We're more than cheerleaders - governors

25th February 2011 at 00:00
They say they're ready to hold schools to account in tough new scrutiny era

Governing bodies are prepared to challenge their schools and ask searching questions of heads as part of a new era of accountability, according to Governors Wales.

Jane Morris, director of the organisation, said governors have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities and are not just "cheerleaders" who "rubber stamp" decisions.

She was responding to a series of questions posed by education minister Leighton Andrews in two major speeches on school standards this month.

He asked: "To what extent are governors really engaged across Wales in driving up performance? To what extent are they essentially dependent on the headteacher for their information? Is there effective alignment between governors' appraisal and real improvements in performance?"

Mr Andrews also said there should be high expectations of governors, who must play a "full role" in the accountability of their schools and be "more than cheerleaders" for their own institution.

"At the end of the day we want governors to perform a role and there are responsibilities that go with that," he added.

Ms Morris welcomed the "timely" debate and said there is already excellent practice among governing bodies. But, she added: "We also recognise there are shortcomings and I think governors have to ensure that they fulfil their strategic role.

"If you are a governor you need to know what it's about to enable you to fulfil that role effectively.

"But I think there is a clear understanding and awareness of what everybody has to do and a willingness to take these messages forward."

As part of the proposed Education Measure currently being debated in the Assembly, the government will introduce statutory training for governors and more effective clerking.

There will also be new powers to allow local authorities to federate boards of governors, and the minister said he expects to see more federated schools operating under single headteachers.

From next year, no school will pass an Estyn inspection unless it can demonstrate that its governing body has discussed performance data and proposed actions to improve its position.

Ms Morris said Governors Wales welcomed the training, given the responsibilities of the role, but warned that the increased expectations may put some people off.

"I would hope that anybody who becomes a governor would want to go down the route of training because there is a need to develop their skills," she said.

"It may put some people off, but most understand that it is a challenging and rewarding opportunity. Governors

  • Original headline: We're more than cheerleaders, governors tell doubting minister

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