Who can stand as and vote for parent trustees?
Parent trustees serve for four years unless the Trust Board registers a variation to this in the Articles of Association.
Summary of Disqualification Regulations
A trustee must be aged 18 or over at the time of his or her election or appointment and cannot be a registered pupil at a school.
A person is disqualified from holding or from continuing to hold office as a trustee if he or she:
is under the age of 18;
is currently a pupil at a Trust academy;
has failed to attend meetings within a six month period without the consent of trustees;
is subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order; interim bankruptcy restriction order; a debt relief restrictions order; an interim deft relief restrictions order; or has been declared bankrupt and/or his/her estate has been repossessed for the benefit of creditors and the declaration or seizure has not been discharged, annulled or reduced;
has been disqualified as a company director or failed to make a payment under a county court administration order;
has been disqualified as a charity trustee; found to be unsuitable by the Secretary of State; or ceases to be a trustee under any provision in the Companies Act 2006;
has been removed as a charity trustee on the ground of misconduct or mismanagement;
has been convicted of any criminal offence except for those ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or those for which the maximum sentence is a fine or lesser sentence unless s/he has been convicted of an offence outlined in Section 178 of the Companies Act 2011;
has not provided an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to the chair; or where s/he has, the chair, chief executive officer or principal or Secretary of State determines that his/her unsuitability to work with children renders him/her disqualified;
becomes incapable by reason of illness or injury of managing or administering his/her own affairs.
As soon as a resignation is received from a parent trustee, or at the beginning of the term in which a parent trustee’s term of office expires, the Trust’s Returning Officer shall send a letter to all those believed to have parental responsibility for children at Trust schools, inviting nominations for the position.
Where pupils have more than one person with parental responsibility who are living at different addresses, and the parent has requested that paperwork relating to their child be sent to them, a letter should be sent to each address.
All potential candidates should be made aware of the disqualification criteria, and the role and responsibilities of a trustee.
A sample letter and nomination form can be found at Appendix A and Appendix B.
Closing date for nominations
It is recommended that the closing date for nominations should be at least six school working days from the date on which letters are distributed. The actual closing date and time should be clearly stated in the letter. All nominees must be shown the disqualification regulations.
Number of nominations received
If the number of nominations is equal to, or fewer than, the number of vacancies to be filled, a ballot need not be held. The nominee(s) is/are automatically elected unopposed. The Returning Officer shall notify the Trust Board’s Governance Professional, who will inform the Board of Trustees of the successful candidate(s). The Board of Trustees has responsibility for the final approval of the appointment.
If there are more nominations than there are vacancies, the Returning Officer shall arrange for a secret ballot to be held. Nomination papers received outside the stated return period will be treated as invalid.
The Returning Officer shall issue ballot papers (Appendix C) to all eligible parents as soon as possible after the closing date for the receipt of nominations. At least six school working days should be allowed between the ballot papers being sent out and the last date for their return. The deadline date and time for return should be clearly stated on the ballot paper.
The election should be held by secret ballot. Ballot papers themselves should not be signed or the voter identified in any way.
Electronic voting is permitted and the Trust Board must ensure that the process is secure, that voters can only vote once, and that voters cannot be identified.
Where parents have more than one child in a school and bearing in mind that voting is to be on the basis of one vote per parent per vacancy, a system must be devised to ensure that no parent receives more than one ballot paper.
The Returning Officer should arrange to get ballot papers to and from parents by pupil post where possible. Where a pupil does not live with a person who has parental responsibility, or they are absent from school when the ballot papers are issued they will need to be posted or otherwise delivered to the parents.
Ballot papers must be kept unopened and secure until the count. Ballot papers received outside the stated return period are to be treated as invalid.
After the election
The Returning Officer shall notify the result to the Clerk, who will inform the Board of Trustees of the successful candidate(s). The Board of Trustees has responsibility for the final approval of the appointment. Successful candidates should be informed by letter (see sample letters in Appendix E).
The start date is the date of the election or, when an election has not been necessary, the day following the closing date for nominations. Where an election is held in advance of a parent trustee’s term of office ending, the start date will be given in the notice of election.
All parents should be notified of the result.
All material relevant to the election (eg. correspondence, ballot papers) should be kept for six months before destruction.
Appointment of parent trustees
If, after an election process, vacancies for parent trustee position remains vacant, the Trust Board may appoint parent trustees in accordance with the Articles of Association.
The Trust Board should recommend the appointment on the basis of the skills an individual can bring to Trust governance. Relevant skills may include personal attributes and qualities such as the capacity and willingness to learn and work as part of a team.
All potential appointed parent trustees must be shown the disqualification regulations.