The Guardian is reporting that parent governors are to be dropped from all school governing bodies England in favour of professionals with the “right skills”.
Until now, places have been reserved for elected parents on school governing bodies, but under plans outlined by education secretary Nicky Morgan in the white paper published on Thursday those roles will now be abolished.
The new emphasis will be on the skills – for example in business or finance – that an individual brings to a governing body, rather than their value as a stakeholder, such as a parent with children in the school.
“As we move towards a system where every school is an academy, fully skills-based governance will become the normal [sic] across the education system,” the white paper said.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Voices of parents, governors and the local community are being silenced by a government that does not believe in proper democratic accountability in our schools.”
Governors also condemned the move. One former parent governor, who worked her way up from novice governor to become chair and now director of a multi-academy trust, said: “I think it’s a mistake. I would never have become a governor under these rules.
“After 12 years, I feel like an expert governor, but it would not have happened if I hadn’t had the opportunity to be elected as a parent governor. There aren’t enough ready-made skilled governors – we have to grow our own and plan for succession, just as we do with school leaders.”
Gillian Allcroft of the National Governors’ Association called on the government to keep parents on boards. “Parents of children and young people studying at a school bring an important perspective to the governance of schools that others are unlikely to bring.”
She agreed that the right mix of skills was vital, but added: “Recruiting a small number of board members from certain stakeholder groups and having a skilled board are not mutually exclusive…
Read or download the full white paper: Educational_Excellence_Everywhere
The role of the school governor is becoming more and more demanding so in some ways there is little surprise in this announcement, but where are all these available volunteers with professional skills going to come from?
And, as Gillian Allcroft points out, recruiting some with specialist skills and others who are ‘just’ parents might not need to be mutally exclusive.
Please let us know your reactions to this move in the comments or via Twitter…
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