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Conduct of staff elections – instructions for the returning officer
- These instructions and rules apply to all Community Schools, including nursery schools, Community Special Schools and to Voluntary Controlled Schools.
- Church of England and Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Schools are advised by their respective Directors to follow these rules. Foundation Schools are also advised to follow these instructions.
- Devon County Council delegates to the Headteacher/Principal of the school/college the arrangements for the conduct of STAFF GOVERNOR elections and to act as Returning Officer. The Headteacher/Principal may be assisted by the clerk to the governing board or another person and in any case the count should be conducted in front of witnesses. ‘Staff’ means any person employed at the school.
- Prepare a timetable for the formal election procedure beginning with notification of a vacancy for a staff governor, inviting nominations and ending with the election count. You should allow two weeks for the return of nominations and one week in which staff should vote. Allow sufficient time for the printing of ballot papers between these two stages.
- Eligibility in the Education Act 2002 for staff governor means:
- a headteacher who is a staff governor by virtue of his/her office
- a person who is elected as a member of the school’s governing board by persons paid to work at the school, both teachers and non teachers, and who is a person paid to work at the school at the time of election. ‘Employed’ means paid to work under a contract of employment or a contract of services.
Eligibility to stand, carries with it eligibility to vote.
The headteacher holds one of the staff governor places (ex-officio), as determined in the Instrument of Government.
He/she may choose whether to take up this place as a governor. Where the headteacher elects not to be a governor, one of the staff governor places on the governing board must still be held for him/her and cannot be filled by another person employed at the school.
6. Filling Vacancies: Where 2 places are allocated to staff governors on your Instrument of Government, one place is reserved for the Head, the second place must go to a member of staff. A teacher, or a member of the support staff may be elected.
7. Using sample letter 2 (letter inviting nominations for staff governor), circulate enough copies for ONE for each member of the teaching and non teaching staff.
8. When the closing date for nominations is reached, check nominations to satisfy yourself of the eligibility of each prospective candidate.
9. If the number of valid nominations exceeds the number of vacancies a secret ballot will be required. Each candidate can be asked to submit a short personal statement. This should be printed in sufficient quantities to accompany ballot papers.
If the number of nominations is equal to or fewer than the number of vacancies, then the nominees may be appointed. If a vacancy remains unfilled then every effort should be made to fill it from the staff at the school.
10. Using the correct stationery, Pro-forma 3 (Ballot Paper), enter the full name of the candidate(s) in alphabetical order and the date for the return to you of the completed ballot papers. Print sufficient copies for one each for all eligible voters.
11. Dispatch the ballot paper, the personal statements and an envelope to each eligible voter. In the case of staff away from the school, the papers should be sent to them by post or email. A vote for a candidate shall be signified by a cross placed by the voter against a candidate’s name.
12. Any returned unopened ballot papers should be kept in a secure place as should any that are unused.
13. The headteacher shall notify the candidates of the date, time and place of the count. The arrangements for the count should be made in consultation with the Chair of Governors and should be the subject of a notice placed where it is available to staff.
14. The count should normally take place after noon on the date by which completed ballot papers are to be returned, or the following day.
15. The returning officer should conduct the count accompanied by the Chair of Governors or his/her nominee. Candidates may be present at the count (which should normally be undertaken at the school) if they wish. The decision as to whether a vote is valid falls to the returning officer.
16. In the event of a tie, the candidates will draw lots in the presence of the Returning Officer and the Chair of Governors (or nominee).
17. When the result is known it should be posted in the staff room or similar place. Both the successful and unsuccessful candidates should be notified. The successful candidate(s) should receive a letter of appointment from the clerk to the governors stating the expiry date of the term of office, as stated in the Instrument of Government (Letter 4). The unsuccessful candidate(s) should receive a copy of Letter 5.
18. Completed ballot papers should be kept in a safe place for a period of three months, after which they may be destroyed.
19. Blank ballot papers may be photocopied from original.
Guidance on who is eligible to stand and vote on staff governor elections
It is good practice to draw up a list of eligible staff governors, (teachers and non-teaching staff), and review this list every time there is a staff governor vacancy. Remember to either add or delete names as members of staff join or leave the school.
Who is eligible?
- Staff governors are elected by and from the whole staff at the school. This includes both teaching and non teaching staff. They may include caterers and grounds maintenance staff working at the school as well as school administrators and any teacher assistants, technicians, caretakers cleaners, etc. Care must be taken to identify those eligible.
- Any member of staff who is also the clerk to governors may vote as administrators but not as clerks. Clerks may not be governors at their own schools. Clerks who are not employed at the school in any other capacity are not eligible to vote in staff governor elections.
- Advice from the Department for Education (DfE) says that staff working in community education in community colleges, are also eligible to stand in staff elections.
- Staff governors may continue to be governors for their agreed term of office while they are so employed, but must resign as governors when their employment at the school ceases.
A person is disqualified from holding or from continuing to hold office as a governor or associate member if he or she:
- is included in the list of people considered by the Secretary of State as unsuitable to work with children;
- is disqualified from working with children or subject to a direction under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002;
- is disqualified from registration for child-minding or providing day care;
- is disqualified from registration under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006;
- has received a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of not less than three months (without the option of a fine) in the five years before becoming a governor or since becoming a governor;
- has received a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years or more in the 20 years before becoming a governor;
- has at any time received a prison sentence of five years or more;
- has been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school premises during the five years prior to or since appointment or election as a governor;
- refuses to consent to undertaking an Enhanced Disclosure when asked to by the governing board in line with statutory requirements;
- fails to attend the governing board meetings – without the consent of the governing board – for a continuous period of six months, beginning with the date of the first meeting missed (not applicable to ex officio governors);
- is subject to a bankruptcy restriction order, an interim bankruptcy restriction order, a debt relief order or an interim debt relief order;
- has had his or her estate sequestrated and the sequestration order has not been discharged, annulled or reduced;
- is subject to:
i) a disqualification order or disqualification undertaking under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986
ii) a disqualification order under Part 2 of the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1989
iii) a disqualification undertaking accepted under the Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002
iv) an order made under Section 429(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (failure to pay under a County Court administration order);
has been removed from the office of charity trustee or trustee for a charity by the Charity Commissioners or High Court on grounds of any misconduct or mismanagement, or under Section 34 of the Charities and Trustees Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 from participating in the management or control of any Body;
(The above criteria also apply to any person seeking to become an associate member of the governing board).