The answer is, probably yes, but it really depends on the particular situation ….
This question relates to a teacher who undertakes occasional supply work at a school where they might also become a governor. There are a number of questions that run alongside this main one:
- What does the Guide to the Law say about Community Governors?
- Is a supply teacher eligible to be a Staff Governor?
- Can Community Governors do any kind of paid work in school?
- What would happen if a supply teacher who was a Community Governor took up a longer term contract at the school?
- Why might it be thought that a supply teacher is not be suitable for appointment as a Community Governor?
To take the last question first, there is a guiding principle that the membership of the Governing Body should reflect a cross-section of the various stakeholders. Therefore, it would not be right for staff who work at the school to be over-represented on the Governing Body. If someone who did supply teaching on a regular basis was a Community Governor, there would be an imbalance of representation by members of staff. The range of proportions for each group (staff, community, parents etc) are laid out in the Guide to the Law.
What does the Guide to the Law say? In relation to this question, it says two things: anyone who is paid to work at the school is eligible to be a staff governor, and anyone who is eligible to be a staff governor is not then eligible to be a community governor.
That might, at first glance, be interpreted to mean that no supply teachers, or electricians who are paid to do occasional maintenance, or anyone who provides a grass-cutting service for the school would be eligible for appointment as a community governor. However, none of those people would be likely to be deemed eligible to be a staff governor, because their work is of such a short-term nature, and the school is not their main or only place of work. In any case, at the point when a staff governor ceases working at the school, they relinquish their position as governor. Therefore, I would suggest that people who only occasionally work at the school, with no fixed pattern or contract, are in fact eligible to be appointed as Community Governors.
It is a bit of a grey area, because the Guide to the Law doesn’t specify whether supply teachers would be eligible to be staff governors, so unless there was a pressing reason to choose such a person it might be easier for them to be a governor at a school where they did not do any work at all. However, advisers at Governorline have indicated that, whilst not ideal, it is acceptable for Governing Bodies to appoint as a Community Governor someone who does very occasional supply work at the school. Phone them on 08000 722 181 for confirmation of the latest position, or speak to your own clerk, or to the Governor Services Unit of your local authority, who may have a particular policy on this matter.
Community Governors are not specifically barred from doing business at the school, providing services or undertaking supply work, but they would need to make an entry on the annual declaration of pecuniary interest, stating their business. At meetings, a conflict of interest might arise within discussions, from which those governors should withdraw. (matters such as sending teachers on courses for which supply cover would be needed ….)
If a supply teacher, after having been appointed as a Community Governor, accepted a longer-term contract of employment or a permanent position, they would then become eligible to be a Staff Governor, and would be disqualified from continuing to hold office as a Community Governor. The Guide to the Law says:
- Chapter 2:12. ”School staff that are eligible for election as staff governors (i.e. who are paid to work at the school) are not eligible to serve as Local Education Authority (LEA) governors or community governors at their school.”
- Chap 2:16 ” A person is disqualified from appointment as a community governor if he or she is eligible to be a staff governor at the school, or is an elected member of the LA to which the school belongs.” (2010)
In general, once a governor has been appointed, they continue to serve out their term of office (usually for four years) even if they are subsequently ineligible. (eg a Parent Governor carries on even when his or her child has left the school. However, in this case, it would seem that the Community Governor cannot continue to serve.
The Guide to the Law is clear on one more point: Governors who are paid to work at the school in any capacity cannot take on the role of either Chair or Vice-Chair. The Chair or Vice-Chair must resign their position if they accept a paid appointment at the school.
To add some more context to the topic, and to help you make a judgement around the particular situation of your Governing Body, consider these additional questions:
- How often would the supply work be undertaken? Very occasionally or on a regular basis?
- Is the teacher likely to accept a longer term contract if one became available at the school? Would the Governing Body then be able to replace the Community Governor at that point?
- Could the supply teacher not be appointed as Associate Member instead?