Agenda

8th August 1997 at 01:00
Joan Sallis answers governors' questions

Q. A new parent governor who used to be very supportive before she was elected is going off the rails. I welcome her and others into classes as often as they will come, but I now have to fight off outraged teachers. She makes suggestions for better handling of lessons, comes to me with petty tales about teachers' poor timekeeping, excessive shouting by a few staff and bright children being bored.

A

Lapses of this kind, though not common, are so damaging that I am coming to the conclusion that at least one session of training on roles and responsibilities should be obligatory for new governors.

I always tell new governors that individually they have no role at all and only go into school to learn, thus contributing more to corporate decisions; that they must not abuse their privileged entry to other people's workplace; and that the only observed faults they should ever in extremis mention to the head are those which are illegal or dangerous. But not all governors even go to one induction session.

Your chairman could be a great help if, at the first meeting attended by new governors, he or she delivered a little reminder about the purpose of school visits. Indeed whether or not there are new governors, I think a chairman at the first meeting of the year should always initiate a brief discussion on basic working-together rules, since even old governors forget.

It should focus especially on the corporate nature of governors' responsibility and the strategic character of their intervention, the need for loyalty to shared decisions and discretion in reporting privileged information about individuals in the school.

Your chairman should really have a word with this new governor, since if it is left to you she may just think you are being defensive. Alternatively, could you ask for an in-house training session?

But rather than just put up with such beginner's mistakes you will have to talk to her yourself and, among other things, assure her that you really do pick up lateness and shouting and other departures from teacher perfection yourself.

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