Don't bury skills in red tape

27th February 2004 at 00:00
Well, that's it for another year. At considerable cost to those most loyal of volunteers, the governors' annual report to parents has been drafted, checked and circulated to several hundred families.

Contributions by the chair, committees, senior managers, the bursar and exams officer have made for a wealth of information designed to meet our statutory obligations and to show the school in the best possible light.

Many of us have trodden this path assiduously, mindful that only a minority of parents will ever read this document, but cautious of the few who do - and who will pounce on any error.

As we have produced the report and are determined to ensure that it reaches parents at least two weeks before the annual meeting, a battle plan is drawn up to make sure it finds its way to the right household (via pupil post). Some struggle to make it past the school gates, some ferment at the bottom of the school bag, some are submitted as a source for GCSE history coursework. Others are enjoyed by the puppy or function as a door wedge.

All that hard work wasted - or is it? No doubt a handful of diligent parents wait expectantly at the front door throughout the month preceding the publication date. They quiz their offspring until such time as they surrender the document.

The night of the meeting arrives. A hundred chairs are laid out, the parents' association has provided refreshments, governors are out in force, and the head scours the streets to welcome all-comers. But alas, it is only the stalwarts who attend.

Now, at last, a gift for our governors. The legislation has been changed and the requirement to hold an annual parents' meeting relaxed. After a commitment of thousands of hours by governors throughout England, common sense appears to have prevailed. Will this newfound wisdom be extended to the report itself? Should this occur, governors might be unsure how to use those evenings and weekends previously committed to drafting the report.

Governors make a phenomenal contribution to schools. In our understandable haste to reduce teacher workload, let's spare a thought for them. They too are a creative force, and bureaucracy must not bury their skills.

David Jones is headteacher and a governor of Gosford Hill secondary school in Kidlington, Oxfordshire. Want to sound off and earn pound;150? Email:

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