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Steer clear of gossip and be tactful

Teacher and staff governors should not gossip or embellish feedback given by heads in board meetings, to avoid bad relations, a new training programme advises.

It also provides them with tactful ways to disagree with their boss without losing their job. Consultant Ann Lancett has put together the guidelines for teacher and staff governors on how to walk the tightrope between pleasing colleagues and not upsetting their heads. They are included in a bite-sized, two-hour governor training programme developed with local education authorities.

Teacher and staff governors need to make it clear what they think when reporting back to colleagues on official school lines agreed by the governing body, she told a seminar at last week's Wales education show in Cardiff.

Governors employed by the school should also respect heads by letting them know if they are likely to be criticised - before board meetings.

A dedicated noticeboard should be put up in schools. And edited minutes from governing body meetings, which are in the public domain, should be posted on there or contained in a staff newsletter.

"Teacher and staff governors are in difficult positions. They should avoid making it worse by not being diplomatic enough," said Ms Lancett, from Markit Training and Consultancy.

The next stage is to develop similar training for parent governors, who can get caught up in school-gate tittle-tattle, she said.

Caerphilly council is the first in Wales to pilot governor training days based around the new programme. David Hutchings, senior governor support officer and development training co-ordinator, said it helped make clear the role and etiquette expected of teacher and staff governors.

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