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I have heard we can now choose the size and composition of our governing body. How would you set about this? We are a community school entitled to 19 governors but for over a year we have been two parent, two local authority and two co-opted governors short. So this may be a good chance to cut our coat according to our cloth.

I have to disappoint you. It is true that imminent legislation will give governing bodies more flexibility about their size and shape, but we do not know when it will come into force. More importantly, we shall only be able to work within limits laid down on proportions. For instance, your community school body must be - assuming the new regulations turn out as planned - at least one-third parent-governors, one-fifth local authority and one-fifth "community", as co-opted governors are to be called. You are not allowed more than a third staff, and people employed by the school will only be able to serve as elected staff-governors. You will see that the new freedoms will actually mean tricky arithmetic for schools such as yours.

Have you really tried to fill the vacancies? In a big secondary you do need the people. Have you thought about the Government's one-stop-shop idea? Ask your LEA training officer.

Can you not get a bit tough on the LEA? Is it still looking for party nominees or seeking community-minded people regardless of party? Does it advertise? Does it help you encourage parents to come forward with appealing messages about governors' work?

You should consider recruiting more widely, in residents' and community associations, among youth club workers or grandparents.

It is not enough to be good and active - you have to be visible as well. A good head knows how to enthuse governors, welcomes their contribution, and understands that as soon as you have achieved one thing together you tell parents to get that visibility.

Send questions for Joan Sallis to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX

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