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A close, watching brief

Dr Brian Lewis has been a Northamptonshire governor for 16 years, first at Magdalen Secondary School where he was vice-chair, then at Syrsham Primary School for eight years, where he chaired for four years. He is currently on the finance and personnel committees of his primary school. Since retiring as a Plessey research officer 10 years ago, he has devoted much time to governor duties.

"Governors have virtually no direct influence on the curriculum," he says. The staff reports in considerable detail, but the number of decisions we make is small. We take seriously our role of reviewing policies. But the curriculum is professionally led, with the governors' role that of revision."

Brian outlined two curriculum-related activities he was involved in. The first was appointing a headteacher: "very important where the curriculum is concerned". The second was having to sell off school land a few years ago: "We should never have let it happen. However, it has now been leased back."

Brian takes an active role in special educational needs. "I became the SEN link governor of both schools. When we were asked to draw up a policy under the 1994 Code of Practice I worked with the school's SEN co-ordinators. Many people were involved. When a local education authority adviser addressed us I disagreed with him about how the policy should be written. I wanted our schools' policies to follow the Code of Practice very closely. It was clear that governors had to have an active part.

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