1st March 1996 at 00:00
Joan sallis answers governors' questions

We have intermittent guerilla warfare over meeting times. This is in a commuter area and many governors find it hard to get to a meeting before 7.30. The head and staff keep trying to fix earlier meetings so that staff don't have to give up an evening, which would only result in many absentees. The subject is beginning to cause bitterness. Who has the final say?

The simple answer is that the governing body as a whole decides, so the criterion is the convenience of the majority. Having said that I do have sympathy with teachers, especially if it is an expensive area where few can live near the school. Hanging around when there isn't quite enough time to go home is miserable. One also has to put in the equation the relative costs of opening up the school and heating it at different times. Your chair must make it clear to the head who in turn must convey to the staff that it is unreasonable to expect working governors to have time off for every meeting, and good attendances are important. I do think however that willingness to give and take would lessen resentment even a few concessions like having some of the committee or working party meetings a bit earlier. These often involve staff and it might be possible to use more of the governors who don't work in town on committees that meet earlier. You could also organise sandwiches to facilitate an occasional earlier start. I am sure it is mainly the impression that teachers' convenience comes last which causes the trouble. A willingness to compromise, and a gentle reminder to teachers that if governors are to fairly represent the variety of the community they are bound to include some commuters, should work wonders.

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