Help governors, don't fight them

4th October 1996 at 01:00
It was as a platform speaker in my capacity as vice-chair of Action for Governors Information and Training (AGIT) at the National Association of Head Teachers' conference more than two years ago that I called for governors and heads to work together on a set of principles for working together.

My aims were two-fold - to provide an initiative on the back of which we would together examine how real or imagined the difficulties are, and for those who have to make this relationship work to be able do something about it themselves.

Since then, a number of organisations have joined AGIT and the NAHT in a series of discussions hosted by the Department for Education and Employment.

We have taken our time to thrash things out and, I believe, to produce a document which commands substantial agreement and will offer genuine guidance to governing bodies and heads who bother to take the time to discuss these things as we have.

However, if such discussions are caricatured as "fighting between heads and their boards" (TES, September 6) the atmosphere generated often by the media will be one of mistrust rather than mutual understanding.

There is now much greater clarity over the role of governing bodies as is evidenced in two other seminal documents - Lessons in teamwork (OFSTEDAudit Commission) and Effective governing bodies and effective schools (BISOFSTEDDFEE). What we now require is the strengthening of the infrastructure of training, advice and information that governing bodies need to perform these roles and most of all acceptance by all the partners, not least headteachers, that governing bodies are there on behalf of the community to take responsibility for and to hold the professionals accountable. This will not always be comfortable for head or governing body but for the sake of the young people it must be done.

A community without accountability structures is not a community.

ANN HOLT

Vice-chair

Action for Governors' Information and Training Limited

Lyng Hall

Blackberry Lane

Coventry

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