How well trained are school governors? | News

Monday, 13 May 2019

– Education

by Liz BradfieldGEM Local Democracy Reporter


Concerns have been raised over the training of school governors in Bridgend after issues were highlighted during the scrutiny of a ‘red’ status primary school.

Bridgend county councillors who took part in the panel reviewing the school’s performance have requested that governor training across the county be reviewed and improved to make it more effective and fit for purpose.

Some believe a job description should be provided when schools advertise for parent governors, to ensure that the right people apply for the position and understand what is expected of them.

At a council meeting on April 29, Cllr Amanda Williams, who sat on the member and school engagement panel, said one of the issues had involved training being cancelled because there were not enough governors going on it. Another problem involved a shortage of school governors.

She said: “There’s a total of 41 Local Education Authority (LEA) governor vacancies at the moment in the county. How are we going to promote that and fill these vacancies?

“We need to fill them.”

She suggested providing more information about the role, detailing when meetings take place and what is involved. Cllr Roz Stirman said the basic mandatory training to become a governor didn’t cover everything.

She said: “It just pushes you in the right direction, and if you haven’t got the frame of mind to be pushed, you’re not going to know what you need to be asking and what you should be looking at.

“Governor training needs scrutiny because it’s a hotchpotch – we need to have it clearly defined for people who wish to take on the role so they know what is involved, what they need to be able to offer and what they will be trained in.”

Cllr Carolyn Webster suggested inviting some school governors into a scrutiny committee to find out what areas were being missed in the training. The issues were raised in a report focusing on Plasnewydd Primary School in Maesteg.

Councillors said the headteacher had experienced difficulties in recruiting parent governors from the local community with persistent vacancies and, while governors were now “heavily involved” in the school, it still had ongoing vacancies for both parent governors and local authority governors.

Due to its ‘red’ status under the national schools categorisation system, the school has received an immediate, tailored package of intervention. Part of that has involved training through a consultant governor and support to develop a governor pack.

In its recommendations, councillors sitting on the panel recommended the governor pack be shared across other schools in the county to help school governing bodies.

The panel has also recommended that school governors should consider visiting and attending school governor meetings in other schools to view best practice and gain ideas which could be used within their own school.

A governor’s role is to help lead, support and improve schools, acting as a link between parents, the local community and the school. In Bridgend, new governors must attend two mandatory training courses covering the main responsibilities of a governor and understanding the data used in schools.

During the overview and scrutiny committee meeting on April 29, chairman Carolyn Webster said: “We make a genuine plea for members of the public to come forward to the local authority to be able to sit as an LEA governor on schools and play an active part in the community.”

Liz Bradfield

Local democracy reporter

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