Wednesday, 18 May 2011

What are the key skills needed to be a governor in the future?

What are the key skills needed to be a governor in the future?

The ability to build partnerships and relationships with all interested parties, including headteachers, chairs of governors, clerks, governors and current and future suppliers of governance support services, was considered to be a requisite skill, particularly in order to meet strategic responsibilities.

Additionally, the evidence suggests that the key attributes for governors of the future to have are interest in and commitment to the school. In addition, they do need to have the ability to recognise, particularly in the more autonomous schools of the future, what type of external guidance might be needed (for example, in terms of business input such as accountancy and human resources) and to access the required support and/or training if needed. The evidence also suggested that governors need to develop the skills and knowledge needed to provide strategic challenge by, for example, understanding how to interpret data.

How can these skills be developed?

The evidence suggests that further training to ensure all partners, including headteachers, understand the strategic responsibilities of governing bodies is needed. All parties would then be aware of the value of governing bodies challenging headteachers and the senior leadership team as part of a more strategic approach to governance.

The majority of governors who had accessed training and, in particular, face¬to¬face training felt that it was useful. Governors reported that they would welcome further support particularly in relation to new developments in education, governance self¬evaluation, specific issues (relevant to their role on the governing body) and the statutory requirements and legal responsibilities of governing bodies. Case¬study interviewees, in particular, suggested some elements of training need to be compulsory (although it is appreciated that current funding pressures may affect the feasibility of this), such as ways for governance to provide strategic focus.

Coordinators identified the key barriers to governors attending training to be a lack of time, lack of support from employers, an unwillingness to travel and variable encouragement from schools. The most effective ways of sustaining training and support for governors and clerks in light of budget cuts include sharing and dissemination of good practice and information, particularly through networking opportunities.

Which models of governance are appropriate for schools in the future, particularly in the light of greater autonomy?

The evidence suggests that the stakeholder model is viewed as the most appropriate model of school governance, although this model was recognised as needing some improvements to ensure flexibility and fitness for purpose in the context of greater autonomy. However, key principles and components of effective governance were reported to transcend all models of governance.

Governors and coordinators were unclear about the full impact of budget cuts. However, there was an expectation that this would lead to a decrease in local authority governor support services for schools. This potential change, along with greater school autonomy, was expected to result in schools seeking governor support services outside of their local authority, and from independent providers and consultants, resulting in greater competition amongst local authorities and other providers.

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

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