On the board

Janet Prescott

Viv Bird is chair of governors at Phoenix high school in west London. She was one of eight extra governors co-opted by the education authority after the school was failed by inspectors seven years ago (it's now out of special measures). She has 20 years' experience as a governor on secondary, primary and special schools, is a manager at the National Literacy Trust and is editor of Literacy Today.

Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?

It has been extremely hard work, but immensely satisfying. I work for a national organisation and being a governor enables me to be involved at local level, and hopefully make a difference to children's lives.

What dodon't you like?

I enjoy working with a strong team of governors and, in particular, working as the candid friend of an exceptional head. Like most governors, I don't like the bureaucracy and inefficiencies in the system, but the role of the competent education authority is vital in turning around failing schools.

Has the experience changed you?

I understand better the complex reality of raising standards in schools such as Phoenix, and how important our teachers are.

What is the biggest, best or worst change you've seen during your time as a governor?

The school transformed when William Atkinson took over (as head). The worst change is the escalating recruitment crisis, which threatens to undermine the improvements we have made.

What does your family think of your commitment?

They offer tolerance and 100 per cent support.

Where does governing fit into your life?

I now work four days a week, partly to give time to being chair of governors. My paid and voluntary work fit together well.

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

More permanent teachers!

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Janet Prescott

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