Joan Sallis

I must apologise for a misleading paragraph (the third one) in my answer of July 18. I have already grovelled to the chair of governors who asked the question.

I quoted one-fifth as the new proportion for teacher governors instead of one-third - that is clearly an error, and I just don't know how I came to make it. It's true that the minimum required is only two, including the head, and in some schools there may be pressure to stick to the minimum - absurdly inadequate in bigger schools. I also deplore the fact that representation of support staff will not be universally required. But where a school has three or more staff places, at least one must now be a non-teacher, unless no support staff candidate is forthcoming, a small but worthwhile improvement. I repeat my plea for great care in choosing the size, balance and any optional procedures of the new governing body, and emphasise, for the questioner and all governors, the need to think how these new proposals interact, and avoid making hasty changes which could affect the democratic working of the governing body.

They are all inter-related and the result could be either a recipe for domination by minorities or a governing body as open, fair and rich in checks and balances as the best ones today, without in any way reducing its long-term efficiency. I say long-term because being more "streamlined" has short-term attractions but may have a high price tag.

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Joan Sallis

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