A long meeting this morning, to revise our staff pay policy – no great changes but several minor tweaks to take in new legislation and make sure we do what it says and it says what we do. It took three hours, with the Acting Head, other governors, the Finance Director and our HR person to advise.
Afterwards, two governors and I had another long talk about how we’re structured as a governing body, our workload, how effective we are and how efficient – the fact is, I’ve been aware for several months that, whilst we were running really well a year ago, it’s all a bit of a scramble now. I’ve been a governor here for nearly sixteen years, this is my fifth year as chairman, but for the first time I’m barely coping. It’s the paperwork that is failing me – I’m horribly behind and finding it extremely hard to get to grips with it. That’s not the cause of me not coping, but it has been the effect of it. There are several causes, one of which is sheer workload.
Acknowledging a problem is half the battle and most of the rest is working out what to do about it. I’m quite good at that – we’re big on self-evaluation in schools nowadays – and I know that the work has crept up, so what we need to do is make sure that everything is covered, but that it’s not over-covered. There’s more overlap than there used to be. It’s not easy for me to evaluate that, as I go to nearly all committee meetings (I know, darlings – I never claimed not to be boring) so as to get the whole picture, to be able to make links. So the other two are going to meet up and make a start – look at the committee structure and membership, links with school departments and so on. This isn’t the first time this has been done of course, but things have changed radically in the school in the past few years – becoming an academy, taking pupils from Year 7 instead of Year 9 (we used to liaise with two middle schools, for the most part, now we’ve a lot of feeder primaries, some of them out of catchment area), taking on the management of our vocational centre, of which I’m a director (there’s a perk here: they’re building an aeroplane and I’m laying claim to a flight in it), the enlargement of the school to take in the two years wasn’t physically possible so now our 6th form is on a separate site – we’re all stretched thinner. If I’m feeling it, so are others. And my lovely, stalwart Vice-chairman is leaving the governing body at the end of term and all she does will have to be covered. In addition, I’ve got to prepare for standing down myself in due course, so that the incoming Chairman will know what he (or she) has to do.
It sounds daunting, but actually I feel better for taking it out and looking at it and talking about it.