Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Difference in Governing in high and low Social Economic Status schools

Governing in high and low SES (Social Economic Status) schools

Governing bodies of schools in low SES settings are likely to have fewer potential members. This finding is expected and may be explained in a range of ways.

• Involvement in school governing may not be a priority in those settings.

• The cultural norms in such settings may put off potential governors.

• They may be high mobility settings, which again militates against involvement.

Again, this effect may well be moderated by the recruitment activities that are undertaken to ensure that potential recruits come forward. These recruitment activities are part of the ‘agency for governance’,Schools with low SES may seek governors to represent the interests of
particular community groups. One explanation of this finding is that these schools may serve more varied communities and seek to ensure the involvement of those different stakeholder groups in the governing of the school. That is, there is a difference in the context for governing.

Mentoring of new governors and their participation in induction is more prevalent in high SES schools. This finding may relate to the eagerness of potential governors to join such governing bodies, a finding that emerged in the analysis of the case study data. This high level of motivation then contributes to new governors’ willingness to participate in induction activities.

The governing body task

Governing bodies of schools with high SES are more likely to see the task as:

1. long- and medium-term planning

2. financial management

3. representing community and parental interests.

One interpretation of giving task 1 priority is that high SES schools are less likely to be turbulent and are more secure. These features may enable the governing bodies to focus on longer-term planning. An explanation of the attention given to task 2 is that there is less attention given to pupil attainment matters in such settings. However, there may be other interpretations. The priority given to task 3 may be that a school’s relationship with its community stakeholders and parents is more significant in high SES settings. This interpretation again relates to the resources a school has for governing and the way the school interacts with those resources.

Governing body functioning

In the governing bodies of schools with high SES:

• governors from different stakeholder categories are more likely to work well side-by-side

• attendance is more likely to be good

• members are more likely to feel able to speak their minds

• the clerk is more likely to work in the school in a different capacity.

These findings point to a general difference in governing body functioning. It may also relate to other differences such as:

• the human resources for governing that are available to schools

• the more diverse nature of governing bodies of low SES schools (see above)

• the pressing tasks that schools in low SES setting may have to deal with.

All these will impact on the way school governance functions. Clerking capacity may be more available from within high SES schools.

Effectiveness and impact

Governors in governing bodies of schools with high SES are more likely to think their governing body works very effectively.

Governing bodies exert a broadly similar effect on pupil attainment in both advantaged and disadvantaged settings. Again, this finding is the outcome of a multi-level modelling analysis of data. That SES status does not have an effect on the impact of governing bodies on pupil attainment is an important finding.

This research was taken from The full 'Hidden Givers' A study of School Governing bodies which can be found linked below.

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