This is a short blogpost written in response to a Twitter discussion.
The discussion started with the importance of ensuring diversity on boards. Modern Governor then asked
This then led the discussion to stakeholder vs skills model and I promised to blog as 140 characters can be a bit limiting if you’ve got a lot to say.
My problems with the stakeholder model are
- The board can make it known the skills it is short on but ultimately the board will get the governor who is elected.
- If the elected governor does not work in the best interests of the school and board, there’s nothing the board can do to replace the elected governor. Four years is a long time to carry an ineffective governor! *
- People require special skills to be able to leave the stakeholder hat outside the boardroom. I’m not convinced that everyone has this skill.
So, if you drill down my problem with the stakeholder model isn’t to do with the stakeholder nature. My problem is that, as it presently stands, there’s not much boards can do to ensure the stakeholder governor is one who brings the skills the board needs and boards are unable to do much if they have an ineffective stakeholder governor.
People say that removing the stakeholder category will remove local accountability and reduce parental say. I have no problems with elected governors (I started my governor career as one!). If I have to have elected stakeholders I would modify the present model so
- The board is allowed to specify if there are any skills it requires when asking for parents to stand as parent governors. If the board gets no one to do so, then it can revert to the present system. This way, hopefully, the board will get a parent governor who brings the skills the board needs. It may even make it less of a popularity contest!
- The elected governors are treated the same way as appointed ones. In other words they can be removed from the board in the same way as appointed ones are.
These are controversial suggestions but I think we do need to concentrate more on skills now. And anyway I’m an appointed governor but as I’m investing so much of my time into my board, I have a huge stake which makes me a stakeholder too!
* The board can set a term of office shorter than 4 years.