We have to use what we’ve got
So the DfE wants governing bodies to be run in a business like manner. I see nothing wrong in that providing they are successful businesses that have the best interest of their clients and workforce at their heart.
Of course, most board members will either be head hunted or paid enormous salaries to bring their expertise to the table. Now, as we know governors are volunteers. That means no pay. The discussion as to whether they should be paid will have to wait for another blog post but the fact is once the pool you are taking from is of volunteers, you do get a different group to choose from. That is not to say it will be a bad selection – just different.
So, let’s look at how we can acquire governors. Parents elect their representatives so there is no control over the skills that come with them. Of course the documentation that goes out prior to the election can explain what skills are needed but it does not necessarily hold any sway with the voting parents.
LA governors are agreed by the authority who may not have the time to consider the needs of individual schools. Often it is about the scores on the doors. Our governor service has a role of honour for those schools whose governing bodies are up to full compliment so numbers of bums on seats is still important. It wasn’t long ago that Ofsted criticised schools with governor vacancies.
That leaves community governors who can be filtered out against the criteria of school needs. Of course that presumes there is a choice. As a chair of governors in several schools over the years, I can’t say that I’ve had a huge choice to make. Folks aren’t lining up at the door.
Of course schools need the skills of business to support their many different aspects now and having those skills on the governing body is great. However, they need to be held by people capable of transferring them to the school setting. Schools are not businesses so one quality that is really needed is flexibility. There are similarities that workplace skills can assist but there are also a great number of differences.
The last consideration that has been missed by the latest recommendation from DfE is what do we do with those governors already in place? There are rules and regulations for both the appointment and removal of governors and as far as I know ‘you don’t fit the new guidelines’ is not one we can use to change the skill set of the governing body.
So, whilst we might all want other skills to be available, we need to use what we have got. We need to give those people who have given up many hours and know our schools well, the additional understanding of the changes now expected from them. We are a long way from the Vicar of Dibley scenario in most of our schools but it is important to maintain a group of people who are there ‘for the good of the children’ surely?