26th April 1996 at 01:00
How can we encourage governors to go to training? Three or four governors go to almost all the training available. Another six or so go to some. About the same number - and they include some who frankly don't know much but think they do because they've been at it a long time - never go to a single session. What can we do?

You must all - including the head - collaborate to give training and development a high profile in your actual governors' business. Have it on every agenda. Ask those who have been to sessions to report. Run through what is coming up soon in the programme, and ask who is going to each, so that you know that between you you will cover a lot of ground. Suggest that you always plan your involvement, so that the governing body as a whole takes up everything that is offered. This doesn't mean enthusiasts shouldn't go to everything, but at least there is a minimum coverage. Use a bit of gentle peer group pressure - otherwise known as public shame - to expose those who don't think they need training.

Your head is crucial and hisher attitude can change things. If heads accept that as governors they need training too, it helps. Offer to call for anyone who hasn't got transport. If your training team in your LEA offer school based training sessions, ask for one. Training as a governing body is quite a different experience from general off-site training because it helps to overcome many problems of unequal effort, not just this one.

When is a committee not a committee? When it's a working party.

This may seem trivial, but we are a bit confused about terminology. We have five sub-committees. Some have delegated power. Some do not. We know which is which and we know what you can legally delegate. Now we are told we ought to have committees and working parties. Please straighten this out for us.

Strictly speaking a governors' committee can't be a sub-committee, because a governing body is not a committee. That is fairly straightforward and I accept it as logical.

A committee is strictly defined in governor circles as a body having delegated power, while anything less than this is a working party.

My dictionary only says that a committee is a group of people entrusted to perform a service or function, but many people working with governors say that strictly speaking you can't have a curriculum committee, only a curriculum working party.

In our school I confess we do have a curriculum committee and we know it can't have delegated powers. It meets regularly, I think we'd use the term working party for a body set up for a more short-term task and not necessarily permanent, though this hasn't come up.

I've often been told off for not being careful about terminology so if I were you I'd get it right.

Questions for Joan Sallis should be sent to Agenda, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200.


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