DAVID PENWARDEN, 67, has been a governor in London, Reading and Oxfordshire since 1960, while working in management and management training. Now retired, he is a governor at two schools - St Augustine of Canterbury, a joint Roman Catholic and Anglican upper school in Oxford, and nearby Rose Hill first school. Rose Hill is in an education action zone and is part of the Government's early years Sure Start programme.
What made you want to be a governor?
West Ham, where we then lived, had the worst education record in the country. I was anxious about my children's schools. I did a report suggesting how schools could be improved. I got elected to the local council in 1960, then got on the education committee.
Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?
Yes. One needs to have a fairly wide view of the world. I found myself very comfortable dealing with the management side.
Has the experience changed you?
Yes. I am on the early-years partnership in Oxfordshire - I would never have been concerned about pre-school in any other part of my career.
What is the biggest, best or worst change you've seen during your time as a governor?
The inspetion process is the biggest change, but not the worst. The worst has been the way budgets have shrunk. One of the best changes has been the openness of schools to volunteers. At Rose Hill, we now have 30 volunteers in for two hours a week to help with reading and maths.
What do your family think of your commitment?
I was quite pleased and surprised when my children and grandchildren said they were quite proud. They live in France where they don't have governors.
If you could wave a wand, what would you wish for?
For St Augustine's, that it can continue to be a joint school because it has the highest level of value added of any school in Oxford. The authority is considering changing to a two-tier system, in which case the Catholics have said they would like their own school. For Rose Hill, I would like it to go on proving it can be successful, and to give faith to people who live in the catchment area but don't use it.
Who would be your fantasy
Anyone who's prepared to put the time in, and can solve
problems and build bridges.
Governors can do that better than teachers, because teachers often live miles away.