Governors should consider needs of staff

15th March 1996 at 00:00
As the headteacher of a large primary school in south-west London, please may I both debate and endorse Joan Sallis' answer about the times of governors meetings (TES, March 1)?

I agree that times and venues should be by agreement, with any inconvenience shared equally by staff and governors, but there are factors that need emphasising.

The demands on headteachers and teachers have changed enormously in recent years. Governors volunteer for their positions and while training is available, the take-up for this is low. One of the difficulties with so many meetings is that they are longer than needed, as they are so often training sessions for governors who need constant explanations. The pristine quality of the reports and other papers that governors bring to meetings also indicates how little preparation has sometimes been done. In 10 years of headship I have yet to hear of a teacher-governor's membership being lapsed for non-attendance at meetings!

While agreeing with Joan Sallis that it is not reasonable to expect working governors to meet during the day every time, teachers should not always be the ones who need to remain behind in their workplace for meetings that often finish very late and are followed by a longer journey home than that experienced by many governors who have often had the time to go home, eat, change and refresh themselves.

Given the very fundamental and numerous decisions that schools now have to take under local management and the increased number of meetings, daytime meetings are in some ways more essential as advice given or decisions taken may not be the best when achieved by governors who have all been working hard earlier in the day.

Evening meetings which usually begin at 7.30pm or 8pm can often finish at 10pm or later, with discussion curtailed through sheer tiredness.

Please may I suggest to Joan Sallis that in addition to her gentle reminders to teachers about the needs of local governors, that there be equally frequent and equally gentle reminders to governors about fairness and the needs and demands made upon staff.

DENZIL SHEPHERD 108 Eswyn Road Tooting

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