Business leaders urged to help run schools

By Judith Burns
Education reporter

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image captionSchool governing bodies need a wider range of people to join them, according to the education secretary

Schools need help from leading businesses to offset skills shortages on their governing bodies, according to Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

In a speech later, Mr Hinds will call for a range of professionals to "take on this vital role".

The National Governors' Association says about 10% of school governor and trustee posts in England are empty, with larger shortages in poor areas.

It wants more young and ethnic minority governors to come forward.

In a speech to the NGA's annual conference, Mr Hinds is expected to say he wants to do everything he can "to help boost governor recruitment and retention - because, quite simply, we need more great people.

"So today I'm issuing a call to arms... appealing to people up and down the country... to play their part in helping the next generation reach their potential."

There are currently about 250,000 school governors and trustees who volunteer to oversee the management of schools and academies.

Their duties can include overseeing budgets, developing long-term strategies and holding head teachers to account for schools' performance.

The NGA says a recent survey of governing bodies found that nationally:

  • about a third have at least two vacancies
  • and more than half struggle to recruit governors or trustees

It also revealed:

  • nine in 10 governors are over 40
  • 96% are white
  • eight in 10 describe their current or previous occupation as professional or managerial
  • about four in 10 said their employer gave them paid time off for governor duties

The secretary of state has joined with the Institute of Directors to urge its 30,000 members to support employees to volunteer their expertise, time and commitment to help run schools.

He is also expected to announce a doubling of the budget to train and support governors and trustees, with £6m available over the next three years.

IoD director general Stephen Martin said many of the skills acquired in corporate directorship roles are directly transferable to the education sector.

"Good governance doesn't just apply to business, it is also crucial to the way we run our schools.

"Many IoD members are already actively involved with the schools system, but there are so many more company directors who could be using their expertise and experience for the benefit of their local communities."

The National Governors' Association welcomed the move but said it was also launching a separate campaign, "Everyone on Board" to recruit more young governors and people from ethnic minorities.

It wants staff across businesses, not just those at the top, to come forward, as well as public sector and charitable organisations.

"Governing boards need skilled volunteers and a good mixture of perspectives and experience around the table in order to effectively support and challenge school leaders, making decisions in the interest of all pupils," said NGA chief executive Emma Knights.