Joan Sallis answers your questions

28th January 2005 at 00:00
I am fairly new so do not want to raise this until I am more sure of my ground. Our head is very pleasant but I feel that he does not treat us all alike. We are a mixed bunch, some with better jobs or more education, some easier to get on with, some awkward, and I admit that I am one he likes to talk things through with. But he does also try to influence the choice of governors to do particular jobs, share in teacher appointments, appeals and the like, even chairing committees and working groups. We respect him so do not want to rock the boat, but surely he should keep out of these decisions and we ourselves should try to see that the work is shared on a basis of equality? Or is this unrealistic?

The head who chooses to be a governor in theory shares those decisions which are governors' responsibility. I said in theory, because realistically nobody can help finding some people easier to work with than others, and someone whose life is tied up with the school's success will naturally want to see key jobs well done.

But the head should be careful not to get involved in team-picking. He or she will often be directly affected, most obviously in his or her own appraisal, but also in staff disciplinary appeals, permanent exclusion appeals, and must be above reproach.

When it comes to governors' own responsibility for their work, I would not try to claim that every member could do any job. All governors share equally in decision-making, of course, but together we also share responsibility for getting the work done as well as it can be, because it is important, and we need a rough plan for the succession in key jobs, for instance.

There will be some who will share the work and not want too much responsibility, but even here all should be watching for growth and development in colleagues.

Do not be too hard on your head - he is conscientious and human. But you do need to discourage undue influence on how the jobs are organised - it is wrong, divisive and could be unfair to those whose talents have not yet impinged on him. It may even be necessary to ask your chair to have a word about this if a firm determination to discuss and, where necessary, vote on these matters does not get the point across.

Make sure you all work in as open a way as possible, always trying to spot maturing talents. We may not all be equally fitted for responsibility but in any group of people you can get a lot closer to it.

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