Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills
The present school governance framework has been in place for many years. Over the years the roles and responsibilities of governors have changed with the focus clearly now on monitoring and evaluation, and raising standards and performance. In view of the changing nature of the responsibilities undertaken by governors, I have set up a Task and Finish Group to review the roles and responsibilities in relation to school governance.
The purpose of the task group is to consider the current school governance framework and whether it is fit for purpose. In particular the group will consider the split of responsibilities between the different components of the system including school governing bodies and local authorities, whether this should be revised so as to redistribute responsibility, and the nature and extent of support which should be provided to governing bodies and others to help them discharge their duties.
As part of their review the school governance Group will also take into account the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Report into the ‘Structure of Education Services in Wales’ produced in March 2011 by an independent Task and Finish Group, chaired by Vivian Thomas. This Group reviewed the structures in place for delivering high quality education in Wales and whether they were effective, efficient and fit for purpose and looked at the role of the Regional Consortia, Estyn, the Local Authority Advisory Service, and higher education.
The Structure of Education Services in Wales Report included two specific recommendations for school governors. Firstly, that compulsory and standardised training of governors and clerks to governing bodies was a necessity, with priority given to induction training for new governors and training for chairs or governors. Secondly, the Group recommended that all governors be provided a standardised set of performance data to enable them to challenge the results and undertake effective monitoring and evaluation of the data.
Both these recommendations have been met. Governors can now fully access the all Wales core data sets and I am in the process of making regulations regarding mandatory training. The areas of mandatory training identified by the Education Services Group are the same as those identified for mandatory training provisions in the Education (Wales) Measure 2011. The Measure allows Welsh Ministers to introduce mandatory induction training, training for chairs and training for all governors on the use and understanding of data. Welsh Ministers also have the power to set the scope and content of that training to ensure that consistent, comprehensive and high quality training is delivered to governors across all areas of Wales. Within this context the school governance Task and Finish Group will examine the role and responsibilities of school governing bodies and local authorities and consider whether they are appropriate or should be redefined.
Today I am announcing the membership of the school governance Task and Finish Group. The group will be chaired by Glyn Mathias, former Chair of the Governing Body of Ysgol Y Bannau, Powys. Mr Mathias has over 30 years’ experience as a broadcast journalist for ITN and BBC Wales, serving as Political Editor for both organisations. From 2001 to 2008, he was the Electoral Commissioner for Wales. Glyn is author of the 2011 Mathias report for the Boundary Commission Wales.
The Group will also include:
Professor Catherine Farrell, Faculty of Business and Society, University of Glamorgan, who has published extensively on school governance, and is currently a serving parent governor. She was a special adviser to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee on the proposed Legislative Competency Order on school governance which led to the Education (Wales) Measure 2011.
Marc Belli, Headteacher of Mary Immaculate High School since 2010 which has seen rapid improvements in the school. In January 2012, Marc joined the first Interim Executive Board in Wales at St Alban’s Primary School after it was placed in “special measures” by Estyn. Marc is a trained Estyn Peer Inspector and is a member of the Welsh Government’s School Practitioners Panel.
Stephen Adamson, Chair of the National Governors Association since 2011. He is currently chair of governors of a primary school in Norwich, and chair of the Norfolk Governors’ Network. He has written frequently on governance both in book form and for specialist periodicals.
The Group will hold its first meeting in November 2012 and then meet monthly. The group will receive evidence from a range of key stakeholders and will be at liberty to commission or request papers from any other source it deems necessary, including the Welsh Government.
The Group will discuss the evidence before it, seeking clarification or additional evidence as necessary. It will then publish its conclusions and recommendations in the form of a report to the Minister for Education and Skills during Spring 2013.