School Governers

(23 Posts)
RachelBosanko1 Tue 19-May-15 12:41:09

Hello, this is my first post on munsnet! My daughter is in reception year at primary school, and it all seemed to be going well. Last week very suddenly the school headmaster resigned. It is now common knowledge amongst the parents that there has been a big issue between him and the School Governers, which has led to him resignation. He is telling parents very clearly that this is the case. He seems to have been an excellent Head and it is a good- outstanding school. We parents are obviously very concerned that the issue between the Head and Governers couldn't be resolved. He is leaving at the end of term. Do any of you have any experience of the level of authority Governers hold, and how we might best gets some answers from them as to what is going on, without being given PR spin?

TeenAndTween Tue 19-May-15 12:51:13

No idea, but potential reasons could be:
- differences in opinion regarding general strategic direction of school
- governors interfering in day to day matters that should be left to the head
- some kind of malpractice from head, (e.g. manipulating SATs)

tbh I would expect some statement to come out from the chair of the governors. But it will have PR spin.

newbieman1978 Tue 19-May-15 13:26:17

The chair of governors will have to issue a statement at some point (ASAP I'd imagine) out lining what has happened or what they want parents to know!
Unless they are very candid which is unlikely I doubt you'll get the full story. Obviously the head is only putting out his side of the story.

A governing body has very little power if the head is doing a good job and the school is doing well. However some governors like to be VERY hands on and can cross lines which make it difficult for heads to run things how they want to.

If things are going wrong in a school then the governing body in conjunction with the LEA or academy body has the authority to sack members of staff including the head.

A good governing body will with the head teacher set out the direction of school and then let the head get on with implementing the plan. Of course they are also there to hold the head to account and assist/ over see various other tasks.

RachelBosanko1 Tue 19-May-15 16:42:25

Thanks guys, that's very useful to know. No statement released yet, but yes, they'll have to release something soon and nip this in the bud, before it gets out of hand I should imagine. Many thanks!

Millymollymama Tue 19-May-15 17:05:04

The Headteacher should have handed in his resignation by 30 April so if he has only just resigned, he is late in doing this and the Governors would not have had to accept it.

Usually if a Head leaves in this way, they do not normally spread around why they are leaving. Often there will be dispute resolution and the Head might go on gardening leave. Expensive but not unheard of. Schools will have chosen their new Heads by 30 April, so this late resignation is unusual if he has another job to go to in a school.

I think you will find it very hard to unpick and is probably an issue that has been rumbling on for some time. It occurs to me it could be pay. Maybe he did not meet his performance review targets? Perhaps he did not get the pay rise he expected? These are issues for the governing body along with the school improvement advisor. Unless the governing body was totally unreasonable, most issues can be worked through and rarely lead to resignation.

I do know of a Head who disappeared when he did not automatically get the headship of the school when it became an academy. He thought he had been taken on by the initial school to steer the school into its new buildings and continue as head - not unreasonably, because that is what they advertised. It became apparent this was not going to happen because the academy sponsor had other ideas; so he went. Other Heads have been eased out due to lack of attainment by the pupils and lack of improvement and progress but this sounds unlikely in your case. Do keep us posted!

admission Tue 19-May-15 17:13:42

The reality is that this could be the head teacher who is getting ideas above their station or it could be the governing body who are becoming far too operational and getting involved in issues that are quite rightly the responsibility of the head teacher.
The fact that the head teacher is "briefing" against the governing body is a sad indictment that there has been a complete breakdown in communication between the head teacher and the governing body. Quite often in these situations it is a break down in communication between the head teacher and the Chair of Governors but this is obviously rather more than that if the head teacher has resigned.
It is inappropriate and also incorrect that the head teacher is doing this and the Chair of Governors should be issuing a communication to all staff and parents to explain as far as is possible what the situation is - though as others have said you are not going to get the full story because that will be confidential.
Is this a maintained school or an Academy, because if it is the former the LA will also have a role to play in resolving the situation. In extreme situations the LA or the EFA if an Academy can sack the governing body and put in what is called an Interim Executive Board (IEB) if they feel this is justified.

RachelBosanko1 Tue 19-May-15 18:04:59

I think this is exactly what has happened, and there is definitely a break down in communication. I am sure it would be very difficult to find out exactly what has happened, as you've all rightly said. It is a very lovel LA school with an outstanding ofsted, so I can't imagine the Head has been generally incompetent. I understand it is a case of a a few very strong willed Governors disagreeing with the direction he wished to steer in school in. He has resigned without another job to go to. It's very unusual. I do find it surprising that the Governors have not released any explanation, particularly when the head is happily telling parents that the Governers have acted badly. He handed in his resignation just over a week ago, and the Chair of Governors has now gone on holiday for a fortnight, so I'm not holding my breath for an explanation. I have her email, and was thinking of voicing my concern to her? Unfortunately for the school, this comes at a time when the Deputy Head has been seconded to another school, leaving no one at the helm. Parents are starting to talk about withdrawing their children as they are worried that the head was bullied out.

Millymollymama Tue 19-May-15 18:32:30

In terms of Heads and Governors working together, the Governors set the strategic aims of the school. The Head is responsible for the day to day management of the school, but, the Head is also a Governor.

If the Governing Body seek to change the strategic direction of the school, they can. However if the Head is seeking changes, then that is not really his prerogative and he is only one voice on the GB. What direction could the Governors have objected to? It is pretty difficult to think of anything, unless it is academy status. Often ambitious heads like this - more freedoms.

admission Tue 19-May-15 21:11:11

To be honest it does sound a bit like the head teacher had ambitions for the school, for instance becoming a multi-academy trust, that the governors were not comfortable with. To resign however is a big step to make and it was obviously something that has just blown up as otherwise the deputy head would never had been allowed to be seconded to another school.
If I was the Chair of governors at this school I would want to know what is being said in the playground. In fact I would want to know that the head teacher is slagging off the governing body, as it is very unprofessional and is leaving themselves open to disciplinary action.

RachelBosanko1 Wed 20-May-15 09:48:18

Yes, quite. It's not great, especially as the Governing body are keeping so quiet, as it makes one naturally side with the head as his is the only side being heard. If what is rumoured is to be believed the Governers wanted the small village school to become much bigger, and hpthe head disagreed. Whatever the disagreement, it must have been substantial to warrant a resignation. The head is a man in his mid 40's. It will be hard to explain forward in any further jobs. I guess time will tell. Thank you all for your informative and helpful comments and suggestions.

Millymollymama Wed 20-May-15 15:57:58

It is difficult for Governors to increase the size of a school without new classrooms. Often Headteachers support increasing the size of a school because their salary goes up! So does their self esteem because they are the Head of a larger school. More impressie cv!

I would ask if the Local Authority wants this school to become larger? Are there large numbers of children without a school place in the area? Is a housing development planned? Are you in a growth area? Years ago people had to fight to keep schools open due to falling roll! What the Governors want, and what they can realistlcally do is another matter. Who was going to fund the expansion? The money was coming from somewhere because local authority schools just cannot enlarge themselves, although they can suggest it. I would try and find out a bit more because few governing bodies suggest this without good reason and most would get the support of the Head. Who was driving this proposal?

BreconBeBuggered Wed 20-May-15 18:54:48

It sounds as though there must have been quite a dramatic difference of opinion, to say the least. Getting funding even for relatively minor improvements and executing them can take many months, and large building projects take place over a timescale of years. Plenty of time for the HT to look for a new position if relations have broken down completely.

However, I don't think you'll ever learn the whole story, certainly not if the governors act in a professional manner.

MissTriggs Wed 20-May-15 20:16:55

Read the minutes of the GB meetings....

Incidentally, why are people suggesting it is professional to keep this secret? GB is not secret. Matters concerning the head's views would be confidential only to the head - his story to tell....

Millymollymama Wed 20-May-15 22:33:01

If the issue is contentious and divisive I would suggest the minutes will be confidential!!! It is arguable whether this should be the case, but it is not difficult to hide difficult issues.

MissTriggs Thu 21-May-15 08:12:37

Good point Milly but that's the problem. This is really a public life issue - schools are not private institutions.
Confidentiality is so misused.....

BreconBeBuggered Thu 21-May-15 10:59:00

The minutes per se are not private, of course, but confidential items such as any mentioning staff members by name, for example, can be redacted from any document made available to the public. As the meeting only took place a short time ago I doubt they'll have been signed off as a public document yet.

Millymollymama Thu 21-May-15 13:16:53

There is some debate about schools making minutes available to interested parties as a draft before they have been signed by the Chairman of Governors as a true record at the next meeting which can be 5 months after the minutes were taken. This can happen if the Chairman and Head are satisfied with the minutes and they have been issued to all the Governors. Some schools are happy to make these draft minutes available and, in my view, this should be encouraged as schools are public institutions and they should work with interested parties and not keep them in the dark.

Confidentiality is frequently over-used. Salaries and names of children should be withheld but a robust discussion on expanding a school is NOT confidential.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 21-May-15 14:39:08

I certainly think OP should request a copy of whatever minutes are available, as soon as possible. Hell, I'd quite like to see them myself now.

RachelBosanko1 Thu 21-May-15 15:26:24

I didn't even realise I could request to see these minutes. I don't want to make myself unpopular, but I would like a overall view of what has occurred. Our children will be affected by this, however well it is handled, and as a concerned and intelligent parent I believe we have a right to information on some level.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 21-May-15 16:01:17

Anyone can ask to see them. Depending on how they are stored, they might not be immediately available, and as I said upthread the ones you're interested in might not be viewable yet, but you certainly have the right to see them. It shouldn't be a contentious or unpopular request. The clerk to the governors will be able to put you in the picture. Check your school's website for their details.

MissTriggs Thu 21-May-15 16:28:37

<salutes MillyMolly>

Bear in mind that 99% of the population simply accept the statement "it's confidential" so the clerk might clam up.

Anyone got the gen on application of freedom of information act to this?

Basically OP, you need to think like a journalist.

The head's name is obviously not confidential.

The mere fact that the governing body may have described something as confidential in a meeting does not make it so.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 21-May-15 17:38:04

I think a FOI request is likely to be granted, but given the likely timescale it might be quicker for the minutes to become publicly available. It's a bit of a leap to assume information is being hidden if nobody has asked for it yet.

MissTriggs Thu 21-May-15 18:00:33

Yes, backup rather than first step.

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