As has been seen in our other blogs – Teacher Training and the White Paper, Ofsted and the White Paper and Leadership Development and the White Paper – an overarching theme of the White Paper is to move towards a much more school-led system.
The focus on a more autonomous school-led system will make it “increasingly vital the schools operate under effective governing boards”.
There are no significant changes to the key roles of Governing Boards. They remain the key accountable body for their school and retain the responsibility for strategic vision and ethos, holding leaders to account and ensuring that money is well spent.
However, within this, there is a further move away from stakeholder involvement, following the removal of staff trustees from the model articles of association already undertaken. No longer will academy trusts be required to reserve places for parents on governing boards. This applies to all open and new academies.
Parents will still be encouraged to sit on governing boards – if they can demonstrate the right skills. A competency framework will be developed through schools and MATs, “defining the core skills and knowledge needed for governance in different contexts”. Governing boards will be required to ensure all governors are properly inducted and receive the training they need to meet the skills contained within the framework.
Every academy will be expected to “put in place arrangements for meaningful engagement with all parents, to listen to their views and feedback”.
Edubase will be extended to establish a database of everyone involved in governance, with schools required to provide information from September 2016. The DfE will take powers to bar unsuitable individuals from being governors of maintained schools, to match what is already in place for academies and independent schools.
There is still an expectation that the tradition of voluntary trusteeship will continue, with governors remaining as unpaid volunteers. However, with MATs growing more and more within the new system there is an expectation that MATs may seek Charity Commission authorisation “to offer payment to attract the very best people into key positions such as the chair of the board”.
This is a move towards the “professionalism” of governance. In many ways this seems like a sound move, but of course there is still a reliance on volunteers and the further side-lining of two key stakeholder groups could actually reduce accountability.
It seems likely that many, if not most, schools will want to maintain the distinctive perspective that parents can bring to the governing board by appointing them as trustees.
How can we help?
The White Paper strongly emphasises the need for schools to have meaningful engagement with their parents. Our school survey questions are regularly updated to reflect all of the latest changes in education. All surveys are available online or on paper. This means you can guarantee the best possible response rate from all of your groups.