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Paid Governors

(120 Posts)
NoComet Wed 27-Feb-13 14:59:13

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw wants paid governors.

I am just the sort of non professional, parent governor he hates.
I put in many hours of my time for free, attending meetings, reading documents, understanding data. (Yes, I do understand the data) and attending trainings.

I have two DCs at the school and I care passionately about their education. I care that they make more than three levels of progress and get 5 A-C GCSEs.

I care that the school employs good staff and balances the books so it can continue to provide them.

But I also care about the buses, the lunches, the extracurricular activities, the concerts and the plays.

I care about the state of the buildings, the toilets and the decrepit boiler.

Some of these things have a direct financial implications and all of these things impact on pupils, and often, staff moral.

If you are cold, missed lunch because the queue was too long or you are getting bullied on the bus you are not going to concentrate in lessons.

If you find making friends difficult then choir or painting scenery for the play can make lunch time way more bearable.

If home life is difficult it may be far easier to talk to a teacher you've got to know well on a school trip, than your head of house.

Yes, the bottom line is achieving qualifications, but to do that you need pupils who feel safe and valued.

The most Outstanding teacher in the world can't deliver an Outstanding lesson to a pupil who is being bullied and refuses to come to school.

Wigeon Wed 27-Feb-13 20:37:31

Hmm, very interesting thread. Does anyone know what Gove's view is? Because that is surely more key, than Sir Michael's view, to whether or not there is any realistic prospect of governors being paid.

Sir Michael has not suggested where the money to pay governors would come from. I would imagine that there is no money anywhere...

It seems to me that there is a very interesting parallel with payment of charity trustees (where most charities are not allowed to pay their trustees, but a small minority are) - arguments for and against the payment of trustees have been rumbling on for years. There's a very interesting blog from the charity umbrella body NCVO here about the issues (the thoughtful, informed comments at the end of the blog are also interesting).

The charities which tend to pay their trustees tend to be the mega big ones (income over £10 million) with large, complicated operations and many staff (think Wellcome Trust). Is a very large school the kind of place where paid trustees would make sense?

I am a parent governor at an Infants' School - in my experience so far, much better than paying us would be much better to have greater supervision (from the local Council? The School Improvement Partner? From Ofsted?) of whether the Governors had any clue at all, or even if they did, whether they actually carried out their duties properly. Leaving the governing body to its own devices for years and years between Ofsteds means that there are very long periods for things to drift / coast / potentially go wrong. Some children in the school will have gone through the whole school without it being inspected at all, since there are only 3 years (it being an Infants), and some inspections are now only every 5 years. There is no real accountability in the meantime of a governing body which is complacent, un-engaged, coasting, reluctant to challenge or even engage with a difficult and entrenched head...

peacefuleasyfeeling Wed 27-Feb-13 20:49:11

Governance in our school is good and the level of engagement and enthusiasm is sometimes touching just because the governors are doing it from a place of genuine care and generosity. They are passionate about our school and I wonder if we would attract the same kind of people if the positions were paid.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 20:50:48

I agree about difficult and entrenched Heads.

I sat in a GB meeting once and we voted to alter a policy. The Head completely ignored the vote and carried on regardless. Cringe-making stuff, especially when at the next meeting, when people knew there would need to be an awkward challenge, they sent apologies and it wasn't even quorate.

Wigeon Wed 27-Feb-13 21:04:07

peacefuleasyfeeling - but the converse is that some (GB) volunteers lack engagement and enthusiasm, don't genuinely care and aren't that generous (with their time or brain power)...what do you do about them?

breatheslowly Wed 27-Feb-13 21:11:19

I'd be amazed if governors actually accepted payment. To be sitting in a meeting discussing what cuts to make because of the poor budget available and know that you were getting paid to be there? I couldn't do it. I would much rather the money was spent in the school.

ReallyTired Wed 27-Feb-13 21:16:48

My understanding was that it was only suggested that governors should be paid for failing schools. A govenor should be a critical friend and a failing school needs someone who knows what they are talking about to give high quality advice. I suppose the logic is that all failing schools are turned into academies and that paid governors replace the local authority advisors.

Parent governors sometimes only see a school from their view point. Having governors with no connection to the school and with no relgious axe to grind is essential. Many schools struggle to attract community governors of any description.

merrymouse Wed 27-Feb-13 22:05:28

I thought they were only proposing paying governors where they needed to recruit experts to turn around failing schools? I didn't think it was suggested that all governors should be paid?

bigbuttons Wed 27-Feb-13 22:19:42

my mum is COG at a very large comprehensive where my children go. She is always there having meetings with the head and staff. She can only do the 'job' because she works part time and gives up an enormous amount of her time. I think she should get something for her time and energy.

Talkinpeace Wed 27-Feb-13 22:20:37

I heard Wilshaw being interviewed on the R4 Lunchtime news.
He is just kite flying.
For a start he talked about LEAs covering the costs - which is bilge as half of secondary schools are no longer in LEA control.

It will cost money
it will not happen

HappyMummyOfOne Wed 27-Feb-13 22:21:05

I certainly wouldnt be happy to be paid as a governor, school budgets barely cover anything as it it. Neither would i accept expenses.

I do it as have an active interest in the school and the childrens futures, money wouldnt make me do it any better as i already give 100%. Its a lot of hours but i knew that before signing up. We use skills audits to ensure governors are used ti the strengths etc.

MegBusset Wed 27-Feb-13 22:37:36

I'm the chair of our local preschool committee and think it's a terrible way to run a preschool. We have a nightmare trying to get enough parents to volunteer for the committee, most DC are only at the preschool for a year (two at most) so the committee turnover is very high.

Those who do volunteer, although keen to help, are mostly completely inexperienced (I count myself among them). I have to make decisions about training, recruitment, fees, wages and business decisions which I am totally unqualified to do. But I had to step up as chair because nobody else would, and the setting would not have been able to remain open.

If the committee could be paid a small stipend it would certainly help attract parents. It may also raise our reputation with the preschool staff, who sometimes like to complain about the committee while forgetting that they're getting paid for their work and we're not!

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 27-Feb-13 22:46:07

Having been a parent governor I think it would be quite nice to be paid a small amount to cover your expenses and as a token of appreciation.
It would be nice not to have to work out mileages and claim for petrol, or stamps, stationary, or photocopying or what have you. Would be nice if you were just given £5 or a £5 voucher at each meeting you went to ! Because most people in my experience end up not claiming anything.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 22:47:16

MegBusset You are spot on about this. I have seen pre-school and community association committees go completey down the pan because they were hopelessly out of their depth and/or unaccountable and without a professional lead.

By 'professional' I mean attitude not fees.

But it is harsh I think to expect volunteers to be out of pocket if it deters them from participating in one of the most important governance roles in the country.

BoffinMum Wed 27-Feb-13 22:47:27

Well, I'm governor of two schools. I have a PhD in Education, I am an ex teacher and I'm currently a lecturer in education. Properly qualified for the job by anyone's standards.

If they want me to be paid they'll have to pay consultancy rates, and do it through my employer, which would represent a massive cost. Or they can have me for free, like at the moment.

Interestingly I used to be on the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board, and they brought in payment there, so I stood down, because the rate was low and I suddenly felt undervalued.

BoffinMum Wed 27-Feb-13 22:48:49

I would like my babysitting paid for though, when I am attending meetings, and I would like sandwiches and coffee as I have often come straight from work and end up being there until 9.30. I think that would be a good compromise.

edam Wed 27-Feb-13 22:53:56

Speaking as a governor, Wilshaw can fuck right off, the ungrateful hound. We give up huge amounts of time and work extremely hard - most of us for no more reward than the sense of satisfaction you get from contributing towards improving things for children. School governors are, apparently, the largest group of volunteers in the country. The patronising idea that only 'experts' make good governors is appalling - only the professional middle classes and senior managers count, how on earth could ordinary parents and members of the community have anything to contribute, he sneers.

It's that kind of thinking that gave us the Mid-Staffordshire scandal in the NHS, where probably 1,200 people were killed - the worship of senior management, executive status and a very skewed view of 'leadership'. Leadership, in that case, which meant fat cat executives demanded the hospital chase 'strategic goals' i.e. not employing enough nurses and doctors in order to balance the books and chase Foundation Trust status. There is a real risk that foundation schools will go the same way as foundation trusts - some of them more focused on financial targets and forcing staff to chase damaging management objectives rather than the core job of, in the NHS, caring for patients, or in schools, educating children.

We don't need more 'experts' who will do the bidding of ministers or vested interests such as Ofsted.

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 27-Feb-13 22:56:13

Yes Boffin, the Quaker committees I'm on always look after us really well with lovely pastries and hot drinks, or lunch etc. smile So agree some sandwiches would be nice with the tea and coffee.

Most people claim their travel expenses there too but then they've generally come from all over the country, and not just hopped in the car and driven up the road (as I did as a parent governor) Thing is it seems more silly to claim then, but all the little journeys must add up to something over a few years !

grovel Wed 27-Feb-13 23:15:55

BoffinMum , that's great but I suspect from your tone that you may be a bit overbearing. You're hugely qualified but, if you read out your post at a governors' meeting, I' m afraid normal mortals might shrink.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 28-Feb-13 00:23:42

Wilshaw can fuck right off, the ungrateful hound <THIS

FrancescaBell Thu 28-Feb-13 02:25:48

This was just part of a bigger speech to launch the new School Data Dashboard so I think some of his comments might have been taken a bit out of context.

I'm a secondary school governor and I think he has a point. The workload is enormous but like every group of volunteers, it's currently not evenly shared despite numerous efforts to secure more equitable commitment and involvement. Trying to recruit new governors is hellish and of those who do volunteer, some of them misunderstand their role and often resign when they realise how much is expected of them. Training in our county is primarily geared towards primary schools and provision is poor with training locations up to 2 hours drive away.

Not all governors have the necessary assertiveness and data management skills to hold the school to account and ask challenging questions about student attainment and financial management especially and yet effective governance is measured by OFSTED as part of the Leadership and Management assessment of the school. Governors need to realise that OFSTED inspectors have every expectation that the governors they interview will have a grip on the data, patterns, trends and fiscal management but it is obvious in meetings that some don't understand the data supplied, let alone possess the insight to ask for what's not supplied by the Head and SLT. OFSTED don't tend to ask governors about trips, lunches and the state of the loos; they ask about attainment and evidence of where governors have challenged the school to raise standards.

I'm still on the fence about whether governors should be paid but I do think the role needs to be professionalised. If governors were paid it might make them more accountable to the Chair for their performance and it might make recruitment easier too. I don't agree that recruitment should be restricted to those in senior management jobs, just the people with the skills determined by that body's skills audit. Governing bodies already have the facility to ask for skills that are particularly needed (e.g. Finance, HR) but currently most have to take anyone who's willing to do it for free, regardless of ability, capacity or commitment.

If a school is high attaining and well managed financially, I can understand why governors feel they can add value by concentrating on pastoral and premises issues, but if they do this to the exclusion of the role that OFSTED measures and attainment slips, they will be left vulnerable. This is particularly true of Academies that have Trustee governors who are personally liable for the school's effectiveness. It's expecting perhaps too much to make volunteers personally and financially liable without recompense.

Want2bSupermum Thu 28-Feb-13 04:34:36

To allow access to all to volunteer I think there should be provision for expenses to be covered. Those expenses should include, as Boffin mentioned, childcare and dinner.

Wages are paid for jobs. This is a position where people are giving back. It would be a sad day if school govenors are seen as holding a job rather than giving back.

FrancescaBell Here in the US my employer release me to the charity I support (I am the treasurer) for 16 hours a month plus incurred expenses (milage, meals etc). I get paid through my employer and they are able to deduct the expense as a charitable contribution. My previous employer released me for 10 hours a year. Not enough time but it was better than nothing.

The set up with my new employer is fantastic and nearly everyone does some sort of volunteer work. I think something like this would result in more people wanting to volunteer who are qualified in specialty areas (HR, finance, investment). I don't think the issue is people not wanting to volunteer but that people can't afford to be out of pocket.

PolkadotCircus Thu 28-Feb-13 09:30:28

Totally agree with Francesca and think govs need to be professionalised more.

I personally was shocked at how dire and ill informed our govs are which got reflected in our latest Ofsted inspection in which our school plummeted from Outstanding to Satisfactory(the govs being a big cause). Having been on the parents forum I was shocked at how little they actually knew re expectations,progress etc in education.Our weak govs don't hold our weak head to account,they kind of scratch each others backs. I do wonder if pay might make that worse.

I would welcome any change that improved gov quality and enabled those best suited/qualified for the job getting the roles.I think those with experience in any education sector would be extremely valuable and would like to see more.

FrancescaBell Thu 28-Feb-13 11:22:15

I can see that if an employer is already partially footing the bill in paying for time off it would mean governors being paid twice but as per any new government sponsored initiative, if payment were introduced it would have to be a holistic measure and not just a kneejerk, discrete action. Many of the governors I've met are self-employed though and the opportunity and financial costs to them of turning down work to attend meetings on time, chair appeals or conduct day-long governor visits are significant. This means that potentially the recruitment pool narrows to those who can afford to be SAHPs or work in organisations that give time off.

I used to do some other unpaid voluntary work where the only (small) payment on offer was after taking a qualification at one's own expense and the out of pocket expenses were enormous. Again, this restricted the pool of talent to those with lifestyles and incomes that could support that, when the client group would have benefited from the life skills of people from from a wider socio-economic background. Like school governership, it attracted only those who were well-off or who had attained long service or seniority at work, missing out on a wider pool of talent.

While I think that having some educationalists is helpful on a GB, it's healthier to have some from non-education backgrounds who will question why things are done certain ways and can bring business or other skills to the table. The governors who have really added value on ours are those who are used to managing performance (esp in a unionised environment), have conflict management skills and who are skilled at managing a budget.

kimorama Thu 28-Feb-13 11:23:19

Sir wilshaw does not want paid governors he was doing a publicity stunt.

kimorama Thu 28-Feb-13 11:24:37

As for peoples motives for being governors. well motives are usually MIXED because thats the way us humans are

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