Vacancies for governors are set to increase

Coun Judith Addison

Coun Judith Addison

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Education reporter

SCHOOL governor vacancies could rise with government proposals to limit access to the role, it has been warned.

Following the Trojan Horse investigation in Birmingham, the government has recommended governors are limited in how many schools they have influence over.

However educators in East Lancashire have already raised alarms over a shortage of school governors. Many councillors are asked to take on the demanding and unpaid voluntary roles at multiple schools to help deal with the demand.

The government report by former counter-terrorism officer Peter Clarke, looking at the problem of extremist views being imposed at schools, said: “Unless there are genuinely exceptional circumstances, there should be a presumption that an individual will only be a governor of a maximum of two schools.”

This, the report into extremism in schools, says is, ‘so that no single individual has undue influence over a number of schools’. Headteachers, governors and union representatives have said schools in East Lancashire were seeing governorship vacancies challenging to fill.

St Stephen’s CE Primary School in Tockholes was also told by Ofsted it was breaking the rules by having a staff member acting as the vice chair recently.

The campaign group Governors for Schools claims there are 30,000 vacant school governor positions nationally.

Diocese school governor for St Leonards Primary in Billington and Ribble Valley councillor Ged Mirfin said paid, professional governorships were the way forward. He said: “Many of my council colleagues serve on the boards of a number of schools – it will cause chaos if they all quit.

“I can see why the report suggests this but it needs to be investigated as to how it can be practically achieved. If governors were paid, it would resolve the shortage and recruitment could be a lot more rigorous. Otherwise you just attack the motivations of unpaid volunteers.”

Hyndburn councillor Judith Addison is a governor at three schools. She said: “I was asked to take on each one over time because they needed someone.

“The roles are very demanding and most governors would prefer to focus on one school. The question is how will the vacancies get filled?”

Coun Mirfin said: “Without a plan to resolve vacancies this report raises more questions than answers.”

Comments (3)

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2:29pm Fri 1 Aug 14

greenscreener says...

Ged, I am not sure I understand your position.....

are you saying that you and your councillor colleagues want to step down in favour of paid professional governors or would you like to carry on as you are and be the ones being paid ?

Seems to me that in the interests of communication a link between a school and the local council is a very good thing, perhaps it should just be be mandatory that every school has a governor from the council, and that councillors understand it is part of their role to be a governor in at least one local school.
Ged, I am not sure I understand your position..... are you saying that you and your councillor colleagues want to step down in favour of paid professional governors or would you like to carry on as you are and be the ones being paid ? Seems to me that in the interests of communication a link between a school and the local council is a very good thing, perhaps it should just be be mandatory that every school has a governor from the council, and that councillors understand it is part of their role to be a governor in at least one local school. greenscreener
  • Score: 0

1:47pm Sun 3 Aug 14

Cllr Ged Mirfin says...

My comments in the attached article represent the distillation of a 30 minute interview on the likely impact of the Report by former counter-terrorism officer Peter Clarke looking at the problem of extremist views being imposed at schools infiltrated by Trojan Horse Cadre of Islamic Fundamentalists. The concept was as familiar during the Cold War as it is today. Today's concern about Islamic Fundamentalists mirrors Yesterday's concern about Left Wing Revolutionaries or IRA Sleeper Cells. The answers proposed, however, are no less problematic. Quite simply as there is no National Register of School Governors (or College or Universities for that matter) we simply do not have enough data to available how many individuals and schools this would effect. School Governors are recruited from a wide variety of sources: Schools, Churches, LEAs, County Councils, Unitary Authorities, Educational Foundations all of which employ different recruitment procedures and selection criteria. You see my problem? It is not a case that under the current proposals my colleagues would voluntarily resign they would be forced to. As, for that matter, would a whole host of other Governors who are not Councillors. My concern has always been to raise the standards of Governship in Schools by introducing a level of professionalization. If Non Executive Directors are paid why not school Governors? That way Vacancies could be properly advertised and the qualifications and experience of applicants properly scrutinised. Who determines that level of scrutiny however is an extremely vexed question. If you remember the hoo-hah over identity cards then you will quickly realise the issues that are likely to be raised over an intrusive and overbearing state. I can well imagine all sorts of issues with regard to civil liberties being raised with regard to religious and political beliefs. One man's (or woman's) faith in such circumstances can all too easily become another's perceived fundamentalism or extremism. Witness the recent debate on these pages over faith schools. Who in such circumstances would decide and who would set the guidelines? I don't know the answers to these questions but it is only through the salarying of Governors that we are likely to be able to recruit a body of individuals who will be able to dedicate both time to the aruous duties of being a Governor as well as have resource to filling in what I can envision being complicated and detailed paperwork and resumes when applying for and completing annual returns necessary to retain their position of Governors and ensure a necessary level of scrutiny and assessment of performance.
My comments in the attached article represent the distillation of a 30 minute interview on the likely impact of the Report by former counter-terrorism officer Peter Clarke looking at the problem of extremist views being imposed at schools infiltrated by Trojan Horse Cadre of Islamic Fundamentalists. The concept was as familiar during the Cold War as it is today. Today's concern about Islamic Fundamentalists mirrors Yesterday's concern about Left Wing Revolutionaries or IRA Sleeper Cells. The answers proposed, however, are no less problematic. Quite simply as there is no National Register of School Governors (or College or Universities for that matter) we simply do not have enough data to available how many individuals and schools this would effect. School Governors are recruited from a wide variety of sources: Schools, Churches, LEAs, County Councils, Unitary Authorities, Educational Foundations all of which employ different recruitment procedures and selection criteria. You see my problem? It is not a case that under the current proposals my colleagues would voluntarily resign they would be forced to. As, for that matter, would a whole host of other Governors who are not Councillors. My concern has always been to raise the standards of Governship in Schools by introducing a level of professionalization. If Non Executive Directors are paid why not school Governors? That way Vacancies could be properly advertised and the qualifications and experience of applicants properly scrutinised. Who determines that level of scrutiny however is an extremely vexed question. If you remember the hoo-hah over identity cards then you will quickly realise the issues that are likely to be raised over an intrusive and overbearing state. I can well imagine all sorts of issues with regard to civil liberties being raised with regard to religious and political beliefs. One man's (or woman's) faith in such circumstances can all too easily become another's perceived fundamentalism or extremism. Witness the recent debate on these pages over faith schools. Who in such circumstances would decide and who would set the guidelines? I don't know the answers to these questions but it is only through the salarying of Governors that we are likely to be able to recruit a body of individuals who will be able to dedicate both time to the aruous duties of being a Governor as well as have resource to filling in what I can envision being complicated and detailed paperwork and resumes when applying for and completing annual returns necessary to retain their position of Governors and ensure a necessary level of scrutiny and assessment of performance. Cllr Ged Mirfin
  • Score: 2

7:11pm Sun 3 Aug 14

greenscreener says...

Thanks Ged, a thorough and reasonable view of a complex issue. I can see why you didn't actually answer my question.

Sounds like we need to decide who has the authority and responsibility to oversee professional governors and how it would work before we make such a change. Maybe this is another extension of OFSTED ?
Thanks Ged, a thorough and reasonable view of a complex issue. I can see why you didn't actually answer my question. Sounds like we need to decide who has the authority and responsibility to oversee professional governors and how it would work before we make such a change. Maybe this is another extension of OFSTED ? greenscreener
  • Score: 0

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