On the board

Anne Atkinson, 47, is a parent-governor at Ducie high school, Moss Side, Manchester, an 11-16 school with a high proportion of ethnic- minority pupils which is due to become a city academy. A former legal professional, she has been a governor for four years and her son is a former pupil at the school. She chairs the discipline panel.

What made you want to be a governor?

I didn't really want to be. Fellow parents approached me because they felt at that time that there were serious problems with the school. They were concerned and wanted someone to represent the parents on the governing body: I was the lucky person.

Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?

It's probably exceeded them. At first my point of view was deeply unpopular, but my stance has become the prevailing view; the governorship was not typical.

What dodon't you like?

I don't like that many governors are either employed by the LEA or beholden in some way to the authorities so it sometimes seems they have a vested interest. I do like being responsible and have the incentive to do something well, using the opportunity to serve our children and also the parents.

Has the experience changed you?

No, I was probably too old! The level of responsibility does not frighten me because of the work I had done before.

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

The biggest overall change is that the nature and direction of the school changed very dramatically. The present headteacher was appointed by the LEA and the brief was to find another method of funding the school or closing it. There had been serious problems with violence and it had been run in a way which had lost touch with the community for some time. I would say there had been zero management and spare places were filled up with pupils who had been excluded from other schools. In relation to discipline and exclusions, I am quite proud of the way we have addressed changes, and feel we are quite sharp and knowledgeable about them.

What does your family think of your commitment?

They think it's quite funny and laugh at the word "governor" applied to me, but in general I think they're quite proud of it. They encouraged me in the first place.

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

Money, a lot of money. The head teacher is very focused and I would wish for enough money for all the things he wants to do .

And who or what would you make disappear?

Poverty. I think there are other problems with behaviour, disaffection and disillusionment, but poverty is at the root of all of it. Who would be your ideal fantasy governor?

Robert Kennedy. Because he was very good at the executive level at moving things along.

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