Whose interests are served by GM status?

22nd September 1995 at 01:00
It is odd that Keith Stewart remains a governor, when he obviously holds his fellow-governors and the whole teaching profession in such contempt (TES, Governors, September 8). To suggest that members of both groups are acting out of self interest on the question of grant-maintained status would be insulting if it were not ridiculous.

There is little to wonder at in governors and headteachers in any school - "large comprehensive" or not - being less than enthusiastic about GM status. Most of them have every reason to be grateful for the experienced, professional help of their local education authorities over decades. To cast oneself off into the wilderness with a lump sum (a large one if you made the decision early, extremely modest if we all did it) seems to me perverse in the extreme. The introduction of LMS means that headteachers already have to spend more than enough time as "managers" rather than out and about in their schools. GM status holds the promise of more of the same and, not surprisingly, governors see little advantage to be gained.

Nowhere in his article does Keith Stewart make clear what the "advantages in GM status", which he sees, may be. I wish he had, because I find them difficult to discern and it would appear that, so far, most governors feel the same way. Moreover, the "more dispassionate analysis" he craves is unlikely to happen while the DFEE bombards schools with glossy brochures commending GM status, using money which the rest of us could put to better use.

Similar thoughts come to mind on the remuneration of governors. Occasionally I too have thought the chair, at least, should have some reward for the enormous amount of time and effort she or he expends on a school. Then I come to my senses and realise that any money given to governors would be taken away from children and, despite what Keith Stewart thinks, it is the welfare of children which motivates us.

The whole principle behind our governing bodies is that they should be composed of local people, whose only qualification is their passionate interest in the education of local children. Lose that, and motivations become more, not less, suspect.

Glennis Foote is a governor in Cambridgeshire

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