Don't you forget about us

12th December 2003 at 00:00
As regular readers will have noticed, The TES has absorbed the pages previously catering exclusively for governors into the school leadership pages. We governors feel this is exactly where we belong.

We appoint headteachers and we set targets for them and monitor their progress. We are responsible for setting budgets and agreeing and implementing pay policy. We deal with parental complaints and pupil-exclusion appeals as well as staff grievance and disciplinary issues.

We agree policies on every aspect of school life and monitor how effectively they are being implemented. We are involved in developing school improvement plans and securing the effective delivery of the curriculum. We have a statutory responsibility to conduct the school with a view to promoting high standards and to report annually to parents.

Governors who fail to take these responsibilities seriously and "leave it to the head" will come seriously unstuck when Ofsted appears. In their latest incarnation, Reggies expect from us a very high level of knowledge of the school and involvement in its management.

So why are we so frequently overlooked by the Department for Education and Skills? Sometimes it is a matter of semantics. When extra money comes directly to schools, it is always described as being given to "headteachers". Not so. It is given to schools and finance committees advise on how it can best be used. In other cases, governor exclusion from consultation at national level is inexcusable. Remodelling the workforce is a prime example. Involving as it does financial decisions, effective delivery of the curriculum and staff recruitment, training and development, governors will undoubtedly be involved in implementing the process. We even have a specific responsibility for the "worklife balance" of the head. I wonder who is responsible for mine?

However, until the National Governors' Council protested, they were not included in discussions about this major initiative. As a result of their belated involvement, an excellent guide for governors on workforce remodelling has been produced.

The other area where governors feel their role has been overlooked is in the area of headteacher training.

Heads need to be trained, not to "manage" their governing body, but to work with it and develop it. Again, NGC pressure means that the National College for School Leadership is finally taking this on board. The DfES must realise that heads and governors are equal partners and treat us accordingly.

Lindy Hardcastle is a primary school governor. Would you like to get something off your chest and get paid for it? Send your submission to karen.thornton@tes.co.uk

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