School governance in 2017: survey report out now

03/10/2017

Today we are publishing the report of the annual NGA and Tes survey on school governance in 2017. 5,338 governors, trustees and academy committee members shared their views during the summer term.

With around 250,000 people serving on school governing boards, this is one of the largest volunteer forces in the country. Despite this, there is more work to do on diversity: just 4% of respondents were black, Asian and minority ethnic and just 10% were under 40.

The responses contain some stark messages for the government, particularly on school funding, with as few as 20% of respondents confident that they can manage funding pressures without an adverse impact on the quality of education provided. 56% of those governing secondary schools said they had already reduced the number of subjects on offer and 49% had reduced the number of qualifications on offer.

“When you have already cut support staff, buildings and maintenance etc., all you have left is to increase class sizes, reduce subject choice and cut the number of teachers”

Many governors and trustees are calling for a period of stability for the education system, with frequent changes to curriculum and assessment – and their impact on staff workload – a common concern.

“Avoid introducing too many changes. A period of stability would be appreciated so that schools can plan forward with some certainty.”

Governors and trustees wanted to see the expertise of education professionals valued and listened to by those in power. While a smaller proportion of respondents were concerned about staff recruitment than in 2016, there was considerable regional variation in how difficult governors and trustees are finding it attract good candidates.   

“To recruit/inspire more high class teachers. They should be made to feel more valued for the amazing job they do in society.”

The clear weight of opinion was that government should make induction training mandatory for new governors and trustees: 95% of respondents agreed that it should be. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of governors and trustees are already highly skilled people, with four in five currently or previously managers, directors, senior officials or professionals.

While most respondents did not support the idea of paying governors and trustees, concerns were raised about the workload and time required to govern effectively. Almost three in 10 said their responsibilities are not manageable in 20 days per year and the time commitment puts off many potential chairs of governing boards.

Download the report in full
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