets.

 

29.         All schools (apart from middle schools that have pupils entering in Year 6 or Year 9) have a statutory requirement to set targets by 31 December each year for performance five terms later. So, governing bodies need to set targets by 31 December 2007 for the tests/examinations that will be taken in summer 2009. Middle schools are required by statute to set their targets as soon as possible after the beginning of the school year in which the pupils are due to take the relevant key stage tests.

  

 

30.       Each year, targets must be set for the percentage of pupils that the governing body anticipates will, in the following school year, be registered pupils in the final year of Key Stages 2 or 3, and will achieve results as follows:

 

For Key Stage 2                                                                         For Key Stage 3

For Key Stage 3

Level 4 or above in national curriculum in both English and mathematics

Level 5 or above in national curriculum tests in both English and mathematics

Proportion progressing two national curriculum levels in English

Level 5 or above in national curriculum tests in science

Proportion progressing two national curriculum levels in mathematics

Proportion progressing two national curriculum levels in English

 

Proportion progressing two national curriculum levels in mathematics

 

For Key Stage 4 the targets are as follows:

 

·              the percentage of pupils who will have completed the Key Stage 4 programme of study by summer 2009 to achieve the Level 2 threshold in approved qualifications including grades A*–C GCSEs in five or more subjects or equivalent including English and mathematics;

·               to improve the proportion progressing two national curriculum levels in English;  and

·                to improve the proportion progressing two national curriculum levels in mathematics.

 

31.       For pupils taking examinations, schools should now include those studying for qualifications (including Level 2 and AS level qualifications) approved for use pre­16 under Section 96 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000. Targets can therefore be set which reflect ambitions for pupils taking qualifications other than GCSEs and GNVQs. More details can be found on the Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) website at www.accreditedqualifications.org.uk, including the full list of approved qualifications and their equivalency. The governing body cannot change the targets once set.

 

Changes to legislation

 

32.       The Education (School Performance Targets) (England) Regulations 2007 have been amended to require governing bodies to set targets for the joint English and mathematics threshold and progression measures at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4 which will focus on pupils making two levels of progress at each Key Stage of the national curriculum in English and mathematics. This came into force in November 2007.

 

FURTHER EDUCATION (FE) IN SCHOOLS

 

33.       Further education (FE) is defined in Section 2 of the Education Act 1996. It means full­time and part-time education for persons over compulsory school age (including vocational, social, physical and recreational training) and associated organised leisure time occupation.

 

34.       By virtue of Section 2 of the Education Act 1996, FE may be provided in schools, and it is the governing body which decides whether or not to offer this type of provision. However, the governing body of a community or foundation special school must obtain the consent of the LA to provide or stop providing FE. The responsibilities of governing bodies in determining FE provision in schools are set out at Section 80 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

 

35.       Schools may offer FE courses in the evenings, at weekends, during school holidays or during term time when there are empty classrooms during the day. FE students may also be educated alongside GCSE or A level students. Where FE students are taught in maintained schools in classes with school pupils, special conditions apply. These are contained in the Education (Further Education in Schools) Regulations 1999.

 

36.       The LSC has the responsibility for securing the provision of FE facilities generally and for funding post­16 provision. Under Section 5 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, the LSC may fund private training providers to deliver this provision, and this could be on school premises, by way of contractual arrangements between the training provider and the governing body of the school. Please also see chapter 22 of this Guide on Extended schools.

 

37.       If governors decide to provide FE to members of the local community, they must ensure that such provision does not compromise to a significant extent their ability to provide for the special educational needs of their own pupils.

 

38.       Governing bodies of community special and foundation special schools should consider very carefully the effect that offering FE provision would have on their schools. Before offering courses, they must ensure that:

 

·               if the courses are being offered during the school day, sufficient and suitable accommodation meeting the standards described in Building Bulletin 77 will still be provided for the pupils on the roll of the school;

·               those attending FE courses and having contact with the school’s pupils are not older than the maximum age of pupil the school is approved to take, and that their special educational needs are “compatible” with those of the pupils on the school’s roll, as neither party must be disadvantaged;

·               those attending courses during the school day, who are older than the maximum age the school is approved to take, will use accommodation separate from that of the school’s pupils;

·               by offering courses to adults, the pupils’ health, safety and welfare are not compromised;

·               the overall “complexion” of the school will not be changed;

·               where the school’s staff will be used to deliver a course, pupil-to-teacher ratios and the support staff working with pupils remain at an appropriate level.

 

INSURANCE COVER

 

39.       The governing body as a whole should take out insurance to cover its potential liability for negligence in carrying out its responsibilities. Cover must now be regarded as essential. Although legal action against teachers and schools for breaches of professional duty is still quite rare, claims (for example, for “failure to educate”) are becoming more frequent. The LA will either pay from central funds for such insurance or it may include funding for this in the school’s delegated budget. In the former case, the governing body can request delegated funding if it wishes to arrange its own insurance. If governing bodies make their own arrangements, rather than buying in to a policy arranged by the LA, the LA is entitled to check that the arrangements are adequate, and if they believe they are not, can charge the cost of additional insurance to the delegated budget. Similar considerations apply to other types of insurance.

 

40.       The governing body may also wish to consider obtaining insurance protecting members of its committees against personal liability arising from their office. However, personal claims against school governors are very rare indeed. This type of insurance cover is unlikely to represent good value for money because governors acting honestly, reasonably and within their powers will not incur personal liability (see paragraph 4, above). However, it should be recognised that it may be difficult to persuade good people to serve in this capacity unless they are made completely secure against personal liability.

 

 

41.       Governors are not disqualified by the normal rules on pecuniary interests as described in the School Governance (Procedures) (England) Regulations 2003 (as amended) from participating in meetings about obtaining personal indemnity insurance. They can consider and vote on proposals for the governing body to take out insurance protecting members against liabilities incurred by them, arising out of their office.

 

WORKING TOGETHER: GIVING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE A SAY

 

42.       The Education Act 2002 places a duty on LAs and governing bodies of maintained schools, in the exercise of their functions, to have regard to any guidance from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on consultation with pupils in taking decisions affecting them. This guidance complements a range of other initiatives aimed at greater involvement of young people and developing their skills of active participation. The guidance was sent to all schools and LAs in April 2004.

 

POWER TO INNOVATE

 

43.       Any governing body that is prevented by any education legislation from implementing an innovative idea for raising standards can apply to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, following consultation with relevant bodies, to vary legislation for a pilot period. Pilots may last for up to three years, with the possibility of extension for up to a further three years.

 

GOVERNING BODY PROCEDURES

 

44.       The School Governance (Procedures) (England) Regulations 2003 (as amended) (“The Procedures Regulations”) cover the procedures governing bodies are required to follow.

 

Election of the chair and vice­chair

 

45.       The governing body must elect a chair and a vice­chair. There are no regulations prescribing the election process as it is believed that governing bodies are best placed to decide how to organise this, but those standing for election should withdraw from the meeting when a vote is taken. Governors who are paid to work at the school, for instance the headteacher and staff governors, cannot be elected as chair or vice­chair. The chair and vice­chair can resign at any time by giving notice in writing to the clerk.

 

Term of office of the chair and vice­chair

 

46.       The governing body decides on the chair and vice­chair’s term of office before the election. The minimum term of office is one year and the maximum period is four years. If a governor is elected chair or vice­chair and their term of office as a governor is due to end before that of the term of office determined for the office of the chair or vice­chair then the chair or vice­chair’s term of office ends when the governor’s term of office ends.

 

47.       When the office of chair or vice­chair becomes vacant, the governing body must elect a new chair or vice­chair at the next meeting. If the chair is absent from a meeting, or if the office of chair is vacant, the vice­chair will act as chair for all purposes.

 

Delegation of functions to the chair and vice­chair in cases of urgency

 

48.       The chair or vice­chair has the power to carry out functions of the governing body if a delay in exercising a function is likely to be seriously detrimental to the interests of the school, a pupil at the school or their parents, or a person who works at the school. This power excludes matters related to the alteration and closure of schools, change of school category, change of school name, approval of the budget, discipline policies and admissions. Any action taken under this power must be reported to the governing body.

 

    Removal of the chair or vice­chair from office

 

49.      The governing body can remove the chair or vice­chair from office unless the chair has been nominated by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families under Section 67 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

 

50.       A motion to remove the chair or vice­chair must be an agenda item for a governing body meeting and the agenda must be circulated to governing body members at least seven days in advance of the meeting.

 

51.       The governor(s) proposing the removal must state their reasons for doing so at the meeting. The chair or vice­chair must be given the opportunity to make a statement in response before he or she withdraws from the meeting and the governing body votes on the proposal to remove the chair or vice­chair from office.

 

ROLE OF THE CLERK

 

52.       The clerk needs to work effectively with the chair of governors, the other governors and the headteacher to support the governing body. The clerk should be able to advise the governing body on constitutional and procedural matters, duties and powers. The clerk is accountable to the governing body.

 

Appointment of the clerk to the governing body

 

53.       The governing body must appoint a clerk to the governing body. Governors, associate members and the headteacher of the school cannot be appointed as clerk to the governing body.

 

54.       If the clerk does not attend a meeting, the governors present at the meeting can appoint a member of the governing body (but not the headteacher) to act as clerk for that meeting.

 

Functions of the clerk

 

55.       It is the responsibility of the clerk of the governing body to:

 

·     convene meetings of the governing body;

·     attend meetings of the governing body and ensure minutes are taken;

·      maintain a register of members of the governing body and report vacancies to the governing body;

       maintain a register of attendance and report this to the governing body;

       give and receive notices in accordance with relevant regulations;

       perform such other functions as may be determined by the governing body from time to time.

 

A full job description for governing body clerks is given in The National Training Programme for Clerks to Governing Bodies.

 

Removal of the clerk

 

56.       The governing body can remove its clerk from office by resolution at a governing body meeting. If a school does not have a delegated budget, the LA may dismiss the clerk and appoint a substitute, but the authority must consult the governing body before doing so.

 

RIGHT TO ATTEND GOVERNING BODY MEETINGS

 

57.       Governors, associate members, the headteacher and the clerk have the right to attend governing body meetings. In addition, the governing body can allow any other person to attend its meetings. Associate members may be excluded from any part of a meeting when the item of business concerns an individual pupil or member of staff.

  

CONVENING GOVERNING BODY MEETINGS

 

58.       The governing body is best placed to decide how often and for how long it needs to meet in order to perform its functions effectively. However, each governing body must hold at least three meetings per school year. Many governing bodies meet more often and this is for the governing body to decide.

 

59.       Meetings are convened by the clerk who takes directions from the governing body and the chair. Any three members of the governing body can request a governing body meeting by giving written notice to the clerk that summarises the business to be conducted. The clerk must convene a meeting as soon as is practicable.

 

60.       The clerk must give each governor, associate member and the headteacher (if not a governor) written notice of a meeting, a copy of the agenda and any papers to be considered at the meeting at least seven days before the meeting. If the chair considers that there are matters that demand urgent consideration, he or she can determine a shorter period of notice, but the period of notice must be at least seven days if matters to be considered include the removal of the chair, the suspension of any governor, changing the school’s name or a proposal to close the school.

 

QUORUM FOR GOVERNING BODY MEETINGS

 

61.       The quorum for any governing body meeting and vote must be one half (rounded up to a whole number) of the complete membership of the governing body, excluding vacancies. For example, if the full membership is 15 and there are three vacancies, then the quorum for a governing body meeting is six governors (one half of 12).

 

VOTING

 

62.       Every question to be decided at a governing body meeting must be determined by a majority of votes of those governors present and voting. If there are an equal number of votes, the chair (or the person acting as chair provided that they are a governor) has a second, or casting vote. A unanimous vote in favour of the proposal of the full membership of the governing body is required to change the name of a school. If a governor is unable to be present at the meeting where a vote to change a school name is to be taken the governor can vote by proxy. The proxy must be a governor or associate member whose appointment as a proxy is in writing and signed by the governor unable to attend. This is the only occasion where a proxy vote can be accepted. .

 

63.       Any decision to close the school will not have effect unless it is confirmed by a governing body meeting held not less than 28 days after the meeting at which the decision was made. The item has to be an agenda item and seven days’ notice has to be given.

 

MINUTES AND PAPERS

 

64.       The clerk must ensure that minutes are drawn up, approved by the governing body and are signed by the chair at the next meeting.

 

65.       Regulation 13 of the Procedures Regulations provides that the governing body must make available for inspection, to any interested person, a copy of the agenda, signed minutes and reports or papers considered at the meeting as soon as is reasonably practical. Information relating to a named person or any other matter that the governing body considers confidential does not have to be made available for inspection. Since January 2005, the governing body is obliged to make this information available upon request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, unless any other of the specific exemptions in that Act apply. Therefore, the governing body will only be able to withhold information that constitutes personal data or confidential information, in each case, within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act (see Guidance for Schools on FOI, available on GovernorNet).

 

 

            RESTRICTIONS ON PERSONS TAKING PART IN PROCEEDINGS OF GOVERNING BODY MEETINGS AND COMMITTEES

 

66.       The general principles are shown below.

 

·              Where there is a conflict between the interests of any person and the interests of the governing body that person should withdraw from the meeting and should not vote.

·              In a situation where the principles of natural justice require a fair hearing and there is any reasonable doubt as to a person’s ability to act impartially, he or she should also withdraw from the meeting and not vote.

·              Where a governor or associate member has a pecuniary interest in any matter he or she should also withdraw from the meeting and not vote.

·              Examples of cases where a fair hearing must be given include decisions relating to staff or pupil discipline or admission of pupils. The restrictions on persons taking part in proceedings do not stop a governing body or committee from allowing someone who can offer relevant evidence to a case in question from giving that evidence.

·               If there is any dispute as to whether or not a person must withdraw from a meeting the other governors present at the meeting must decide on this.

 

More specific provisions relating to restrictions on taking part in proceedings are set out in the Schedule to the Procedures Regulations.

 

SUSPENSION OF GOVERNORS

 

67.       In certain prescribed circumstances the governing body can decide to suspend a governor for a period of up to six months. The governing body can only suspend a governor if one or more of the following grounds apply.

 

·               The governor is paid to work at the school and is the subject of disciplinary proceedings in relation to his or her employment.

·               The governor is the subject of any court or tribunal proceedings, the outcome of which may be that he or she is disqualified from continuing to hold office as a governor under Schedule 6 of the Constitution Regulations.

·               The governor has acted in a way that is inconsistent with the school’s ethos or religious character and has brought, or is likely to bring, the school, the governing body or his or her office of governor into disrepute.

·               The governor is in breach of his or her duty of confidentiality to the school, the staff or to the pupils.

 

68.       A governing body can vote to suspend a governor on any of the above grounds but does not have to do so. The governing body should only use suspension as a last resort after seeking to resolve any difficulties or disputes in more constructive ways.

 

69.       Any motion to suspend must be specified as an agenda item of a meeting for which at least seven days’ notice must be given. Before the governing body votes to suspend a governor, the governor proposing the suspension must give the reasons for doing so. The governor who is proposed for suspension must be given the opportunity to make a statement in response before withdrawing from the meeting and a vote then takes place.

 

70.       A governor who has been suspended must be given notice of any meetings and must be sent agendas, reports and papers for any meetings during their suspension.

 

71.       A governor who has been suspended cannot be disqualified from holding office for failure to attend meetings under Paragraph 5 of Schedule 6 of the Constitution Regulations

 

DELEGATION OF FUNCTIONS

 

72.       A governing body can delegate any of its statutory functions to a committee, a governor or the headteacher, subject to prescribed restrictions. The governing body must review the

delegation of functions annually. Each governing body will remain accountable for any decisions taken including those relating to functions delegated to a committee or individual.

 

73.       Functions that can be delegated to a committee but cannot be delegated to an individual include those that relate to:

 

·         the alteration, discontinuance or change of category of maintained schools;

·         the approval of the first formal budget plan of the financial year;

·         school discipline policies;

·         the exclusion of pupils (except in an emergency when the chair has the power to exercise these functions);

·         admissions.

 

74.       The governing body cannot delegate any functions relating to:

 

· the constitution of the governing body (unless otherwise provided by the Constitution Regulations);

· the appointment or removal of the chair and vice­chair;

· the appointment of the clerk;

· the suspension of governors;

· the delegation of functions;

· the establishment of committees.

 

75.       Any individual or committee to whom a decision has been delegated must report to the governing body in respect of any action taken or decision made. The governing body can still perform functions it has delegated: this enables the governing body to take decisions on matters that are discussed at meetings on functions that have been delegated. For instance, the governing body can decide to move (“vire”) money from one budget heading to another in light of changing circumstances, even if the function of approving and monitoring the budget has been delegated to a committee.

 

COMMITTEES OF GOVERNING BODIES

 

Application of this part of the regulations to staffing functions

 

76.       This section does not apply to committees established by the governing body to deal with most staffing functions that affect individual members of staff, rather than the school staff as a whole. The delegation by a governing body of its functions relating to the appointment and dismissal of staff, staff grievance, capability, conduct, discipline and suspension matters are covered in chapter 10 of this Guide on Staffing.

 

Establishment of committees

 

77.       The governing body must determine the membership and proceedings of any committee. The governing body must also review the establishment, terms of reference, constitution and membership of any committee annually. The membership of any committee may include associate members, provided that a majority of members of the committee are governors. Each committee must have a chair, who is either appointed by the governing body or elected by the committee. The governing body may remove the chair of a committee from office at any time.

 

Appointment and removal of the clerk to committees

 

78.       The governing body must appoint a clerk to each committee. “Committee” in the Procedures Regulations means a committee with delegated functions. It does not include other groups, such as working groups set up for a specific purpose.

 

79.       The headteacher of the school cannot be appointed as clerk to a committee. The governing body can appoint a governor to clerk one or more committees.

 

80.       If the clerk does not attend a committee meeting, the governors present at the meeting can appoint a member of the committee (but not the headteacher) to act as clerk for that meeting.

 

81.       The governing body can remove a clerk to a committee from office at any time.

 

Functions of the clerk

 

82.       It is the responsibility of the clerk to a committee to:

 

· convene meetings of the committee;

· attend meetings of the committee and ensure minutes are taken;

· perform such other functions with respect to the committee as may be determined by the governing body from time to time.

 

A full job description for governing body clerks is given in The National Training Programme for Clerks to Governing Bodies.

 

Right of persons to attend meetings of committees

 

83.       Members of committees, the headteacher (if not a member of the committee) and the clerk to the committee have the right to attend committee meetings. In addition, the governing body or the committee can allow any other person to attend their meetings. Associate members may be excluded from any part of a committee meeting when the item of business concerns an individual pupil or member of staff.

 

Meetings of committees

 

84.       Committee meetings are convened by the clerk to the committee, who takes directions from the governing body and the chair of the committee.

 

Notice of committee meetings

 

85.       The clerk must give each governor and associate member who is a member of the committee and the headteacher (if not a governor) written notice of a meeting, a copy of the agenda and any papers to be considered at the meeting at least seven days before the meeting. If the chair of the committee considers that there are matters that demand urgent consideration he or she can determine a shorter period of notice.

 

Quorum

 

86.       The quorum for any committee meeting and for any vote must be three governors who are members of the committee (or more) as determined by the committee.

 

Voting

 

87.       Every question to be decided at a committee meeting must be determined by a majority of votes of those governors and associate members present and voting. If there is an equal number of votes, the chair (or the person acting as chair), provided that he or she is a governor, has a second (or casting) vote. The committee can only vote if the majority of the committee members present are governors.

 

Associate members

 

88.       The governing body can give limited voting rights to associate members on committees at the time of appointment. Associate members cannot be given voting rights if they have not reached the age of 18 at the time of their appointment.

 

89.       Associate members may not vote on any decision concerning admissions, pupil discipline, election or appointment of governors, the budget and financial commitments of the governing body.

 

Minutes of committee meetings

 

90.       Minutes must be drawn up by the clerk and signed by the chair after approval at the next meeting of the committee. The committee must make available for inspection to any interested person a copy of the agenda, signed minutes and reports or papers considered at the meeting as soon as is reasonably practicable. Information relating to a named person or any other matter that the committee considers confidential does not have to be made available for inspection.

 

THE LAW

 

N.B. As legislation is often amended and Regulations introduced, the references made in this Guide may be to legislation that has been superseded. For an up-to-date list of legislation applying to schools, please refer to the GovernorNet website, www.governornet.co.uk

 

Education Act 1996 Sections 2, 4, 5, 496 and 497

 

School Standards and Framework Act 1998: Section 48 (as amended by the Education Act 2002), Education Act 2002, in particular Sections 19, 21, 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 35 and 78–80 and Schedules 1 and 3

 

The Education and Inspections Act 2006, in particular Section 67 and Part 4

 

The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007: SI 2007/957

 

The Education (School Performance Targets) (England) Regulations 2004 SI 2004/2858 (as amended by The Education (School Performance Targets) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2006: SI 2006/3151)

 

The Education (School Government) (Terms of Reference) (England) Regulations 2000: SI 2000/2122

 

The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2003: SI 2003/1963 (as amended by SI 2003/2725 and SI 2006/3197)

 

The School Governance (Procedures) (England) Regulations 2003: SI 2003/1377 (as amended by SI 2003/1916, 2003/1963, 2004/450 and 2007/959)

 

The Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act, 2000) The specific duties of governing bodies are set out by way of SI 2001/3458 and SI 2004/3125

The Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003: SI 2003/1626 implements the Race Directive 2000/43EC

 

GUIDANCE

 

www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/lea/role/

 

DfEE Circular 11/98 – Target-setting in schools www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/ts/

 

Supporting the Target  Setting Process – Guidance for effective target- setting for pupils with special educational needs (DfEE 0065/2001)

 

Guidance for Local Authorities on target- setting at Key Stage 2, 3 and 4, and for minority ethnic groups, looked after children and school attendance. www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/ts

 

DfEE publication: Code of Practice – LEA-School Relations (ISBN 1 84185 008X)

 

 

 

FEFC Circular 96/06 – Franchising

FEFC Circular 99/37

FEFC Circular 99/37 Supplement

 

Roles of Governing Bodies and Headteachers: DfEE Guidance, issued September 2000

 

School Complaints Procedure located in Roles and Responsibilities area of the GovernorNet website

 

Innovation Unit website – www.innovation-unit.co.uk

 

Extended Schools: providing opportunities and services for all – www.teachernet.gov.uk/extendedschools

 

On promoting race equality:

 

Promoting Race Equality: the Statutory Code of Practice by The Commission for Racial Equality (2002) ISBN: 1 85442 430 0

 

The Duty To Promote Race Equality: A Guide for Schools (non-statutory),The Commission for Racial Equality, (2002) ISBN: 1 85442 433 5

 

Learning for All: Standards for Racial Equality in Schools, The Commission for Racial Equality (2000) ISBN: 1 85442 223 5

 

Schools’ Race Equality Policies: From Issues to Outcomes, DfES guidance (2005)

 

Schools Causing Concern on the Standards Site

 

Working Together: Giving children and young people a say (DfES 0134/2004)