More powers

5th July 1996 at 01:00
Cherie Booth and Jessica Hill argue that school governing bodies' actions should be subordinated to local authorities since only the latter have the necessary "expertise, local knowledge and accountability".

Present arrangements arose largely through a desire to make each school more responsive and accountable to the community it served. Thus, many of the positions on a governing body are elected. The criticisms advanced of governor accountability could equally be levelled at both central and local government. Any system that elects people to positions of responsibility cannot ensure that they are competent to perform their role. Accountability comes only from facing electors at the end of a term of office and until that time, the interests of electors are not necessarily being well served.

School governors are derided as "amateurs sandwiched between the professionals - the headteacher and the local education authority". However, even competent governors' ability to discharge effectively their significant responsibilities is limited by the retention of some crucial decision-making by local and national government. Their situation might far better be characterised as responsibility without the necessary powers.


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