If governing matters (and we all agree that it does) then it follows, does it not, that it also matters that governors do the best job they can. Question is, how do we ensure that and the answer lies in one word-training.
The importance of training cannot be over emphasised. The first reason why we must all attend training is so that we can learn what is involved in the governance of a school. We all bring different skills to the GB, but for those of us who are joining a GB for the first time, we will have no or very little idea of what is involved. Becoming a governor should be treated as a job change and so we must make sure we train for this new responsibility. I would even go as far as saying that if David Cameron were to become a Governor, he too should sign up for training! In my opinion, Induction Training should be mandatory for new governors. It is very difficult to know how to be a critical friend to the school, how to hold the school to account and for what, how to distinguish between operational stuff which we should leave to the school and strategic stuff we should be involved in and how to ensure that we have strategic oversight of all matters of the school. Training makes this just that bit easier.
There are courses which are specifically tailored to specific roles. Safeguarding and Head Teacher Performance Management are two such courses. You can’t be the Safeguarding Governor or member of the Performance Management Review panel f you have not been trained in these areas.
We know that new legislation is introduced more often than we like or can keep up with! Attending courses designed to bring governors up to speed with these changes is surely a good thing and is to be encouraged.
So, why isn’t every governor signing up for courses? I’ve been given numerous answers to this. Some say that their day job is qualification enough for the governor role and hence there is no need for them to attend any courses. Like I said before, governance of a school is different kettle of fish! No matter what you do to earn a living, if you decide to become a school governor you will need additional training. Others say that they find it hard to attend these courses because of time constraints. When someone signs on to be a governor, one must first consider if he/she has the time to do the job properly and this includes attending training. If time is a problem, then maybe think about stepping down! I’ve also heard it said that governors are volunteers so one mustn’t be too harsh on them if they don’t attend training. I wonder if the same person would be happy to go along to a swimming pool which has volunteer lifeguards and be satisfied when told that the lifeguard is a volunteer and therefore has not done any training! If the answer is no, then don’t let this be an excuse for governors not attending training.
Ofsted can and do ask to see the governor training log. Therefore, we must make sure that our training is up to date and we can prove that training has had an impact. Although we must not let Ofsted be the only reason for doing what we do, the fact of the matter is that the Ofsted judgement matters too.
Update: My thoughts on training as reported in the Guardian.