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Governing board roles

Keep Parents Governing


This campaign was successful, with the secretary of state for education announcing in September 2016 that she will not be pursuing plans to remove the requirement for elected parent places on each academy board. 

However, questions persist around the legitimacy of governing boards and their engagement with communities. These issues are discussed in a blog by NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights: The importance of governance: Democracy, legitimacy and engagement

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.  To that end, the National Governors’ Association, with support of partners, has launched a campaign to keep parents governing. 

In March the government published the White Paper, Education Excellence Everywhere, containing an intention to change the rules surrounding parents in school governance. 

The White Paper states: “we will no longer require academy trusts to reserve places for elected parents on governing boards” 

NGA with Parent Councils UK and PTA-UK and others, encourage you to lobby your MP to Keep Parents Governing.

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

“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.”

Baroness Howe of Idlecote, President, National Governors' Association

“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.”

Tweet your support #keepparentsgoverning

Emma Williams, Executive Director, PTA UK

“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

"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}.