GOVERNORS are threatening to scupper the historic workload deal for teachers because ministers excluded them from it.
The two organisations representing the 370,000 volunteers running England's schools were not party to the agreement, which gives teachers half-a-day a week non-contact time.
Jane Phillips, chairwoman of the National Association of Governors and Managers, said governors need not feel obliged to honour the deal, signed by five teacher unions and three representing support staff.
Neither her association nor the National Governors Council were included in talks leading to last month's agreement. Nor have they signed it. They have also been refused places on the monitoring group. Mrs Phillips said:
"Governing bodies need not feel obliged to honour this agreement. It is for individual governing bodies to decide whether... (it) offers a helpful way forward."
The agreement requires schools to recruit assistants to take the burden off teachers. Responsibility for doing this and for funding the staff is held jointly by governors and heads.
Mrs Phillips expects few to block the agreement but said lack of governor involvement meant some implications had not been thought through. For example, governors could face parents complaining about children being taught by assistants.
Heads warned that governing bodies which failed to comply could face legal action from staff. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "It would take a foolhardy governing body to ignore an agreement that's going to deliver significant changes to the contracts of their senior staff, let alone teachers."
But Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, which rejected the deal, said the exclusion of governors was "another example of the Government only wishing to talk to those who will meekly agree to whatever it wants".
NAGM and NGC finally met schools minister David Miliband this week, after writing an angry letter to The TES accusing the Government of ignoring them.
A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said the main parts of the workload agreement would be a legal requirement. "There can be no question of it not being implemented. Governors, alongside other bodies, were consulted about the Government's proposals last October. We believe we are working constructively with NAGM on this issue and in general."
Mrs Phillips conceded governors would have to abide by any legal requirements.