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Monday, January 11, 1999 Published at 18:05 GMT


School governors 'drowning in sea of paper'

Governors have taken on more responsibility for their schools

School governors are being put under unreasonable levels of pressure and need more support, says a Labour MP.

David Taylor, MP for North West Leicestershire and a school governor for more then 20 years, says that the responsibilities of governing bodies have expanded greatly in recent years, without a similar growth in the training and resources available to them.

[ image: Governors are accountable for everything from health and safety to the curriculum, but not paid for their efforts]
Governors are accountable for everything from health and safety to the curriculum, but not paid for their efforts
Mr Taylor is using an adjournment debate in the House of Commons to highlight his concern that too many of the country's 100,000 governors were "drowning in a sea of paper" and felt that they were being "taken for granted".

Although opposing the introduction of payments for governors, Mr Taylor believes that the increased workloads and responsibilities needed to be shared by local education authorities, with full-time staff supporting the volunteer governors.

While the Labour leadership has continued to push back the role of local education authorities in education, Mr Taylor wants to see them playing a greater role in backing governing bodies with training and professional advice.

In a speech to be answered by the School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, Mr Taylor will argue that "governors are becoming a free substitute for the education authority professionals who are rapidly disappearing as more and more services are devolved into schools".

Mr Taylor emphasises that volunteer governors would leave if they were expected to carry an unrealistic burden of work in their spare time. In his own region, he noted that the turnover of governors had increased and said there was a risk that people in full-time work would be unable to act as governors.

The government's many initiatives for reforming schools are also contributing to the "paper mountain", he is set to say, with the risk of governors becoming "overwhelmed by consultation papers and new duties".

The range of governors' accountabilities include staff pay and conditions, health and safety, school attendance, educational achievement and class size.

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