Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw wants paid governors

Sir Michael Wilshaw Sir Michael Wilshaw wants a more professional approach to school governing bodies

Related Stories

Ofsted's chief inspector says he wants some school governors in England to be paid and to provide more professional leadership.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has launched an online at-a-glance report card for each school, which he wants governors to use to hold head teachers to account.

He also attacked governors who were "ill-informed" and "not able to make good decisions".

But the National Governors' Association says it opposes paying governors.

"Governors can do a professional, businesslike job without being paid," said Emma Knights, the association's chief executive.

And she said that most of the information in the new online reports - called the "School Data Dashboard" - was already available, and that "most governing bodies will be using more detailed data".

"We are all on the same mission, the question is how you do that," she said.

'Data dashboard'

In a speech on Wednesday, Sir Michael said weaknesses in leadership, including governing bodies, were a common problem among the 6,000 schools rated less than good.

He likened the worst governors to jurors who were incapable of understanding their responsibilities in a court case.

Start Quote

In the worst cases, governors can be rather like the jury that was dismissed from a high-profile trial last week: ill-informed and not able to make good decisions”

End Quote Sir Michael Wilshaw Ofsted chief inspector

The Ofsted chief launched the School Data Dashboard to provide information for an estimated 300,000 school governors.

This data, also available to the public, will provide key information about the performance of every state primary and secondary school.

Sir Michael said this would make sure that governors understood their schools' strengths and weaknesses.

"But for those that don't, there are now no excuses. Inspectors will be very critical of governing bodies who, despite the dashboard, still don't know their school well enough," Sir Michael said in a speech in London.

He praised the best governors for focusing on the "big issues", such as "the quality of teaching, the progress and achievement of their pupils, and the culture which supports this".

But he condemned weak governing bodies for paying too much attention to what he called "marginal" concerns.

"Too much time spent looking at the quality of school lunches and not enough on maths and English," Sir Michael said.

"In the worst cases, governors can be rather like the jury that was dismissed from a high-profile trial last week: ill-informed and not able to make good decisions."

Financial incentives

A large majority of school governors are unpaid volunteers from the local community.

Sir Michael repeated his calls for some governors to be paid.

An Ofsted spokeswoman said that offering incentives might attract talented governors to very challenging schools.

This could be "more than just expenses", she said.

But Ms Knights said that volunteering was an important part of the ethos of parents and the community supporting local schools.

There are already provisions for paying governors in certain circumstances, such as where temporary governing bodies are installed to turn around a failing school.

Ms Knights argues that in most cases there is no evidence that schools would be improved by paying governors.

The E-Act academy chain has backed calls for paid governors.

Director general, Sir Bruce Liddington, said schools needed to be "supported and challenged by excellent governors".

He said that in Blackley Academy in Manchester the chair of governors has been "remunerated to carry out the role".

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers rejected the proposals, questioning Ofsted's independence and saying the watchdog resembled an "over-stretched arm of government".

"We do not believe Ofsted has either the capacity or the respect to effectively deliver training for governors and heads," said ATL leader Mary Bousted.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, cautioned against the over-simplified use of school performance data.

"All data, especially 'simple' statistics, comes with a health warning. It should encourage people to ask more questions, not to draw premature conclusions," said Mr Lightman.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Right so we pay the governers, then what about rewarding them with final salary pensions...
    Does this man not realised that every penny spend on Governers would need to come from another budget, probably teaching staff...

    All Governers do the role because they want to drive their school forward and your not going to get that level of dedication from someone billing for time and materials....

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Just to clarify then based on Sir Bruce Liddington's quote only paid Governors can be supportive and excellent then.What a load of rubbish!!
    What a can of worms, do you have different pay scales for more experienced Governors,different remuneration for different committees and activities you do. Just leave it alone,look what happened with the expenses fiasco with politicians. Do you learn nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    The support for governors has slowly been eroded by cut backs from central government. The school dashboard is not at all relevant, in most primary schools 1 child is more than 1%. To say you are 10% below a target might be 1 or 2 children that have a legitimate reason for not achieving their targets. The details is just not there! So how much has this cost & would that not have been better spent?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    I see no point in paying governors, I have been a governor of my local primary school for 7 years now and have been the chairman for 4 of those years
    The biggest issue for governors is one of time, when I started as a governor I had plenty of time, my work allowed me to give the time needed to my governance work. Circumstances have changed & I do not have the same freedom. The economy is to blame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    @155 youngtruebrit
    What a shame! Governance shouldn't be like that. Were you offered training in how to ask challenging questions? Worth asking the LA what training is available - and ask around to see where the lively GBs are, and volunteer in a better-governed school. Heads do need to be governors, but they also need to offer and accept genuine debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    137- Spot on ! Paid governors, or paid directors? What next, shareholders bonus ?
    Gove wants the secondary schools/chains to take over primaries, what a laugh, the 8.45-3.30 specialists who ensure children go backwards and are led by fools paid like kings (secondary heads) taking over the sector that has the highest progress measure. Mad Mike tries to cover this up, being an overpaid fool himself

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.


    Spot on! Check the DFE Twitter account. A tweet from one of Gove's 'advisors' may be on its way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Until recently I was an LEA governor - we were just nodding dogs to anything the headteacher (who was ex-officio governor) suggested - complete waste of time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Gove and Wilshaw are bullies. If you look over the press in the last eighteen months, there's been nothing but one derogatory comment after another about our education system. This is a clearly coordinated strategy to soften the electorate up to their ideological agenda. It's clear that many of the comments supporting them are made by tabloid readers who have swallowed this hook, Line and sinker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Gove has been re-called to appear in front of MP's to answer questions on 'alegged bullying' by his advisors. Perhaps Sir Machael shoul join him. The pair of them are undermining good teachers, governors and schools and should be answerable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    It seems to me that a lot of people commenting on this don't understand how a Governing Body works.
    Paying governors, is something that should have happened years ago. However, I think that this should just apply to the chair and vice-chair of the GB.
    They play an important part in the running of a school and also have an increasing role in the ofsted inspection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Most schools in the country at the moment are struggling to pay the staff, a majority of schools are even losing staff. Now you want to take away more money and pay governors... Why? What benefit would it serve. Absolutely ludicrous. Why not sack all of the morons in the education department and give schools the money to provide a decent, unhindered education without ridiculous goals and targets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Surely the model is the same as that for charity trustees? I have always understood that governors - whilst they should certainly develop an understanding of education - are not there to provide educational expertise; the head and his staff provide that (in an ideal world so might Ofsted, but I have my doubts). Governors bring other skills - often from their careers - and represent the community.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Wilshaw is the paid appointee of Gove, the politics of this stink.

    Pay by results ??? Heads Teachers Govenors who is responsible.

    School governors have a critical role to play.

    The School Report Card is a fatuous import from America. It is the same in principal as Sainsbury's traffic light product labelling and adds about as much. It is far too simplistic

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Another step to privatisation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Being a school Govenor requires becoming an expert in education.....

    .....how does anyone who wants to be a Governor ever have time to become an expert if they have tp earn a living in the meanwhile.....

    ....only the (relatively) rich can afford to be a Governor (assuming they are ding the job properly that is.....)

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Heard one Governor of 25 years experience on the radio yesterday and he sounded a right div. If he was a Governor at my children's school I would be really worried. Being a man of the cloth does not qualify you for such a position

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    142 is right. At our village school we have a not outstanding teacher who went from promotion to Deputy Head to Head in a way too short period having had no 'management' experience elsewhere and guess what? She is a good friend of the Head of School Governors. Paying Governors is one thing but the system is rotten and needs fixing first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I don't think governors should be paid... even though I'm desperate for money! I became a primary school governor when teaching in a sixth form college, initially as a parent governor but even then because I could see which of my students had had a good foundation, and wanted to ensure that for at least 207 children, the best start possible was provided. Daughter's moved on, I've stayed there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    William Prunier has hit the nail on the head, the question is what on earth can we do about it? Can't help but feel it's too big a battle with little ammunition.


Page 1 of 9


More Education & Family stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.