5th November 1999 at 00:00
Q: WE HAVE had two new parent governors this term. One is excellent. The other is already an embarrassment.

We have a couple of weak teachers and we are dealing with this problem, but this governor is collecting "evidence" of their weaknesses and telling those concerned that the governors will take these into account.

She is also promising parents that she will deal with all sorts of problems and gossiping about children who are in trouble in various ways.

I know these are marks of inexperience and a bit of vanity, but I am at a loss to know how to deal with them.

A: These are beginners' mistakes, but potentially very serious. I often think we overdo the confidentiality on matters which are only halfway to solution but when the premature revelations concern - I would guess - disciplinary processes, they could threaten or even wreck what we are trying to achieve by fuelling possible appeals.

If this new governor is already taking part in such a process, by being on the appropriate statutory committee, the chair must lay down the law on confidentiality and spell out the risks. If she isn't, then you must make sure that this sort of sensitive information is kept from other governors at this stage. But, possibly, it is not real information but guesswork. She must also be encouraged to take an induction course as soon as possible.

Most important of all, someone must have a quiet word - urgently.

The chair may be the best person or, if this seems a bit heavy, another parent governor such as yourself. I have sent you the names of a couple of new booklets which cover these sorts of issue.

But, for the moment, it's vital to indicate the sort of damage which well meant but indiscreet talk about individuals who may now or later be facing disciplinary processes can do, not just to the individual but possibly to what the school is trying to achieve.

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