On the board

1st March 2000 at 00:00

HEATHER MCCAULEY is chair of governors at St Anne's School, in Ealing, London, which caters for secondary pupils with severe learning difficulties. She joined the governing body 10 years ago and has been chair for the past six.

What made you want to be a governor?

It was a way of getting involved in my local community. I liked the voluntary aspect. I think it's important to have people on governing bodies who are not education people, so that there's a good mix.

What dodon't you like?

There's no bit I don't like. The bottom line is that I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it. I particularly like doing things which I am skilled in, for instance I understand how local government works, chairing meetings and setting up systems.

Has the experience changed you?

That's for others to say. I know more about how the education system works. The big issue about special schools is inclusion, which starts you thinking and makes you more aware of the needs of special groups.

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

The Government is going too fast. I thoroughly approve of New Labour and education, education, education, but senior management is under an enormous amoun of scary pressure. They are expected to do too much in too short a period of time. Also, the worst thing is the loss of status for teachers; even a decade ago it was higher.

What does your family think of your commitment?

I have no family. I proselytise to the lodgers about equal opportunities, and bang on to everyone about it, to increase their awareness of special needs.

Where does governing fit into your life?

It's now much more time consuming. More and more things are devolved to school and it is an increasingly large part of my life. We have a particular problem in special schools in having a large budget, large staff but a small number of pupils and so a very small governing body. It means that everybody is involved in everything which gives us no spare capacity at all. It's a terrible problem.

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

Make everybody think that being a teacher was a really important thing and that there was prestige attached to it.

And who or what would you make disappear?

Nothing. I believe in dealing with obstacles as you come across them.

Who would be your ideal

fantasy governor?

Nelson Mandela, he's my hero for everything.


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