A welcome u-turn on universal academisation. Now we need to Keep Parents Governing

06/05/2016

Nicky Morgan has announced today that compulsory academisation, as proposed in the white paper, will not go ahead. 

The Education Secretary told the BBC that this was about listening, and added ministers understood that good and outstanding schools should retain the choice as to whether to convert. 

Plans to require all schools to convert to academy status by 2022 were announced in the Budget in March. NGA lobbied against the move and last week wrote a letter to Nicky Morgan outlining the concerns of our members

 

Read the Department for Education press release 

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, welcomed the announcement:  “We are very pleased that Nicky Morgan has decided to listen to the concerns of governors and trustees and decided not to compel all schools to become academies.

"The National Governors’ Association has always maintained that in good and outstanding schools, the decision to convert is a strategic one and should rest with the governing body. We look forward to discussing the details further with the Department for Education. For example, we are concerned that unless there is additional new funding found to protect small rural schools, increasing their subsidy even further will pose a significant risk to other primary schools that are far less well-funded and already struggling with very constrained budgets.

"Today’s news gives us renewed hope that the removal of the requirement for places for elected parents on academy governing boards will also be dropped in the coming weeks, and in the meantime we are encouraging parents and governors to make their voices known.”

To that end, the National Governors’ Association, with support of partners, is today publishing a template letter
and tweets to support its campaign to Keep Parents Governing.

Campaigning-credit-kvkirillov.jpg

Since the release of the White Paper in March, NGA has stridently opposed the government’s intention to remove the current requirement for elected parent places on each academy board.   

Today, NGA with Parent Councils UK and PTA-UK, urge you to lobby your MP before the Queen’s Speech on May 18. We hope that the government will listen to the voice of governors, trustees and parents and drop its proposal.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive, National Governors' Association, said: “The government has simply got this one wrong. But we hope that Nicky Morgan and her Department can yet be persuaded by the arguments that we and many others are putting across in defence of elected parents on governing boards. You can help by lobbying your MP and getting them to back our campaign to Keep Parents Governing.”

#keepparentsgoverning

Baroness Howe of Idlecote, President, National Governors' Association, said: “Elected parents represent a crucial element of effective governance in our schools. The elections themselves ensure that governing boards remain diverse as well as skilled.  It is important for the government to recognise that parents have experience and knowledge that other governors and trustees from outside the school simply do not have and so we need to preserve this vital link.”

Emma Williams, Executive Director, PTA UK, said: “There has been a strong reaction from parents against the prospect of Governing Boards no longer being required to include Parent Governors.  Many parents perceive that Parent Governors are there to represent and make the school accountable to the wider parent community (our poll told us that 58% of parents believed this). While this is not strictly correct, parent perception is important. 93% of mums and dads have told us that schools need Parent Governors and that the role of Parent Governor makes them feel that they are important to the school and included in decisions on their child’s education.

"At PTA UK we believe that we need to go further to provide a robust accountability structure for parents in schools and are advocating for a Parent Association in every school to support this. However, in the meantime, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Fiona Carnie, Director, Parent Councils UK, said: "It is essential that the voice of parents is heard loud and clear in school decision making to ensure that schools are best able to meet the needs of their students. Parent governors have a crucial role to play and must be retained."

Template letter

Dear {name of your MP}

I am writing to you as a constituent and as a {delete as applicable} parent, school governor/trustee, governor/trustee who started out as a parent governor, as a parent governor.

The ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’ white paper proposes that the government “will no longer require academy trusts to reserve places for elected parents on governing boards”.

I oppose this because:

- I do not want academy trust boards to become small groups of self-appointing, like-minded people distant from the schools they govern

- The requirement to elect parent governors ensures sound governance by helping to retain a healthy diversity of views, backgrounds and perspectives on academy trust boards

- Parents have much to offer as governors, including professional skills and knowledge of the school and its community, which is useful for a governing board

- Electing just two parents leaves ample space on the board for others interviewed for particular skills and experience to join as well.

In a recent National Governors’ Association poll of 1200 governors and trustees, almost 45% started out as parent governors, giving a good indication that elections are a vital pipeline for new governors and trustees.

I realise that elected parent governors, although highly valued by parents, are not elected to represent parents. Nevertheless, they are clearly well placed to act in the best interests of all children, be effective in holding the trust CEO or headteachers to account, and to support the development of the board’s strategic direction.

I agree that schools should improve the way in which they engage with parents, but this is a completely different issue from reserving places for elected parents to govern. 

I will therefore encourage any academy that I'm involved with to keep places for elected parents. Will you pledge your support with me for keeping elected parents on academy trust boards?

Yours sincerely,

{Your name}.
Template tweets - don't forget to tweet @ your MP

I'm against the removal of the requirement for elected parents on school governing boards. http://goo.gl/lm2Rzp #keepparentsgoverning

I support @NGAMedia @PTAUK @fionacarnie to #keepparentsgoverning http://goo.gl/lm2Rzp Please RT

Elected parents are crucial to effective governance please #keepparentsgoverning @educationgovuk http://goo.gl/lm2Rzp RT

Further information

Find out how to contact your MP - www.theyworkforyou.com

White Paper fallout: NGA writes to Nicky Morgan on compulsory academisation and parent governors

White Paper fallout: Emma Knights considers the nature of oversight and accountability in schools and suggests a radical alternative 

White Paper fallout: parent governors - why the government has got this wrong

The Guardian reports NGA’s stance: Without parent governors, schools face an uphill battle to engage families

Even before the White Paper, NGA backed places for parents on governing boards. See our submission to a  Department for Education consultation in December 2015. 

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