What price governors' free time?

1st December 1995 at 00:00
So, "even unemployed governors in the most deprived parts of the country would not take kindly to offers of payment for their services," says Cecil Knight, chairman of the Grant-Maintained Schools' Advisory Committee, (TES, November 17).

Where does Mr Knight obtain this information that he gave to the Nolan Committee?

His comments, in my opinion, are extremely pretentious and should be treated with a high degree of scepticism.

At present, I am unemployed and under such circumstances would not be embarrassed to receive payment for a service such as a school governor. However, apart from receiving genuine expenses associated with the post, such a payment could directly affect and lower the amount of unemployment benefit I am entitled to.

I say to both Mr Knight and the Nolan Committee, why should someone in the unfortunate situation of being unemployed, but willing to serve the local community as a school governor, be discriminated against by the public benefit system, while those fortunate enough to be employed, and rightly paid by their employer for time off work for public business, stand to gain financially?

Regarding Mr Knight's comments on businesses allowing time off for governors, surely he would concede that it would be more productive for all schools to be served by governors who do not have to rush around at the end of a working day? Meetings where an increasing number of important and critical decisions have to be taken these days require focused minds.

The quality of a governing body is, I suggest, best served by "multi-skilled" members of the community, enhanced with better time allocation for meetings.

Mr Knight seems to want to further extend the already high number of British daily working hours, which is bound to lead towards a lower quality of service from governors and teachers. Let us not forget the effect of the number of working hours recently endured by junior doctors.

Certainly "there is a grace in giving and a grace in receiving. . ." as Mr Knight is reported to have said, although from my experience the bias in giving by governors far outweighs the receiving.

The number of "free" hours at present given by governors, most of whom are parents or guardians, should not always be taken for granted.

EMRYS BATCHELOR

38 Mendip Crescent Putnoe Bedford

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