NGA responds to leaked papers on headteacher boards

21/11/2013

Holding Academy Trusts to Account 

National Governors’ Association, as the representative organisation for governors and trustees of state-funded schools, has many academy boards of trustees in membership. NGA is seeking more information from the Department for Education about the story in today’s press on new regulators to oversee academies (and free schools which are also academies).  

NGA understands that there is a need for a change of structure to monitor the thousands of academies across England and to intervene when they, governed by their board of trustees, are not performing well. It is not tenable for the Secretary of State, or even civil servants in Whitehall to undertake this scrutiny and intervention function on his behalf. Without seeing the detail of what the Secretary of State will be delegating to any regional structure, NGA cannot comment fully; however, we do have serious concerns about ensuring that any board with substantive powers has the right people with the right skills and experience to carry out these very important governance functions. Calling any such boards ‘headteacher boards’ would be a serious misunderstanding of what we expect will be their function, and suggest something along the lines of ‘Secretary of State’s scrutiny boards’ may be more appropriate. While the detailed powers and scope of these boards is not yet known, the NGA would be surprised if educational performance was the only point of reference, as opposed to, for example, financial, operational and governance issues. If that is the case, such boards would need members with a wider range of skills and experiences than the headteacher only boards reported in the press. Electing members is unlikely to be a robust method of ensuring the best qualified and skilled board members.

Guardian article.

Telegraph article.
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