23rd November 1995 at 00:00
Joan sallis answers your questions. Our head told us that there is no more money devolved to schools for governor training and that the special grant all goes to "school effectiveness". This meant that the programme for professional development was worked out by the school policy committee. Could you please advise me?

It is true that the GEST money devolved to schools for education support and training is now all embraced in one school effectiveness grant, but it is intended to cover governor training as well as other aspects of school effectiveness.

Governor organisations have warned the DFEE that this is likely to result in some governors being unable to obtain money for training, either because they haven't had the chance or because they are too self-effacing to stand up for their own needs in the face of other pressures. It is made worse by the fact that another part of the old GEST grant which was paid to local authorities to fund central training systems no longer exists, so that training has to be financed either from their own funds, andor through schools buying the service.

Governors must take this issue seriously. With their legal responsibilities, it is vital they should not neglect their own development or feel they are "taking it away from the children". Furthermore, all proposals for use of the school effectiveness grant should be brought to governors for discussion and decision.

In our area, councillors of the ruling party are expected to take on two governorships each. Inevitably this means that, with other council duties, they are poor attenders. We have not been successful in getting any removed, even when they haven't attended for six months, because they say they rang up the school to say they could not attend.

Absence for six months without permission of the governing body is grounds for disqualification. Therefore, all governing bodies who feel that this is remotely likely should be a bit more formal about apologies than most of us. The apology should be reported to the governing body with the reason, and the governors, if they accept it, should so minute the item. In other words, if absentee governors are a real problem it isn't enough that the school is merely told the governor isn't coming - or even that the apology should be a mere formality and neither accepted nor rejected.

Governors are free to refuse to accept an apology if they think it inappropriate. You can also make it clear as a group that you expect a greater degree of commitment to the work than merely attending the termly meeting: serving on small task-groups, supporting school events and spending some time in the school during the day should also be part of our expectations of each other. Peer group pressure can improve the fairly willing and eventually drive out the unreformable passenger.

Unfortunately, there is no rule that says a disqualified governor can't be reappointed. But many authorities are giving up the party political connection - or at least are willing to fill vacancies with interested local people suggested by other governors.

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