Ministers reject governor training;News;News amp; Opinion

5th November 1999 at 00:00
Karen Thornton on a snub for MPs who wanted compulsory induction.

MINISTERS have rejected MPs' calls for compulsory training for school governors and a bureaucracy taskforce to reduce their mountain of paperwork.

The Government's low-key response to the education select committee's report on governors also dismisses its proposals for getting rid of "rogue" governors.

But it plans to set up a bank of experienced super-governors, who would be available to help struggling schools and governing bodies or those facing recruitment problems.

And it says it is looking at a new awards scheme which would recognise business involvement in education, including supporting school governors.

The committee had recommended that induction training should be a requirement for all new governors, to improve their effectiveness. This was opposed by the National Governors' Council, and has been rejected by ministers who were concerned about making training mandatory for unpaid volunteers.

But the response says the Government is working on national standards for the accreditation of governor training, and that headship training programmes and national standards include working with governors.

The Government says it is already trying to improve the paperwork received by governors, and that the committee's proposed procedures for removing rogue governors would interfere with the elective principle for parent, teacher and staff governors. Procedures already exist for removing co-opted and local education authority governors.

John Adams, chairman of the National Association of Governors and Managers, welcomed the Government's response on rogue governors. However, he said ministers had failed to address his association's concerns that some people might be put off from becoming governors because their expenses - such as for travel and childcare - have to come from school budgets.

The association believes expenses money should be ringfenced in a separate budget held by the education authority. But the Government has backed the committee in opposing this suggestion - although it promises to consult further on expenses.

Mr Adams said: "The problem remains that if the budget remains with the school, governors will not claim. It consigns us to a certain type of person as a governor."

The Government response also outlines plans for:

Developing briefing sheets for governors on specialist and professional issues such as accountancy, personnel, buildings management, and law.

Consultations later this term on regulations setting out the respective roles of headteachers and governors.

Consultations on how schools and governors should be held to account by parents. The Government rejected the select committee's call to drop annual governors' meetings with parents, which are notoriously poorly attended, but is open to suggestions of alternatives.

Schools minister Estelle Morris will discuss the Government's response to the select committee report at a joint conference with the Office for Standards in Education in Birmingham next week.

Leader, 22

"Government's Response to the Fifth Report from the Education and Employment Committee; The Role of School Governors," price pound;3.40, telephone 0345 023474.

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