Schools should consider paying governors if they want to improve the quality and diversity of their governing bodies, according to a new report.
Chairs of governing boards, particularly in multi-academy trusts and larger schools, should be suitably remunerated in return for their time, the research suggests.
The document, called Building Better Boards: An Opportunity for Education, was co-authored by MP Neil Carmichael, chair of the Commons education select committee, and published by Wild Search.
It states that the time commitment for governors has increased in recent years and that schools should look at ways of compensating board members for their time.
“In a challenging economic environment, the creation of payment for positions currently unpaid may appear to be unwise,” the report states. “However, we believe that schools should consider whether, in common with registered housing providers, NHS trusts and other public bodies, some form of payment may be appropriate to reflect the contribution made by governors and their commitment in terms of time.
“With smaller boards, the costs could be lower. Introducing remuneration may also serve to increase the diversity in terms of background, age and gender,” it adds.
Such a move would compensate board members who may have to forgo work or pay for childcare in order for them to attend governor meetings.
The report adds that schools should “at the very least” consider providing “reasonable expenses for chairs and other key board members to ensure that their time is not taken for granted”.
Schools should also look to be more proactive in their recruitment of governors, focusing on specific skills that would benefit the governing board.
According to a recent survey by the National Governors’ Association, chairs of governing bodies give up between 24 and 54 working days to their school duties.
The body said it approached its members about the issue of paying governors but the “vast majority of participants felt that paying people was not the solution to the difficulty of recruitment”.
Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA, said that paying governors would also create additional work for those overseeing the school, as a formal contract would have to be put in place, along with a process of “performance management”.
Ms Knights added that paying governors would also go against the spirit of volunteering.
“Volunteering remains an important part of British civic society and should possibly be included in the list of British values; we undermine that at our peril,” she said.
Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook