As part of the new controversial education white paper, plans have been made to remove parents from school governor boards. There are worries that this will silence community involvement and sideline parents in the education of their child. But what do school governors actually do? And doesn’t it make more sense to use unattached experts rather than parents with emotional ties to the school?
Parent Governors: What Are They
Governing boards oversee the day to day running and are charged with improving the overall standards. They are one of the largest volunteer forces in the UK. Usually parents are elected to these boards, if they want to participate and if they have children at the school. The hope is that they reflect the voice of parents and can highlight any concerns. They are more approachable than teaching staff and have a good understanding of parent’s problems. Any parent can choose to stand for the position and no experience is currently required.
The new focus of governing board members will be on the skills that they can bring to the role. No longer will it be necessary for a school governor to have children at the school. It does make sense with the move to more academy based institutions–knowledge of finance and management will be required to create successful academies so having these skill sets on the board will be advantageous. Some critics claim this harms the school by removing it from the community and is disingenuous towards parents.
The white paper said: “We will expect all governing boards to focus on seeking people with the right skills for governance, and so we will no longer require academy trusts to reserve places for elected parents on governing boards.”
What makes the right skills to become a governor is still unclear. Will degrees in finance and business be required? Maybe only those who can prove their management experience will be considered? Is there any reason that parents who have these skills cannot become governors? Whether they want to is another question. Parents on governor boards provide a vital perspective and it could be argued that they are more likely to care about the running of the school than an expert brought in to fill a gap.
This policy is still very much in the air and until further clarity is provided it is impossible to know whether these new governors will be effective.
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