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Survey shows governors want a role in appraisal of heads

Around three in four governing bodies believe they should be involved in appraising their headteachers, according to a new survey for The TES.

Almost 40 per cent thought some heads put unfair pressure on governors to increase their pay, with 20 per cent claiming personal knowledge of the problem. An equal number felt pressure from local authorities over heads' pay decisions.

These findings may explain why governors remain nervous over performance-related pay. A quarter were opposed, either because it was wrong in principle, bad for staff morale, or too hard to formulate objective criteria.

Seventy per cent would be more inclined to take it on, however, if objective criteria were set for recognising exceptional performance andor there was more agreement among teachers.

Most of the 500 governors contacted for the Institute of School and College Governors' questionnaire believed that they worked well with their schools.

"The head is very open about school matters," wrote one governor, speaking for the 77 per cent who described the relationship between governors and head as effective and based on mutual understanding and respect of roles, with only 18 per cent highlighting occasional agreements.

Seventy per cent felt that the head was ready to volunteer information, and 24 per cent could find out what they wanted on request.

There was much more ambivalence about the new emphasis to be given to the role of the chair in governing bodies. Twenty-one per cent felt it would lead to a lack of trust between the chair and other governors; 42 per cent believed it would make a difference; and only 41 per cent felt it would lead to more confidence in the school being managed properly.

There was a strong undercurrent of worry that heads and chairs could get too cosy. "The chair is a lap-dog for the head," said one.

A concentration of power was seen as unhealthy by one: "With great goodwill, our chair misrepresented both governing body and school at a recent Office for Standards in Education inspection and is unaware that this mattered."

From the other side, chairs were anxious that their role be appreciated: "I am a chair and some of the governors already think that the head and I stitch things up before the meeting. We actually meet to plan so that we both know what we want from the meeting."

Governors, page 30

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