Governors taking new role too far says NUT

21st May 1999 at 01:00
Some even check on teachers' time-keeping in the playground, reports Karen Thornton

GOVERNORS are overstepping their powers by trying to tell teachers how to teach - and are even checking whether they have left their classrooms tidy after lessons.

So says the biggest teaching union, which is calling for a full review of governors' responsibilities. The National Union of Teachers believes most governors don't want the extra duties that they are being given by ministers - and may not be capable of taking them on.

In a submission to a House of Commons education committee inquiry into the role of school governors, the NUT says governors have an important part to play in representing local communities.

But it claims most governors do not want to become quasi-managers or inspectors.

Recent legislation has placed additional responsibilities on governing bodies in respect of target-setting for pupils, staff appointments, appraisal, and the performance and pay of headteachers.

Sometimes they go a step or two beyond. Doug McAvoy, the NUT's general secretary, pointed to the example of a Midlands chair of governors who checked up on messy classrooms and on whether teachers arrived punctually for playground duty.

That was easier to tackle than the Home Counties chairman who tried to stop the headteacher interviewing new staff.

At a school in Birmingham, the chair monitored teachers' classroom performance and justified his behaviour by saying he was supporting the headteacher.

An East Anglian governing body set up its own monitoring system, with members "going into classrooms and behaving like OFSTED inspectors in assessing the teachers", he claimed.

"The difficult one is the chair of governors who wants to interfere in the professional judgment of how the school should implement policy," said Mr McAvoy.

"It becomes necessary to ensure they understand where their role ends and where the headteacher and management team role begins, and to draw attention to their job as overseer rather than implementer."

The NUT wants staff to be allowed to complain to their local education authority if the behaviour of a governor or governing body undermines their work.

All governing bodies should have a trained clerk, who would alert the education authority to "any signs of conflict between governors and headteachers and staff", the union says.

Governors, 33

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now