Z might as well live…

I want to get my money’s worth, at least.

Today, I decided to give the government some money, entirely voluntarily, and it’ll be quite some years before I know whether it’ll be worth it.  So if you’re in receipt of a pension now, be assured that your money is safe for the next few weeks because I’ve bolstered HMRC’s income to the tune of nearly three and a half thousand pounds.  But now I’ll be paid up and receive a full pension.  Not for years, though.  They keep shoving women’s retirement age up.

I’m going over to stay with Weeza and Phil tonight, because I’m looking after Gus all day tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to that very much.  I’d thought to call on my sister-in-law in Cromer, but she will be out.  She has an immensely busy social life and you have to arrange things weeks in advance.  The advantage of being retired, as she says.  And so she has been for 21 years, but she never seems to age in the least and was immensely sympathetic when I was hobbling around on a dodgy hip and she, in her late seventies, was as agile as she’d ever been. If she drops a glove, don’t even try to pick it up for her, she’ll have bobbed down and back again first.

Before that, a couple of meetings at the school.  And things haven’t gone quite as planned.  The Head is retiring at the end of the year, you see (lightweight, he’s younger than I am, and I’m nowhere near retiring) and we advertised, got a very good shortlist … and in the last few weeks, several of them have had to withdraw.  All excellent reasons, they all would love to reapply, but we felt that, though we still have fine candidates, there isn’t enough choice, not for this job.  I felt quite dreadful, as you can imagine, having to write and tell them so.  It felt like the most unprofessional thing I’ve ever done – and yet, so would it have been if we’d gone ahead.

I used to be quite glad that this is an entirely voluntary job.  In 25 years, I have never claimed a penny, for mileage, postage or anything else, even when I could have.  That I was giving my time went without saying.  But now – in truth, I think school governors should be paid.  Good governors are worth it, and we are held to account for what we do.  When my parents were town councillors, they were not paid (someone who was employed could make a claim but not the self-employed) but now councillors’ remuneration is not ungenerous.  It isn’t going to happen any time soon, but we are expected to do a semi-professional job at the least and it has a lot of responsibility.  I don’t particularly want money and I certainly don’t want praise, I get a great deal of satisfaction from doing a good job.  I’d be bored silly if I could spend my life doing what I felt like, I’m not ready to self-indulge all the time yet.  But we need people who have more than spare time, and it’s a situation that’s going to become harder to deal with.  We have (or will have very soon) a full governing body, but a lot of schools haven’t and successive governments have made the situation more difficult.  Unsurprisingly, I suppose.

4 comments on “Z might as well live…

  1. Mike and Ann

    Ref you sister in law – isn’t it odd how we all seem to wear out at very differing ages? My late grandmother used to say that you can’t count age in years. I asked her to enlarge on that, and she answered that some people of ninety are fitter and brighter than others at seventy, and I’m afraid that this is unarguably so. Bit depressing though.

  2. tim

    There was a proposal a few months ago that school governors should be, at least in part, paid professionals. Although I’m no expert, I instinctively agree. Quite a few years ago I had some second-hand experience of just how dreadful some of the ‘volunteers’ can be. The so-called ‘free schools’ can only make it worse. It’s a job, not a hobby or social status symbol or political ego trip.

    BTW, I’m certain that you would qualify as a paid professional!

  3. Roses

    I agree. Given the time and effort put in by the governors, I think you should be remunerated.

    It’s pretty much a full-time job for you and you fit in most of your life around it, therefore it’s only right and proper.

  4. Z Post author

    You’re right, Mike – it’s an attitude of mind, but also a physical thing. A combination of health and outlook, I suppose.

    If one is paid, one is accountable. There is an anomaly at present, in that we are amateurs and if we fail we can shrug and walk and nothing can be done unless we’re wilfully neglectful, and that high expectations of our professionalism are made and that we are held accountable by Ofsted and the Government. Good governors thrive on high expectations of course, but demands have been unreasonably onerous for a long time. Yet I don’t see how it could be afforded – payment would mean more accountability, but how much payment would warrant the level of accountability required? There are many thousands of governors – 20 at my school, even a small primary has 10 or more – would a cost of millions of pounds bring better governance? Do governors matter and are they necessary?
    And now, academies and free schools complicate the procedure. This is a convertor academy, an independent, state-financed school. We are supposed to run as a business, yet we have no way of generating extra income simply by our success as a school. No idea how it’ll pan out in the long run.


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