There was a somewhat provocative editorial piece about governance published in the TES last week which stated “We’ve spent too much time making governance local and not enough making it effective”.
I was surprised by the opening paragraph:
“Vindictive, interfering, amateurish, crass, ignorant busybodies. Other people call them school governors, but a significant minority of headteachers would be less polite. In a recent survey, while a fifth of heads said their governors were outstanding, an equal amount said they were poor.”
The article goes on to question the current structure of governing bodies, and states “The traditional mantra is that governors are there to support and challenge school heads. But support and challenge when and how? Its vagueness allows determined heads to bamboozle supine governors and deluded governors to pretend that they run the school and not the professionals in the classroom.”
It concludes that ”If governing bodies are to be more effective, their composition has to change. It would make sense to professionalise the role of chair and pay them. It would be better to recruit more retired teachers and those with relevant professional experience, and appoint fewer local authority stooges. A governing body can reflect the community and function well. But far too much attention has been paid to making governors representative and not nearly enough to making them effective.”
I think there’s an awful lot of action being taken to improve the effectiveness of school governance. Granted, there are challenges in giving an entirely voluntary workforce the skills and knowledge they need to be effective school governors. But the appetite is there – from all stakeholders.
Modern Governor is playing a big part in offering governors a flexible way to access governance training. The NGA works tirelessly to improve governor effectiveness, offering impartial advice and guidance. SGOSS works to place people with appropriate transferable skills into governor vacancies. Local authorities like City of York and Manchester City Council are implementing innovative ways to support their governors. Organisations like The Key are offering support (more about this in a later blog). At a local level, governor associations like Norfolk, Staffordshire and Gloucestershire are becoming more high-profile. Bloggers like Sean Whetstone and “Clerkie” are providing invaluable links and a friendly online “face” of governance and clerking. This isn’t a definitive list – I’m sure you know of more examples (and if you let me know, I’ll add them to this article).
I’m really interested in what you thought of the original TES article. Do you agree that not enough has been done to make school governance effective?