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School governors and academies

(155 Posts)
whitewave Fri 18-Mar-16 08:12:13

Interested in how the new all dancing all singing school governors are going to be recruited. What are these special skills? Surely it is desirable to hear the voices of the parents and governors of the local community? Is there not a lessening of accountability to these communities?

I am concerned about the democratic gap beginning to be opened up. First schools are being taken away from democratically elected local authority control. LAs have a duty to educate all children within its catchment area. How will that work with independent academies?

How will imposing something on communities that they have actively shown they do not want contribute to the democratic process?

Humbertbear Fri 18-Mar-16 08:55:07

I was a school governor for 20 years. My experience of many parent governors was that they were very enthusiastic to join the governing body but many shirked making serious decisions such as having to make staff redundant. While many were dedicated to improving the school there were also those who were simply more interested in finding out what was going on. Some viewed it as a natural progression from the PTA but had not anticipated the differences and the responsibilities involved.
I also worked in education and think the destruction of the LEAs is a backward step. The lions between schools and the role of a good subject adviser are much missed.

obieone Fri 18-Mar-16 09:01:18

I was a parent Governor back in the day.
I knew I wasnt as clever as some, but equally I knew parents wanted me there. I knew what was going on at the school gate and that is definitely important too.

suzied Fri 18-Mar-16 11:16:20

Governors will have the special skill of being business people who are in bed with the academy trust and will sell them all sorts of stuff and get paid handsomely out of taxpayers money.

Luckygirl Fri 18-Mar-16 12:25:58

whitewave's question about the democratic process - frankly I do not think this government is remotely interested in the democratic process.

I do agree that sometimes people who put themselves forward as parent governors do not realise the extent of their duties beforehand - they get a bit of a shock, as indeed we all do!

I also agree that the word from the school gate is a useful contribution to management decisions; but also agree that some parents think it is just a step on from the PTA - now PSA!! - let's get the jargon right!

The role of a parent governor is a hard one, as they are expected to feed back the word from the school gate, but can feed nothing else back in the other direction, because of confidentiality - it can put them in a difficult situation on some occasions.

I do understand though that governing bodies need the right skills now that their role is so complex and all-consuming since the death of any vestige of useful LA Education departments. We are lucky at our school in having an excellent spread of skills with backgrounds in accountancy, social services, teaching and school inspection - but this is pure chance, and frankly a bit of a miracle in such a small community! But if schools are struggling to find the skills they need, then I can understand that they might wish to use a parent governor space to recruit a suitably experienced finance person for example.

whitewave Fri 18-Mar-16 13:43:08

82%. Of LA schools are classed as outstanding or good - why force the change. How is it going to help. Morgan says that she thinks heads are best placed to make decisions, so why force them to change when there is nothing in the school or community that requires any change.

durhamjen Fri 18-Mar-16 13:45:46

Political dogma, whitewave, nothing less.

durhamjen Fri 18-Mar-16 22:15:07

"By announcing that all schools will be expected to become academies, George Osborne has foretold the death of local authority involvement in education.

Born on December 18 1902, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) will likely have their life support switched off sometime in 2022, by which time all schools will be expected to be on course to becoming academies. The local authorities will leave behind a number of precious local services, their future somewhat uncertain.

Despite their long life, LEAs have not been universally popular, making a number of enemies: the late Margaret Thatcher and former education secretary Keith Joseph, to name but two. Between them they killed off the Inner LEA, but the behemoth that was the remainder of the local education authorities remained.

The death of local education authorities then seemed inevitable after they lost many of their powers of control over schools with the 1988 Education Reform Act. For many years since, their role has largely been one of scrutiny and support, but for some this will be very badly missed.

This time, the Conservatives intend to deliver a fatal blow. But there are five ways that schools and children will lose out from the demise of local authority control of education.
1. A local champion for vulnerable children

Local authorities must currently engage with parents and schools to ensure that the right provision for every child is available locally. Ensuring the specific needs of every child are met is hugely complex and even local authorities struggle to meet their responsibilities at times.

As education is fragmented, there will be concerns over how parents will be able to negotiate the minefield that is school admissions, with each academy or trust being its own admissions body.

Legally, local authorities have the responsibility to provide a school place for every child. If every school is an academy, local authorities or councils will have no power to require schools to expand their intake or take on any child. Already, LEAs are warning that finding school places for all is becoming “undeliverable”.

Currently, parents can take a local authority to a tribunal if they feel the needs of their child are not being met. It’s unclear how this will work if the local authority in effect ceases to exist."

This is what the changes do.

durhamjen Fri 18-Mar-16 23:20:22

A serious consideration of the government's education policy.

Eloethan Sat 19-Mar-16 00:15:22

Who oversees what is happening in these schools if there is no local authority involvement? Who ensures that money is being correctly spent?

I think it's a disaster and I agree with Luckygirl that this government isn't interested in democracy. If it was, it would take notice of those many parents who are very happy with their children's schools and who wish them to remain as they are.

More money should have been ploughed into areas of most need but instead of that happening I believe the gap between rich and poor areas will widen even further and some children will have even fewer opportunities than they have now.

durhamjen Sat 19-Mar-16 00:25:24

This is what happens now. However, if all schools are going to be made academies, surely they are going to have to change the overseeing.
Academies do not have to have qualified staff or follow the national curriculum.

I look forwasrd to reading Nicky Morgan's letter of resignation.

Luckygirl Sat 19-Mar-16 12:13:55

LEAs are already in their death throws. They have no money.

The biggest loss is real support to schools - organising courses, providing legal and financial services etc. We have to buy in these services from companies (with silly names) to whom this has all been contracted out - the one in our area is called "Hoople" after Mot the Hoople - doesn't really inspire confidence.

The old LEA school inspectors would provide support and back up if they found a school was struggling - OfSted just parachutes in, puts in the knife and buggers off.

Luckygirl Sat 19-Mar-16 12:33:11

- or even throes.

durhamjen Sat 19-Mar-16 21:10:45

This is interesting. Two years ago, but still valid.

Welshwife Sat 19-Mar-16 22:03:32

These new Academies negating the need for LA control will make many more school buildings and land available for this deal - and more funds for cronies. I could just cry over the whole situation and the quality of the education we will be giving our future generations - and what will happen to all these children who cannot find a school place and no one is responsible for finding them one?

annodomini Sat 19-Mar-16 22:25:58

At the time of the Grant Maintained school controversy (remember that?) in the early 90s, I made the point at a party conference that ceding land and property to an independent entity was giving away community property paid for by public money - our council tax (or was it poll tax at the time?) and government grants. How much worse is it that school buildings and land will be handed over lock, stock and barrel to companies that will then be able to sell off profitable land to developers and rent buildings for their company profit rather than for the schools' benefit? I'm glad to say that after our conference had voted on the issue, our party solidly opposed this policy but times have changed and once it became part of the coalition, academies appeared to be accepted without demur. At least if a school was thinking of becoming grant maintained, there had to be a governors' vote and a ballot of parents. No such democratic process applies to academies. Democracy? What democracy?

durhamjen Sat 19-Mar-16 22:30:26

Gove was asked where the title deeds were. The DfE said they had no idea. But the councils held them all until the schools became academies, and the deeds had to be handed to Gove.
So where are they? Or where were they two years ago?

This is PFI all over again.
Previously when a school became an academy, any company taking it over had to spend millions. Now it's thousands and the tab picked up by the taxpayer.. Completely wrong.

whitewave Sat 19-Mar-16 22:39:06

If that is true it is outrageous!

The LAs had no business handing over the title deeds. At the very least they should be the landlord's on our behalf and charging rent.
It is theft - pure and simple. If a business takes over from another business the premises form part of the balance sheet and should be accounted for.

Anniebach Sat 19-Mar-16 23:09:33

If there are to be no parent governors , what of free schools which are set up by parents?

daphnedill Sun 20-Mar-16 00:33:08

Of the latest batch of approved free schools, only one is being set up by a parent group. The vast majority of free schools are set up by Academy Chains, which are private organisations in disguise.

Anniebach Sun 20-Mar-16 08:45:40

Thank you Daphne, we have't any here thankfully

durhamjen Sun 20-Mar-16 11:24:04

Free schools are not academies. They are private schools set up using public money.
The best known one is that set up by Toby Young, which is why people tend to think of them all being parental involvement but it's not true.
I think Toby Young did that because of his father.

whitewave Sun 20-Mar-16 16:36:49

Osborne said that it will set schools free from local bureaucracy. He said nothing about democracy. I also think that he is ignoring economies of scale. How much is it going to cost?

Luckygirl Sun 20-Mar-16 17:36:37

We will just finish up with groups of schools owned by private firms or consortia. They are in it for the money.

This is exactly what has happened to social care establishments which used to be run by the LA with all the proper staff training and monitoring. Now they are all owned by care companies. They too are in it for the money.

Penstemmon Sun 20-Mar-16 17:59:43

The Regional Schools Commissions will be the overseers of Academies and replacing the LAs in the brave new world. There are 8 of them covering England and run by a Regional School Commissioner (Director of Education in old money!) However these people may or may not have educational management/leadership experience.

Currently vulnerable /difficult to place children are the responsibility of the LA and often they support 'managed moves' to a new school. In the future if a child/student opts out of school, or the school excludes a pupil, I believe it will be much easier for them to be lost in the 'system'.

Governing Bodies (to be known as Boards now!) have been under reform for some time, reducing in number to about 10, with fewer school/parental members and more 'co-opted' members. A GB has to carry out a skills audit to make sure it is able to meet the demands of the responsibilities: legal/financial/HR/Resource & facilities management and maybe education too and has to recruit members to ensure all skills are covered. Clearly based on business models with our 'product' being young people educated to a certain criteria and standard which has been decided by central government.

They are reducing the requirement for qualified teachers as academies can employ unqualified teachers and at the same time leaving the qualified status 'sign off', for graduates who want to teach, to headteachers. So they could prolong sign off to avoid paying higher qualified rate or speed up to catch the is an unknown!

At the same time sschools are grappling with a new curriculum set by the government(though you don't have to use it in academies) and a new system of assessing progress. This is the first year of the new assessment and the 'pass' mark will be decided by the DfE when all the end of year results are in confused

As you can see this is all very carefully planned and thought through by people who truly understand the processes of education for ordinary kids, from ordinary families.

It is true to say that a school can be either LA school or an academy and be outstanding, good. requiring improvement or inadequate. it is not the structure that makes the difference it is the quality of the the staff in the school. But don't let that worry you, the government are slowly provatising school land and buildings and maybe, when Lord Harris needs some capital he will sell his academies off to the highest bidder. Nothing wrong with that it's how the business world has functioned for years and look how well our economy is as a result.