Academy chains unlocked: NGA responds to Reform report and payment for governors

20/09/2016

Reform, the think-tank founded by Conservative MP Nick Herbert, has released a
report today recommending that the Governance Handbook should be amended
to allow remuneration for members of academy committees, or ‘local governing bodies’.  

GM03-TAFH-final3.jpg

The report follows a survey of 66 academy trust chief executives, and the finding that
88% of respondents were very satisfied and satisfied with the current mix of skills at trustee
board, executive and academy committee level.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of National Governors’ Association, said:
“Reform’s findings that there is not a lack of skilled trustees mirrors
NGA’s extensive experience of working with multi academy trusts (MATs).
Nothing in this report points to the need for paying non-executives,
which is the report’s only conclusion on governance.

"There are, however, difficulties with governance in many academy
chains arising from misunderstanding about different roles, including  
that a MAT is one organisation with school headteachers answerable
to the MATs senior executives. Far more important than moving to paid
governance is the need for cultural change at all levels with MATs and for
trust boards to develop clear schemes of delegation which cover both
non-executive and executive functions.”

The only headline recommendation Reform has made on governance is for remuneration to
address “persistent poor governance skills and time”. The report recommends that: “The
Department for Education should amend the Governors’ Handbook to allow maintained schools
and academies to pay local governors.”

Looking for skilled volunteers to join your board? Sign up to Inspiring Governance today

It is NGA’s view, based on surveys of school governors and trustees, is that governors sitting
on a normally constituted governing body need not be paid. There are some instances when
those serving on an Interim Executive Board should be paid because this is a significantly
different role, requiring much more time and operational involvement.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that payment of governors would improve
the effectiveness of governing bodies but it would undoubtedly change the dynamic
between governors the school’s senior leadership team.  

In consultation with our members at regional meetings, the vast majority felt that
paying people was not the solution to the difficulty of recruitment. There was also a
question about the motivation of someone who would only take on the role if paid, as
well as the pragmatic argument that schools could not afford it.

Although more affordable, it was generally felt that only paying chairs, for example,
would change their relationship with the rest of the governing board, making it more
difficult for her/him to delegate tasks to others and undermine the corporate nature of
governance. It would also create another task for those with oversight of the school:
the need for a contract of some sort and a process of performance management.

Emma Knights added, “Volunteering to govern remains an important part of British civic
society; we undermine that at our peril. While NGA does not support remuneration, we do
support proper payment of expenses and time off work with pay agreed with all employers
to support governors in their valuable work in local communities.” 

More on this:

NGA members only: Professors Chris James and John Adams go head to head on payment for chairs

Building Better Boards: an opportunity for education

Back