2nd December 1994 at 00:00
The post-Dearing curriculum will give schools a little more scope for individuality, we hope. What considerations should governors bring to this debate and what would you give priority to in a comprehensive school?

If it had been easy to devise the universal best curriculum we should not have had such a long debate! Much will depend on the catchment area of the school - rural studies might have a strong lobby in a farming area - as well as its traditions and the wishes of its parents.

I don't suppose many schools will formally consult parents and pupils about the optional areas of the curriculum, though I wish they would. But I'm sure many will take account of known preferences and traditions.

I hope all governors will play an active part in the decision process and not leave it all to the professionals, because it is exactly in this area of the school's individual character that our role is most vital.

I think the starting point should always be our view, in the light of the aims of the school, of the kind of young people we would hope to see emerge at the end of compulsory schooling, and very much with majority interest and life-skills to the fore.

My own preference is of no more significance than that of any other individual governor, but since you ask I will just refer to those areas which may have suffered in some schools in recent years because of overload.

This would mean arguing for the arts to be restored to a stronger position, after some back-tracking by the Government. This reflects a belief that the arts in schools are not just about developing special talent or even about helping the rest to enjoy leisure, but a discipline involving many transferable skills - planning, teamwork, persistence, communication - as well as a help to young people to make sense of the world and cope with the confusions of growing up.

I would also like to see personal and social education, including citizenship and health education, given skilled planning and adequate time. But schools vary in the way in which they have reacted to overload, and some will have other priorities.

Have I a right, as a parent governor, to use the pupil post to do a survey of parent opinion on a matter of great concern to parents and under discussion by governors?

As an individual governor you can use this means of testing parent opinion only with the co-operation of the head. I would guess that this has not been forthcoming.

I sympathise with you, because I strongly support the representative role of the parent governor, but the only thing which would give you an entitlement to use the school for this purpose would be a decision by the governing body as a whole.

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