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Speaking up for staff

"Staff see me as someone to represent them with governors," says Jenni Mitchell, a teacher governor of Attleborough Junior School, Norfolk, for the past 18 months. "I always report back at staff meetings. A recent governors' discussion on a homeschool liaison policy was shared with the staff who analysed the feasibility of governors' suggestions."

In Attleborough Junior there are no worries about governors' presence in school. "Each governor is assigned to a class. It works really well. A teacher in charge of a curriculum area comes to governor meetings and talks to governors about curriculum policy and why they do things in a certain way. This familiarisation occurs after a policy has been formulated, after some significant change or when a curriculum area is due for review.

"Each term a curriculum area is highlighted. Recently the science co-ordinator talked to governors, then gave them a checklist of points to focus on in their visits. All other teachers see this checklist too: everything is open, nothing is hidden. Governors are not there to judge but to learn and find out. All governors who have visited that term report back."

For their wider curriculum role governors visit their class assembly termly to see collective worship. On sex education, a working party reviewed videos and made their choice with staff. After SATs results, there are discussions at a governors' meeting.

"The most important thing in running a school is complete openness on both sides," she says. "We need to trust and be open with one another. I think that's good."

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