13th November 1998 at 00:00
The third of a million people who give up evenings for meetings in dark and cold schools, go to school plays and concerts, attend personnel and curriculum sub-committees, exclusion hearings, training days and much else have few to applaud their efforts.

Governors are, quite shamelessly, volunteers. Yet magistrates, councillors, prison visitors, and a veritable army of similar volunteers provide the backbone of many British social institutions. Why should school governors be so derided and their motives questioned?

Of course, hundreds of examples of excellent partnerships between headteachers and governing bodies can be found, of governors who have brought skills and expertise to their school which have been highly beneficial and may even have made up for deficiencies elsewhere.

However, with reference to your article "The anybody politic" (TES, October 30) it would not be too hard to find sad, pushy or megalomaniacal characters among the third of a million. Indeed, it would be surprising if we could not.

We have no hard evidence about how many people apply to be governors - or their motives - about vacancies, about the professions of those who take on the job. We need research.

In the end, governors have to stick up for themselves. If there is resentment of governors' increasing powers and responsibilities, it needs to be pointed out that this is the Government's policy, not sought by governors themselves.

We have to show that we take such responsibility seriously, that we undertake training, that we support our schools and hold them accountable for the education of our children. It is a considerable undertaking and we should not apologise for doing it for free!

John Adams, Chair of the National Association of Governors and Managers, 21 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham

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