A Department for Education and Employment official has told governor trainers that "some registered inspectors are going beyond their brief" when telling governors how to monitor and evaluate school progress.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said it was absolutely outrageous that inspectors were making such comments.
Speaking at a seminar on governors, the DFEE official told local authority officers: "I have been assured by those responsible for the (inspection) framework that there is no expectation that governors are expected to go out and collect the evidence themselves.
"Obviously, there is a place in schools for structured visits by governors and these are to be welcomed...because it increases individual governors understanding.
"But there is no expectation that all governors are expected to go and do it. What they should have are sufficiently robust systems, agreed with the head, for giving them the information they need."
Melonie Harris, of Nottinghamshire governor services, told the seminar about a school which had serious weaknesses, and whose governors had decided to take up training to improve their monitoring.
When describing the new systems in place to their inspector, they said they weren't going into classes to make judgments on teaching - and were asked, why not?
Others said there were inconsistencies in the way inspectors were interpreting the framework requirements. The Office for Standards in Education's handbook for inspectors says they should ask how governing bodies "find out for themselves how things are going," when evaluating governors' performance.