Have you noticed?

ONE crucial role for the chair of governors is that of uncritical friend to the head. I know "critical friend" is the term usually advocated, but headteachers receive enough criticism from teachers, parents, pupils, the press, the local community, the LEA, the DFEE, OFSTED and the caretaker without us joining in too.

My school is under-subscribed, but if there were enough children, our current admissions limit would require them to stand shoulder to shoulder and take shallow breaths. We are applying to have our numbers reduced, but in the meantime we have theoretical free places.

Parents who choose us for their rising fives are usually delightful. Parents of disaffected nine-year-olds who have fallen out with their current school are frankly less welcome.

My headteacher phoned me to complain about the impending arrival of yet another of these. "But we have space - we have no option," I reminded her. "Yes, but I really wanted you to say 'Leave it with me, I'll sort it out' - that's what everyone else expects me to do," she whimpered.

Sorry! But I can at least offer a shoulder to cry on.

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