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Snap! Addressing Governance in Schools

This week on TheSchoolBus Blog, Nigel Crebbin, a partner in the law firm and TheSchoolBus legal experts, Berg, looks at the question of school inspections, governor training and changing the rules of the game.

Once again this week, school governors have been headline news. Much of the talk of Trojan Horses and alleged extremism in schools has focussed on the role and responsibilities of school governors and the issue of whether training for governors should become compulsory or should remain, as it currently is, recommended but voluntary.

The National Governors’ Association, a charity representing school governors and trustees in England, states on its website that it “strongly believes that if governors are going to carry out their responsibilities effectively, then they need to be trained” and goes on to say that it has “been campaigning for many years to make training for governors mandatory”. Surely now the time has come for the Government to bring in the necessary legislation to put this into effect.

The role of the governor is a pivotal one in any school and all the more so where that school is an academy, as so many are these days. However, many people who put themselves forward for the role of governor have little, if any, prior experience of that role, and while undoubtedly most have the very best of intentions, they also need to make sure that they have the necessary knowledge to enable them fully to perform their responsibilities as governors.

The Department for Education publishes a detailed and very informative “Governor’s Handbook” which provides new and existing governors with lots of information about their role and its requirements, but it shouldn’t be left to governors or their school’s discretion as to whether the governors read this handbook or indeed obtain any form of governor training at all.

Such is the importance of the governor’s role in a school that the state needs to make sure that anyone who holds that role is properly equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out the role. The proper education of our children and proper running of our schools is, without doubt and as we all know, fundamental to the well-being of society and mandatory training for governors will be a major step, both in helping governors themselves and in ensuring that our schools are properly equipped to provide the education and care which our children need.

There’s also been a lot of talk this week about the possible introduction of snap, no notice inspections of schools by Ofsted, and whether or not this is something about which the Department of Education has previously got cold feet. However, whether or not snap inspections are brought in in future, it’s surely in everyone’s interests that compulsory training for governors is introduced as soon as it reasonably can be. Far from putting potential governors off taking up the role, it will surely be an incentive for them that they know they’ll be provided with a minimum level of training and information to assist them in performing the role of governor to the best of their abilities.

Nigel Crebbin is a partner at Manchester law firm, Berg, and can be contacted on 0161 833 9211 or at nigelc@berg.co.uk. You can follow Berg on Twitter @Berg_HR

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(The information and opinions contained in this blog/article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this blog/article.)

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