Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

School governors to face review

By Angela Harrison
BBC News at the NASUWT conference in Birmingham

Classroom
Governors are unpaid volunteers

Schools Secretary Ed Balls has signalled that a planned review of the size of school governing bodies will be wide-ranging.

He told teachers meeting in Birmingham that the review would be "root and branch", not cosmetic.

The NASUWT union voted to push the government for a full review of the school bodies.

They say they are not "fit for purpose", with too much responsibility placed on "well-meaning volunteers".

'Well-meaning'

Delegates said school governors were often over-whelmed with information or did not understand the policies relating to schools and just rubber-stamped head teachers' plans.

In the Children's Plan published last year, the government pledged to review governors' training and to consult on making governing bodies smaller.

At the union's conference on Wednesday, Schools Secretary Ed Balls indicated the review would be more wide-ranging.

Asked if the review was going to be a "cosmetic exercise" Mr Balls said no.

He praised the work of school governors, who are un-paid volunteers, and said it would be a "root and branch review".

Consultations would get under way in the next few months.

General Secretary of the NASUWT Chris Keates said she was satisfied that, judging from Mr Balls' comments and recent talks with the government, that it had moved forward from the original remit for the review.

The union wants the government to look at other models of governance, such as those used in the health service.

Ms Keates added: "An essential public service in which there is massive investment of public money should not be in the hands of untrained volunteers, however well-meaning".


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