On the Board

7th April 2000 at 01:00
JOAN Ansell is chair of governors at Springhallow special school, for children with autistic syndrome and learning difficulties, in Ealing, West London. She is a Conservative councillor and has also chaired the governing body of a large girls' comprehensive and a multi-ethnic primary school.

What made you want to be a governor?

It's a very important part of a councillor's work. I think it is quite fascinating to see the development of children, not just to sit on the governing body, but to go into school regularly.

Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?

The biggest difficulty has been being an employer of staff - the demarcation between the head and governing body is a little grey.

What dodon't you like?

I like the contact with children and with staff. What I don't like is problems with further integration into high schools of pupils with special needs. Nothing comes easy. We're always fighting with the authorities to get the correct thing for the young people.

Has the experience changed you?

It's helped me not always to take things at face value, made me tenacious, and also prepared to jog along more with other people.

What is the iggest, best or worst change you've seen during your time as a governor?

The worst thing is too much paperwork. There will be not be a tree left in the world soon. There are constant pressures put on staff, so many things to include in the curriculum that in special schools they can hardly keep up. The best thing is

seeing that pupils, once helped, can do wonders.

What do your familyfriends think of your commitment?

I've lost most of my friends, they never see me. They think I'm a bit daft at my age going on like this, but I'm stimulated, always thinking of tomorrow and how to improve things for youth.

If you could wave a wand, what would you wish for the school?

More space, integration, and a quick answer for children who could fit into high school but have to wait for all sorts of committees to make decisions.

And who or what would you make disappear?

The slowness of processes and people. People should grasp the nettle more quickly, be less obstructive and get rid of their bureaucratic attitude.

Who would be your ideal fantasy governor?

Ken Livingstone. He might get things done. He is somebody not beaten down by the system.

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