This blog looks at Section 3 of the new Governance handbook. Additions in the new handbook are in red. Black text indicates that the text is from the old version and my comments are in green. The numbering used is that of the Governance handbook.
Section 3 – People
3. The department has given governing bodies more freedom to determine their own constitution, in addition to relaxing rules that, in the past, have meant some governing bodies had to be large. The department wants governing bodies to be All boards of maintained schools, academies and MATs should be tightly focused and no larger than they need to be to carry out their functions effectively with every member actively contributing relevant skills and experience. In general, the department believes that smaller governing bodies boards are more likely to be cohesive and dynamic, and able to act more decisively. Boards cannot afford to carry passengers.
The last sentence is a strong statement and one which I feel should be clearly stated as here.
5. The membership of the governing body should focus on skills, and the primary consideration in the appointment and election of new governors should be acquiring the skills and experience the governing body needs to be effective. Boards should therefore develop a skills-based set of criteria for governor selection and recruitment which can also be used to inform ongoing self-evaluation and governor training. For maintained schools, the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012 require all appointed governors to have the skills required to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school.
6. Meaningful and effective engagement with parents, staff and the wider community is vital, but not guaranteed and is not achieved by the presence of the various categories by the presence of the various categories of governor on the board.
Replacement of “not guaranteed” by “not achieved” is indicative of the fact the Department does not think engagement with stakeholders can be via stakeholder governors.
7. Governing bodies may consider re-constitution if things are not going well – for example following an Ofsted inspection or in the light of an external review. They may also consider re-constitution as a positive and proactive move to ensure they are fit for purpose for the future, including in the context of a conversion to academy status They should also reflect regularly on whether they have the right overall balance of people and skills, and consider the benefits that might result from restructuring the board’s constitution and membership. ‘A Possible Road Map for Governing Board Reconstitution’ aims to help boards with the practicalities of how to approach the process of reconstitution.
8. Boards and others responsible for nominating or appointing governors should make use of all available channels to identify suitable governors. Where governors are elected, every effort should be made to inform the electorate about the role of a governor and the specific skills the board requires and the extent to which candidates possess these.
12. Having some members who have no close ties with the school can help ensure that the board has sufficient internal challenge to how they carry out their strategic functions.
This is interesting. Some boards may have a large number of governors who have close links with the school. This can happen when the term of a governor ends and the board re-appoints them in a different category.
17. Effective boards seek to secure or develop within their membership as a whole expertise and experience in analysing performance data, in budgeting and driving financial efficiency, and in performance management and employment issues, including grievances. They seek to recruit and/or develop governors with the skills to work constructively in committees, chair meetings and to lead the board.
19. All trustees of academies must by DBS checked, and the department is consulting on introducing the same requirement for governors of maintained schools – details on DBS checks in schools are within the statutory guidance Keeping children safe in education.
29. Governors hold an important public office and their identity should be known to their school and wider communities. In the interests of transparency, all schools and academies boards should publish including
on their school website up-to-date details of the structure of the governing body and any committees, together with the names of their governors and their particular roles and responsibilities within that structure their governance arrangements in a readily accessible format. Further detail of the information that should be published is available in the statutory guidance Constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools and in the Academies Financial Handbook.
The details of what should be published has been left out and replaced by the link to where this can be accessed.
Part One looked at Contents
Part Two looked at Section 1
Part Three looked at Section 2