Page 9, 29th October 1993

29th October 1993
Page 9
Page 9, 29th October 1993 — An opportunity to speak out. This week, a governor at a Catholic prinuiry school.
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People: Tony Ashdown, Patten

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An opportunity to speak out. This week, a governor at a Catholic prinuiry school.

Ti,s MONTH WE are due to perform an annual ritual which could be called 'Spot the Parent' the Annual GayernorsiParents Meeting. Since the late 1980s it has been a statutory requirement that all school 7overning bodies should, once a year, issue a written report to parents. There are 17 prescribed items which must be included, and the report followed by a formal meeting. Understandably, few parents are interested. Last year our governors' team fielded 12 governors, 14 teachers, two Heads, two LEA representatives, one Parish Priest, the caretaker and his dog. Only eight parents turned up.

Why the underwhelming interest? Because the report and subsequent meeting are full of items of little or no meaning to the vast majority of them.

AB that is of interest to most is the progress and well-being of their own children. To this end they are mostly generous with their time and money when supporting school activities. It is unrealistic to expect them to turn out on a November evening to listen to a building subcommittee report on the ever growing cost of broken windows, replacement sinks and leaking urinals. Nor does the finance group have them on the edge of their seats outlining delegated budget management. The final turn off comes when the general purposes sub-committee weighs in with details of progress on the 'Model Code of Practice on Recruitment and Selection'. In these terms the whole business is clearly a nonsense. "Let us make the occasion relevant to parents interests," say those in favour of keeping these meetings. But the whole set-up is designed to exclude personal Issues regarding individual children and teachers. Besides, there already exists in most schools ample opportunity for parents, either individually or collectively, to seek information or initiative action. The DFE clearly perceive a problem. They have recently produced a booklet extolling the virtue of the occasion. I feel we are on to a "loser" here; after all why should parents want to know how a school is managed? We put our cash in banks but we don't want to meet the manager and staff once a year and pore over the accounts. Parents in a busy world want to assume that these things are being taken care of.

Please Mr Patten, think again, at least as far as junior schools are concerned. Meantime, see you all on the 27th... maybe.

Tony Ashdown




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