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Hold on to your governors

One of the schools that has benefited from the Northants strategy (see left) is Hardwick county junior school in Wellingborough. For 18 months until late last term, it had struggled to hold any quorate meetings with shifting vacancies that would be filled just as another governor resigned.

Now the governing body is full.

Headteacher Bill Hoton is pleased that he no longer has to work with a depleted board. "As a head, you have to prepare 90 per cent of the agenda.

To do that work and then have the meeting cancelled is so disappointing. A couple of teachers prepared presentations for the governors which had to be cancelled. That has a demoralising effect on that teacher, which affects the whole staff in the end."

And as Mr Hoton says, being head of a 260-pupil school in the second most deprived ward in Northants, he needs all the help he can get. One of his new governors is Dianne Morrissey. She had to resign from the governing body two years ago for family and health reasons, but has come back as a community governor, after becoming involved with a community and police group called Casper. It aims to improve life on the three large estates from which Hardwick draws its pupils.

"I decided that if we really want to change children's lives we havep to involve the schools, so now I liaise between the two," she says.

Ms Morrissey believes that by helping to improve school standards she is building children's self-esteem, which they can take back into their home lives. "We have to work together for the good of the community," she says.

Bob Allen, her chairman, is keen to hang on to all his new governors. He believes that training, the proper use of his members' skills, and an informal, friendly atmosphere will keep his board quorate.

"Joining a governing body is a tremendous learning curve - it's hard enough if you have been a governor for years, and it is very daunting for newcomers. They need lots of support and encouragement," he says.

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