A law decision made by asses

24th September 2004 at 01:00
The Guide to the Law for School Governors may be as good a read as a cornflakes packet, but it is important - being the legal guide to everything a governing body does. So you might imagine that the Department for Education and Skills would be keen to help ensure that everyone kept guides up to date.

Therefore it is baffling that the DfES has announced that no more updates will be printed and circulated to governors. Apparently lots of governors simply didn't bother with them.

No, "with the interests of governors at heart", the old system of updates was not good enough, the School Governance Team wrote on the Governornet discussion boards. They have been screaming with indignation since the announcement,.

The Team's solution? Make it even harder to update. Updates will only be available online.

Whereas once your clerk gave you a bundle of amendments and all you did was take out the old page and stick in a new one, now to amend your guide you have to go online, find the website, navigate to the right page, download a 260kB attachment, start up Word, print out 38 pages of amendments, punch a hole in them, file them at the back of your folder and then go through the guide, find the paragraphs to be corrected, strike them out with a pen and mark that there is a correction at the back.

Then to use your new, improved guide in a meeting use the un-updated index, go to the old paragraph, find that it has been struck through, and then scour through the pages of notes to find the amended paragraph.

What's more, a rough calculation says that if every governor printed out their updates (one a term is promised) then governors collectively are going to be paying out more than pound;1 million a year.

The DfES scorns us as techno-luddites. Who needs old-fashioned paper, they say, when up-to-date guides are online. Yes, but how many of us have wireless internet access on our laptops which we can just turn to in the middle of a meeting? Not me.

So the DfES thinks that it is in governors' interests to waste more time on paperwork, pay to print out their own corrections, and end up with a system that is harder and more cumbersome to use?

I would hate to see what it came up with if it didn't have governors' interests in mind.

Ben Rooney is a former chair of governors and now a local education authority clerk. Feeling aggrieved? Write us a 400-word Sounding Off and get paid as you grumble. Send it to susan.young@tes.co.uk


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