Conflicts of interests may arise where an individual’s personal or family interests and/or loyalties conflict with those of the governing body. Such conflicts may create problems because they can:
- Inhibit free discussion;
- Result in decisions or actions that are not in the interests of the school; and
- Risk the impression that the Governing Body has acted improperly. It is important that governors and staff not only act impartially, but are also seen to act impartially.
You have a duty to act in your school’s best interests when making decisions as a governor:
- If there is a decision to be made where a governor has a personal or other interest, there is a conflict, and you won’t be able to comply with your duty unless you follow certain steps.
- Examples of conflicts of interest include decisions where
- You could benefit financially or otherwise, either directly or indirectly through someone you’re connected to
- Your duty to the school competes with a duty or loyalty you have to another organisation or person.
Having a conflict doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, but it does mean that you need to act to stop it from interfering with your ability to make a decision in the best interests of the school. Further advice for professionals can be found at Appendix 1.
Identify and Declare
- Every governing body must keep a register of interests, and this should be used to identify any actual or potential conflicts with your personal or wider interests as soon as they occur.
- Nil returns should be recorded.
- All governors should sign the register of interests
- There is a standard agenda item at the beginning of every meeting to allow governors to declare any actual or potential conflicts of interests in respect of matters to be covered at the meeting.
From 1 September 2015 there is a duty for governors to publish this information on the school website. A template is attached at Appendix 2. This should include, as appropriate,
- the company by whom they are employed,
- significant shareholdings,
- other appointments of influence within a business or other organisation which may have dealings with the school
- details of any other educational establishments they govern
- information about relationships between governors and members of staff including spouses, partners and relatives
- If in doubt, declare!
- Once an interest has been declared, the other governors need to consider whether the conflicted governor should withdraw from discussions and/or voting on the matter concerned. Further advice on withdrawal from meetings can be found at Appendix 2
- The minutes of the meeting should record:
- What sort of conflict of interest it was
- Which governor(s) were affected
- If anyone withdrew from the discussion and/or decision
- How the decision made was in the school’s best interest
The Constitution of Governing Bodies and Maintained Schools – August 2015