Select Committee on Education and Employment First Special Report


Fifth Report: The Role of School Governors (HC 509)

Fifth Report: The Role of School Governors (HC 509)
Published: 21 July 1999
Government Reply:  Eighth Special Report, Session

 1998-99 (HC 859)


Published: 2 November

 1999

Recommendation
Government Response
Further Government Action

1. School governors are a large, usually unsung, army of volunteers whose contribution to the life of our schools has been too little appreciated .

The Department welcomes the Committee's report, and the wide ranging debate it has stimulated on this important area of public life. We agree that school governors have been insufficiently appreciated and that they play an essential role in ensuring a direct line of accountability between schools and their local communities.

Government recognizes that subsequent governments have placed new responsibilities on to governing bodies. On 18 November Jacqui Smith launched a Consultation on Governing Bodies(covering roles, constitution, recruitment and support) to run until 28 February 2001.

2. We agree with the many witnesses who highlighted the important role that governing bodies play in ensuring a direct line of accountability from the school to its local community.

As above

Consultation on School Governing Bodies re-affirms the importance of the "stakeholder" model, covering all the main interests to emphasize accountability to local community.

3. We support the Government's emphasis that the governing body's main purpose should be helping to raise standards of achievement.

We welcome the Committee's agreement that the a governing body's main purpose is to help raise standards of achievement. This should be the highest priority of every governing body.

Terms of Reference Regulations came into force on 1 September 2000 which clarify roles of governing bodies and heads.

4. We recommend that governing bodies agree and publish the criteria on which they judge their school's success. Such criteria would include the results of public examinations such as SATs or GCSEs, but should not be limited to narrowly defined academic achievements. Other measures of pupils' success, in areas such as music, drama and sport, all play a vital part in the life of any school, as does the development of successful links with parents and the local community. Identifying such criteria will help ensure that the governing body can focus on the really important activities of the school, rather than just the day-to-day problems of managing a complex organisation.

Governing bodies are already required to publish, in their school prospectus and annual report, information on the performance of pupils in National Curriculum assessments and public examinations and to set targets for pupil achievement. We believe this is essential to ensure that parents have easy access to such information in a form which facilitates comparisons between schools. As for pupils' success in areas like music, drama and sport, we believe that final decisions about whether to include such information in these documents should be left to individual governing bodies. Good practice guidance recommends that such areas are covered so that parents receive a complete picture of the school. But, after consulting with governors, parents, and others we have decided to reduce the statutory requirements for prospectuses and annual reports.

Further consultation planned on merging prospectus with Annual Report to Parents.

5. We see great merit in all governing bodies devoting, on at least an annual basis, one meeting to a formal review of standards of achievement in their school. This would complement what we expect should be a continuous process of monitoring throughout the school year. It should certainly not be the only occasion on which standards are considered. Indeed, it might well be appropriate for every full governors' meeting to have 'standards of achievement' as an agenda item. The annual review meeting would include consideration of the relevant comparative performance data for the school, including the school's performance and assessment (PANDA) report supplied by OFSTED, a report from the headteacher, information on SATs and other examination results and any other information which the LEA provides.

We support any activity designed to promote higher standards, including a formal annual review meeting to complement ongoing monitoring. We agree that such a meeting should consider comparative performance data, the head teacher's report, information on National Curriculum assessments, examination results and any other relevant information provided by the local education authority (LEA).

  

6. Information designed to help governors assess pupils' achievement must always be available in a format which governors, who are volunteers, often pressed for time, can easily digest. Such information should not be couched in educational jargon or 'teacher-speak'.

We agree that information provided for school governors, from whichever source, should be easily digestible and not couched in education jargon. The Department actively promotes the use of plain English in its own documentation and encourages others to do the same.

The Consultation on School Governing Bodies undertakes to put good practice examples of monitoring performance and templates of summary Management Information up on the Governors' website in due course.

7. We believe that the governing body's responsibilities extend beyond representing the school's local community, but this does not mean that the governing body should be assembled simply to provide a range of professional skills for the school.

We agree that governing bodies should not be assembled simply to provide the school with professional skills and that relying too heavily on such skills risks distorting the governing body's proper role. We agree that there should be a greater emphasis on governing bodies acquiring governance and strategic management skills, rather than on specialist professional skills. Governing bodies should not be managing specialist areas but taking an informed overview (in the light of appropriate professional advice) on what needs to be done. We plan to develop briefing sheets for governors on specific issues to assist this process.


8. We agree that relying too heavily on the professional skills of individual governors may run the danger of distorting the proper role of the governing body. We therefore emphasise that the priority for governing bodies is to ensure they are able to exercise effective governance skills.

As above

The Education (School Government) (Terms of Reference) (England) Regulations 2000, which came into effect on 1.9.2000 emphasize the governing body's largely strategic role.

9. We conclude that although schools in disadvantaged areas may not always be able to draw their governors from the 'professional classes', it would be patronising to assume that they will automatically suffer as a result. Nevertheless, schools in such areas often face the most difficult challenges, and will benefit from working with the most effective governing bodies.

We support the Committee's conclusions that, while schools without professionals as governors will not automatically suffer, schools in disadvantaged areas often face the greatest difficulties and need the most effective governing bodies. We are therefore establishing a brokerage service (the 'One Stop Shop') to recruit and place governors with management skills in inner city schools. Our aim is to strengthen governing bodies and to improve the skills of existing governors.

The School Governors' One-Stop Shop began operating on 1 January 2000. It aims to recruit and place 2,000 school governors within the original 25 Excellence in Cities areas by the end of 2002. It has recruited 335 candidates and of which 73 are now school governors. Within the 22 Excellence in Cities areas which came on stream in September 2000, the School Governors' One-Stop Shop aims to recruit 1,600 school governors by the end of 2003.

10. We accept that the role of governing bodies is well defined in law. Nevertheless, we believe that greater effort needs to be made to ensure that all governors have a clear understanding of their role. High quality guidance should be made available which provides an interpretation of their statutory role in a form suitable for all governors. We believe that the analogy with the role of non-executive directors is helpful.

Governing bodies are responsible for a number of executive functions, such as hearing appeals. For other governing body business, we welcome the comparison the Committee makes between the role of a school governor and a non-executive director. The Department plans to consult this autumn on regulations to be made under section 38(3) of The School Standards and Framework Act, 1998 setting out terms of reference for governing bodies and the respective roles and responsibilities of headteachers and governing bodies. Work on these regulations has been deferred to enable account to be taken of the Committee's wide ranging debate. We plan to restrict the regulations to general principles and to provide detailed guidance on a framework for delegation and decision making. Within the restrictions imposed by existing legislation, we will ensure that this is sufficiently flexible to accommodate different circumstances, school size and individual experience. We plan to consult on the draft regulations and guidance as a package to enable consultees to assess their combined effect.

Guidance on the Roles of Governing Bodies and Head Teachers issued to all governors in September 2000. Guidance supports new Terms of Reference Regulations.

11. Although national terms of reference for governing bodies will set an important framework for the way in which governors carry out their work, it will remain the case that different divisions of labour between governing bodies and the school's management will suit schools in differing circumstances. Governors and headteachers must retain the flexibility to work out the best way to fulfil their responsibilities to the school.

As above

Guidance referred to above makes this point.

12. We believe that it is a key responsibility for LEAs to support their schools by nominating only individuals with a commitment to education to serve as governors. We welcome the increase in the number of LEAs which are opening up their governor appointment processes. We believe that the important point is to ensure that the method by which LEA governors are appointed is transparent. Therefore, we recommend that all LEAs publish the criteria on which they select individuals to be nominated to serve on governing bodies. We do not believe that simply being active in local party politics should be the determining factor in such nominations. Commitment to education, a desire to support the school concerned and a willingness to serve the local community should be at the heart of any such criteria.

The Department supports the Committee's view that political affiliation should not be a determining factor in selecting LEA governors. The Code of Practice on LEA-School Relations, which has statutory force, advises LEAs to publish the process and criteria they use to identify candidates for appointment. We agree that individuals should be selected primarily on the basis of the contribution they can make to the governing body. The Department does not consider it acceptable for LEAs to leave places unfilled because they cannot find enough politically affiliated individuals.

Consultation version of revised Code of Practice on Local Education Authority—School Relations, to be finalised and issued in January 2000, states that it is good practice to advertise for candidates, highlighting the skills and experience required.

The revised Code of Practice on LEA—School Relations, to be published in January 2001, continues to make this point.


13. LEAs should also ensure that vacancies among LEA-appointed governors are filled promptly.

The Code of Practice on LEA—School Relations states that LEAs "should ensure that appointments are made promptly when vacancies arise. LEAs should not allow vacancies to remain open for an unreasonable period". LEAs are under a statutory requirement to have regard to the Code.

The Secretary of State is consulting on a revised Code of Practice on LEA—School Relations. Stronger guidance is being considered to the effect that LEA appointed governorships should not remain vacant merely on the grounds that political appointments cannot be made.

14. We recommend that all LEAs collect information on the vacancy rates of each governor category in their area and make this information publicly available.

Most LEAs have this information available, and we will encourage them all to do so. The Department is devoting significant additional resources to governor recruitment, particularly in inner city areas. We plan to ask LEAs to provide information about governor vacancies in these areas.

To keep burdens to the minimum, we have restricted surveys of vacancies to those within Excellence in Cities area schools. This information is informing the efforts of the School Governors' One-Stop Shop.

Consultation of School Governing Bodies suggests including a target on governor recruitment in LEA EDPs and also LEAs to ensure that schools are carrying no more than 1 vacancy per school.


15. On balance, we do not believe it would be practical to require all employers to provide a minimum amount of paid time off for employees to undertake their work as school governors.

We agree that it would not be practical to require employers to provide a minimum amount of paid time off for employers. This would impose a significant burden on small businesses and lead to a more general loss of goodwill, which might reduce the number of recruits. However, we will be making it clear to employers that the Department regards around six days a year (not necessarily with pay) as reasonable time off for being a governor.


16. However, if paid time off work remains a significant barrier to recruitment we believe the DfEE should re-consider whether chairs of governing bodies, at least, should be entitled to some paid time off.

The Department believes that the same considerations apply, and that employers should not be asked to distinguish between employees who are governors and those who are governing body chairs. It is not clear to us that this would assist the general recruitment drive. But we will keep the position under review.


17. We understand the natural reluctance of governing bodies to use funding which otherwise might be available to spend directly on pupils at their school. However, to be effective and representative, governing bodies need to be able to recruit and retain the right people, from all sections of the local community. Governing bodies— and others—need to recognise that spending money on governors' expenses can a proper use of school funds if it helps ensures that governing bodies can work effectively. We agree with the DfEE that it would be inappropriate to ring-fence money for this purpose within the school's budget. But the DfEE should ensure that the total level of resources available to schools includes sufficient funds to meet the legitimate expenses of governing bodies.

The Department believes that governors should not be out of pocket through expenses incurred as a result of their voluntary work. We consider that decisions about governor allowances are best taken at local level, and that every governing body should decide for itself whether to set up a scheme for governor expenses. Allowances for governors are not payment for services, but intended to reimburse out of pocket expenses. The Department will look for opportunities to promote this message and will consult with LEAs and governor associations on further guidance.

A favourable CSR settlement, which will put more money into school budgets, should help to make governing bodies more confident about spending money on their own training—see Guidance on Standards Fund 2001-2002.

Discussions with LEAs and governor associations suggest no need for further guidance. Issue for governing bodies is the need to use school budget.Consultation on School Governing Bodies was launched in November 2000, which suggests the possibility of removing allowances from school budgets in designated pilot areas, based on some Excellence in Cities areas.


18. it would be helpful for the DfEE to also give more detailed indicative guidance about what could be regarded as reasonable levels of expenses. LEAs, working with local associations, might also wish to draw up locally-specific guidance on this subject which would reflect specific local conditions.

As above

Problem is thought to be governors' reluctance to claim from school budgets rather than lack of guidance on what could be claimed. DETR guidance to local authority council members is comprehensive; copies sent to schools.

19. We welcome the Government's proposal to develop 'one stop shops' for governor recruitment in the six Excellence in Cities areas. However, we believe there would be value in extending the scope of these 'one stop shops' to include all categories of governor recruitment, not just co-opted governors. If 'one stop shops' are to be part of the solution to recruitment difficulties, acting as a brokerage service, it is important that they maintain lists of all potential governors, as well as all governor vacancies. One stop shops could then be in a position to suggest names of potential LEA governors, as well as raising awareness of the importance of parent governors. One stop shops could also support other organisations in their drive to recruit governors. Encouragement could be given to those people who expressed an interest in some form of public service, and the one stop shop could provide general information about the work of governing bodies as well as specific information about governor vacancies. The DfEE and local authorities should take an imaginative approach to the creation of one stop shops—they could have outlets in community centres, health centres or supermarkets, and they could be backed up by telephone or Internet facilities.

We welcome the Committee's support for the Government's One Stop Shop initiative on school governor recruitment. The governor brokerage service will focus initially on the six Excellence in Cities target areas, but will be capable of extension to the country as a whole. The service will be available to individual schools, to help them fill co-opted governor vacancies, and to LEAs and others who make appointments to governing bodies. It would not be appropriate for the service to cover other categories of governor. Parent and staff governors are elected by and from parents and staff of the school. It is best left to parents and staff to decide who should represent their interests on the governing body.

The One Stop Shop will set up and maintain a database of prospective governors. Schools and others will be invited to approach the service when they need to fill governor vacancies. Publicity material and a helpline will give information on the role of governing bodies and the importance of their work. The One Stop Shop will also liaise with and support other organisations involved in governor recruitment. The Department does not believe that large numbers of local one stop shops for governor recruitment would be cost-effective. But, in consultation with LEAs and the governor associations, we will consider the scope for promoting governor recruitment through a wider range of channels, including community centres, supermarkets and the Internet.


From 1 September 2000, the number of local education authority areas served by the School Governors' One-Stop Shop will rise from 25 to 47: almost one third of all local education authorities in England. The School Governors' One-Stop Shop already works with and encourages organisations wishing to promote school governorship to their employees. The Department is developing a national strategy on recruitment and retention and one aspect of this will be the publication of updated recruitment literature. This will provide general information about the work of governing bodies. As part of the draft strategy, the Department is considering more imaginative methods of recruitment, such as those suggested by the Committee. The School Governors' One-Stop Shop has launched an experimental ethnic minority recruitment drive in Bradford through an ethnic minority radio station.

20. We recommend that a clear, targeted strategy is developed to ensure schools in disadvantaged areas are provided with appropriate support to ensure they can recruit sufficient governors from their local community.

The One Stop Shop will target recruitment of governors with management skills for inner city schools and will be capable of extension to other disadvantaged areas. The Department is also developing a strategy with LEAs and governor associations to help schools recruit more governors from ethnic minorities.

In addition to the support being provided to inner city schools by the School Governors' One-Stop Shop, the Department intends to publish best practice guidance on school governor recruitment. One of the objectives of that guidance will be to equip schools with ideas on how they might attract local people as governors.

21. We recommend that LEA organisations, such as the Local Government Association (LGA), working with the national governor associations, establish a forum to exchange good practice on recruitment strategies to target specific communities and localities.

The One Stop Shop will work with a range of partners, including LEAs and governor associations, to develop the best strategy for recruiting people with management skills in target areas. As part of the campaign to recruit more governors from ethnic minorities, the Department also working with the National Governors Council, LEAs and others to share and develop best practice. A seminar has already been held. The initiative will also be followed up through other networks such as regional meetings of LEA Governor Support Co-ordinators.

Officials continue to meet local education authority co-ordinators of governor services in their regional groups and the Department has now hosted three seminars for co-ordinators in Excellence in Cities areas. The School Governors' One-Stop Shop is about to hold a launch conference for the new Excellence in Cities areas.

22. The DfEE and NGC ethnic minority recruitment initiative should consider including support for translation services for governors, where this is required to ensure that governing bodies fully represent the local community.

As part of the campaign to recruit more governors from ethnic minorities the Department is working with LEAs and others to evaluate local governor support provision. Under paragraph 7 of Schedule 11 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, LEAs are required to ensure that governors are provided with appropriate information to enable them to discharge their functions. This could certainly include translation. Some LEAs do already provide this if needed, funded from central budgets.

Through action arising from our recruitment and retention strategy, the Department continues to promote governorship to ethnic minorities, people who have disabilities and young adults.

23. We see value in considering recruiting from 'non-traditional' sources such as students on initial teacher training (ITT) programmes or undergraduate students.

The Department endorses the need to look beyond traditional sources for governor recruitment. We agree that young people over the age of 18 should be given opportunities to become involved in public service volunteering. There is no reason why ITT students should not be recruited as school governors, provided there was no compulsion and they were not governors at the institution supervising their training. We are already considering whether non-teaching activities in schools, such as a governorship, could form part of a teachers' training.


24. We welcome the Government's commitment to end the option of reappointing LEA governors who have been removed from a governing body due to non-attendance.

Regulation 15 of The Education (School Government) (England) Regulations 1999 prevents governors of any category from being re-appointed to the same governing body within 12 months of their removal for non-attendance.


25. We believe that cases of 'rogue' governors are relatively infrequent. However, we recognise the significant detrimental effect that 'rogue' governors can have on a governing body and its school. The key characteristic of the 'rogue' governor is that he or she acts in a manner that disregards the corporate nature and responsibilities of the governing body We therefore consider that in extreme cases where the relationship between an individual governor and the majority of the governing body has irretrievably broken down, there should be mechanisms to remove governors from the governing body, and that these should apply to all categories of governor.

LEAs and those who appoint foundation governors have always been able to remove their own appointees. From 1 September 1999 governing bodies will be able to remove co-opted governors (and, at the request of the nominating bodies, additional co-opted governors representing minor authority, sponsor and Education Action Forum interests) using a two stage process similar to existing arrangements for removing the chair. However, the Department is not convinced that it would be right to breach the elective principle by allowing governing bodies to remove elected parent, teacher and staff governors.

The Committee's recommendation is dependent upon the existence of a code of practice. We undertake to review the regulations in the light of the use made of the new procedures once such a code has been agreed.


Terms of Reference Regulations came into effect on 1 September 2000, and now a draft Code of Conduct looking at individual governors' behaviour, is to be developed.

A Working Party on the Code of Conduct is to be set up in December 2000. Membership will include LEA, governor, head teacher and church organisations. The Working Group will agree a draft Code for recommendation to Ministers. Consultation on the Code is planned in the Spring Term 2001.


26. We recommend that proceedings to remove individual governors, apart from reasons of non-attendance, should be restricted to clearly defined cases. Later in our report we recommend that governing bodies adopt a code of practice covering the relations between the head and governors, governors' conduct in the school, etc. (see paragraphs 61-64). Only in cases where there has been a clear breach of this code of practice would we recommend that procedures to remove a governor be invoked. We recommend that the DfEE bring forward proposals to allow all categories of governor to be removed from office. We would expect that such an action would require at least two thirds of those eligible to vote to support a resolution removing the governor from office. Any mechanism would have to take account of the principles of natural justice.

As above


27. We welcome the existence of School Councils, and wish to see all schools establish such bodies. We recommend that governing bodies establish consultative arrangements to ensure governors are aware of pupils' opinions. Such arrangements should include opportunities for pupils to make presentations to the governing body, or for a governor to attend, by invitation, meetings of the School Council.

The Department welcomes school and classroom councils as a means of enabling pupils to contribute to the life of their school. Our plans for citizenship education in schools will encourage schools to develop pupils' practical skills in citizenship in school and in the community. We agree that governing bodies should establish arrangements which enable them to keep in touch with the views of pupils as well as their parents.

We have funded a project by an organisation called "School Councils UK" to produce resources to help schools set up school councils. The toolkit for primary schools is published by them in September.

28. We conclude that, properly managed, the workload of governors is not too burdensome.

We agree that the workload on governors could be better managed, and will be working with national associations, LEAs and Diocesan Boards to share best practice. Guidance on terms of reference (see paragraph 9 above) will provide an opportunity to emphasise the main role of governing bodies.

New Terms of Reference Regulations define roles and should help to limit governor workload. Guidance emphasises appropriate delegation to head teachers.

Consultation on School Governing Bodies is also relevant.


29. We believe that governors' workload could be better managed through improved information flow to governors, more opportunities for sharing best practice and networking and better management of governing body business. The restatement, by Government and others, of the role of governing bodies would also help.

As above

As above

Consultation exercise following Ministerial announcement on 18 November 2000.


30. Official documents should, as a matter of routine, include a summary and should highlight points for action or consideration by the recipient.

We believe a task force is unnecessary. The Department is introducing a new framework for its communications with schools from September 1999. This will make the inclusion of an executive summary mandatory. Documents will also have to highlight points for action or consideration. The framework will mean a standard format for DfEE communications with governors, which includes clear categorisation of subject matters, status, related documents, audience and action. We have invited our agencies to adopt similar principles in their communications with schools. We have explained them to LEAs, and are encouraging them to adopt similar principles.

Policy in place. In addition the Secretary of State has undertaken to reduce the number of documents sent automatically to schools by a third and the number of pages by a half from September 2000.

31. We recommend that the DfEE establish a task force to improve the quality and reduce the quantity of paperwork that governors receive. This should consider the duplication of information from LEA and government sources and take the relatively simple step of ensuring paperwork is produced in a common, user-friendly format, with appropriate cross-referencing to other relevant documents. As is customary with many other documents, key points for action or consideration, plus a summary of the document, should be a standard part of all documents for governors. We repeat that papers aimed at an audience of governors should eschew educational jargon and 'teacher-speak'.

As above

We are making increasing use of the Governors' website on the National Grid for Learning.

32. The relationship between heads and governing bodies is crucial. A clear statement of the respective roles the Government expects them to play in the forthcoming terms of reference will be welcome, although (as we noted earlier) it will perhaps not be desirable to try and set these down in tablets of stone. Our priority is to ensure that governing bodies discharge their duties effectively. It is not in the interest of pupils for the headteacher to 'manage' the governing body, or for the governing body to interfere in the proper duties of the headteacher. We therefore recommend that governing bodies and headteachers in each school agree how their respective roles should be fulfilled. Such an agreement could form a part of the code of practice for governing bodies.

Guidance on the terms of reference regulations (see paragraph 9 above) will provide detailed advice on which decisions which should be made by the governing body acting alone, the governing body with advice from the head, the head within a framework set by the governing body and the head in his or her own right. The guidance could include a template which would enable governing bodies and heads to record how those decisions should be made and implemented.

The Department agrees that a code of practice as recommended by the Committee should be developed, defining the relationships, expectations and behaviour of the relevant parties. DfEE will take the lead in developing a model Code with the various parties once the Terms of Reference framework has been established.


The Decision Planner attached to the Terms of Reference Guidance on roles of governing bodies and head teachers provides a tool for governing bodies and heads to negotiate appropriate delegation arrangements.

33. We agree with the Government that governors do not have a role in "inspecting" work in the classroom. It is the responsibility of the governing body to monitor standards of achievement, to be accountable for them and to ensure that weaknesses are addressed. However, it is not helpful for individual governors to use this responsibility as the basis for inspecting individual teachers.

The Department endorses the Committee's view that governors should not inspect work in the classroom. Governing bodies are responsible for monitoring standards of achievement and ensuring that weaknesses are addressed. They have an important part to play in raising standards of literacy and numeracy. Along with the head, they should be setting high standards and raising expectations. But it is not helpful for individual governors to use this responsibility as the basis for inspecting individual teachers. The role of literacy and numeracy governors is consistent with the Committee's recommendation. Whilst guidance suggests that they might use termly visits to talk with teachers and see some literacy hours or daily mathematics lessons in progress, it also stresses that they should always remember that they are not acting as a teacher or inspector, but as a source of support and a critical friend to the school.

New guidance on roles of governing bodies and head teachers clearly states that governing bodies are not responsible for collecting monitoring data themselves.

OFSTED's new Framework for Inspection makes no such demands on governors.


34. We recommend that governing bodies adopt a code of practice outlining the purpose of the governing body which sets out what all parties agree is the appropriate relationship between individual governors, the whole governing body and the school. It would also cover appropriate conduct of governors in the school. We recommend that the DfEE take a lead in developing a model code of practice, after consultation with governors organisations, headteacher associations, LEAs and other bodies as appropriate.

As Recommendation 32

The Department proposed to develop for consultation a model Code of Practice during autumn 2000.

A Working Party will review proposals in December for consultation next term (Spring 2001). See Recommendation 25 above.


35. We recommend that the statutory requirement for the governing body to hold an annual meeting with parents be ended, although the requirement to produce an annual report should remain. Governing bodies will need to consider alternative ways in which to communicate effectively with the school's parents, and how best to provide opportunities for parents to discuss issues with the governing body.




We agree that the requirement for governors to produce an annual report for parents should continue. The annual report gives parents vital information about the life of the school and helps to ensure that governors are more accountable to parents. There should be effective and regular communication between governors and parents.

The Annual Parents Meeting is the only mechanism for ensuring that the governing body, headteacher and LEA are held to account directly by parents. The School Standards and Framework Act now requires governing bodies to consult with parents about their plans for raising standards, improving behaviour and meeting the wider needs of pupils at Annual Parents Meetings. The opportunity to make their views known about future plans may increase parental attendance at these events. The Government considers that this issue is too important to be left to individual schools and that parents across the country should have an equal right of access to governing bodies, and to have their concerns considered.

We, therefore, propose to consult with all the interested parties, including parents' representatives, on the current arrangements. As part of the consultation process we will canvass suggestions for alternative methods of communicating with parents and dealing with complaints.


DfEE currently considering possibility of combining separate requirements for schools to produce governors' annual report and school prospectus, so that only one document is necessary.

Consultation document is being prepared.

The report from National Governors' Council indicates that arrangements for these meetings are a crucial factor in securing parental participation. Good practice case studies being assembled for the Governors' web site


36. It is too early to comment on how well governing bodies will be able to discharge the responsibility for performance management proposed in the Green Paper. We may wish to return to this issue when governing bodies have had some experience of managing these new arrangements. Nevertheless, we recognise governors' and headteachers' concerns. If the Government's proposals are to be introduced successfully, governing bodies need to be supported to ensure they have the confidence to operate new the scheme. For a start, the DfEE should produce as soon as possible both Part One and Part Two of the Performance Management Handbook. We welcome the Government's commitment to provide training and external advice to prepare and support governing bodies for their role in performance management. But it will be essential for governors to take up this training and to spend the money which the Government is to allocate for it. Elsewhere we consider networking arrangements to allow governors to share ideas and good practice. We believe that governors will benefit greatly from opportunities to exchange views on performance management.

The Performance Management Handbook has been superseded by a Performance Management Framework on which we are currently consulting. We agree that governing bodies should be supported to ensure that they have the confidence to operate the performance management arrangements. The Department takes very seriously the need to prepare and support governors adequately for these responsibilities. We shall shortly be issuing guidance for governors on heads' pay which has been developed in consultation with national associations, including the national governor organisations and "grass roots" governors. Governors will be able to join school based training in performance management planned for the Summer Term onwards. Additionally, we are developing a training package specifically for governors. In addition, we anticipate contributing to governors' conferences as well as organising events focusing on performance management.

Reviewing the performance and pay of Heads and Deputy Heads; Guidance for governors sent in September 1999.

Guidance for governors on performance management sent to schools in June 2000.

Departmental designed training being delivered by DfEE approved trainers from 26th June. Each LEA has an accredited trainer.

10 Industry sponsored conferences around the country are taking place.

We have a dedicated e-mail address for comments on the training we are also hope to establish a hints and tips page on the teaching reforms website for governors to share good practice.


37. We commend those LEAs who are providing high quality support and training for their governing bodies. However, more must be done to spread this good practice. We recommend that the Government, working with the Local Government Association, the national and local governors' associations, and the National Co-ordinators of Governors Services group initiate schemes to spread the best practice in providing support for governors. Issue such as provision of high quality training, encouraging governors' forums and creating mechanisms to keep governors up to date with education developments are all important considerations for LEAs. Support for governing bodies is an important part of LEAs' contribution to school improvement. Therefore we recommend that OFSTED's inspection of LEAs includes discussion with governors, for example, through organising a meeting with the local governors' forum where one exists, to gather views on the effectiveness of the LEA's support for the governing body.

The Department agrees that more needs to be done to ensure that all governing bodies have equal access to high quality training and support. We are already committed to producing good practice guidance. A strategy for governor training and support was outlined in the Department's July 1999 Memorandum to the Committee. It will include:

a. ensuring that every governor is informed in a user-friendly way about their responsibilities;

b. developing a national framework for governor training to improve quality and consistency;

c. working more closely with LEAs and other governor training providers to promote more effective training and support; and

d. raising the profile of governors, so that their contribution is more widely recognised and valued.

We plan to develop this strategy with the our partners over the coming months. A key element will be developing quality assurance schemes for governor trainers via national accreditation. Voluntary accreditation for governors will also be part of the strategy.

We strongly endorse the Committee's comments about the value of whole governing body training and joint training for governing bodies and staff (not just the head).


National Strategy for Training and Supporting School Governors being developed.

Key guiding principles have been agreed by the national governor and head teacher associations and with representatives from local authorities, the church bodies and governor trainers and endorsed by Department's Advisory Group on Governance.

The following areas for priority action have been identified:

Induction programme for new governors;

developing whole governing bodies and self evaluation;

clerking;

accreditation for governor trainers and voluntary qualifications for school governors.


38. We recommend that LEAs ensure that governing bodies and individual governors can contact directly their school's attached adviser in order to obtain information on the school's performance.

As above


39. Some examples of nationally validated training for school governors exist, for example, the BTEC award in school governorship developed by Essex County Council. This is a welcome development. We recommend that the DfEE give consideration to developing a scheme to provide quality assurance for governor training, perhaps by way of national accreditation. We note the importance of high quality training for governors, and in particular the value of whole governing body training and joint training of the governing body and the headteacher.

As above

Induction Programme for 1 September 2001 being prepared as part of the National Strategy for Training and Supporting School Governors.

All existing initiatives being mapped in association with National Coordinators of Governor Services (NCOGs) and national governor associations.

Included in National Strategy for Training and Supporting School Governors.


40. We do not believe that training for governors and chairs of governing bodies should be mandatory (except in the case of induction training: see recommendation 41).



The Department agrees that induction training has an important role to play in improving the effectiveness of school governing bodies. We have commissioned the National Governors Council to prepare a revised version of their "Trigger Pack" for new governors. This is now available, and is also on the Department's Governors' Site on the Internet. Many LEAs produce induction packs, in addition to training courses. Alternative mechanisms for governor training, including distance learning, will be considered as part of the Department's strategy for training and support. Whilst mandatory training is not consistent with the voluntary principle, we would support asking intending candidates for appointment or election about their intention to take up induction training. We intend to discuss with the headteacher and governor associations the scope for some joint initial training for heads and chairs.

[We plan to take forward discussions on joint head/chairs training with National College for School Leadership.]

41. We recognise the importance of induction training for new governors and newly appointed chairs of governing bodies. Evidence has shown that high quality induction is critical to enabling governors to make an effective contribution to the work of their governing body. We therefore recommend that induction training be made a requirement of all governors when first appointed, and for newly appointed chairs of governors. We believe that joint training for new chairs of governing bodies and their headteacher will be particularly valuable. We recognise the concerns put to us that a requirement to undergo training may act as a barrier to recruitment of governors. However, we firmly believe that governors have an important role to play in improving schools. It is therefore important that they are given at least a basic introduction to their responsibilities and how best to discharge them.

As above

National Induction Pack for new governors building on the key roles established by the Terms of Reference Regulations and guidance on governing body and head teacher roles now commissioned. To be in place by 1 September 2001.

42. We firmly believe that money targeted at improving the effectiveness of the governing body will do much to improve the effectiveness of the school as a whole. We therefore urge governing bodies to use the discretion they have in the Standards Fund to identify training opportunities which will improve their own effectiveness.

Nevertheless, we recognise that some governing bodies will find it difficult to justify expenditure on training or support for themselves when there are many other calls on their school's budget. We therefore recommend that the DfEE, working in partnership with the national associations, publicise examples of good practice where expenditure on governing body training or professional support has made a significant contribution to school improvement.


We agree that examples of how governor training and professional support has made a significant contribution to school improvement should be identified and publicised. The Department's Standards Site offers a range of documents and links to governor-related material. It also provides a suitable forum for debate and exchange of views, including sharing good practice.

DETR plan to announce the first Beacon Councils in November. One criteria is evidence of what LEAs have done to "develop governors', headteachers' and LEA officers' ability to identify and tackle weakness in schools." The authorities selected will be expected to share with other authorities what they have done. In addition, the DfEE is working with OFSTED to look at what inspection evidence exists on governing bodies turning round weak and failing schools. We expect to produce a joint publication with OFSTED next spring promulgating case study material.



43. We believe that training for new headteachers on working effectively with governing bodies and chairs of governors should be available for newly appointed headteachers. Although we do not recommend that this is a requirement, it would be in the best interests of individual governing bodies to require such training as part of the appraisal process for their newly appointed headteacher

Working with governors is included in the key areas of headship set out in the National Standards for Headteachers, upon which all three national headship programmes are based. The Core Module of the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) includes training and assessment on working with, and understanding the role of, school governors. A leaflet aimed at governors, which sets out ways in which they can become involved with the qualification by supporting NPQH candidates in their schools, has also been produced. Dame Patricia Collarbone, who is leading the further development of the NPQ, has been consulting governor groups on how they might become further involved in the qualification and how the current content of the NPQH currently develops candidates for their role in working with governors.

Working with governors remains a key area for head teacher national standard. Review of NPQH material will take account of new Terms of Reference Regulations and guidance on the roles of governing bodies and head teachers.

Consultation on School Governing Bodies suggests that NPQH and leadership training should emphasise the role of headteachers in making governing bodies better informed and more effective in maintaining performance standards.


44. We recommend that the National Association of Governors and Managers, the National Governors' Council and Information for School and College Governors consider ways in which they can work together in partnership. For instance, they could develop a single point of contact for the range of 'advice line' services they run. These services could be 're-launched' and promoted widely as a national source of independent, expert advice. Such an initiative would allow for more cost-effective funding and support from the DfEE.

All three organisations have indicated a willingness to work with the Department to identify what skills and resources each has to offer and develop on a partnership basis more coherent support for school governors. The advice line will be relaunched on 1 April 2000, when existing support arrangements come to an end.

Arrangements for a new professional governors' advice line have been agreed. GovernorLine to be launched in January 2001.

45. Where they do not already exist, we recommend the establishment of local governor associations or governors' forums to provide opportunities for governors to share best practice and discuss common issues.

The White Paper "Excellence in Schools" affirmed the Government's support for governor forums. The National Governors' Council receives funding from the Department to support the development of local forums.


46. We recommend that Government provide support for local governor forums, either through the voluntary associations or via LEAs.

As above


47. We recommend that all LEAs establish a pool of experienced governors who are willing to work with governing bodies which request support and advice on particular issues. Schools which face severe challenges or experience difficulty in recruiting governors may wish to draw on the services of other experienced governors within the LEA. Such governors would complement governors drawn from the local community rather than replace them, and therefore would not automatically join the governing body. Instead, they would work alongside the school's governors, perhaps in a mentoring role or offering particular support to the chairs of governing bodies.

We welcome this recommendation and the support such governors could provide to governing bodies in weak or failing schools. We agree that such arrangements are best brokered locally. A DfEE mentoring scheme for governing bodies in London failing schools was not taken up by the schools.

In the Consultation on School Governing Bodies there is a proposal for DfEE and LEAs to establish a regional register of experienced people to serve as additional governors.

48. We agree with witnesses who argued that effective clerking services made a significant contribution to the work of effective governing bodies. We believe the cost of such services is a worthwhile investment for governing bodies, and we hope that all governing bodies will use such services. We recommend that all LEAs should offer clerking services to their schools, although schools should not be obliged to subscribe to services from their LEA. Information should be widely available from all providers of clerking and other governor support and training services, including other LEAs and further education colleges, so that governing bodies have a choice of provider.

The Department agrees that effective clerking makes a significant contribution to the effectiveness of governing bodies. All governing body meetings should be professionally clerked, and governing bodies should be free to select their own clerk. From 1 April 2000 it will no longer be possible for governors or head teachers to act as clerks. We believe that all LEAs should provide briefing for clerks whether or not they provide the service.

Clerking has been identified as priority area in National Training and Support Strategy for School Governors. Working Party being assembled to examine role, training, qualifications and remuneration.

Mentioned in current consultation on School Governing Bodies. Respondents were asked to identify any changes they would like to see to improve clerking and administrative support to governing bodies.


49. We recommend that all LEAs consider ways of acknowledging the contribution made by effective, long-serving governors to education in their community.


No action for DfEE

50. On taking up a post as a school governor, we recommend that governors receive a letter from the Secretary of State thanking them for their service to the community and underlining the importance of their role.

The Secretary of State has written a welcome letter for new governors. This is being distributed with the "Trigger" induction pack for new governors. The text has been made available to LEAs and Diocesan Boards and is on the Governors' Site on the National Grid for Learning.

No further action

51. We recommend that employers of newly appointed governors also receive a letter, perhaps from the Secretary of State. The letter would highlight the importance of school governorship and note the demands made on governors, especially the time required to make an effective contribution. The letter would also urge the employer to consider supporting their employee, particularly in terms of paid time off.

Whilst the Department agrees with the intention behind this recommendation there are real practical difficulties. Not all employees would wish their employers to know that they are school governors. How individuals spend their out-of-work hours should be confidential to the employee, unless they voluntarily choose to disclose such activities. We are urging all employers to encourage their employees to become school governors.

No further action

52. In order to give public recognition to the contribution which employers make, we recommend that the Government establish a scheme which celebrates those organisations which provide high levels of support for their employees who serve as governors. Such support might include a guarantee of a minimum number of days off per year for governing body business. We recommend that this scheme be called the 'Investors in Education' awards.

The Department is currently developing a new agenda for school business links which, among other things, will look at how to encourage business involvement in effective school business partnerships. One possibility being considered is a high profile recognition scheme for business involvement in education building on a number of existing awards. It would make sense to include any award for organisations supporting school governors within this, rather than having a number of separate awards.

Study has been commissioned to examine the benefits and disadvantages of introducing a Partnership with the Community award for schools. The study will at the same time consider the feasibility of an award for schools which initiate and develop links with local businesses. Initial findings are expected in early November.


 
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