You are here: HomeLocal HistorySt. Kenelm’s C.E. Primary School, Centenary Celebrations 1915 - 2015Ruth Harper (Clerk to the Governors) 2000s

Ruth Harper (Clerk to the Governors) 2000s

St. Kenelm's C.E. Primary School, Romsley
Centenary Celebrations
1915 – 2015

Memories of Mrs Ruth Harper - Clerk to the Governors - 1998 to 2015

 

Following my decision in 1998 to retire from my support teaching role (two afternoons per week in Year 4), I was appointed as Clerk to the Governors.

I had no idea if I had the relevant qualifications but at the time I was improving my typing and computer skills, having attended various IT courses at Halesowen College over the previous few years. It had become increasingly apparent in the 1990s that computers were going to have as huge an impact on both learning and administration in schools as they were starting to in most other areas of daily life.

I remember my first meeting as minute taker was that of the Premises Committee. I sat quietly in the corner with my pen and pad of paper at the ready and painstakingly wrote down everything that was said. I was nervous but also really fascinated to be seeing school organisation from a totally different perspective. We even took a walk around the school building and grounds to view first-hand the areas requiring attention. I realised from that first meeting that this was a job which I was going to find both interesting and rewarding.

In those days few of the governors were computer literate and no-one seemed to be using e-mail. All communication, therefore, had to be done personally either by phone or by driving around the villages delivering agendas, minutes and other relevant paperwork. I had a stock of previously used A4 envelopes in which to put the documentation. It came as a great relief when individual governors started to suggest that I set up a database of electronic contact details and could send information to them via the Internet. By the time I left in 2015 every governor used e-mail and most sat in meetings with the agenda and minutes being viewed on their tablets or i-pads. A huge change in less than twenty years.

Over those seventeen years many governors have come and gone; all with different skills and interests, but each and every one made a valuable contribution to the life of the school. I used to attend County's Annual Clerks' Course and hear mention of difficult governors and how to keep your chairman in order, etc. I can honestly say that I never had any issue with any governor. Everyone had the best interests of the school at heart and no-one appeared to have accepted the voluntary role of school governor for any form of self-interest or gratification.

I noticed over the years how the pressures put upon governors were increasing. They were expected to be knowledgeable in every aspect of school life and especially to understand and be able to discuss and evaluate the increasingly complicated data arising from SATs and other assessment criteria which are now such an important part of any Ofsted judgement. Governors were expected to undergo regular training and attend many more than just the standard governors' and committee meetings. Every year, or so it seemed, new initiatives were being introduced by the government and very rarely were these allowed to "bed in" before more changes came along. For governors, not versed in educational jargon and method, this could prove exceedingly daunting and yet most seemed to embrace every new challenge with humour and resignation knowing that the reputation of the school would be at stake if standards were allowed to decline.

I cannot emphasise enough my respect for the people who took and continue to take on the role of school governor. It is voluntary, can be extremely time consuming and demanding but at the same time very rewarding. During my time as clerk governors have had to deal with increased financial responsibilities, changes to the National Curriculum, the implications of the ever changing Ofsted inspection criteria, SATs and the subsequent data and of course the huge change back from the three tier to the two tier system within the pyramid. Although governors, staff and parents were consulted before the final decision was made, the change had obviously already been decided upon. This involved major building work and reorganisation for the school as two extra year groups of children had suddenly to be accommodated. The promised extensions were only partially forthcoming with later additions to the hall and upstairs having to be funded from grants and the school budget.

In 2015 two classes are still housed in inadequately sized classrooms but somehow the staff manage to cope. All through my time as clerk governors have supported the headteachers' recommendations and fought on behalf of the school to make the necessary improvements to the buildings. This work is still ongoing alongside the other governor responsibilities for staffing issues, the curriculum, ensuring continuing links with church and the community and, of course, overseeing the school's finances.

As I leave I have every confidence that the governors will continue to work with the headteacher and staff to ensure the very best education for the children attending St. Kenelm's CE Primary School, Romsley now and in the future.

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