Bill McCarthy is a foundation governor at St Mary's Roman Catholic primary school, Horsforth, near Leeds. He is a civil servant and has five children. Three currently attend the school, one has just left, and the youngest is still too young.
What made you want to be a
I knew all the children would eventually go to the school. I also felt that schools were becoming more responsive to governors and that I could be usefully involved.
Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?
Yes, but I'm not a hyperactive governor. It's given me a chance to understand what goes on and it has been good when heads have asked for advice and we have been able to provide it, for instance on finance or staffing.
What dodon't you like?
I like the fact that basically
teachers are very open and happy to be helped, quite happy to ask. I don't like the fact that I do not get a chance to get to school more than I do.
What is the biggest, best or worst change you've seen in your time as a governor?
The most difficult time for the school was when the previous head retired early on health grounds. Parents were anxious and really the school was struggling for a while.
In the end we had very good applicans. It was a timing thing. We found from our contacts with parents that as long as you explain matters and treat people as adults, and are not too
defensive, that they respond well.
Has the experience changed you?
No I don't think so, though I understand much more about education and I am a bit more understanding about problems which arise.
What does your family think of your commitment?
I doubt they notice, though the children know I am a governor at their school.
Where does governing fit into your life?
If I'm honest, pretty low down after family and work. It is important, but I don't have a huge time-commitment. Obviously I attend governing body meetings and work on staffing and curriculum committees too.
I read papers in the bus or on the train. I have plenty of time for that since I travel regularly to London!
If you could wave a wand, what would you wish for the school?
Stability, I guess. Literacy and numeracy are settling well, but staff have had to work hard at it. I think things are squeezed out on the recreational side such as sporting activities. But as a church school the spiritual ethos features highly; religious life has at least as high a status as the curriculum.