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Breakaway forum gives governors a voice

The National Governors' Council, a newly-formed body which aims to act as a conduit between governing bodies and the Government, will hold its inaugural meeting tomorrow in Birmingham. The organisation, which is expected to be chaired by publisher Simon Goodenough, at present the steering group's chair, has received sponsorship from local authorities, business and the Department for Education. Robin Squire, junior minister at the DFE, will address the meeting.

The NGC has already been welcomed by such organisations as the Campaign for State Education and the governor trainers' network Action for Governors' Information and Training (AGIT), but its creation has led to a falling-out with the National Association of Governors and Managers (NAGM).

David Smith, chairman of AGIT, said he hoped the two organisations would work closely together with AGIT providing training and information for governors and NGC providing governors with a voice.

The NGC will be made up of representatives from local governors' associations and not, apart from in extraordinary circumstances, individual governing bodies or governors. These will be organised largely on a local authority basis. If grant-maintained schools are not admitted to local authority governors' associations, they can be represented by setting up their own association.

Walter Ulrich, spokesman for NAGM, said he did not believe the council was democratic and warned that it could compromise its independence if it relied too heavily on DFE funding: "If these people have criticisms of how NAGM works then it would have been better for them to join and try and change things rather than setting up a separate organisation."

Simon Goodenough said the council will conduct regular surveys of its members to discover the main concerns of governors. He said: "In my area of Devon we recently sent out a questionnaire on collective worship; in this way we can tell the Government what governors think. It will not be a lobbying group - we will merely report the view of the council."

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