Thank God it's Friday

30th October 1998 at 00:00
MOnday As the newly appointed literacy governor, I am invited to observe the much-dreaded literacy hour being put into practice with a Year 3 class. We start with our shared text work, and the teacher asks: "What do we mean by the word 'author'?" Helen's hand shoots up instantly: "Somebody who hasn't got a mummy or daddy."

The hour proceeds smoothly until we reach the last 10 minutes. As John leaves his group to take his place on the carpet, Helen announces in a loud, clear voice, "John's wet himself."

"Well, at least they knew I meant it when I said that nothing - NOTHING - is allowed to interrupt the sacred literacy hour," groans the teacher.

Tuesday Back in the junior school, this time interviewing, to fill the vacant post of special needs assistant. Can't help noticing that the candidates are all casually dressed in jeans and T-shirts. I feel over-dressed in my best (that is, one and only) suit, and can't help thinking back to when I was interviewed as a young teacher 25 years ago, when a woman governor on the interviewing panel wore a hat.

At the end of the interview I breathe a silent prayer: Please don't let me be the one who has to phone and inform the unsuccessful candidates. I've done it several times before, and it doesn't get any easier. Go home and flop - I always seem to end up feeling more chewed up after an interview than any of the candidates.

Wednesday Get out the best suit again to attend a morning meeting at the secondary school where I am also a governor (am I a masochist, or what?). The meeting concerns a school refusal case (the pupil who managed to turn up for six days in one whole school year has a better record than her parents: this is the third meeting they have failed to attend). In their absence, the local education authority decides to take them to the magistrates' court. It is sobering to think that the five professionals gathered around the table are showing more concern for the child than her own parents are.

Thursday At the same school again, this time as a representative parent-governor to face interrogation by the Office for Standards in Education inspector. The one-and-only suit is becoming over-used. Perhaps governors should be given a clothing allowance? Come to think of it, a petrol allowance would be a more realistic proposition.

Reggie (as the registered inspector is nicknamed by teachers) is all smiles, but isn't that a dagger I detect, gleaming under his pile of notes? After 30 minutes' intense grilling, I leave the room feeling as crumpled as the suit, and wonder why anyone of sound mind would volunteer to put themselves through this.

Friday The suit is being laundered - no more governors' activities until next Monday (and Tuesday and Thursday I) Just a consultation document from the LEA to read and comment upon, a batch of papers about training courses to wade through, and a phone call from a concerned parent to deal with.

I read that the Government intends to increase the number of school governors. Surely there aren't enough mad people around to fit the bill?

Jenny Roberts is a vice-chair of governors and special educational needs governor of a large mixed comprehensive, and SEN and literacy governor of a junior school

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today