Governors also have day jobs

13th August 2004 at 01:00
Oh dear! So David Sassoon thinks governors need to look after their heads by holding meetings at the start or the end of the school day (TES, July 9).

Has he really thought what this would mean? Any governor who works outside the home would have to take time off to attend the meeting and full-time parents would need to find childcare at the time of day their children need most attention.

I live close to the school and work in central London so I have a minimum of an hour's travel between work and meetings. If meetings were to start at 9am or 4pm this would mean effectively taking a half-day as holiday for each. The law requires employers to allow reasonable time off for governors' duties, but there is no requirement for this to be paid and it is often restricted to three days.

Losing this time for meetings means governors cannot take time to visit the school in action to enable them to make informed decisions, or be involved in senior appointments, redundancy discussions, or attend training or other daytime LEA meetings.

Most governors, or their baby-sitting partners, do not have the benefit of more than the statutory 20 days in which to have a holiday and deal with domestic matters.

At the school where I am chair we manage to hold one committee's meetings during the school day, with others at 6.30pm or 6.45pm; even this start time can be difficult for some to make and we usually have a stream of apologetic late-comers.

I appreciate this is hard for our head and the staff who attend the meetings but see dangers in restricting governorships to those free during the day.

Perhaps the only solution would be for the Government to require employers to give paid leave for governors' duties, but is there then a risk of employment discrimination?

Meanwhile, perhaps David Sassoon can give some advice on the management of governors' workload.

Penny Ryan Chair of governors 66 Fountain Road, London SW17

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