The School governor

14th September 2007 at 01:00
Same again, or Buggins's turn? Yes, it's time for the election of the chair of the governing body. A few people are born to chair meetings and would happily do the job forever. Many others with the necessary talents and skills are reluctant to take the job on because of the huge workload. Both excessive eagerness and over-reluctance can pose problems.

When a person has been in the chair so long that they have moulded it to their personal contours, complacency can set in. Remember, the chair must take the lead in fulfilling the governing body's role. Will they really challenge effectively if their relationship with the head has become too cosy? Can they be expected, after all this time, to come up with new ideas for the strategic direction of the school? Are they aware of being accountable if the job has become theirs as by right?

To get rid of them, other governors must tactfully suggest it's time for a change and suggest a well deserved rest after years of sterling work. If this appears too brutal, then elect them for another year but on the clear basis that this will be their swansong.

If the problem is a shortage of volunteers, look at ways to make the job more manageable. Hand over some of the chair's responsibilities to the deputy. This will not only reduce the chair's workload but also break in a potential successor. Give committee chairs real authority the chair does not have to attend all committee meetings. Instead, the chair of governors could talk to committee chairs before and after meetings or hold an hour-long meeting with all of them, once a term, to discuss their work.

Lastly, as an individual governor, when the paper shuffling begins, why not ask someone openly? Some people won't volunteer but will respond to encouragement. Even if they say no, it may inspire other people to come up with names. This is not a time for being too polite.

Stephen Adamson

Vice-chair, National Governors Association

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