Wednesday, 9 October 2013

So, what’s a Guv’nor then, mister?

Two episodes.

Episode One. I was sitting in on a RE lesson. Before the teacher got started a student asked what I was doing in the class. ‘I’m a governor.’ I replied. ‘What’s one of those?’ asked the child. Well, I’d only just become a governor and didn’t quite know how to explain to a Year 8 pupil exactly what it meant to be a member of the school’s governing body. I mumbled something about us appointing the Head Teacher and making sure that things get better in the school and that was about it. The student didn’t look entirely satisfied. I tried.

Episode Two. Mr. Ofsted was in the building. I, together with other governors had to meet him. Scary. Wearing a suit, shirt and tie and with my governor’s ‘blue lanyard of power’ around my neck I strode purposefully down the corridor. A small child approached me. Year 7, I guess. He looked up at me with big pleading eyes, a bit like Puss in Boots from the Shrek films. ‘Please sir’ he said, proffering what looked like a tin full of cookery ingredients, ‘do you know where I should put this?’ Maybe I had the look of someone who might. But I didn’t and told him that I was a governor, not a teacher and directed him to a nearby member of staff. The poor lad looked crestfallen and rather confused, as if to say, ‘What’s the point in those governors if they don’t even know where I should put my cookery things?’

Epilogue. With Mr. Oftsed waiting I didn’t have time to explain that where the cookery stuff goes is an operational matter and the job of governors is to provide the school with strategic leadership. If you like, the governing body punches the coordinates into the educational SatNav, setting the overall direction of the school. Then the head and senior leaders collectively get behind the wheel, put their foot on the gas and make sure we get there. Along the way Governors hold leaders to account to ensure that the school isn’t going off track. That, in essence is what we do. Kind of. In case you were wondering.