7th July 2000 at 01:00
I AM writing to agree with the view that there is a current of feeling against governors (see school management page, TES, June 9). I want to make a point particularly about parent governors.

I am sick of hearing that it's parent-governors who cause all the trouble, that we are only there to advance our own children, that we pass on school-gate gossip, and so on.

Our head is as bad as the rest, yet we parent-governors do the annual report to parents with almost no interest from the others, we do all the exclusion hearings, go to all the big events, and play a full part while others just nod and mutter. And I don't know anybody who became a governor to get favours for their own children. Do we have to put up with this?

YOU may exaggerate the scale of this, but I do know it goes on. In fairness, some heads tell me that their parents are the ones who keep the show going, do most of the work, understand the issues etc.

But I also hear all about parent-governors seeing things in terms of their own children, having short-term goals, interfering in day-to-day management, and being indiscreet. Why? I think many heads who'd like governors to go away altogether vent their frustration on parents, who are a captive audience.

Parent-governors may also care more, know the school better and be less easy to discourage or fob off by the small number of heads who have that in mind. If you are unlucky enough to meet one of these just pont out, as you have to me, the contribution you make and how unfair they are.

I also think we all need to work hard to see that the comments are never deserved. And we need to be brave enough to counsel (perhaps new) colleagues who do make mistakes.

I do think there is a tendency to see the school from one's own children's standpoint and sometimes to take too short term a view. I tell heads that we waited a long time for that passion and first-hand knowledge on governing bodies, and there's a place for it. But we must keep the big picture in focus.

Also parent-representatives sometimes don't know how to handle concerns parents bring to them. If they are not policy matters they shouldn't come to the governing body at all: it is not a complaints committee.

Purely individual concerns should be taken up with the head directly by the parents concerned: a governor can reassure or go with them if they are timid.

No governor should ever spring anything on the head without warning or try to get it in as "any other business" unless it's only just come up and delay would be really serious.

All of us must also be careful not to try to solve things outside the governing body and remember that as individuals we have no power. We must make sure we keep to strategic issues and not stray into day-by-day management. Finally we must never reveal personal matters which come to our ears. Like teachers, we must be discreet.

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