People: we care that they matter

4th February 2000 at 00:00
Anna Hughes writes the unofficial minutes of her governing body

I can't say an 8am start fills me with too much joy, but it does enable some of our more peripatetic governors to attend, for instance, Professor Fergus McGregor, from the local university. Besides, Betty, the catering manager, has found an excellent source of fresh croissants.

"We should congratulate ourselves," beams Alan, the chair, "and, in particular, congratulate our principal, Rex, and the senior management team."

News has arrived that we have been awarded Investors in People.

"Well done! Well done!" Alan continues with glee.

Who are the people we are investing in? Judging by the high staff turnover, it can't be those employed here. A friend in the Home Counties tells me that one week after his college got the same award, they sent out letters to lecturers invitingvoluntary redundancies.

Investors in People. What a fine idea. Mind you, anyone with a bit of savvy can fill in the application form, rustle up a bit of evidence on staff training days, information flows, assessments, and brief the staff on what to say if the awarding inspector pins them down.

Besides, loyalty to one's college is all part of the professionalism with which education is held together (particularly since the staff loyalty bonus discount deal with the local all-night hypermarket).

"Any other business?" asks Alan.

"Aye!" says Fergus. "Security. I don't wish to alarm you, Rex, but yo'd better read this clipping." He hands round photocopies: "Students arrested over murder of principal." The article describes the violent death of the principal of Sangalo Institute of Science and Technology in western Kenya. "I don't think we need worry about that, but I want to consider our own security for both student and staff."

Finance - a regular agenda item. But this time it comes from the Government. Mary, the staff governor, updates us. (Third month in post and pushy Mary already chairs a strategy committee.) "Two proposals. First, the financial memorandum between colleges and the FEFC demands that the internal and external audit be carried out by totally separate bodies." An excellent requirement we all agree. "Second, the audit committee must have a member who has 'relevant' financial or audit experience."

Ol' Silas, the finance director, chips in: "Although a member of the audit committee does not have to be a governor, it helps."

"The problem is finding people with sufficient knowledge," says Mary. "Who's prepared to do it for love?" "Betty," says Fergus.

"Betty!" Everyone is gobsmacked.

Except Rex. "You know, Fergus, you might have something. She can add up, knows a baker's dozen, convinced her staff that IIP was a good thing. And, if necessary, we can enrol her on an accountancy course. More cash - courtesy FEFC."

"Yes," says Mary. "And if she fails at that, she'll be fully qualified to take over as principal."

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