Call for more support to help school governing bodies improve

04 July 2013

Too few school governing bodies are taking advantage of new regulations to make them more effective, warns the Education Committee in its latest report.

Launching the report, Committee Chairman Graham Stuart MP said:

"Greater freedoms for schools mean we need more effective governing bodies.  At the moment, the quality of governance in many schools is inadequate.  Accordingly, we are recommending a series of measures to boost governors’ performance. These include introducing professional clerks, whose status should be similar to a company secretary.  We also want to see greater training for governors – schools should be required to offer this to every new governor.

Crucially, we want to encourage people from all walks of life to contribute as school governors.  We recommend that the Government reviews the current incentives for – and requirements on – businesses that release their staff for governor duties. The Department for Education should play its part by explaining what models of school governance are now possible under the new regulations. They need to show how new arrangements can improve the ability of governing bodies to deliver their vital role to provide effective school leadership.

Academies already have more freedom in how they constitute their governing bodies and – although not all academy governance is excellent – the Government should actively seek to learn lessons from the best approaches developed under these flexibilities in order to demonstrate what works best in the interests of pupils."

In their core recommendations the Education Committee concludes:

  • As  professional bodies, school governors need professional support. The role of Clerk to a school governing body should be classed as a professional post. Government must ensure that people appointed to this role are given the detailed information and data they require to perform their important function. The recently published Governors’ Handbook should be reviewed, so that detailed information supplied in the predecessor guide for professional clerks (but currently omitted) can be reinstated. 
  • Ofsted’s increased focus on school governance is a welcome development. The clear standards now set within the inspection framework will help governing bodies to reflect on their own practice and identify areas for improvement. Where governance is poor or failing then the Government and Ofsted must act swiftly and decisively. Current interventions should be reinforced, including the imposition of time limits for implementation of an Interim Executive Board in a failing school. Greater powers for removing poor governors – including chairs – from office are also required.
  • Payment for governors is not necessary, but there may be a case to consider remuneration in some cases – for example when governors deploy their skills or experience to disseminate best practice to improve governance in other schools.

Further information

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