'Increasing pressures' cause Cumbria school governor shortage

Image caption Governors play an "important role" in overseeing key issues relating to staffing and finance

A headteacher says the pressures facing school governors are partly to blame for the shortage of people willing to volunteer in Cumbria.

There are almost 500 vacancies for governors in primary and secondary schools around the county.

Gareth Jones, of Cummersdale School, near Carlisle, said the roles were "time-consuming" and "quite hard" for people with full-time jobs.

Cumbria County Council has appealed for volunteers to come forward.

There are 3,794 governor positions in Cumbria, but only 3,311 positions are currently filled.

'Tough decisions'

In the South Lakes area alone there are 111 vacancies.

Sally Seed, who chairs the governing body at Orton School, near Tebay, said: "It isn't just a couple of meetings and that's it.

"You are being asked to get involved in the finances and make some tough decisions in a school."

Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governors' Association which represents state school governors in England, said shortages were common across the country.

"At least half of schools report to us they're having difficulty recruiting school governors," she said.

"But I think it's particularly difficult in some parts of the country and we do get quite a lot of reports in rural areas - and that's simply because there are fewer people living near the schools.

"A lot of people don't realise what an important role it is.

"It's the governing bodies that make sure the professionals are doing their jobs properly, that we spend public money in the best possibly way and make sure children are getting the best possible education."

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