Thursday, November 09, 2006


Governor Training

Tonight I attended a school governors’ training session at the Seedfield Centre in Bury. It was the introductory module to the foundation course – the most basic of governors’ courses. Yet perhaps the most informative, since it gave an “idiot’s guide” to the types of governor, the types of school, and the roles that governing bodies play. For someone like me, who was pretty ignorant of anything beyond the most basic of ideas about what Governors do, it was extremely useful.

Having said that, I think that the course fell into the trap that so many seem to these days, in trying to be too inter-active rather than actually inform. At one point we were all asked to name some of the qualities that a school governor should posess... Lots of people came up with vague statements like "they should be able to communicate well." Which was true, yes, but certainly nothing revelatory. I would have much preferred the course leaders to tell us what he thought the best governors were like, so that we could go away and try and model our behaviour on that, rather than have us nod lazily at our own half-formed ideas. Ifanyone in the room knew the qualities needed in an ideal governor, they wouldn't have been sat in the most basic governor's training session!

It's like that on the TV and radio a lot these days. So many times I turn on the news or Radio 5 Live and hear members of the public who know nothing about a certain issue asked their opinion, and then have that opinion broadcast as if it is as valuable as an expert's. I think it's a policy now to get the audience involved. But there are better ways than that, surely. Let people ask questions of experts, or probe their ideas. Only the other day I was listening to a debate on the television about the future of NHS finance, where two learned scholars on the subject were using their decades of research and experience to argue the finer points, only to be interrupted by some vox pop footage of passers-by interviewed in the street for their entirely un-researched and glib opinions. Frankly, whilst I care what Some Guy On The Street has to say about something he knows very little about, and am glad he has anything to say about it at all, I would much rather have experts given the time to give their views instead! And maybe Some Guy On The Strret would learn something!

But back to the course...

Working for a Council, I forget the enormously varied types of work that a Local Authority does. I work in one small team in a small Division in a larger Directorate, which is one of five Directorates in my Authority. Tonight I got a taste of the work of a completely different part of a Council, the Governor Support Unit, who exist to provide the information and help necessary to maximise the role of governors. And part of that is, unfortunately for the Council officers concerned, giving “Governorship 101” training at 21.00 on a Thursday. But I’m grateful, not least for the certificate of attendance that I received! I know a lot more about governorship than I did at teatime today, and am looking forward to the other three modules, as well as taking advantage of the library and information facilities that Bury MBC have available to governors.


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