What has Shakespeare to do with school governors?


After what seems like a flash, the summer holidays have been & gone. To help you back into the saddle with a smaile I am sharing a wonderful blog from Fee Stag, an experienced clerk to governors & a talented writer.

Watch this space for more of her wisdom!

What has Shakespeare to do with school governors?

The RSC theatre at Stratford

Quote, unquote

Here The Elbow tackles Shakespeare in a vain attempt to raise her game…

‘When shall we three meet again?” when the quorate’s met and done, obviously.

“In thunder, lightning or in rain” – when the H&S audit has cleared us to meet because the flood damage has been fixed and there are no literally live wires poking out of the walls.

“When the hurly burly’s done” – when we are managing our governance workload, when meetings run smoothly but with enough energy to keep us invigorated. Then.

“When the battle’s lost and won” – we governors know how to play nicely and how to play the long game. Got to really since we’re in a cycle of perpetual change. Just saying.

The Young Elbow has just received some important grades and there was much relief at Elbow Towers (shame that due to the amount of cheating going on that she couldn’t take in her own tissues – why are key exams held in the height of the hay fever season and why did the invigilator have no tissues? We remain unamused). During this key period in all of our lives our home was full of stress and quotes. Whilst the YE did not do Macbeth, more’s the pity, it did get The Elbow thinking about Shakespeare and she has been thinking on and off for some time about penning a Billy Waggledagger related blog. She is sure, unequivocally (that’s her new word for this half term, you heard it here first) that there will be better educated governors reading this who can add/improve/groan in response to this blog so without much ado about it let’s play What Play is Your Board (or should that be Bard?)

  1. Is your board more tragedy (it’s a ..trah lah lah) than comedy? Is all Tempest or a storm is a tea cup (don’t wake The Doormouse)? Healthy conflict is acceptable, plotting and scheming requires caution though it is sometimes necessary. Sometimes. Degrees of plotting required. No squabbling on the back row. No one likes an Iago after all.
  2. Or is it a really comedy? Much hilarity, enjoyment and dream sequences when you zone out. Don’t lie, we’ve all done it. It’s good to laugh and bond. Are you a team or a group? Discuss.
  3. Hopefully we’re not all history. Groan. The govt. have backed down from removing parent governors (an idea which wasn’t at all popular with governors for some reason) but there remains some general confusion over layers of governance with some Trusts changing the role and accountability of governors of the local level. This could be interesting – chooses words carefully there.

Anyway, (second favourite word in case you hadn’t noticed) to the plays…are you…drum roll, curtain flapping, enters stage left. In sotto voce.

  • Measure for Measure – all data and monitoring and evaluation? There is a place for this but not to the exclusion of everything else. And if you are off rolling…two of those theatrical sad faces.
  • Twelfth Night – you get 10 working days and a weekend to read the papers? Brilliant. Well done to the clerk. 7 days is the usual and perfectly acceptable by the way.
  • As You Like It – if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Change for change’s sake is not sensible but regular self- evaluation is essential. At the time of writing a phrase was bouncing around Twitter which Sir David Carter (late of this parish though we do wonder what he will be doing next) brought into the conversation though he confirms it is not his originally – the standards we walk past as the standards we accept. We like that phrase at Elbow Towers as we stare at a huge ironing pile and a teetering pile of papers balanced on the edge of the desk…we become inured after a while if we aren’t careful don’t you think?
  • All’s Well That Ends Well – as The Elbow mentioned earlier governors are good at playing the long game. Sometimes making a hard decision is emotionally wearing, frustrating and difficult. But every cloud has a (hi ho) silver lining except perhaps for the current funding crisis, lack of forethought and research into the reasons for the teacher recruitment crisis and Brexit (personally speaking The Elbow has a more than a little panic attack when she thinks about that).
  • Love’s Labours Lost – which according to Wiki is a play about unrequited love with an unexpected ending. The Elbow is struggling with an analogy here (she does like to challenge herself) but may be this could be about the fixation on grammar schools, harking back to the good old days (which weren’t) and how The Elbow feels when faced with 7 sets of minutes to type – she loves clerking but finds the typing up a struggle (she is not alone) but usually finds satisfaction in a good set done; which some people of her acquaintance find quite odd. You can make your own minds up on that one.
  • Antony and Cleopatra – no comment.
  • Romeo and Juliet – one for the new RSE curriculum perhaps?
  • Comedy of Errors – you couldn’t make it up; when one thing goes wrong and you end up peddling frantically to catch up? That. Always plan ahead but be ready for emergencies, the need to keep an open mind and to forgive mistakes as long as people learn from them. That’s not The Elbow getting the excuses in early btw.
  • Alas poor Yorick – always say goodbye to departing governors, heads, teachers. Closure is so important don’t you think? If a governor resigns over the summer – acknowledge, report, minute and work hard to find the right person to take their place; and make sure your election processes are democratic and transparent.

The Elbow now asks you to ponder another quote from Hamlet ‘we know what we are, but know not what we may be’. If boards have self-awareness and do reviews (external or otherwise) then they will know who and what they are and more importantly what they can be. NLG can help – The Elbow can help.

For the clerks The Elbow offers this from Sonnet 60

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore

So do our minutes hasten to their end,

Each changing place with that which goes before

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Once more unto the breach etc etc…or as she is self-employed ‘once more but after brunch’…as you were…


To read the original find it HERE. You can follow Fee on Twitter where you will find her as @dogpaws23 (don’t ask!)

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