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Who Governs the Governors? Neil Carmichael MP opens cross party debate

Giving parents the right to sack failing governing bodies is one of the radical proposals being considered by Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, Member of the House of Commons Education Select Committee and serving school governor in a report he has co-authored on school governance published last night, Monday 23rd May.

The report, "Who Governs the Governors", considers some of the key challenges facing schools and academies as the role of LEAs changes and examines key areas which go beyond the White Paper in terms of how to make boards serve their schools more effectively. Key proposals include:

  • Fixed term tenures for both Chairs and reducing the number of governors: "Whilst there are benefits of continuity and institutional knowledge, we would recommend a maximum term of nine years per governor, with three year terms having the potential to be extended twice. This would ensure that succession planning for both chair and board members was fresh and vibrant and that a sense of immediacy and focus was enhanced in meetings. It was the widespread view of those we interviewed that 15 should be the upper limit and that boards should have 12 as a target number".

Other key proposals include:

  • Enhancing the overall appeal of being a governor and improving the quality of boards through a national advertising campaign and the creation of a database to which both schools and candidates would have access.
  • Identifying the key skills needed on boards as they become more skills based.
  • Remuneration for chairs and board members should be considered by individual schools or confederations.

The report also examines whether schools should combine forces to form confederations for the purposes of governance: "Giving boards wider responsibility and oversight for more than one institution will also appeal to potential candidates to serve on such boards" it argues.

Neil Carmichael said: "This report seeks to address three key areas: improving skills, improving accountability and ensuring the pivotal role of governors in academies and free schools is more clearly defined. Without the safeguarding role of LEAs, we see the role of governing bodies is being much more important than ever before. "

"I am also delighted to announce the formation of the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Governance which I hope to chair with colleagues from across the political parties. This is an issue of importance to all politicians, parents and pupils and we intend to develop our thinking during the months ahead."

If you would like to read the report, please contact the Constituency Office who will be happy to provide you with an electronic copy.

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