Kathy Dunnett, a former member of HASG Executive and National Leader of Governance, recently wrote to Stephen McPartland, Stevenage MP, expressing concern specifically about the lack of parent representation in future governing boards. She alerted him to the June meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership at the House of Commons. Whilst Stephen unfortunately was unable to attend, he sent back the following response:
I am passionate about education, and my wife is actually a local Primary School teacher. I understand that parents are central to school governance, and I know the Government wants parents to be more involved in their child’s education – not less.
The Government is not suggesting, and never has, that parents should no longer sit on governing boards. Existing and future academies that want to retain and elect parent governors will continue to be free to do so and I know they will. I am always happy to campaign for more parents to become school governors and work with you to improve awareness of the vital work they do.
Member of Parliament for Stevenage
She has also heard from Mark Prisk Hertford & Stortford MP:
Thank you for contacting me about school governors. I will look out for the APPG meeting you mention.
I think high quality governance and leadership is especially important as more powers are devolved from local and national government to schools. It is vital for the success of an autonomous school-led system that governing boards have people with the right expertise. I want schools to be able to appoint governors with a mix of skills that help them improve pupil outcomes and support leaders; not people chosen simply on the grounds that they represent one particular group, be that parents, the Local Authority or staff. Many parents have the skills and experience that boards need and that make them very effective governors but academy trust boards should be able to appoint all their trustees for their insight and knowledge rather than who they represent.
Ministers tell me that far from removing parents from their current involvement in the education system, the Government wants to empower them to hold their child’s school to account. This type of engagement is crucial to ensuring that all schools support children to reach their full potential.
In the White Paper, the Government set out that it will expect every academy to put in place arrangements for meaningful engagement with all parents, to listen to their views and feedback. The White Paper also outlined a range of measures to help parents become more engaged with their children’s education, including the launch of a Parent Portal to provide information on school performance and guidance on how the school system works. This new website will act as a one stop shop for parents so they know exactly how they can get involved in their child’s education.
Parents not only have a valuable role to bring to governance, they are vital to our education system as a whole. Every parent deserves to know that their child goes to an excellent school where they are being stretched to their full ability and that where they are not satisfied, they are empowered to make their voices heard.
The full Bill has yet to be published, but there are grounds for optimising on this issue.
MP for Hertford and Stortford