Where are the Governors in the Gove Agenda?

In September, Michael Gove said: “Teachers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should run schools.” What is striking as you review many of the speeches made by the Secretary of State, is the lack of recognition of the role of the Governing Body.

Whilst educational professionals rightly should be in charge of the day-to-day running of schools, the Governing Body is responsible for the strategic leadership of a school whether maintained, academy or voluntary aided. In fact, in their promotion of academies the government has elevated the role and responsibility of governing bodies.

Announcements by the Secretary of State often refer to money going to teachers and headteachers, of teachers being free to run schools, leaving the impression that it is only the teaching profession that has an interest in or responsibility for the effective running of a school. The purpose of a school is to provide education for its students in the interests of the wider community. A school is not just for current students, parents and teachers – its role is to provide education for the benefit of the wider community, now and in the future.

Gove frequently refers to improving educational achievement and broadening educational perspective. This can only really be achieved by the effective engagement of the whole range of stakeholders.

What Governors bring into a school is a whole range of knowledge and experience from their personal and professional lives which complement the expertise of those running the school on a day-to-day basis. A feature of a successful school is a governing body willing to engage with and challenge the headteacher and the school’s leadership team.

In England, over 300,000 people give their time voluntarily to serve as school governors, representing the largest volunteer group in the UK. If Gove really wants to improve the education of our children (and to further the government’s Big Society Agenda), he needs to harness and engage the skills and commitment of this army of volunteers.