Earlier this year the Department for Education (DfE) launched a consultation into the proposal, “Enabling maintained school boards to remove elected governors”. The consultation posed three questions:
- Do you agree that governing bodies should be able to remove an elected governor for such serious conduct that, for example, is contrary to fundamental British values, repeatedly brings the board into disrepute or in circumstances where a governor has already been suspended on multiple occasions?
- Should being removed from office make the individual ineligible from being re-elected or appointed as a governor at the same school or other schools?
- Do you think it is sufficient for specific examples/ expectations on the use of this power to be set out in statutory guidance rather than have the specific circumstances in which the power can be used fixed in regulations?
Following the consultation DfE published an amendment to the School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) Regulations 2012. This amendment applies to the constitutional arrangements of maintained school governing bodies, including federated governing bodies. According to these amendments
- From 1st Sept 2017 governing bodies will be able to remove elected parent and staff governors in the same way as they can other governors (by a majority of governors voting in favour of the removal)
- From 1st May 2017 any person who was an elected parent or staff governor and was removed during their term of office will be disqualified from becoming or continuing to serve as a governor for five years from the date of their removal.
The procedure for removal is as follows (Regulation 25)
- The matter of removal of the governor must be specified as an item on the agenda
- The governor(s) proposing the resolution to remove the governor must give reasons for removal at the meeting
- The governing body must consider the reasons for removal and the governor whom it is proposed to remove must be given an opportunity to make a statement in response
- A second meeting has to be held not less than fourteen days after the first meeting where the removal is confirmed by passing the resolution. Again, the removal has to be specified as an item on the agenda of this second meeting
This amendment removes two anomalies which existed as far as elected governors were concerned. Firstly, elected governors in maintained schools, unlike other categories of governors, could not be removed even if doing so was in the interest of the governing body and school. The only sanction available was suspension. Secondly, as academy governors (governors sitting on the trust board, not the local governing bodies) are company directors, they could be removed by Members under Company Law.
Things to consider:
- Removal of any governor is a serious matter and should not be treated lightly. It must be the last resort and only done if it is in the best interest of the governing body
- Removal of a governor may cause negative publicity or may bring the governing body into disrepute. Ideally, governors should be aware that there may be a potential problem and try and resolve it before the situation gets to a point where removal is necessary. The Chair needs to understand that he/she has a crucial role to play in this
- Governing bodies should adopt a code of practice which should clearly lay out expectations of behaviour and conduct
- The code of practice should not be a paper or box ticking exercise. Governors should review the code annually and re-affirm their commitment to upholding the code and the Nolan principles of public life
- The code should also lay out the procedure which the governing body will use if the removal of a governor becomes necessary
- When a vacancy arises then the governing body should ensure that the information which is sent out inviting people to stand for elections includes the fact that removal as a governor disqualifies a person from becoming a governor for five years after the date of his/her removal