1st May 1998 at 01:00
Joan Sallis Answers your questions

Q: If the teachers are so sure of the superiority of their policies that they reject the clear wishes of the Government on, for instance, the literacy hour, can the governors overrule them?

A: The day I received your letter the full guidelines were published and you will see how strong and explicit they are even though not statutory. A staff member who rejected the whole package would have to be very confident and to have cast-iron evidence of the success of their alternatives.

You, as governors, must make a judgment, bearing in mind that the Bill - if passed - will spell out for us very clear duties to raise standards. While I personally believe that literacy is such a central strategic issue that governors' active consent to the methods of its delivery must be obtained, many professionals will argue that the "how" of learning even on such a major policy issue is a matter for them. They take big risks now if they act on this basis, but at the same time it is a risk for governors to enforce teaching methods on an unwilling staff, given that people do best with what they believe in. For all these reasons I sincerely hope that what you are experiencing is just an emotional reaction to too much change and that moderation will prevail. Often, when a confrontation over the "how" of learning looms, some partial experiments to compare the outcomes of rival strategies within the school can help.

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