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A governor’s view of the bigger picture

A governor’s view of the bigger picture

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The Secret Governor may or may not be on your governing board. They may also continue to refer to it as a ‘governing body’, which may or may not be an attitude which Requires Improvement. They have indicated that this post represents a very personal opinion, with which you may dis/agree wholeheartedly.

Governance is about being strategic, so I want to take a look at the big picture around schools and education.

I have been a primary school governor for 22 years and always been involved in the local governors’ association.

What issue is keeping me awake at nights, more than any time in the last 22 years?

Possibly the same one that’s causing you to worry. The issue is school funding and its impact on our education system.

Like you, I’ve listened to the statements about schools having more money than ever before – and seen the DfE warned over its use of these ‘potentially misleading’ statistics. I knew something was wrong – I was hearing about schools making TAs & teachers redundant, subjects were being quietly dropped, parents at a school in the Prime Minister’s constituency were being asked for daily financial contributions to keep the school supplied.

I thought:

What am I doing about this?

Shouting at the TV didn’t seem very productive. The issues around school funding are complex but I think they highlight the fact that the current education system is unsustainable and will lead to increasing problems and fragmentation over the next 5-10 years.

Schools are short of money, local authorities are short of money, children’s services budgets are being squeezed at the same time as demand is continuing to increase. Social service thresholds are moving ever upwards, mental health waiting times are unacceptable, SEND and Alternative Provision are being stretched and exclusions are rising.

Alongside this we have a pot-pourri of maintained schools, VC & VA schools, grammar schools, UTCs, single academies, MATs free schools, the DfE, RSCs, headteacher boards, local authorities and Ofsted – but how does all this work and operate together effectively, remembering our prime objective is the benefit of the children?

Although change seems to be endemic in education we are entering a new environment – and the education of this generation and future generations of our children is far too important to be the prerogative of poorly informed, dogma-driven politicians. No matter what politicians might privately think, education professionals and governors/trustees have a right to be at the centre of the debate about the future direction of our education system. Do we – and do politicians – think that governors and trustees are the guardians of our education system and should take an active role in ensuring that children are kept at the forefront of our priorities? We need to decide what we want and expect from our education system – and be active in taking on our responsibilities.

Schools – particularly primary schools – have a central & unique place in many of our communities and this may be lost if these schools cannot be sustained financially. Schools – the one place of certainty for many children – are becoming surrogate parents and social services – and these changes aren’t being funded.

I’m not sure if schools can be the nation’s conscience for the safety and well being of a generation of children – unless those of us in governance stand up and make our voices heard.

What about you?

What do you think?

Where is your voice?

Image credit: Lukas Juhas on Unsplash

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