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Marriage without passion

At the moment they're just courting, but by the end of the year the country's two school governor organisations could well be announcing their engagement.

Nobody is rushing anything and both are being coy about their plans, but talks about talks about a merger are going on between the National Association of School Governors and the National Governors' Council. They will need the approval of their membership for any change of status, but their annual general meetings, in October and November, are handily close to each other.

"For some time," says Neil Davies, chairman of the NGC, "our members have questioned the wisdom of having two governors' organisations."

Although few school governors are aware of it, the two organisations have traditionally played different roles, but John Adams, chair of the NASG, denies that this makes merger a natural and desirable move.

He says: "We're in the very early stages of talking about how two organisations might work more closely together. People who become school governors don't understand why there are two.

"But any change would have to come from our members at the AGM and there's nothing to put to the members yet."

Not a passionate rush to marriage then, but according to one source within the NASG, it would be a muscular match.

"We wouldn't see it as a merger of one into another, but as the two organisations subsuming their identities in a new organisation," he says.

"Governors have very little clout and at the moment the Government can play one organisation off against the other.

"The NASG was set up in the Sixties as a service organisation and has always been strong on giving governors support. The NGC was set up to give governors a voice, as an organisation in consultation with government.

Since then we have each taken on bits of each other's role."

The bigger NGC has had to pull out the financial stops since it lost direct Department for Education and Skills funding, as the annual report makes clear: "The need for financial independence and stability has led to a great deal of work. Twenty-five per cent of funding derives from membership subscriptions. The rest has been sought from projects commissioned by the DfES, the Food Standards Agency and other bodies, and through sponsorship."

The NGC membership is made up of whole governor bodies, themselves members of associations. Each body pays an annual subscription of pound;4. Individual membership of the NASG is pound;20. Group membership is pound;50 for primary and special schools, and pound;60 for secondary schools.

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