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Ofsted Head Thinks Governors Should Be Paid

Ofsted Head Thinks Governors Should Be Paid

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Blocks arranged to display the words Productive, Vision, Motivate, Leader and TeamThis week during a meeting of the Education Committee the new Ofsted Head, Sir Michael Wilshaw, stated that he thinks (some) governors should be paid.

“I think we need to spend a lot more time on governance arrangements.”

“When schools do poorly or badly, it’s not just the issue of the school leader, the head and the school leadership team, it’s the way the governors have held the leadership to account.”

“I’ve already said our new inspection arrangements will focus much more on governance and the effectiveness of governance than ever before, and there will be a subsection under leadership and management to say important things about governance.”

“My view is that when a school is doing poorly, we need to think about paid governance.”

“And my view is if a school goes into a requirement to improve category, on the first occasion, the secretary of state should intervene and think about paid governance there.”

The National Governors’ Association doesn’t share his views.  A spokesperson told the BBC:

“NGA does not believe it would currently be helpful to offer payment to some or all school governors.”

“But it supports further strengthening of arrangements to ensure proper payment of expenses, and time off with pay agreed with all employers to support governors in their valuable work.”

“In the current financial climate, the NGA thinks that any additional money available for governance could be used in more effective ways, eg to fund training.”

What do you think? Should you be paid? Should all Governors be paid, or just those at struggling schools? Would paying Governors cause accountability issues, and would performance monitoring be needed?

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17 Comments
  • Meg Blacker
    Posted at 14:47h, 01 March Reply

    I have always been astounded at the level of responsibility and required input that comes with the voluntary role of a govenor. However, I’m unconvinced that this has been well thought through. As soon as we introduce payment for governors then presumably there needs to be some kind of selection criteria – what would these be and who would do the selecting? Also leadership & governance has always been part of the inspection framework hasn’t it? Is Michael Wilshaw referring to yet more planned changes to the inspection framework?

  • Steve Cutler
    Posted at 00:19h, 02 March Reply

    Should governors be paid? Yes. The amount of work required and responsibility is huge and the governor role needs to be increased to make schools more accountable. Far too many children are leaving school in a poor state and this is a failing of the school system and how they are managed. Looking at a selection of local ofsted reports, the standards in schools are dropping. Is this a failing of the head, the teachers or the governors? There needs to be a better working relation between governors and the school.
    When it comes to payment the obvious issue is that everyone one will want to do it and the problem will be getting people to become governors and getting paid for it becuase they want to be and not just becuase they get paid.

  • Carol Woolley
    Posted at 12:46h, 02 March Reply

    Whilst I agree with comments already made, from my own experience there have been occasions where fellow parent governors on my governing body paid for child care to attend GB meetings, or took holiday from work to attend LEA meetings or participate in interview panels, disciplinary hearings etc so surely payment would be a just recompense? It may also encourage more people to become school governors if they felt their commitment was rewarded?

  • Julia Skinner
    Posted at 12:52h, 04 March Reply

    As a retired HT & now chair of two GBs – yes- governors should be paid. However, if that were to happen, I think the whole make-up of GBs needs to be looked at. Some of my fellow Governors are nice people but have real understanding of what the role entails. I’m pleased that governance is going to hold a high place as I firmly believe an effective GB can make a huge difference to a school’s progress. However, Mr Gove does not seem to have the same feel for it so will it happen? I suspect not!

  • JAD
    Posted at 18:39h, 28 March Reply

    Before talking about being paid or not, I’d suggest taking a much more fundamental look at the the whole edifice.
    I wasn’t convinced of the value-add of governors in state schools, and am even less so after almost three years in the role. I’ve still to hear a convincing explanation of what setting the school strategy actually means (I think it goes something like “The HT sets the strategy, the HT is a governor, the governing body is collectively responsible, therefore governors set the strategy…)
    If governance was that important, it wouldn’t be left entirely to local conditions, and schools wouldn’t be casting about for volunteers to whom extensive statutory powers are then to be given.
    For another perspective on the relative importance, just ask any teacher how much time they spent on school governance during their training.
    Any advance on zero?

  • Rob Jackson
    Posted at 14:49h, 18 April Reply

    Underlying Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments is an assumption that more competent governance will be achieved by paying someone to be a governor. This is an argument frequently made by those who feel that charity trustees should be paid in order to raise standards of charity governance.

    The problem is that the argument doesn’t stack up. Pay does not equate to competence. I have worked with competent and incompetent people who were volunteers and competent and incompetent people who were being paid.

    Let us not forget that governance in the private sector is often paid and one could rightly question to competence of such arrangements in light of the financial crisis at the end of the last decade.

    Rather than focusing on baseless assumptions that by paying governors we will get better quality governance, perhaps Sir Michael should be seeking to understand better the role of governors and provide more support for those of us already doing this tough, time consuming yet wonderfully rewarding role.

  • Heather Thomson
    Posted at 17:00h, 18 April Reply

    While agreeing that there is an argument to perhaps pay certain Governors who do a tremendous amount of work (usually the Chair) I think one idea that the Government might consider is to issue all Governors with either a notebook computer or an I-Pad.

    This would be environmentally friendly and probably cost-effective in the long run in view of the huge amount of paperwork that is required for each Governor at every meeting. A lot of the paperwork is sent to Governors by Clerks electronically at the moment but this usually means that, unless Governors have their own I-Pad/Notebook each individual Governor has to personally fund the paper, ink etc to print out all this information in order to have it available at meetings.

    Surely with the bulk-buying ability of Government departments this would not be a huge cost and would certainly be appreciated by most Governors.

  • Roger
    Posted at 17:48h, 18 April Reply

    I believe that we do not need paying, what we need is some legal right to time off to attend to our duties. At present many employers do not see any direct benefit to them and make it difficult for us to attend meetings etc.

  • Judi Hattaway
    Posted at 19:09h, 18 April Reply

    I have read the comments with great interest. I think this is one of those issues with no clear answer, and it maybe that local conditions would/should apply. However, what I would like to see compulsory is expenses paid. I live a 25 mile round trip from where I am a community governor and would appreciate being paid my mileage. When I raised it I was made to feel that I would be taking food away from the babies’ mouths!
    I have always thought that volunteers should never be out of pocket for volunteering.I have worked for, and with, the NFP sector for years and this is the only time and arena in which this has been a problem.

  • John Boland
    Posted at 20:13h, 18 April Reply

    My main concern is how would you differentiate between those Governors that would be worthy of remuneration and, though I hate to say it those that just turn up every term for a meeting, who contribute very little to the goverance of the school. I feel that there would have to be clear guidance from the DfE as to who should be considered and why to avoid a potential rift occuring within the Governing Body between its members.

  • Peter Monk
    Posted at 12:33h, 19 April Reply

    The comments above show there is a wide ranging disparity of views but the level of responsibility now required from governors, and the number of hours necessary to be effective – especially in the Chairman’s role – suggests that some recompense is justified. How that is assessed , monitored and accounted for is the difficult bit.
    What happens elsewhere – say in Scandinavia, Holland and Australia? Are there any models the UK could usefully adopt.
    Does Modern Governor have any background data / evidence that might be helpful?

  • Ivy Johnson
    Posted at 10:03h, 20 April Reply

    I would like all governors have their expenses paid and all governors expecially those with good attendance, be given something as a sign of appreciation.

  • liz w
    Posted at 00:17h, 22 April Reply

    It depends I think if you are on a standard governing body – perhaps the chair only should be paid – but I if you have been requested as an Advisory Governor then it would be handy if you are paid – sometimes I have to swap my work days – or as others have said take annual leave to attend governor training or all day events. I am helping at a school at the moment which needs a weekly committment – it would be handy if that was paid – and every other type of additional support apart from goverance is paid for.

  • Brian
    Posted at 09:49h, 23 April Reply

    A very interesting subject and as others have stated, one with no clear answer. I am a parent governor and I am lucky that my employer allows me a little time off for public duties. I have also taken annual leave to attend training courses and school visits. I do this because i have a vested interest in the education of my children and all of the children in the school. The more i have become involved the more i learn and the more i enjoy the role. I volunteered for the role knowing that it was unpaid and seeing the children progress is reward enough for me.
    If we look at some other public roles where allowances are paid, we can see some individuals who turn up for the minimum time to claim the allowance. I would hope that wouldn’t happen in this case, but i’m sure that there would be individuals who would exploit such an opportunity.
    Some reasonable expenses are to be expected and these should be met.
    Where does Sir Michael Wilshaw expect the funding for all of these payments to come from?
    If there is a real need for such a paid position, then they would need to be an ’employee’. Who would they be employed by and who would they answer to?
    A real open subject.

  • huw
    Posted at 15:04h, 23 April Reply

    a better plan would be to allow employers to claim back expenses incurred while staff are ‘away’ attending meetings etc. this allows employers to give the governors the time they need, without being out of pocket, whilst making becoming a governor less of a delicate negotiation with one’s employer; not to mention making being a governor a problem when applying for a job.

    paying governors will only attract the wrong sort of person and, unless there is a system in place to appraise individual governors, and remove ineffective governors before the end of their term of office, as it would become an easy gravy-train for parent governors once elected if they chose to do nothing which, currently, is entirely possible. just send apologies for every meeting and cash the cheques.

  • Gillian
    Posted at 15:10h, 26 April Reply

    I have read the comments with great interest and I can see that all of the governors who have commented are committed to their role. I have been a governor for over fourteen years and I still find the role extremely rewarding. I have learned a lot and, I hope, been able to give a lot too. I joined the GB knowing I would not receive any remuneration yet this did not deter me. I think that wherever we are there will always be governors who like to see the title on their CVs but could not be called active governors so payment for duties not really undertaken would seem unfair. However, I also believe there are times when some kind of recognition would retain the enthusiasm and service of some governors especially where the circumstances are difficult and not of their making. Maybe a small payment would be enough or even some kind of award from the DfE in recognition of the service given freely (not just for longevity but for commitment and performance in their role). I do think expenses should be reimbursed – teachers and other staff within the school reclaim ‘business expenses’ which do include travel and parking and governors should be able to do the same (HMRC even have approved mileage rates that can be paid with out a benefit arising). Schools have governors budgets within the school budget and these business expenses should be adressed through the budget in line with the school policy. Sir Wilshaw may just be on the right track but he needs to make clear his intentions and not make throwaway comments so easily.

  • Karen Boydell
    Posted at 17:55h, 26 April Reply

    The whole point of governance is to be a critical friend if one is paid it is more difficult to be objective and ask the “stupid” questions. As an unpaid parent governor I work hard for the school I read alot of material and I ask questions of the head and the LA. I don’t feel beholden to any body other than my children and their friends to ensure they get the best education that can be provided. Having governance as a paid position would change the motivation for being a governor.

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