Sunday, 8 May 2011

Current models of governance: Stakeholder and business models

Current models of governance

Stakeholder and business models

Evidence from the literature reviewed for this Nfer research outlined that governing bodies typically represent a range of interests, including parents and community groups, the school and the local authority. The review identified two overarching models of school governance in use in England.

• The stakeholder model is in use across maintained primary and secondary schools, in individual schools and federation governance. The majority of members of the governing body are elected to ensure accountability and wide representation

The stakeholder model is widely in use across maintained primary and secondary schools.

•The business model is commonly used in academies and the headteacher and the governing body are responsible for governance. Academy sponsors tend to recruit most of the governing body, even where the local authority is a co¬sponsor. Governors’ responsibilities are similar to those in maintained schools, although governors are also responsible for recruiting academy staff. The business model was noted to be more prevalent in federations and academies, where governing bodies may include sponsors and a larger business and community representation than maintained schools.

All the case¬study interviewees confirmed that the stakeholder model of school governance was the prevailing model currently in use. Stakeholders such as the local community, the local authority and teachers were all considered to be important. Additionally, parent governors were considered to be essential, although issues were reported in terms of both recruiting enough parent governors and finding parent governors with appropriate skills to contribute to the governing body.

One of the key issues appears to be not so much the model of governance in use but the recruitment of governors with the appropriate personal attributes such as interest, commitment and skills. Interviewees from five case studies felt that the model of governance was not important. Rather, it was the mix of people and skills that mattered. For example, one coordinator explained: ‘The model of governance is irrelevant – it all depends on the people in the partnership.’

Another coordinator felt that it was not so much business skills that were necessary, but more an individual’s commitment and ability to think strategically:

I don’t think that business skills necessarily contribute to that [the fundamentals of governance i.e. transparency, accountability and strategic planning]. It’s about the ability of the individual to take that strategic view and to be open to accountability.


Coordinators from three case¬study areas made observations about the limitations of the business model of governance. For example, one said:
I don’t think you need business skills to [ensure transparency, accountability and strategic vision] ... sometimes people bringing their business skills think they are being governors and they are not [...] although sometimes people who work at a strategic level can be useful.


In line with the findings from the review and the case studies, that one of the challenges associated with the stakeholder model was recruiting governors with the appropriate skill set, the survey of governors revealed that although three¬fifths of governors (61 per cent) strongly agreed or agreed that ‘there are enough people with appropriate business skills on [their] governing bodies’, nearly one¬fifth (18 per cent) did not agree. Observations from two case¬study coordinators highlighted the role of induction training to increase awareness of the roles and responsibilities of governors, regardless of the nature of the governance model. In addition, three¬quarters of governors also strongly agreed or agreed that ‘there are enough people on [their] governing body to represent the local community’, whereas slightly more than one in ten (13 per cent) disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Thirty¬five per cent (22 respondents) of coordinators considered that there were enough people with appropriate skills on governing bodies. Additionally, 58 per cent (36 respondents) felt there were enough people on governing bodies to represent the local community.

These findings highlight that, although there is broad agreement that governing bodies have sufficient local representation and, in the case of the governors’ survey, appropriate business skills, there is scope to increase the number of governors with business skills and who represent the local community.

The full Nfer Report by Tami McCrone,Clare Southcott and Nalia George can be found below

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