The Authority

Every so often I get an email which allows me to rejoice in the knowledge that there is still room to reduce spending in the public sector without any effect on frontline services. As the number of emails I get from the public sector are limited this leads me to believe that we could clear the deficit quite quickly if the culture in the sector was changed.

What brought this moment of joy about? To give you some background I am a school governor, quite an active one at that. I spend on average between a half and a full day doing things for the school. There is no pay, endless grief from the local education department and enough paperwork to comfortably sink the Titanic.

And so I received this email:

“I am writing to inform you that in May 2010 legislation was passed that changes the term “Local Authority Governor” to “Authority Governor”. Therefore, LEA governors and LA governors are now known simply as Authority governors.”

My imagination went wild. Top civil servants meeting with ministers, lobbying MPs, lawyers, Council, the Lord Chief Justice, distinguished Local Authority Executives, all consulted and then this major leap forward. Local Authority Governors are no more. They are simply Authority Governors. I will dedicate a separate article one day to whether the word ‘Authority’ is still appropriate for our local tax suckers but not now.

So my good friends on my Governing body (we are just a body not an authority) will now be known as Authority Governors. What a blow!

Fortunately the email went on to tell me that our Local Authority (or are they our Authority now also? Perhaps I should seek clarification under the Freedom of Information Act) is working closely with SGOSS (School Governors One Stop Shop) – personally I have never heard of them but possibly their information is on the Titanic pile – to develop a new application form for Authority Governors.

Again my imagination goes wild. More meetings, consultations with heads of schools, distinguished governors (I say distinguished as I was not asked, so it must be the distinguished lot), parents, and the DCSF or DFE or whatever the latest brand is for our education gnomes and a new form will be given birth.

In the process two new criteria have been added if you have retained the will to live and to apply to become an Authority Governor:

  1. Have you attended enough meetings? Obviously as an Authority representative you have to attend meetings (and at least appear to stay awake?). Contributing anything useful is not a requirement.
  2. Are you committed to training? You will learn fascinating stuff like how to complete forms developed by gnomes.

I will have to investigate what other qualifications you need. Things like commitment to education, ability to endure the bureaucracy, or perhaps understanding that your role is to approve anything the Authority wants you to approve.

I am deeply grateful to the gnomes and my Local Authority for sending me this. Of course it is all academic to me as 3 of the 5 secondary schools in my town will be Academies soon and they have no Governors at all, so we have plenty of experienced people spare.

I leave you to speculate on whether I am going to fill in the new form.

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