Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Taking on the government

I'm a Governor of our primary and secondary schools, Christ the King and Corpus Christi. It sort of goes with the job - although many priests don't like it and some don't become governors even of their own parish primary school. I'm the only priest on both of our Governing Bodies. Personally I disagree - if only because those pupils and staff constitute a sizeable community of Catholics, deserving our involvement. But also we bring a lot to the role - knowledge of the area and its families, maybe experience of being a governor elsewhere, and so on. The responsibilities have grown a lot since I was first involved back in 1981 at St Cuthbert's and Archbishop Mostyn (as was, now Mary Immaculate). We have responsibilities for who teaches in our school (we are the employers in Catholic schools), who attends there (we control the admissions), and what gets taught (we oversee the curriculum), not forgetting what gets spent on what (we set the annual budget).
There is at least one meeting of the full Governing Body each term, twice in this first one usually. The GB comprises the headteacher, teaching and non-teaching staff rep(s), local education authority rep, and parents reps. Then in a church school the total number of those plus a few more are appointed as Foundation Governors, who have the particular responsibility to represent the Church and protect the Catholic identity of the school. In addition to the termly meeting a governor will also be appointed to one or more of the three or four committees of the Body, who handle specific issues relevant to Finance and Buildings, Curriculum, Staff and Pupils. There also smaller sub-committees to handle admissions, appeals etc etc. In addition, of course a Governor should make himself or herself familiar with the school through visits etc. So it's not an easy responsibility, and in some parishes it's hard to find folks ready to take it on. Especially burdensome is the role of Chair of Governors, who is elected every year. She or he must have an ongoing involvement and knowledge of all aspects of the school really.
We are very very fortunate in both our schools to have excellent GB's. This came through in the fine Inspectors Reports both received during the last academic year. I'm proud to be associated with them.

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