Brace yourself for radical reform

20th June 2008 at 01:00
The review of governance has moved into a new phase
The review of governance has moved into a new phase. It is to be advanced by a special minister's working group, with some governor representatives, but also organisations from outside governance and education. At the same time, the original timetable has been abandoned, so we're unlikely to see any proposals until the autumn. And the favoured date for implementing any changes is September 2009.

Many governing bodies will be relieved at not having to contemplate constitutional change for a while, but the cost of delay is that such changes are likely to be more radical. By including bodies from outside education, the Government has indicated that it is looking for a fundamental examination of what governance is for, as well as how it is conducted.

The crystal ball is so cloudy it might be wise to abandon it were it not for the demystifying properties of the Children's Plan, which emphasises child poverty, health and youth offending. At its heart is the role of families, so you might expect that the role of parents in governance would be strengthened, but this is uncertain given its reduction in academies and trust schools.

But the most important consideration for the working group is likely to be the aim to reduce the number of failing schools. On this, the government steer is clear: the plan states a clear preference for smaller governing bodies. As reported in last week's TES, governing bodies in underperforming schools also risk being replaced by salaried management teams. So, when the public consultation comes, we may well find out we won't all still be here in 18 months' time.

Stephen Adamson, Vice-chair of the National Governors' Association.

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