Academy rejects call for parent governors

Justine Greening

An academy chain which has already scrapped all its parent governors, says it has no intention of reinstating them, despite the education secretary saying schools should have them.

Justine Greening told MPs on Wednesday that she was ditching plans to allow academy chains to operate without any parent governors.

She said academy chains should not think they did not need them.

But the E-Act chain says it has no plans to return to parent governors.

Speaking to the Education Select Committee, Ms Greening announced she wasabandoning her predecessor’s plan, which would have allowed academy trusts to operate without any parent governors, either in individual schools or on the board of trustees.

“I don’t think we should be saying that MATs [multi-academy trusts] don’t need to have parent governors,” she said.

“I think parent governors play a vital role. I was a governor, I’m not any more, but I was a governor for 15 years, maybe more, and parents played a vital role on the governing body.”

She told MPs she would not proceed with allowing trusts to have no parent governors, saying that “parents are part of how success gets delivered”.

Head teachers’ leader Russell Hobby backed the education secretary’s decision to drop the plan to remove parent governors, saying “common sense has prevailed”.

‘Ambassadors’ not governors

The plan to allow trusts to remove all parent governors is part of the White Paper on academies, published before the latest plans for another change of direction in the Green Paper on grammar schools.

But under existing academy rules, chains are not required to have parent governors in individual schools.

E-Act, which operates 23 schools across England, has already scrapped all its parent governors in schools.

These were replaced by parent “ambassadors” who do not have the powers of scrutiny held by governors.

They have a role “celebrating the academy’s achievements” rather than holding the school to account.

E-Act had itself faced questions over standards, when in 2014 the academy chain lost control of 10 of its schools after Ofsted inspectors raised serious concerns about their performance.

The levels of scrutiny of academy chains has remained controversial.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has called for the education watchdog to be able to inspect academy chains, in the way that local education authority education services can be inspected.

E-Act said that the current arrangements improved “parental involvement” in their schools and that there were no plans to reintroduce parent governor roles that were removed earlier this year.

“One of the principal drivers of the changes we made to how our academies are governed was to enhance parental involvement in the life of our academies. This model is working,” said an E-Act spokesman.

[Source:- BBC]