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Thoughts on Deputy Heads as Staff Governors

Taken from an IGovS discussion group

The topic of whether deputy heads should serve as staff governors has sparked a lively discussion recently among IGovS members and whilst opinions vary, several key points emerge. Here we share some of the issues you could think about.

Conflict of Interest: One of the primary concerns is the potential for a conflict of interest. Having a deputy head serve as a governor can be likened to "marking your own homework." It can sometimes be challenging for a deputy head to objectively hold the leadership team accountable while being part of it.

Election Integrity: If deputy heads are to be considered, it's crucial that their election process is transparent and free from undue influence. Some governors feel that elections can be influenced thereby undermining the integrity of the process.

Experience and Training: There is a view that having deputy heads attend governors' meetings as observers rather than full governors can be beneficial. This approach provides valuable experience and insight into governance without the complications of voting rights.

Practical Challenges: In small or rural schools, finding willing staff members to take on governor roles can be difficult. Meetings often occur in the evenings, adding to the burden on staff who already have demanding roles.

Accountability: Some argue that no senior leadership team (SLT) member, including deputy heads, should serve as governors. The primary function of a governor is to hold the school's leadership to account, which can be compromised if those leaders are part of the governing body.

Diverse Perspectives: Ideally, a staff governor should bring a unique and valuable perspective to the governing body. However, practice often falls short of this ideal, with staff governors sometimes reluctant to speak up or contribute strategically.

Rethinking Staff Governors: There's a broader question about the role of staff governors. Should their presence be re-evaluated? Some suggest replacing staff governors with mechanisms like anonymous surveys to gather staff input without the complexities of governance roles.

In summary: While deputy heads can bring useful insights to governance, their role as staff governors can be fraught with potential conflicts and practical challenges. A balanced approach might involve them attending meetings as observers or seeking their input through other channels to maintain accountability and integrity.


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