5th May 2000 at 01:00
I HAVE made myself unpopular with colleagues by telling parents that I thought my fellow governors were wrong not to take account of their wishes on a particular issue, and that I had made a strong case and lost it. I thought governors' business was supposed to be open.

YOUR error was not to do with confidentiality but with corporate loyalty. You should never offend against the unity of the group by revealing how individuals voted or criticising majority decisions. I know this is very hard when those who elected you expect you to fight for their interests.

Neither parent nor teacher governors are delegates, in other words, they are not obliged to vote according to instructions. But they are representatives, which means they are expected to listen as best they can and report what they think the feelings of their group are, even if they personally disagree, which they are free to do.

It would be a good thing if more heads explained this t the parent body as a whole when elections are pending, so that they know what they can realistically expect.

WE HAVE a good lot of governors, but none with much confidence. It is hard to get anyone to be chair, and when we do there is no leadership. As head I am at a loss.

It's a big step from being a good team member to being a leader. You may have to "nurse" a volunteer through preparing for the meeting for a while - but know when to let go. Let the vice-chair share the tasks, let individual members present some items, or use teachers to introduce a subject where the item is suitable.

Make it clear you are looking for a team builder, not a figure-head. Have a system of duty governor for a month, involving a share of ceremonial chair duties as well as to observe classes. You will have a bigger choice for chair if you make it clear that he or she will have widespread support and will not have to carry the whole burden alone.

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