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Nolan says no to governors' pay

Nicholas Pyke reveals that recommendations on the structure of educational management will keep the voluntary principle.

People who spend their own time serving as governors in grant-maintained schools, colleges and universities should not be paid, says next month's report by Lord Nolan's Committee on Standards in Public Life.

As things stand, governors give up hours of their time for no financial reward and very limited expenses, a situation sometimes blamed for restricting the number of people coming forward. But the Nolan Committee has found an "overwhelming weight of evidence" against changing the current, voluntary structure.

While direct payment of the sort given to members of health service quangos will be ruled out, the committee might recommend compensation for loss of earnings in some circumstances. It could also suggest broadening the expenses allowed, to include things like the cost of child care.

The Nolan Committee is looking at a range of local bodies, including the governing boards of grant-maintained schools, further education colleges, universities, training and enterprise councils and housing associations.

Last year it investigated the major government quangos which, in the education field, include the Higher Education Funding Councils, the Teacher Training Agency and the Funding Agency for (GM) Schools.

Walter Ulrich, from the National Association of Governors and Managers, said that the current rules on expenses for both local authority and GM schools are "incredibly restrictive". Governors can only claim for the cost of travel and subsistence, and may be discouraged from taking part by other expenses, child care in particular.

He also urged companies to support employees who take time off for governing duties and may be afraid of harming their career chances. He said these factors restrict the range and quality of governors.

But the NAGM is against payment. "To make a paid public service effective you have to pay on a scale which really turns people into a different kind of animal," said Mr Ulrich.

The problems facing governing bodies were outlined in public evidence to the Nolan Committee last year. Derek Betts, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, told the members: "We are finding a lot of governors saying to us that they did not become governors to do the amount of work and take the amount of responsibility they are now being asked to do. I think they are finding it rather difficult.

"Perhaps a debate should be had about remuneration," he said, "not obviously more than perhaps the replacement of expenses and perhaps the replacement of salary as you might a juror."

Keith Scribbens, from the Colleges' Employers' Forum, told the committee that there is a need for more people in low-paid jobs on governing bodies.

Pauline Latham and Cecil Knight from the Grant Maintained Schools Advisory Committee were strongly against remuneration, telling the committee that most governors' meetings could be arranged at times which do not involve loss of earnings.

Last year's inquiry into the major quangos made no recommendations about pay but observed that it should "be strictly controlled and consistent with the responsibilities involved".

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