Save our school


Recently, BBC’s Radio 4 aired a story about a primary school being compelled to become an academy. As reporter Simon Cox presented both sides of the argument, school children were heard chanting the slogan “Save our School” in the distant background. I can’t help but wonder whether what effect conversion would really have on the school. The children will of course still have a school. There are no plans to close it and open a supermarket on the site. So what would be ‘saved’ if the protesting children get their wish? The existing staff and governors, of course, and maybe that is where the problems lie, hence academy status is on its way.


Cutting through the red tape on removing staff

Many governors have witnessed the following scenario. Teacher is working poorly, and following extensive support, training, giving them an ‘easy’ class or a small class, the Headteacher knows they should not really be in teaching, so starts capability procedures. Teacher goes off sick with stress – six months on full pay. Just before they drop to half pay, they come back to work.

The head, by this time has another more effective teacher in front of the class, but is told by Human Resources that the returning teacher must be put back into their original class, if capability is to be resumed. Teacher is put back into class, quality of education drops once more, teacher feels more pressure to improve, so goes off sick again. Finally after about 18 months a compromise agreement is reached whereby a reference is provided and they move on to another school.

The reference cannot say that there were serious problems that brought about capability procedures. The whole sorry process repeats itself within two to three years.


Neighbourhood Improvement Partnerships

I recently had the privilege of being guest speaker to 80 or so governors at the Luton local authority governor services annual conference. It was an informative evening, with contributions examining, among other things, the SEN Green Paper and the role of teaching schools.

In case you are unsure, a ‘teaching school’ is an outstanding school where people train and qualify as teachers; in much the same way a ‘teaching hospital’ trains doctors and nurses.

I was asked to discuss the national perspective and what is now being asked of governors in a rapidly changing education sector. I prepared far too much material, as one does, and we had a lively debate.


Never Say 'Amateur'

Governors are not amateurs. An amateur is someone who does a professional job, but does that job unpaid, such as an amateur footballer or an amateur actor.

Yes, governors are unpaid, but that does not mean they are amateurs. This is because they are not doing unpaid, professional work. The professional work in our learning institutions consists of teaching, administration, management and so forth.

People are employed to carry out all these tasks. As such, governors are not trying to do a professionals job.


10 Key Questions, or Just One?

The Government’s 2010 White Paper; The Importance of Teaching did not say much about the role of governors. There were three paragraphs in Section 6 on page 71, and the ten questions for governors to ask on page 72, all of which covers broad, well-worn territory.

Of the ten questions, only one stands out, and it is question 2:

How are we going to raise standards for all children, including the most and least able, those with Special Educational Needs, boys and girls, and any who are currently underachieving?


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