- comments that “amateurish” school governing boards in England’s schools “will no longer do”;
- recommends that serious consideration should be given to “mandatory training for all governors and trustees”;
- launches a call for evidence; and
- asks “whether the time has now arrived to make provision for paid governance”: “has the time not come to consider paying chairs and vice-chairs in order to recruit the most able people to schools in the most difficult circumstances?”
The chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael has also called for key members of governing bodies to receive some remuneration, although in 2013 the Education Committee did not recommend payment, but did call for training for new school governors and more support for governing bodies.
Amateur doesn’t have to be ‘amateurish’. The Latin origin of the word for a person who does something unpaid is ‘love’. As former Education Secretary Michael Gove put it:
“We have thousands of reasons to be grateful to those who give up so much time to help support school leaders in the work they do.”
Governors should continue to do what they do because of their desire to ensure high quality education for all children in their community, not for money. Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson has commented that:
“paying them would be another stage in the marketisation of education.
“With cuts and shrinking budgets, who would foot the bill? Professional clerks would be welcomed by many governors, although funding would be needed for this.”
If payment is to be made, why to chairs and vice-chairs only as Sir Michael has suggested? That would be inconsistent and divisive.
In his article, Sir Michael gives examples of good practice that are the product of strong governing bodies. How will paying governors produce the strong, cohesive teams that are required to deliver such good practice?
However, that does not mean that the current system should remain unchanged.
Voice has raised its concerns about the burdens and expectations placed on governors in a number of occasions, including responsibility for the management of asbestos in our schools, and whether we are “expecting too much from governors”, especially when it can be difficult to recruit them.
Voice therefore welcomes Sir Michael’s call for mandatory training for all governors and trustees.
However, as governor support services provided by local authorities have either vanished or reduced, who will provide that training and support?