Councillors Express Concern Over Representation On New School Governing Body

Councillors have approved a new constitution for the Five Islands School Governing Body.

The Five Islands School

The Five Islands School

But they expressed strong concern that this would reduce the Authority’s role on the board.

The so-called ‘Instrument of Government’ is a legal document, which describes how the new slimmed-down governing body will operate.

There will now be twelve governors instead of the previous seventeen and current Chairman Ben Julian says many of these will be appointed based of their skills rather than by stakeholders.

The changes are part of recommendations made by the Secretary of State for Education.

His department investigated the governance and management of the school following the suspension and subsequent resignation of the previous head teacher Bryce Wilby in 2012.

But Council Chairman Amanda Martin said she couldn’t support the new constitution because there would be no elected member on the board.

Director of Children’s Services, Penny Penn-Howard pointed out that Full Council had elected the original three LEA governors and had chosen at that time not to select an elected member.

That was to ensure there was off-island representation on the Governing Body.

Mr Julian was one of those and, as the longest-serving Council-appointed governor, will now continue as their representative.

Amanda said she had been assured that in May, they could re-elect into that position, but legal advice now suggested Mr Julian can serve another two years.

She said she was “very disappointed to be having this conversation now” adding that she had been airing her concerns “for months and months.”

Amanda stressed that her doubts were not about the qualities of Mr Julian, but about the chain of accountability reporting to council.

Cllr Mollie Peacock agreed and wanted someone answerable to Council on the school board.

She said the authority “wouldn’t be taking over” by having one governor representing them and they have a responsibility to ensure the school is run properly.

Amanda asked why Ben couldn’t occupy a different seat on the board and free up his position for the Council.

Ben pointed out that Council Officer responsible for the school, Keith Grossett, sits on the board.

And he said he was surprised when he was elected that there had been no input from the authority about educational principals and philosophy. He’d been left to represent them as an individual, he said.

Ben says the new constitution is about finding governors with the right skills, and that’s a challenge in the narrow pool of 2,000 people on the islands.

Committee chair Cllr Christine Saville said it was important to approve the document and not leave the governing body “in limbo.”

The authority had to be aware of its legal responsibility, she said.

Ben Julian pointed out that the Council was legally-bound to accept the new instrument, because it had been drawn up by the governors and accepted by the diocese, although Lead Member for Children David Pearson questioned whether that legal advice was “complete.”

Eventually, the new instrument was passed with three members voting against its adoption.

It’ll go into effect next Monday.

17 Responses to Councillors Express Concern Over Representation On New School Governing Body