Friday, 2 December 2011

The Case Against Paying School Governors

I wrote an opinion piece for the Times on the case against paying School Governors. It was published on page 27 of today's Times (Friday 2nd December 2011)

This was my original submission before the Times slightly edited it.

The question of paying School Governors is not a new subject but one I feel very strongly should not happen in any form. As a Chair of Governors and an Advanced Skills Governor I often run training workshops to help fellow governing bodies become more efficient. The first question I ask them all individually is “why did you become a governor?” Invariably the answer is something akin to “because I wanted to be part of my child’s education” or “I wanted to put something back into the community” or “I am passionate about Education.”

The 300,000 strong school governing community are the biggest and possibly the most successful volunteer army in Britain and my concern is that, in remunerating School Governors, their independence and passion for the role they freely do would be removed.

The key to modern governance is that a governing body is a ‘corporate body’, sharing the responsibility, workload and decisions. I agree the role has become increasingly more complex, demanding and time consuming but it is also very rewarding. Although the primary goal for any governing body is improving outcomes for children, many governors report that governance also has a beneficial impact on their personal career development. It often teaches them to take a strategic view, looking both forward and outward and learn about skill sets they wouldn’t normally come across in their usual day-to-day lives.

Being a chair of governors has taught me to listen to every other point of view first around the table before putting my own opinion last. It’s about great team work!
I believe paying individual governors undermines this concept and could lead to people entering the profession with the wrong motives from the start.

If school governors were paid, would it give the tax payer value for money? Who would appoint them, who would they report to and who would carry out their performance management? These are all big questions that need to be addressed.

I would be very concerned if any public money was diverted from the Education budget to pay for a governor payment scheme. In these times of financial austerity I am sure the money would be better spent elsewhere to directly benefit pupils.

There is already a legal framework for governing bodies to pay ‘out of pocket’ expenses to their school governors. Legitimate allowances include travel allowances to meetings & training courses, cost of child care while attending meetings/training and the cost of photocopying/printing papers for governing body business. Many school governors do not claim any expenses and the main reason given is that they did not think they should receive any financial ‘reward’ for their role as a volunteer.

I do believe there is room to compensate employers with tax incentives for employees who give up their time during work hours to be school governors. Under employment law, employers must give employees who are school governors “reasonable time off’ to carry out their duties. However there is no definition of reasonable and the time off does not have to be paid. Investing money encouraging businesses to be involved in local schools would be far more beneficial to the employers, their employees and the schools.

A scan of the article can be found here and covers both the for and against arguments.

The scan of the article can be downloaded from here 

No comments:

Post a Comment