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Opportunity knocks

Jane Martin with tips on how to champion a subject area effectively.

GOVERNORS constantly comment on the amount of time and energy required to do the job. But how can we get to know the school if all we do is sit in formal meetings?

Many governors take on a partner or link role with subject departments or classes, or pick up a particular brief for special needs, numeracy or literacy.

However, some find they are not sure how to make the best use of the opportunity. Setting out the role of the champion governor helps both governors and staff understand what is required, takes away some of the anxiety and makes the most of everyone's time.

So what is the role?

* To support, praise and share good practice in the subject area

* To develop personal interest and knowledge of the subject area

* To keep the governing body informed about current practice

* To keep in touch with the subject leader at regular intervals

* To support the subject leader in reporting back to the governing body.

What do partner governors need to know?

* Current policy and practice in the subject

* How the subject fits into school improvement plans. <> * Relevant national developments and initiatives

* What work is carried out by the subject leader.

* Current pupil standards and results in the area.

How can the role be carried out?

* The governor and the subject leader need to work out a programme for meetings, visits and reports to the governing body which is realistic and relevant

* The first meeting should be a "get to know you" session

* The governor might arrange to visit classes and talk to teachers and pupils with the prior agreement of the subject leader and those concerned

* An annual feedback session to the governing body should be arranged

* At every visit to the school, governors should realise they are visitors and observe the usual security arrangements, including wearing a visitor's badge

* A governor should remember to introduce herself to adults and pupils as a school governor.

* If possible, let the head know you are in school and feedback verbally before leaving.

Jane Martin has left Dudley LEA, where she was responsible for school governance, to join the Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government as a principal consultant.

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