Governor reform could ease load

21st April 2000 at 01:00
I THANK you for the very clear article about the National Association of Headteachers' workload survey (TES, April 7), of which I was the author. By coincidence, the Better Regulation Task Force report was issued on the same day. Both reports come to very similar conclusions, though taking different routes of investigation.

If I may clarify one point: the results of our survey did not show that the majority of governors are self-seeking, disinterested, unskilled.

There are a large number of supportive, kindly, thoughtful governors and headteachers appreciate them. However it was clear that the majority of governing bodies include one or more who are self-seeking or insufficiently interested in the work. A majority are unskilled in the work which they are currently expected to do.

The detailed analysis of the survey provides a number of pointers which underpin arguments that NAHT has been making for some time. It is these strands which are of particular importance.

Office for Standards in Education inspections are still not being achieved without very great workload and stress. A better system needs to be sought.

Current funding structures are complex, confusing and grossly unfair. A new, simpler system is required, with beter funding overall.

The annual governors' meeting for parents is virtually valueless and the requirement that it takes place should be abandoned immediately.

The role of local education authorities needs to be reviewed and redefined. While some work hard to support the work of schools, our survey shows that many add significantly to the workload.

The expectations placed on governing bodies have become entirely unreasonable. As a result they add considerably to the work of the management team. Their role and responsibilities need to be totally re-examined. If this is achieved, it may be easier to recruit people with the appropriate abilities.

There must be far better support available to headteachers and teachers in dealing with aggressive and violent parents and children.

These issues need urgent examination. Fortunately, the task force report requires early answers. We hope that some will come in time to make the introduction of the latest national curriculum revision and the threshold assessment and the performance management structure more reasonable than appears at the moment.

David Osborne

Survey consultant to the National Association of Headteachers

15 Upper Grange Road

Beccles, Suffolk

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