Is it acceptable for the Chair of Governors, code of conduct

(31 Posts)
BonnyBobbyShafto Wed 19-Feb-14 16:20:06

Please can someone in the know, give me their thoughts on my concerns.

The chair of Governors at my daughter's school is in a sexual relationship with the head teacher at her school.

I cannot think this is acceptable! If I am correct, and this is not acceptable, what should I do, given that I cannot confront the head or chair?

nlondondad Thu 20-Feb-14 18:31:35

yes, Chair should step down as chair. I write as a former chair of governors, I did it for eight years, and yes the relationsip between the Chair and the Head is an odd one, and does involve a significant number of one to one meetings, so I can see how if a Chair were single and a Head single a relationship could develop, but if it did essential the Chair stand down, as chair, at once.

mymatemax Wed 19-Feb-14 22:46:39

yes chair should step down, there is a conflict of opinion as could impact on chairs ability to act for the good of the school and as oversight on the decision making of the school management.
If you have reason to believe it to be true & post on a public forum then maybe you should discuss your concerns with them both.

bigkerfuffle Wed 19-Feb-14 22:45:06

In actual fact when I did once make a complaint about certain actions taken by the Head the Chair was extremely defensive. So much so that I was threatened that if I ever raised the issue again or spoke to anyone there would be legal action taken against me. hmm

I think you really should raise the issue with the council so that they are aware that parents know about this and are becoming concerned.

lougle Wed 19-Feb-14 22:40:26

Our CoG is not on the performance management panel.

bigkerfuffle Wed 19-Feb-14 22:35:10

I too think that the Chair should step down. I expect some parents and pupils would have a field day if they were aware of this.

Also, there definitely is a conflict of interest. If a parent complained about the Head to the Chair then how would that be dealt with? Governing Bodies support the Head whatever so with this added relationship I wouldn't expect any complaint to be dealt with impartially at all.

ABofDoncaster Wed 19-Feb-14 22:32:03

I personally think it could be an issue because of safeguarding procedures.

If a child makes an allegation about a member of staff to another member of staff, that person has to go straight to the headteacher.

If, however, a child makes an allegation about the headteacher to a member of staff, that person then has to go straight to the Chair of Governors.

Although hopefully highly unlikely, if the HT and CoG are in a personal relationship, this scenario could cause difficulties down the line.

mythbustinggov Wed 19-Feb-14 22:29:23

It's a definite conflict of interests - the Chair has the responsibility for the Head's performance appraisal and pay review. It would be possible for the Chair to delegate this responsibility (and this should have happened as soon as the relationship was established) but even then there is a conflict of interest.

The Chair should step down .

WhatAFeline Wed 19-Feb-14 22:23:24

In many cases it is important to manage a potential or perceived conflict of interest as if it was real. This is because sadly, rumour and perceived bias can destroy institutions.

Wigeon Wed 19-Feb-14 22:21:01

Lougle -I am certain I would not be objective about my DH's perfornance at work, I would not be objective about spotting any perfornance issues, it would ne totally unfair for me to have any influence on his salary (especially since my finances are combined with his, so would have a vested interest in the issue). Never mind scrutinising the perfornance of an organisation he might lead. Do you really think you could do that fairly and objectively to someone you lived with?

Also, in my school, we only have about 8 governors (one currently medium term sick), of whom only some are actually involved, and the Chair is a pretty key person in leading (or not leading) the rest of us. Not 13-17 governors. So even though the Chair is only 'first among equals' in theory, on practice it's him who is having the weekly meetings with the Head, him who knows confidential information that the Head shares etc. I would not be happy if he was in a sexual relationships with the Head (fortunately in our case that is laughably unlikely!).

lougle Wed 19-Feb-14 22:10:49

National Governors' Association Code of Practice

Governors' Handbook - Published January 2014 on Gov.uk

I don't think there is an automatic conflict of interest here. Those documents clearly state that the Chair person is no more influential on the Governing Body than any other Governor, and that no Governor can act on their own without approval of the rest of the Governing Body.

Even if the Governor was in cahoots with the chair, there would 13-17 other people (dependent on size of the GB) to counter-argue and vote against him/her.

You can't take action based on your dislike of a situation or the potential for something to happen. You can only make sure that your policies and procedures are robust, transparent, rigorous and absolutely clear. At the same time, ensuring that your record keeping is meticulous, so that if there is a problem, you can act swiftly, as you would with any other misconduct in the Governing Body.

I think it's actually a huge disservice to this Governor to assume that he/she can't keep his/her private life private.

admission Wed 19-Feb-14 21:26:49

Under the circumstances that you present where they are both single but have now moved in with each other then there are issues. The first issue is that if the governing body does not know about it, then they really are useless as a governing body and should all be got rid of - they do not know what is going on in the school.
The second issue is that now there is an issue that the GB have got to face up to around potential conflicts of interest between Chair and Head and as much as anything the way that this looks to parents and other local people. It would be entirely appropriate for the Chair of Governors to step down, as it is a volunteer position, rather than a paid position but remain as a member of the governing body.
If the Chair is not happy to do this, then I am afraid it is up to the rest of the governing body to make that happen - they appointed them as Chair and they can un-appoint. This is where having a Code of Conduct comes into its own as there is a clear way forward on which to base the request /requirement for the Chair to step down.
The LA can advise but they cannot make the Chair stand down if the will of the governing body is not to do anything over this. If there is no action over this then you do know that the school is run by two people the head teacher and now their Chair / lover.

Wigeon Wed 19-Feb-14 17:14:44

If I was the Chair, I would see it as my responsibility to step down as Chair at the very least, if not as a governor all together, no matter what the legal position says. You don't know what discussions the rest of the governors are having behind the scenes - it may well be that something is happening. Or it might nit be - so I think either vice chair or county is the way to go. Are other parents concerned too? It might help if several of you approach county.

BonnyBobbyShafto Wed 19-Feb-14 17:04:32

Both parties are or rather were 'single' and so from that perspective, are not harming anyone. Neither had an affair and both were free to participate in a relationship.

What I do know is that their relationship is not a speculated one, it is very much happening and the head teacher has now moved in with the chair.

My initial concern was one of conflict of interest. I will contact the County Governance team and once done, at least I haven't ignored what could be very problematic for the school somewhere down the line.

JodieGarberJacob Wed 19-Feb-14 17:00:33

Were they in a relationship before the appointment of the HT?

Ragwort Wed 19-Feb-14 16:52:21

I think it is totally inappropriate but I doubt much will be done, my DH was involved (not literally grin) in a similar situation as a Governor and the whole situation got incredibly messy. Apparently there is nothing 'legally' that could be done about it - do people really have a right to a 'private life' that involves clandestine meetings in the stationery cupboard hmm.

Wigeon Wed 19-Feb-14 16:47:22

Am a primary governor. I think this is clearly different to other workplace relationships as the governors are responsible for scrutinising the work of the head, setting her salary, holding her performance appraisal. I think there is a clear conflict of interests andit's worse that the governor in question is the Chair, not just a regular governor.

It's difficult because you essentially just have gossip at the moment, not hard fact. If true, it could be the case that the rest of the governors know, have sought advice, and are managing the conflict (eg chair takes no part in her appraisal). Or not...

I would definitely call the county governance team - you should be able to find the number on the county website, or by calling their switchboard. Or do you know who the vice chair is?

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 19-Feb-14 16:46:01

Aah, I hadn't considered the Chair to be responsible for the Head in that way and I am surprised!
I thought that the Governors were sort of support staff for the head.Shows how little I know about education employments.

Still everyone does have the right to a private life and I'm not sure it could be forbidden without impinging on those rights, iyswim.

If either of them compromised themselves professionally it would of course be a different matter...

Personally I think the Chair should step down, as they are effectively the HTs supervisor and will be involved in assessing the HTs performance and deciding their remuneration.

At the very least the Chair would need to declare a conflict of interest and step aside from discussions about the HT. Which I personally think would make it very hard to be an effective Chair.

Your local LEA may be able to provide advice as they are involved in providing training for governors and for providing a Clerk who supports the governors is fulfilling their role.

BonnyBobbyShafto Wed 19-Feb-14 16:38:16

Chair told a mutual friend, but I didn't know 'that' friend was a mutual friend until the topic came up!

AmIIndecisive Wed 19-Feb-14 16:38:07

Unless they are both in a relationship, it's very unlikely that there would be a conflict.

Apart from when the head teacher's performance or salary is discussed by the GB and then the Chair would need to declare an interest.

Reminder Wed 19-Feb-14 16:36:31

I'm not sure theres automatically a conflict - i have worked in schools where ht & wife work in the same school. Married couple in the cabinet? Couples in the workplace must be pretty common as most people meet their spouse at work.

Who do you think should leave and how could enforcing that be legal, if they are fulfilling all their responsibilities properly?

Princessdeb Wed 19-Feb-14 16:33:39

It is a problem because the role of the governing body is to hold the HT to account so there is a potential conflict of interest. I would approach the local authorities governor support team (or local equivalent) and ask for advice.

admission Wed 19-Feb-14 16:33:05

How do you know there is a sexual relationship?

The answer rather depends on the circumstances. If both are free to be in such a relationship then there is no reason why it cannot happen, though it is probably not advisable and there is a clear conflict of interest. If one or both are already in a relationship then this is obviously a car crash waiting to happen.

What you could do is ask whether members of the governing body sign a code of conduct every year - many more enlightened governing bodies do. If so it will almost for sure have words like "We will always be mindful of our responsibility to maintain and develop the ethos and reputation of our school. Our actions within the school and the local community will reflect this."

If that is the case then I suspect the first thing to do is have a quiet word with the Chair of Governors and make them realise that what they think may be a "secret" is anything but and see where that goes to.

Can you force something to happen, probably not unless it is a faith school, when obviously the Diocese will take a very dim view of the head teacher being in such a relationship.

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 19-Feb-14 16:32:08

Surely beacause they are the Headteacher and Chair of governors of a school they would have no problem with conflicting interests as both work together for the good of the school?

I can't think of a reason other than conflicting personal/professional interests to worry at all about who is shagging who.

Reminder Wed 19-Feb-14 16:31:11

Hmm, no idea what the "rules" are but not sure it is necessarily a problem. Would it be a problem if they were married? Do people usually have to leave their jobs because they start a relationship with someone from work?

If they were making poor decisions because of it that would be an issue but not necessarily the relationship itself imo

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