Schools to get new powers to sack 'maverick governors'

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School governing bodies are to be given new powers to sack maverick, corrupt and incompetent parent governors.

Head teachers have campaigned for the change, saying the “destructive actions” of rogue governors can stop schools in England running smoothly.

The new Department for Education guidelines close a loophole that prevents elected governors from being removed even if they misbehave.

Governing bodies are responsible for overseeing the running of schools.

Some are appointed – for example by a local authority or the church in the case of a faith school – and some are co-opted by the governing body itself.

These can be removed, for behaving in a way that is likely to bring the school, or its governing body, into disrepute or in a way that is inconsistent with the ethos or religious character of the school.

‘Damaged education’

However, others elected by parents or staff cannot presently be removed, even if there have been repeated grounds for suspension or where serious misconduct has taken place.

Some governing boards had resorted to prosecuting a parent governor before they were able to disqualify them from a board, said the National Governance Association (NGA).

And in the so-called Trojan horse schools in Birmingham, conservative Muslims allegedly used their positions on school governing bodies to try to influence the ethos of the schools in question.

The National Association of Head Teachers has been pushing for the change, which comes into force in September, for some time.

Senior policy adviser Ian Hartwright said: “This new measure fills an important gap in the existing powers to deal with maverick or incompetent governors, the actions of whom can mean that the school leadership team is diverted away from its core tasks in order to manage difficult governors or trustees.

“In the worst cases, the destructive behaviour of individual governors has damaged the education of children, while the careers, lives and health of school leaders have been chronically affected.”

‘Last resort’

He added that the union supported mandatory training of governors so that they are better equipped to understand and carry out their functions.

The Department for Education made changes on 30 March by amending legislation covering school governors from 2012.

The DfE says the power should be used only as a “last resort” to ensure bodies can function effectively.

Gillian Allcroft, deputy chief executive of the National Governance Association, said: “The vast majority of elected governors (parents and staff) do a great job for their schools and this is one of the reasons why NGA campaigned very strongly for the retention of elected parent governors.

“We supported this change in order to provide a mechanism for governing bodies to deal with individuals who are adversely affecting effective governance, but we also said that boards need clear guidance on when it is appropriate to use these powers.”

In 2015, the DfE said it would create a national database of school governors by toughening up requirements on schools to publish the identities of their governors.

It added that schools should publish “details of where they serve on governing bodies of schools elsewhere” to enable “more effective oversight”.

The pledge was made by Nicky Morgan, then education secretary, in the wake of the Trojan Horse inquiry.

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