Farewell to Joan Dalton

10th October 2003 at 01:00
After 11 years as chair of governors, I thought I was stuck with it for life, like motherhood and The Archers. I became chair after only two years as a governor. I was approached by the then incumbent who was leaving the village, and after mature consideration, consultation with my family and the headteacher, I decided I was too inexperienced.

However, at the autumn term meeting, I was proposed, seconded and voted in before I had time to protest. The meeting papers were thrust into my hands and we were away. Three hours later we were still ploughing through the agenda, finally agreeing to adjourn when the other governors lost the will to live. I've got better at managing meetings since then. Within two terms, the head resigned and I was plunged into the scary business of appointing a successor. My husband was delighted when another governor offered to stand as chair. I have other voluntary commitments, and the old chap seems to think I should spend more time watching telly and knitting. I now begin every other sentence with "Now I'm not going to be chair I could...". I have filled the time three times over.

About the same time as I became chair, I started writing for The TES, fuelled by indignation at the unreasonable demands being made on me and my colleagues. The introduction of local management, now known by the delightfully Orwellian euphemism of "fair funding", cuts in schools'

budgets, the national curriculum, Sats, league tables and Ofsted have all conspired to keep my indignation levels productively high.

When I was offered a regular column, Joan Dalton was born. I needed a pen name to protect my school's anonymity and I chose my mother's maiden name.

Having been a dreadful disappointment to her - teenage marriage, no career, adult life spent caring for hordes of children, my own and other people's - I felt I owed her a little vicarious fame.

Although "Joan" shared my experiences and views, I imagined her as about five years my senior, and distinctly more crotchety. I have always acknowledged my alter-ego to fellow governors, school staff, LEA officers and others.

Now, as my term of office finishes and The TES governors' pages have merged with management, Joan Dalton's career comes to an end. I hope you will still occasionally be hearing from Lindy Hardcastle, younger, fitter and just as stroppy.

Lindy Hardcastle is a governor in Leicestershire. To sound off here, contact susan.young@tes.co.uk. We pay for published articles

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