Keep it simple, and give us better training

5th May 2000 at 01:00
THE Government's better regulation task force is to be commended for such a speedy, clear report - an unusual occurrence in education these days. But from Dr Chai Patel's TES article (April 14), you would imagine that governing bodies were the main focus of the report.

In fact, the report covers other far more red-tape-strewn areas than governing bodies - such as education authorities, the Office for Standards in Education, and indeed the Department for Education and Employment itself!

The report recommended that the DFEE:

Clarify and simplify the role of governing bodies.

Simplify their secondary duties, as set out in statute and guidance.

Develop new, and extend existing, governor recruitment initiatives.

Reduce the size of larger governing bodies, while maintaining accountability to parents and local communities.

Governors' key roles should be to appoint the headteacher and monitor hisher progress, and to endorse the school's broad

strategies and policies. What the report does not say is how the monitoring should be done - somethin which exercises the minds of many governors and headteachers. The line between rubber stamping and "agreeing policies" is thin indeed. Many headteachers, who appreciate an "outside view", would not be without their governing bodies.

The second recommendation will resonate with many governors, who have been saying for years that their duties had to be simplified. Many feel that the workload is burdensome because of its volume and lack of clarity. Many headteachers do have to do the work of a governing body which does not have committed members, but conversely, because of financial constraints, many governors are doing work which should be done by a professional.

Governors are carrying out the Government's requirements to the best of their ability. They do not look for honours - in fact most would say "heaven forbid", but they would like to see ring-fenced expenses; more professional support; more relevant training for whole governing

bodies; and a period of stability to permit longer-term planning.

Chairwoman of the National Governors' Council

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