New report from the CBI promotes schools and businesses learning from each other

27/11/2013

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has today released a report outlining recommendations to ensure “assertive and confident governing bodies”. NGA supports many of the proposals and very much welcomes the CBI’s call for strengthened links between employers and schools. Unsurprisingly NGA wholeheartedly concurs with CBI Director General John Cridland’s encouragement of  “a renewed focus on the importance of governing bodies”.

NGA takes every opportunity to emphasise the strategic role of governing bodies, and is pleased to see the CBI report takes care to underline this: “This distinction between operations and strategy is not always understood and observed. Too often we hear examples of volunteer governors becoming involved in day-to-day school matters as opposed to retaining the strategic focus that they should have. Equally there are instances of school leaders seeking to involve governors beyond strategic”. The report goes on to point out that Ofsted’s recent suggestion of a business governor taking responsibility for careers guidance blurs this line and “also undermines the principle of collective responsibility which is fundamental to how governing bodies should operate”.
 
The CBI points out that “the role of governors is a valuable one with the benefit being felt not only by schools, but also by the individual volunteers and firms they work for ....The skills governors develop in the course of their school duties may stretch beyond those of their day-to-day job and expand their workplace skills. Applying their knowledge and expertise in a different situation from the one they encounter in their regular course of work can help to develop problem-solving and other skills that they can in turn apply to their job.”
 
NGA has spoken out on many occasions about the difficulties some employees face in being released by their employers to take part in governing duties, for example in our evidence supplied to the education select committee inquiry into governance. NGA is disappointed that the CBI’s list recommendations does not include encouragement to employers to give time off to employees; instead the CBI supports the select committee’s recommendation to extend the legal requirement to allow time off for governors of maintained schools to academies. They also agree with the select committee, and with NGA, that radical reform of school governance is not needed and suggest that the “essential area for progress is in the calibre and skills of those serving on governing bodies.”
 
Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy said: “We need greater partnership between the Government and businesses to deliver the right structures to lift performance across all our schools – and help every child fulfil their potential.”

The NGA agrees entirely with the CBI that “senior ministers need to be more vocal in championing the role and importance of school governors” and that this is necessary for any government which is “serious about improving performance in schools”.  

We very much hope to see ministerial involvement in the forthcoming campaign planned by the Department for Education to encourage and support volunteering as governors.

Download the CBI report
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