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FE reforms could lead to pay for school governors

School governors could win the right to compensation for loss of earnings when they attend meetings if Government reforms published this week win approval.

David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, has proposed sweeping reforms to governing bodies in further education colleges.

His plans have been seized on by local education authority leaders as opening the door to similar arrangements for schools. Graham Lane, education chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "We are moving towards a proper loss of earnings allowance and I think that is only right."

Jeremy Beecham, LGA leader, is pushing for wider payments and earnings compensation for school governors similar to those in health trusts.The association is expected to spell out its case in a response to the consultation paper, Accountability in Further Education.

The Government says in the paper: "In exceptional cases, such as a meeting called at short notice, it may be justifiable to pay an element of compensation to governors for loss of earnings if the governor can prove it was not possible to rearrange work so as to avoid the loss."

The proposal represents a major shift in thinking by ministers since Lord Nolan, in his inquiry into standards in public life, ruled out any such suggested payment.

Mr Lane said that Mr Blunkett had already signalled a change of attitude when he decided that governors "imposed" by him on failing schools or those in the Fresh Start approach could be paid.

"There is a clear danger here that if some chosen governors are paid then the others who are there doing public service will simply walk away. We cannot let this happen."

The LGA would be seeking clarification as soon as possible. "We can argue a good case for an attendance allowance but we accept that there must be limits," he said.

"Paying 500 colleges is one thing, but the cost to the public purse of paying thousands and thousands of school governors is another matter entirely. This is why the Government has not moved on payment to governors in FE before."

FE Focus, page 35

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