Appendix 1 - Advice for Professionals

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A school governor who might be considered to have a special level of knowledge or skill in a field relevant to the school’s life, whether or not to a professional level, should avoid placing themselves in a position in which it could be argued that a potential liability could arise. They should avoid making statements, deriving from their expertise or skills, such that other governors or staff of the school may rely on their skill and judgement as part of making their decision on an issue. They should also stand back from undertaking the performance of tasks on behalf of the Governing Board or taking on the management of an aspect of its affairs.

In effect, governors should avoid becoming directly involved in, or responsible for, matters where, in other circumstances, the Governing Board or school would stand in the same relationship to them as a professional client or customer.

For example, an accountant may chair the Finance sub-committee of the Governing

Board; but should not do the accounts.   An IT professional may oversee a contract for the installation of a new computer system; but should not undertake the installation, nor manage the contract.  This does not mean that governors should not involve themselves in discussion within a Governing Board of a matter on which they may have special knowledge or skills.

To summarise, to avoid the risk of liability, a governor with relevant professional expertise should make clear that any opinion expressed should not be relied upon in legal terms, as opposed to providing general guidance.

Also avoid

  • carrying out or supervising activity on behalf of the governing board;
  • becoming responsible for carrying out a management activity
  • undertaking to carry out a task or service
  • warning the Governing Board of potential hazards or problems with a course of action
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