Council's hurdles defeat even fit governors

11th April 1997 at 01:00
I am uncertain which soured my breakfast milk more, the front page of my TES ("Whitehall questions fitness of governors", March 28) or that of my local paper "Award-winning school recommended for closure".

You might assume, as chairman of governors for that particular school, that I was already aware of the LEA officers' recommendation to the county council. You would be mistaken.

The fact that I found out about the closure in the local paper was consistent with the approach of this particular authority. The governors' plans for expansion with a continued pursuit of excellence, and coupled to a variety of innovative measures, were rejected by the officers of the LEA, when composing their recommendation, without discussion. That recommendation was accepted by the education committee with, apparently, minimal inquiry by the members.

Everything suggested in The TES to "improve" the governors' "performance" has been attempted by my governing body. It is the governors who have pressed the LEA for action with a singular lack of success. Pity the chairman who seeks LEA advice when it does not suit the LEA.

Attempts to take firm action in the face of staff problems have been met with delay and avoidance. Building problems are ignored. Any attempt to move nearer to a business-centred approach to education, as some of us believed local management intended, with the encumbrance of the lead weight of an LEA around our feet, has found us stumbling before reaching the first hurdle.

Small wonder that three chairman and two governor colleagues from other schools in North Wales, all self-employed and running successful business enterprises, have thrown in the towel.

If governing bodies are to manage under the umbrella of an LEA for whose services they pay, they must have proper and skilled professional support. The "I'll look into it" attitude is no longer appropriate.

There is, of course, another option, which allows independence from the LEA.

The grant-maintained option was rejected by my governing body in September 1996 - perhaps a great mistake, that is only discernible through the benefit of hindsight.

Change things, please, but make certain that you look in the right direction.

J NOEL HULMSTON Fron Deg Fron Park Road Holywell, Clwyd

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