Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, was speaking at the National Governors’ Association summer conference about what governors can expect over the next five years. She said: “like all 300,000 of you - the largest volunteer body in the country- who freely give up your time to help make our children’s schools better, we recognise the power of education to be that great life transformer; to unlock real social justice, and to give every young person, regardless of birth or background, the opportunity to reach their potential in England’s schools.
“I am hugely optimistic about what we can achieve together over the course of this parliament, building on the very real progress we made over the past 5 years.”
Nicky Morgan emphasised the role that governors will play in a school-led system: “As we move towards an increasingly school-led, profession-driven system, the importance of your role will only continue to grow. Because a school-led system doesn’t mean schools as islands, making their own way. It means schools fully integrated with the local community, responsive to local parents and, crucially, connected with, learning from and supporting other schools. And you as governors will play a crucial role in this; ensuring your school is fully linked with the world outside.”
Nicky Morgan hinted at possible further change to the constitution model: “What that doesn’t necessarily mean is a stakeholder model of school governance, and I should be clear now that I intend to look further into how we can move away from that model over this Parliament - because what makes your contribution so important isn’t the particular group you represent, it’s the skills, expertise and wisdom you bring to the running of a school.”
NGA understands that ministers wish to take soundings as to whether there is still enough flexibility within the current regulations to recruit skilled people or whether we need to see the end of designated ‘parent’, 'local authority', ‘staff’ and ‘headteacher’ governors. Foundation governors may not be affected by any forthcoming changes, which might be permissive or mandatory.
If you have a view on the issue of who and how we recruit members of governing boards, email [email protected].
Nicky Morgan also underlined the importance of sound financial management on governing boards and welcomed the new Foundation for Leadership in Education, an organisation which will develop new leadership qualifications and set standards, which the NGA is helping establish with the NAHT and ASCL: “Every governing body and every individual governor should take seriously their role in ensuring that schools remain financially healthy with robust management systems in place. I believe that it is entirely right to trust schools with how best to spend their budgets.
"All that I expect from governing bodies in return is the reassurance that they have the right systems of oversight and scrutiny in place. I know that many of you are not only already doing that, but are also taking the lead in helping others to do the same. In particular, I’m following, with real interest, proposals for a new foundation for leadership being led by the NAHT, ASCL and, of course, the NGA."
On coasting schools, Morgan aimed to reassure governors that new proposals outlined in the Education and Adoption Bill “doesn’t mean automatically sacking heads and governors, nor does it mean automatic academisation. What it does mean is that we will expect to see - from the leadership and governors of the schools in question - a clear and sufficient plan for improvement.”
She closed by saying that she recognised that volunteers did not become governors “because of some imagined badge of honour” but because governors “genuinely believe in the power that education has to transform young lives.”
Ian Courtney MBE, chair of the National Governors' Association, thanked Nicky Morgan for being the first Secretary of State for Education to address a National Governors' Association conference and for taking questions on a range of subjects including: fair funding, Pupil Premium, the role of local authorities, EBaccs, recruiting headteachers and Special Educational Needs.
Earlier this week Nicky set out the main principles of the new Education and Adoption Bill which will gives new powers for Government intervention in schools. You can read the latest here.