By now, under the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act, every school should have a new instrument of government in place.
The Government's motivation to change the composition of governing bodies appears to be to strengthen the role of parents. While acknowledging this, it is actually more significant that the total number of governors will rise. This raises two important questions. How are the extra governors going to be recruited? What are the implications for training?
Governors are under no statutory obligation to undertake training. But it seems reasonable to assume that quality training can increase school effectiveness. Effective governors are required if the drive to raise standards in schools is to be successful. The Government does give local authorities some money for governor training and some do very well with it, but...Is the funding adequate? How do course provision and quality vary between authorities? Are the current mechanisms to monitor effectiveness in governor training appropriate?
A possible solution to the issues of finance, quality of delivery, and monitoring, is to establish national standards for governor training with new funding arrangements. Training needs to be more consistent and national standards would help.
Perhaps the Teacher Training Agency should get involved. However, it appears that the agency's new remit is to concentrate on initial teacher training. If the Department for Education and Employment is to "take over" the work on teachers' continuing professional development will it also get more involved with governors' training?
Governor training needs to have its status raised. That's why the creation of national standards is more significant than who provides the training. Monitoring training would have to conform to "a national code of practice... which will also have a new inspection programme to ensure that training gives value for money and delivers results", according to the DFEE ( Teachers meeting the challenge of change, December 1998).
Proceedings of this week's Co-ordinators of Governors Services conference in Leeds will be available from Pat Brockman, Dudley Education, Westox House, Trinity Road, Dudley DSY1 1JB
Alan Clifton is chair of governors, East Cowton CoE primary, North Yorkshire, and lectures at New College Durham.
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