Sir Michael Wilshaw (Chief Inspector – Ofsted) has recently been critical of our governing body system within our state schools. He has referred to his inspectors findings in the last year in which five hundred schools were found to have underperforming governing bodies.
It appears that many school governors do not have the professional knowledge to challenge school leaders with respect to progress and achievement of pupils. Many governing bodies were found to be concentrating on marginal issues such as the school dinner menus, peeling paint and school uniform instead of issues relating to pupil progress.
The Inspectors have found that many of the weaker governing bodies are concentrated in the most deprived areas where the most challenging schools are operating.
Technically the school governors have the key responsibilities of appointing the school senior management team (head teacher and the deputy head teacher(s)) and then challenge them with respect to pupil achievement and school finances. Apparently this is not being done effectively in some schools.
The Chief inspector also referred the lack of progress in developing systems to prevent a re-occurrence of the so called ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in Birmingham where Islamist governors allegedly tried to take over in Birmingham. There is apparently a danger that something similar could still happen.
Some schools have experienced attempts by school governors to interfere with the day to day running of the school- which is clearly outside their role.
In order to improve the situation Sir Michael has made proposals for the government to consider which include:
(i) Paying the Chairs and Vice Chairs of governing bodies to attract persons with the necessary skills and time to ensure proper oversight of schools.
(ii) Mandatory national training for all school governors.
There was a time when more effective Local Education Authorities did provide good quality governor training but much of this work has been lost in many areas as LEA’s have been diminished.
What is your experience of the relationship of your governors with your school?
Do you think your governing body is effective in constructively holding the school to account?
Do you know who your school governors are?!!!