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On the board

David Stark has been a Conservative LEA governor at Stoke Damerel community college in Plymouth since 1974. He is a local councillor whose ward adjoins the 11-18 school.

What made you want to be a governor?

In 1974 the school was not functioning well and we wanted some local input to improve matters.

Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?

There has been a continual improvement with each headteacher who has come to the school, they have each added to the overall rise.

What dodon't you like?

As a member of the local authority I feel that it's important that we have a grass-roots touch with education, which represents half of our budget. Everything has become more complicated and systematic as time has gone on. As a result I am not really involved with the school as much as in the 1970s and 80s, but I am in school four times a term on business. I also give lectures to the lower-sixth on civic matters.

Has the experience changed you?

It's made me more tolerant. When I started off governors were all LEA-appointed. Now LEA governors are in a minority. That's very healthy and I think I listen a bit harder.

What is the biggest change you've seen?

Delegation of funds. The school runs its own bank account and we're self-supporting. There are complications with all the funding streams - for instance, with the Standards Fund being a separate entity and the sixth-form funded by the learning and skills council. I would rather the LEA had the control.

What does your family think of your commitment?

My wife's very tolerant of it. She's enthusiastic that we put our best foot forward.

Where does governing fit into your life?

There's a fair bit of reading, but meetings are well organised.

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

Probably the ability to put forward a long to medium-term plan with some confidence.

And who or what would you make disappear?

The culture of hypercritical inspections. Sometimes schools are criticised for things they can't address.

Who would be your fantasy governor?

A sporting hero. Gary Lineker.

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