13th August 2004 at 01:00
Joan Sallis answers governors' questions

I am a vicar in a country town, and have been chair of governors at our local voluntary aided school since I came to the area. It is quite a large school and the workload has grown and changed almost beyond recognition.

But although the constant pressures have sometimes seemed huge, I have coped well, and was even relishing the prospect of some big developments next year.So I was hurt when a respected fellow foundation governor told me someone would nominate an active parent governor to be chair in September.

He is an able and committed member and has some relevant professional experience. I know I have no right to a life tenancy, but it seems natural that the vicar should be the figurehead and I can't help feeling rejected.

Should I resign?

I know how you feel. But you seem to assume that the incumbent is chair of governors in all or most voluntary aided schools, which is by no means so.

Increasingly, as a school becomes more of a business, and a complex enterprise with a workload that can be daunting when added to the responsibilities of an active parish, the vicar or priest is willing or even eager to forego the traditional title and steps aside to concentrate on spiritual leadership of the governing body and management of the relationship with the church. Building work or special fundraising can often be a catalyst for movement, but the change is more organic than that.

I hope you will not resign as long as you find the governor role rewarding, but, if you do, I hope you will welcome and support the new chair - even perhaps stand as vice-chair. The character of the school is not at risk - after all, you do have a permanent majority of foundation governors. You will find aspects of the governor role in which you might more happily develop once freed from the grind of being chair. In any type of school these days it is unreasonable to expect a governor to occupy the chair for too long: it is a huge job if taken seriously.

A compilation of Joan Sallis's columns has been published in Questions School Governors Ask. Copies are available at pound;7.95 from the TES bookshop: call 0870 4448633 or see Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Fax 020 7782 3202, or see governorsask_the_expert where answers to the submitted questions will appear

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