Letters extra: Achievement award more hassle than it's worth

16th May 2003 at 01:00

Please would you find space to publish my letter which I sent to the secretary of state.

Dear Secretary of State,

The school to which I am chair of governors has earned an achievement award. "Hurrah, recognition of all that effort put in," was my first thought. Then it mentioned money. Then it talked about ways you may decide to divide this sum - and it is a reasonable amount.

Of course, I am grateful for the recognition of the efforts of all staff (although I note the governors do not even receive the praise due all groups, but there we are. However, the very fact that there is a sum of money we have to decide how to share out is already causing division and dissent.

Teachers in the year group where children sit SATs tests are to some extent expectant that they are more equal than others in different year groups. Furthermore, many teachers seem to have an opinion that their contribution is greater than the contribution of a classroom assistant or a lunchtime assistant for instance.

Far from being a celebration, it is turning out to be a minefield. After several years as chair, and even more as a governor, I am left feeling that this is just one contentious issue too many. If the school was issued with a certificate to display; if we had been asked to declare the names of all those we thought eligible to share in the award and the department had issued each of these people with a pound;50 non-taxable bonus; I think all would have felt proud.

At it is, we have what amounts to civil war. And the losers in this war, whatever their decision, will be the governors; the forgotten few, who labour for love not money, yet mostly end up taking the flack.

Name and address withheld on request

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