Create an Account Free Trial

The Education Committee’s Second Report on the role of School Governing Bodies

The Education Committee’s Second Report on the role of School Governing Bodies

Share this:

The Education Committee published it’s second report on the role of school governing bodies this week (after a minor hiccup at 00:01!).

Its conclusions and recommendations are:

 

Recruitment and retention of governors

IMPACT OF THE 2012 COMPOSITION REGULATIONS ON THE PROFILE OF GOVERNING BODIES

1.  Less prescription as to how governing bodies are constituted should help governing bodies to recruit suitable individuals and address vacancies. This should include a balance of parents, staff and other groups as appropriate.  We support the Government’s decision to make the 2012 composition regulations permissive. We are also pleased that the Minister has agreed to remove the “juniority principle” from the same regulations.  (Paragraph 24)

IMPACT OF THE 2012 COMPOSITION REGULATIONS ON THE SIZE OF GOVERNING BODIES

2.  Despite the DfE’s clear preference for smaller governing bodies, there is no evidence base to prove that smaller governing bodies are more effective than larger ones.  (Paragraph 30)

IMPROVING RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

3.  Business is potentially an important source of capable school governors. We are pleased that the Government has agreed to do more to increase uptake of the School Governors One Stop Shop’s (SGOSS) services in schools across the country. We are also supportive of the Government’s agreement to accept help from the Confederation of British Industry in promoting school governance opportunities to businesses and recommend that the Government report back to us with details as to how this will be done.(Paragraph 39)

INCENTIVES FOR BUSINESS VOLUNTEERS

4.  Any potential barriers to the recruitment of effective school governors should be removed.  We recommend that the Government review the current incentives for, and requirements on, businesses that release their staff for governor duties. We also recommend that the legal requirement to give time off for governors of maintained schools be extended to academies.(Paragraph 43)

RAISING THE PROFILE OF GOVERNORS

5.  We welcome the Government’s commitment to raising the profile of governors and we look forward to seeing the details of how it intends to attract more good quality governors. (Paragraph 47)

PAY FOR GOVERNORS

6.  While not advocating payment to governors in general, we can see that there is a case for remuneration in some circumstances—for example, when governors deploy their skills to improve governance in other schools. We recommend that Government give further consideration to the circumstances in which payment could be appropriate and make necessary regulatory provisions.(Paragraph 51)

Governor effectiveness

Training

7.  Too many governors have not had suitable training. The Government says this can be encouraged through Ofsted. Ofsted should report back in due course whether their intervention is effective. If it is not, mandatory training should be considered again. The Government should require schools to offer training to every new governor. We welcome the Minister’s assurance that Ofsted will be resourced adequately in order to undertake its increased role in helping to ensure effective governance in schools. Further explanation is required as to how this will be achieved. (Paragraph 61)

8.  We are concerned at suggestions that few quality alternatives are emerging to the training traditionally provided by local authorities. We recommend that Ofsted and the DfE monitor the availability and quality of governor training in the light of greater academisation of schools and reduction of local authority services.(Paragraph 62)

INSPECTION, SELF-ASSESSMENT AND PEER CHALLENGE

9.  Poor performance by governing bodies should be challenged at the earliest opportunity. We support the obligation placed on schools that “require improvement” to undertake an external review of governance.  (Paragraph 69)

10.  We recommend that governing bodies be strongly encouraged in guidance from DfE, Ofsted and the National College to participate in peer-to-peer governance reviews and to undertake self-assessment and skills audits, using tools such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership’s 20 questions and other resources identified in the new Governors’ Handbook.(Paragraph 70)

OFSTED’S DATA DASHBOARD

11.  The importance of good data in user-friendly formats for governing bodies cannot be overstated. We welcome Ofsted’s Data Dashboard and support the DfE’s work to develop questions that governing bodies can use to interrogate data effectively. The generic questions in the new Governors’ Handbook are helpful, but will not in themselves provide sufficient assistance to governing bodies in interrogating complex data. We look forward to DfE publishing further questions. (Paragraph 78)

INFORMATION, ADVICE AND GUIDANCE FOR GOVERNING BODIES AND THE ROLE OF THE CLERK

12.  An effective clerk is vital to the success of a governing body.  The evidence clearly indicates that this should be a professional role—similar to a company secretary. We recommend that the Government act upon the findings of the project by the National Governors’ Association and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives relating to clerks.(Paragraph 83)

13.  The School Governors’ One Stop Shop (SGOSS) has been funded for a further two years to recruit governors. We believe that SGOSS may be ideally placed to take on a role in recruiting clerks and we recommend that the Government consider how to facilitate this.(Paragraph 84)

14.  Our inquiry has shown the importance of high quality information and guidance for governing bodies—particularly for clerks. We share the concern of the National Governors’ Association that the new Governors’ Handbook appears to be aimed only at new governors.  The new Handbook has lost much of what was valuable to experienced governors and clerks in the predecessor guide. The Government should work with the NGA to rectify this.  (Paragraph 89)

ARRANGEMENTS FOR TACKLING UNDERPERFORMANCE AND FAILURE OF GOVERNING BODIES

15.  Urgency in implementing Interim Executive Boards is critical to address serious failings of governance in schools.  Given that urgency, the absence of time limits for the implementation of IEBs is indefensible and should be rectified forthwith. We recommend that if, after an inspection, Ofsted considers that a governing body should be replaced by an IEB, Ofsted should use its power and responsibility to say so explicitly.  (Paragraph 92)

16.  We recommend that the Government investigate the reasons why so many local authorities, and the Secretary of State, have historically been reluctant to use their powers of intervention where school governance has become a concern. Any unnecessary restrictions on the use of these powers should be lifted so that they can be used more effectively.  (Paragraph 100)

17.  Local authorities continue to have an important role in the monitoring and challenge of school performance between Ofsted inspections. Ofsted’s inspections of local authority school improvement functions will be an important gauge of how feasible it is for local authorities to continue to undertake this role.  There is a need for greater clarity on the role of local authorities in school improvement within the new school landscape and in the context of reductions to budgets. We recommend that this be addressed by the DfE as a matter of urgency.   (Paragraph 101)

The relationship between the governing body and headteacher

Division of responsibilities

18.  We recommend that the Government review existing regulations and legislative requirements regarding the respective roles and responsibilities of governors and headteachers to ensure clarity regarding the proper division of strategic and operational functions in school leadership.     (Paragraph 107)

TRAINING FOR HEADTEACHERS AND CHAIRS OF GOVERNORS

19.  There is a compelling case for headteachers to undergo training on governance. We strongly support training for headteachers and chairs of governing bodies to assist with mutual understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.   (Paragraph 112)

APPOINTMENT AND TERMS OF OFFICE OF GOVERNORS

20.  In order to ensure that every governing body has an effective chair, the appointment process for chairs needs to be robust and accompanied by clear procedures for removing poorly performing chairs from office. We recommend that DfE review current procedures relating to the appointment, and the terms of office, of chairs of governors. We also recommend that governing bodies be given the power to remove poorly performing governors. (Paragraph 117)

New models of governance

Accountability of academy governance

21.  Academies differ in their governance structures. We recommend that the Government clarify the roles of governors in  the different types of academy. The Government should also clarify how relevant local groups (including pupils, parents and staff) should be given a voice in the business of the governing body.(Paragraph 125)

22.  Given the independence of academies’ governance structures, parents should be provided with clarity as to how decisions are made in academies, along with detail on where to turn in the event of concerns arising. (Paragraph 130)

ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF GOVERNANCE

23.  Given the NGA’s concern that it will be difficult to find sufficient excellent candidates to provide an effective governing body for every school in the country, we recommend that the Government study the effectiveness of governing bodies governing groups of schools—for example federations and multi-academy trusts. The Government should look at the optimum size of federation that can be governed effectively,  and consider how local school autonomy can be retained in federated arrangements. (Paragraph 139)

 

You can read the report in full here (or download it as a .PDF from The Education Committee Second Report of session 2013-14 on the role of School Governing Bodies).

You can also follow the Education Committee on Twitter at @CommonsEd


Share this:
2 Comments
  • Keith Smith
    Posted at 12:51h, 05 July Reply

    School Governance could be improved drastically if good software systems were developed to show governors at each board meeting:
    * the exact state of the children’s progress for the term,
    * the expenditure against budget set,
    * how the pupil premium is being spent.
    * the expenditure aligned with SIP.
    * the 3 year forecast.
    * early warning of overspend
    * early warning of staff pay reaching 80% of total budget.
    * the various scenarios to “what if” projects.

  • Alison Fisher
    Posted at 11:30h, 17 July Reply

    Very helpful summary – thanks Elaine

Post A Comment