This week NGA has been informed of several positive announcements by the Department for Education (DfE).
It has been confirmed that there will be no further major reforms of the constitution regulations. As we reported last year the DfE consulted the Advisory Group on Governance about possible changes to governing body constitution arrangements of local authority maintained schools. The paper followed the Secretary of State for Education’s speech to the NGA summer conference in which she said that she would “look at how to move away from a stakeholder model of governance”. We consulted members about the proposed changes, and the key message we got from you is that no full scale reform is needed, and this informed our response. We are pleased that the government will not be pursuing the proposals further, but instead will be promoting the importance of training and development of those governing schools.
Although ministers are still opposed to making induction training mandatory, NGA is extremely pleased that they have agreed to strengthen the duty on schools to ensure that those governing schools undertake regular training. There will be a greater focus on training in the academies financial handbook and there will be a consultation on updating the regulations for maintained schools to reflect this. There has also been a slight increase in the funding available for governor training, so the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) will be continuing the current workshops on PRP, financial efficiency and RAISEonline. It is also inviting licensees – NGA is part of the Leading Governance license – to continue the Chairs’ and Clerks’ development programmes on an extended basis.
The DfE has also confirmed that a new governor database will be hosted on the Edubase website. For every governor (including members, trustees and those on the local governing body in academies) this will show his/her name, date of appointment, date that his/her term ends, the appointing authority, and whether s/he is the chair. The DfE will also gather additional information for its own due diligence, including governors’ addresses and nationalities, but this information will not be publicly available. Schools will be able to upload this information from next month, but there will be no duty to do so until September 2016. The EFA will do this on behalf of those academies for which it has the information. NGA will provide more details when we get them.
In addition, the DfE will be consulting on proposals to strengthen regulations so that it’s easier to remove disruptive governors. This is something NGA has been requesting for some time, and which a lot of members have asked us to push for.
Welcoming the announcements, NGA’s Chief Executive Emma Knights said: “'NGA is delighted that the government is not only stressing the importance of training and development for those governing our schools, but will also be tightening up the expectations on governing boards in both maintained schools and academies. Our surveys show most governors and trustees understand the importance of training, but some fail to invest in it and sadly the weakest governing boards are probably oblivious.
When the Secretary of State began a conversation last summer about the potential need for more constitutional change, NGA canvassed members and they made it clear that other things were so much more important to effective governance: training and development, good chairing and professional clerking. We are extremely pleased that the DfE has listened and safeguarded funding for development programmes. We look forward to working to ensure this makes a difference not just to governance, but to the pupils in state schools."
Update 18/03/16: Yesterday the government published a White Paper detailing the removal of the requirement to have elected parent governors on academy governing boards. Read NGA's response.