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Training for chairmen of governors should be mandatory and governing bodies should be inspected by the Office for Standards in Education to ensure they are providing value for money, proper policies and procedures for dealing with problems and operating effectively, an intensive 48-hour seminar on the accountability of school governors has recommended.

"Governing bodies should be made more accountable to their stakeholders. The current situation is somewhat inequitable. A head can lose his or her job and livelihood; there is no parallel penalty for incompetence in governance, " the participants concluded.

The seminar was held at St George's House, Windsor Castle, a study centre set up by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1966. Those attending included representatives of the Department for Education and Employment, local authorities, headteachers and governors, though the report does not name most of them.

The 34-page report on the proceedings called for the constitution of governing bodies to be reviewed and for compulsory training of chairmen and clerks so they are able "to recognise possible pitfalls and identify appropriate sources of help".

The report also called for sanctions against governors for "incompetence, negligence or unlawful behaviour" to be investigated. But it also recognised that heads need "the confidence and skills to manage their governing bodies so as to draw the best out of their collective talents". Many were not capable of doing this.

School Governance: Towards Accountable Partnerships is available from The Warden, St George's House, Windsor Castle, Berkshire SL4 1NJ. Pounds 2 including postage

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