I’ve been looking at the May copy of Governors magazine. Yes, I know it’s July, but I’ve been busy, OK?! The front page brings me good news – there are plans afoot to make governing bodies smaller and more effective. The idea being that the people that are taken on are more skilled, better trained and are made more accountable. I think this would be fantastic. Take our school, for example; I don’t know exactly how many of us governors there are, but it’s enough to over-fill the staffroom at a meeting. Most people turn up, which I guess is a good start, but the vast majority of these see the meetings as their only responsibility. It is evident that, if they have read all the material sent out in advance, they are not prepared to ask questions (mind you, I guess Libby Bigmouth here does that for them!) and when it comes to a voting most just vote in favour of whatever the Head wants anyway.
A key example of the general lack of understanding of how a school works came at our last meeting, at which the school’s head of finance was talking about next year’s intake. It went along the lines of; “Well, we have a full intake next year, not a single empty space. I mean, it’s absolutely ridiculous – even Year One is full now with people who want places here. It’s just crazy – there’s only one space in Year Two now….”
I sat quietly for a while – that is a feat in itself for me, let me tell you – thinking; “In a minute, someone will say how great it is that the school is doing so well and that we get paid on account of the number of children there are in the school.” But no-one did. Eventually, I could hold it back no longer and I said as much, to which everyone else took a huge sigh of relief and agreed with me.
What is it about being so afraid to upset anyone that people won’t speak up?
Anyway, I think that in our governing body, there are a few people who want to improve the school further and who have fantastic drive, and there is a larger number who mean well but don’t truly know what the job is about. In truth, I don’t either (otherwise I wouldn’t spend the whole time panicking about whether I should do/say something and then worrying about who I may have upset.
So, (possibly for the first time) I fear that I agree with Mr Balls. Let’s make governing bodies smaller, let’s recruit people who are committed and who are going to really make a difference, and let’s give them the training they need so that they can do this.