Agenda

1st September 1995 at 01:00
Joan Sallis answers governors' questions. I am a governor of two county schools in different shires, living almost on the border. There is a remarkable difference of practice. In one we don't have Any Other Business on the agenda at all - our LEA said it was illegal.

At the other, one parent governor raises a long list of individual parent complaints and concerns under AOB. She often hasn't investigated them or mentioned them in advance to the head. It is time-consuming and I don't feel it is a subject for governors at all or, for that matter, that it is a parent governor's business to collect individual problems. If I am correct, whose job is it to sort this parent out? And who is right on the question of AOB?

If you want a quick answer I'd say neither, but in your first example I know I have a few pretty formidable opponents, including one whom I much respect as an authority on procedures. This officer's county has taken the line that, since seven days' notice has to be given of governors' business, it is dubiously legal to raise matters without warning - or at least improper to suggest that it is normal to raise them by putting AOB on the agenda.

I think that this is going too far and that one should never rule out the possibility of an urgent item of business being raised, even as an addition to the main agenda if the governing body as a whole has no objection.

As for the other example, it is bad practice to use AOB for a miscellany of non-urgent matters raised by individual governors. It is strictly for urgent matters which could not be foreseen and which are raised by general agreement. I would not accept your statement that it isn't a parent governor's role to listen to parents' concerns - but purely individual concerns, unless they raise a policy issue, are not suitable for discussion at a governors' meeting and it is discourteous and counter-productive to by-pass the head.

A parent governor should smooth the way between parent and school, and the object should always be to get the matter directed to the proper person within the school, either by encouraging the parents to approach the head or, if they are timid, going with them or, in extreme cases, on their behalf.

Your chair or a colleague whom she is close to might explain all this to your parent governor. Even better would be an in-house training session from your county training team.

There are just a few items like this which should, in my view, be paramount in every induction course, before more abstruse issues are raised. Others are that individuals don't have power, only the governing body acting together; that governors must be loyal to majority decisions; that governors' work is at the policy level, not the day-by-day checking-up level; and that a visit to the school - though desirable - is not by individual right, but either as an invited guest to what is, after all, someone else's workplace or in fulfilment of a governing body decision.

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