Chalk Talk: The unsung achievements of state schools' caped crusaders

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The Independent Online

Just who are Batman and Robin? Well, according to the charity the CfBT Education Trust, they are not the caped crusaders valiantly striving to bring justice to Gotham City. They are, in fact, the headteacher and chairman of governors of a state secondary school.

Batman is the headteacher and Robin the chairman – they are, says a CfBT report, "a superhero duo both engaged in an ambition to do good in the world. Robin is definitely Batman's sidekick but he is a crucial part of the duo, a partner and someone for Batman to discuss things with," it adds.

The image is just one of many portrayed in the report, which examines the role of governing body chairmen and women – and their relationships and responsibilities.

It comes up with some interesting insights into the backgrounds of chairs, revealing, for instance, that only three per cent are from ethnic minority groups. The vast majority, 94 per cent, are over 40 years of age – perhaps underlining the time commitment necessary for the role and the fact that those who have ambitious career prospects might not have the time for it.

Not surprisingly, the report recommends engaging more members of ethnic minority groups at a lower level on the governing body so they can build up the experience to become chairs.

Oh, and it also obliquely chides central government for not acknowledging and appreciated their role enough, as they are, after all, doing the work voluntarily. Subtext: leave them out of the equation when you're talking about "enemies of promise".

A report last week from the Centre for Economic Performance revealed that, while men could earn an extra £71,000 in a lifetime for getting a first-class honours degree, women did not earn an extra penny

The authors described this as a "puzzle", but a clue to the attitudes that lead to this might be contained in the report itself, where the students surveyed are referred to as "he".

If employers made that assumption over who they would take on, it is easy to see how the gender gap could occur!