Shock as key speaker turns up

LORD Puttnam delighted the National Governors' Council's spring conference, not least by turning up - unlike the government ministers at the past two events.

His opening remarks, stressing the importance of education, the value of teachers, and the invaluable work of governors, were standard stuff. But, perhaps due to his background, Lord P sounded as if he meant them.

As chair of the General Teaching Council and a trustee of the Teaching Awards Trust (which hands out the "Platos", the teaching Oscars), his mission is to raise the morale and status of the teaching profession. And he made an audience of cynical governors believe he could do it.

But cynicism resurfaced after lunch as delegates met in feedback discussion groups. All the usual suspects got an airing: insufficient money unfairly distributed, no time to do the job, inadequate training.

The new spectre is performance management. The timescale for training and implementation is frightening. Our trainers have not yet been trained and governors may not have the time or inclination to undertake training when it is available.

This is a complete culture change, pushing us into a managerial role and potentially damaging relationship with heads and teachers.

I can't see the governor-recruitment crisis easing.

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