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On the Board

A governor at the first new school of the millennium talks to Karen Thornton

PENNY RODRIGUES has been teaching for 15 years, and currently works part-time as a Reading Recovery teacher at De Beauvoir primary in Hackney, London. She has been a co-opted governor on the "shadow" board of the new Betty Bayward

primary in Stoke Newington for nearly a year. The school is the first to open in the new

millennium, and the oldest of her two sons has just started in its nursery.

What made you want to be a governor?

I felt local people should be involved in their schools. People moan about their schools, but this is a way of actually having your say. I didn't particularly want to be in my local school - there just happened to be a new one opening.

Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?

It has and it hasn't. People say you are giving a lot. I say I'm getting a lot back. We are managing, with the head, to appoint staff we feel are very good. That's very positive - you feel you are starting with a clean slate.

But it's also frustrating. You are working with 10 other people and that means compromise. That can be difficult if you have point of principle, and disagree. It's a democracy and you sort of hammer it out.

What don't you like?

It's frustrating not knowing exactly how much power you have. It's not very clear where the governors' line is, and where the head's is. It's usually hammered out in a more personal way.

Has the experience changed you?

I feel much more part of the community. People know I'm on the governing body and stop me in the street to ask how the school is progressing, and I have to give information about the school. I feel a necessary part of the community for that reason.

If you could wave a wand, what would you wish for the school?

More resources, and to always to have good staff - and as many as are needed for the children.

And who or what would you make disappear?

The bureaucracy. I wish local management of schools would disappear, because schools are almost bound by it. There are too many financial worries for schools, and I don't think they should be involved in that.

Who would be your fantasy

governor?

The comedian Harry Enfield, because he's a laugh. A person with a sense of homour is always required.

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