On the board

27th June 2003 at 01:00
Paul Fletcher, 51, a facilities manager for the Ministry of Defence, is acting chair of governors at 380-pupil Monks Abbey primary in Lincoln. He is also chair of Lincoln secondary school for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties, which has just secured land for new premises under a private finance initiative deal.

Why be a governor?

I have family connections with Monks Abbey - in 1930, my mother went there, later so did I, and we now have the fourth generation in the school.

Has the experience fulfilled your expectations?

Every bit, and fulfilled all my frustrations as well.

What dodon't you like?

I like it better now that we have some control over the finances. I am used to dealing with a budget of pound;7 million at work, so the school budget is small compared with that.

What is the biggest, best or worst change you've seen?

The best thing is that every time the headteacher has changed they have gone one better. Heads now are financial and business managers as well as teachers. Also, Ofsted has made a big difference and made governors realise their responsibilities and the importance of targets and evaluation.

Where does governing fit into your life?

The new school is taking up a great deal of time, as there have been so many hold-ups and hiccups. The level of nimbyism ("not in my back yard") has been extraordinary. The field we were trying to use for the pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties is right next to Lincoln high security prison. But now we have a site elsewhere and having seen the other schools in Lincoln built under PFI, I am delighted with the quality of the building and the fittings.

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

I'd like the education authority to take account of the high level of transience we have in the area - 70 to 80 kids a year moving in and out causes financial problems.

And who or what would you make disappear?

Not the paperwork, that is essential - everything must be auditable and above board. I go along with the teachers, and say national tests for the younger children. But the key stage 2 tests are useful as a benchmark for secondary education. I'd like to remove the curricular rigidity. So many children are so little equipped for life.

Your ideal fantasy governor?

The comic Nick Hancock, as he is an ex-teacher.

Janet Prescott

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