Managers and their senior colleagues are the key to raising standards, not governors

2nd May 1997 at 01:00
Jane Martin's article entitled "A misinterpretation of roles" (TES, April 11) argues that heads and governors should be partners and not opponents. I am sure that we all "say Amen to that", but that is not the key issue and Jane Martin's article only serves further to confuse the debate about governance and management.

It is a total misinterpretation of my views to say that I believe that heads should have a strategic role unfettered by governors with only a symbolic function to perform. My argument is quite the opposite. Governors have a strategic role of great importance, but too many governing bodies fail to understand this and spend a disproportionate amount of their time interfering with the management of the school, which should be the responsibility of the head.

Jane Martin seems to believe that public accountability is vested in the governing body. The reality is that governors are remarkably unaccountable and that true accountability lies with the head, not least when matters "take a turn for the worse". Jane Martin says nothing about the vital leadership qualities which heads must bring to schools, yet it is those qualities which will determine the success or failure of the institution.

Jane Martin's article seems to imply that it is all a question of the professional administering on behalf of those who govern. This totally misreads the dynamics of the school. The reality is that it is heads and their senior colleagues who are the key to raising standards.

Of course, a satisfactory partnership should exist between the governing body and the head in order to underpin the objectives laid down in the school's development plan and to enable a good working relationship to thrive to the benefit of the school as a whole, but that does not justify the blurring of the interface between management and governance. Indeed, it argues for a totally opposite conclusion; namely that the respective roles of governors and heads should be clarified nationally in the interests of all concerned.

D M HART

General secretary National Association of Head Teachers 1 Heath Square Boltro Road Haywards Heath, West Sussex

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