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Governors `fail to reflect society'

The typical governor of a Welsh school is a professional person aged between 30 and 49 living within five minutes' drive of the school to which he or she devotes 13 hours a month.

Men outnumber women on governing bodies by 58 per cent to 42 per cent, with 80 cent of the total being professionally qualified or holding a higher education qualification.

This Photofit emerges from a survey of governors at Wales's 2,000 schools carried out for the Welsh Office by management consultant company Touche Ross.

The survey, the first of its kind to be conducted in Wales, was commissioned two years ago after a campaign by the Welsh Office and the eight Welsh local education authorities intended to encourage more people to become governors. Three out of five school governors in Wales came to the end of their term of office in 1992.

Replies were received from a third of all governors, representing 62 per cent of schools; more than 30 per cent of the respondents said they sat on more than one governing body.

On average governing bodies in the survey held five full meetings, each lasting up to three hours, every year. In addition governors averaged 11 visits a year to their school to take part in committee meetings and school activities.

Staff disciplinary matters, admission decisions and the allocation of allowances emerge as priorities. A typical governing body spawned four committees, with seven out of 10 setting up finance committees and six out of 10 establishing staffing committees.

Governors typically took four hours a month away from their regular jobs to fulfil duties taking up 13 hours a month. Only six out of a hundred reported suffering loss of earnings, while only one in 20 received expenses for governor duties.

About two thirds of all governors in the survey have or had children at the school - indicating that the parental link is the most important persuader in recruiting governors.

The Touche Ross report says: "In some respects the composition of governing bodies in Wales seems unrepresentative of the whole of society." The Welsh Office, LEAs and schools are urged to try to broaden representation and governing bodies are advised to strive for greater efficiency by reviewing the volume of paper work and the frequency of meetings.

Two thirds of those replying felt their training was "good" or "very good". However the report says: "There is room for improvement, particularly in the guidance and training provided in the areas of finance, local management and general governor business."

Rod Richards, Welsh Office junior minister in charge of education in Wales, said: "Governors are telling us that they want to become better equipped in the area of LMS - especially in financial management."

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