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CAN governors insist on observing teachers in classrooms?

YES and no. An individual governor has no right of entry to the school. But it is desirable that governors observe children at work so that they may understand better how the school works and how children learn.

The head may invite a governor to visit, and in our school the governor who is assisting with a teacher appointment may observe a test lesson conducted by a candidate.

Or the governing body may make decisions which require a governor or governors to visit the school, and this may not then be denied.

The governing body may, for example, decide that every governor should observe a reading lesson, because the reading policy is to be changed; ask governors to eat a school lunch because there have been complaints; or suggest that governors observe the new reading policy.

Even when the governig body has authorised the visit, there may be the odd teacher who objects. In theory this teacher can be overruled by the head when the governing body has legitimised the visit, but unless there is a particular problem it is unwise to impose a visit on a teacher who is afraid or hostile.

Every governor who visits a class must be clear that he or she is there to learn, not to judge. Remember, it is the head's job to maintain and improve the standard of teaching.

If you see something that is dangerous or illegal - chemicals not locked up, a child being smacked - have a quiet word with the head.

Joan Sallis's book, "Heads in Partnership: Working with your Governors for a Successful School", is published by Pearson Education on 01279 623928, priced pound;18.99. E-mail Joan on

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