Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Who Governs the Governors: Corporate comparisons

Corporate comparisons:a model to emulate?

We suggest that the corporate model of executive and non-executive boards would be a good one for school governing bodies to consider emulating. The governors must set the strategy and vision for the school. Executive members seem best placed to formulate a strategy for arriving at a given objective however it is our belief that often they do not have enough educational experience to know best how to achieve this vision.

The Eversheds Board Report (2011) highlighted the role of the chair as being fundamental to the board’s success. An effective chair will enable constructive,strategic thinking.

Whereas most corporate boards will be composed of a majority of non executives,this is clearly not the case with charities and independent schools. Nonetheless, in each case there is usually a qualified finance professional as the Chair of the Audit of Finance Committee. This category will invariably be combined with the others, although it may also provide diversity in terms of wider background, profession and careers (such as the arts, heritage, sport or politics).

Many governing bodies, in common with corporate boards, will have fixed terms, renewable for a further term or two. Schools may consider that this enables them to refresh the boards whilst retaining continuity of knowledge. Since many Heads will serve for more than ten years, there may be a case for an exception on governing bodies by having one or more “senior independent” governors who may be entitled to have a longer term to ensure continuity and corporate knowledge.

“[In the state sector,] many of the most successful schools have smaller governing bodies with individuals drawn from a wide range of people rooted in the community, such as parents, businesses, local government and the voluntary sector… We will legislate in the forthcoming Education Bill so that all schools can establish smaller governing bodies with appointments
primarily focused on skills.”

A full copy of the report can be found here

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