Governors should to be more than 'cheerleaders'

15th October 2010 at 01:00
Education minister wants to see them challenging their own schools

A radical overhaul of school governing bodies is being planned to save money and drive up standards.

Education minister Leighton Andrews wants governors to have wider responsibilities to their communities instead of being "cheerleaders" for their own schools.

He also thinks governing bodies can perform better if they work in partnership with others and plans to push more of them to collaborate and federate to achieve savings.

In return he has pledged better training as well as improved access to pupil data so they can challenge their schools more effectively.

The minister recently expressed concern that some local authorities were failing to support and challenge the performance of their schools adequately. This proposal suggests that he wants governors to take on that role.

Mr Andrews has written to key stakeholders providing an outline of his proposals and seeking their views. A formal consultation will begin in December.

Speaking to headteachers last week, Mr Andrews said: "I believe governors should have a responsibility to the learner and to the community, rather than simply being cheerleaders for their own particular institution.

"We are convinced a governing body federation can achieve resource savings.

"Better collaboration is the way forward for raising standards and improving outcomes for learners. We want to see well-trained clerks for governing bodies and mandatory training for governors as well."

He said there would be induction training for new governors and specialist training for chairs. "Access to data will also empower governors to provide more effective challenge for their schools," he added.

Last year the Assembly's cross-party enterprise and learning committee recommended that the government give "serious consideration" to compulsory training for governing body chairs, vice-chairs and new recruits.

It also said governors need better understanding of education policy.

Jane Morris, director of Governors Wales, urged the Welsh Assembly to make sure training is properly funded.

"We recognise the important role collaboration can play," she added. "But we are mindful that it needs to be based on a willingness to work together in the first instance, rather than being mandated.

"Most governing bodies will be aware of working closely with a community of schools and the value of sharing resources - this should be encouraged and developed further."

Iwan Guy, acting director of NAHT Cymru, said: "Collaboration in rural areas could be difficult, and whether this saves money remains to be seen. Some schools have difficulty recruiting governors and I'm not sure collaboration is the answer to that either."

Original headline: Ministers tell governors to be more than `cheerleaders'

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