The Department for Education has introduced rules allowing schools to forcibly remove governors for the first time.
The regulations have long been campaigned for by head teachers who say that “rogue” governors have for too long had a free reign to act with impunity.
Under current rules, only appointed parent governors can be removed. But as of September, all governors can be forcibly removed if there is a majority vote by the rest of the board.
Each individual school will have the power to remove its governors by a simple majority vote from the rest of the governing board.
An explanatory note issued by the Department for Education, said:
“The changes we are making in these Regulations mean that for all categories of governor there is now a body with the power to remove them from office.We think this is an important last resort to ensure governing bodies can function effectively, focusing on their core strategic functions and reducing time wasted in prolonged disputes.”
Some critics have expressed concerns that the new rules could be open to abuse, to oust governors who stand up for their convictions, even when they are a minority.
Ian Hartwright, a senior policy advisor at the National Association of Head teachers said: “We have long campaigned for better accountability for individual governors, where their actions might be damaging to the school.”
He added that the new measure “fills an important gap in the existing powers” and will be used to deal with “maverick” or “incompetent” governors.
“In the worst cases the destructive behaviour of individual governors has damaged the education of children, while the careers, lives and health of school leaders have been chronically affected,” he said.
Leo de Sousa-Webb, who runs a group of school governors from Exeter, Somerset and Devon, said that the regulations are a “step in the right direction” but added:
“Obviously there is always a danger that it could be perverted in some way. We need to be careful that we use this new power justifiably.”
Gillian Allcroft, deputy chief executive of the National Governance Association, has said her organisation supports the rule change as a way to deal with those who are “adversely affecting effective governance.”
“But we also said that boards need clear guidance on when it is appropriate to use these powers,” Ms Allcroft added. She said the NGA advise governing boards to have a code of conduct which can be used to deal with the “rare instances” where governors fall short of expectations.”