Where is the evidence?

21st March 2008 at 00:00
The Children's Plan states: "Smaller governing bodies tend to be more effective and highly skilled... we will make (them) more effective, beginning by consulting on reducing the size of governing bodies."

On what basis is this assertion made?

Co-ordinators of governor services in Yorkshire and Humberside trawled through Ofsted reports but found no obvious or convincing correlation between governing body size and grading for governance. Surely the proposal is not based on the efficiency of interim executive boards. These small bodies of professionals appointed specifically for their proven skills and understanding of education are not indicative of typical governing bodies.

The regulations allow governing bodies to determine their size (within limits) according to local circumstances. This supports the stakeholder model and promotes community cohesion.

I have found little support for smaller governing bodies unless the complete review of governance, which evidence suggests is urgently required, results in significantly reduced responsibilities. Would it not be sensible to await the outcome of the review before imposing a reduction?

I am a governor at two schools where we share out responsibilities in order to monitor effectively. We liaise and build positive, trusting relationships with staff so that we get the challenge, support and accountability right. (Ofsted confirms that we are very successful). However, we are unlikely to be able to do this as thoroughly if individual governor responsibilities had to increase as a result of there being fewer of us. My experience as external adviser, trainer and chair is that even those on large governing bodies already struggle to give as much time to the role as they feel is required.

I urge everyone to respond to the consultation. What difference would an enforced reduction in size without reduced responsibilities make to your ability to continue good practice? Could you still monitor, support and challenge as effectively?

Angela Dunkerley, Chair of Governors at Winterton CofE Infants' School, and Governor at Winterton Comprehensive School, North Lincolnshire.

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