Sorting out what is to be done

11th July 1997 at 01:00
Ted Wragg suggests "taking a scythe" to meetings (TES, June 27).

I suggest a method of cutting time taken in meetings by adopting a simple rule: "every agenda item shall be worked into the form of a specific proposal for action. This is no more than taking literally the meaning of the word "agenda" -things to be done.

I have seen this rule used successfully in two schools - in one at staff meetings, in another at governors' meetings.

The length of meetings was approximately halved. Additional time taken by the head, an individual or by an interested group in preparing a proposal is more than outweighed in saving of time, avoiding an otherwise lengthy "thrash" at main meetings. The result is not less democratic, but more so.

It makes democracy work effectively, often with consultation and discussion before the main meeting.

At the main meeting, discussion is then focused on a well thought-out, specific proposal which can be rejected, accepted, amended or referred back for resubmission.

Making democracy work requires hard work on workable agenda to save time.

JOHN COLBECK 7 Holland Way Hayes Kent

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