29th August 2003 at 01:00
As an experienced teacher governor, I am aware of the importance of having the staff viewpoint well represented, but I also know some heads don't exactly encourage this. Is it their influence which produced the new regulation that teachers cannot be co-opted, parent or LEA governors?

You are right, except that the restriction (i) applies only to the school where they work (ii) only operates when governors have completed the revision of their constitution which is not mandatory until 2006 and (iii) does apply to all staff, not just teachers. Also there is already a ban of some years' standing on staff becoming co-opted governors. I don't think one can blame headteachers for these particular changes. I have mixed feelings about them, though I am with you 100 per cent in wanting a strong staff voice and also against restricting membership as parent or co-opted governors - questions of balance should be left to those voting. The pressure as far as I am concerned (I can't speak for the Government!) has been from all sorts of governors in a few areas of the country where governorship is still somewhat political. In places where it has been very common for the LEA to appoint staff (particularly support staff in my experience) to their seats - there have been fears (and some evidence) that the governing body cannot make important decisions because too many members owe their livelihood to the school. I think this may apply particularly to support staff because they include more vulnerable people who need work near home or near their children's school. I would accept that this has been a problem. Remember, however, that under the new rules governors will be able to include up to one-third staff governors, which is generous in bigger governing bodies (see below).

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