Get involved in local associations

Interesting article from Modern Governor about governors using local associations

In this guest post as part of our series on Getting Involved, Andrew Walker explores why functions local governor associations can be part of, how this relates to any available support from local authorities and why the role of a governor association is crucial to governance in schools both local and nationally. Andrew worked in industry and commerce for 25 years before becoming a consultant on organisational communication and development . In more recent years he has worked as a professional Interim Manager before retiring to ignore a small railway in his garden whilst becoming a National Leader of Governance.

Within a Local Authority, there are a number of legal requirements regarding where governors are required to be represented within the education processes. Membership of the Schools Forum is quite specific in identifying the “constituency” of the forum’s members, and the Local Authority is required by law to have a parent governor as part of any Scrutiny Committee linked to education. Local Governor Associations need to become involved in developing the links between these post holders and the general body of governors.

There are also a number of processes where school governors might be represented depending on the inclination of the authority. These may include the relevant Safeguarding Board and the Children and Young People’s Trust or its derivatives. In addition there may be a governor consultative group for the Authority, or in larger authorities this may be subdivided into Area or Phase based Groups. For maintained schools, as the employer, Local Governor Association should also be involved alongside the Trade Unions in any Joint Advisory and Consultative Group.

With regard to governor training and development, Governor Associations should be involved in the development of locally based governor training programmes – including induction training. In addition, it is widely recognised that the informal group activity during training is where a great deal of experiences are exchanged, and in recognition of this, there is a growing number of informal groupings of governors aimed at spreading governor expertise. This needs to become an integral part of the activities of Governor Associations.

In many Local Authorities, there is no organised method for nominating individual governors to any of these opportunities and where this does exist, there seems little opportunity for other governors to contact these representatives regarding the issues being considered. For your own reference purposes, try checking the agenda and minutes of the Schools Forum in your Authority. Likewise, there is unlikely to be any organised communication process for informing governors about the outcomes of these meetings other than minutes several weeks (or months) later.

Meanwhile, as the Education System develops, the education of the Children & Young People remains the responsibility of the local authority. As academisation progresses, the power to direct schools, or even obtain information about key indicators is being progressively distanced from the Local Authority.

School governors, as representatives of the wider community within the local education system, are an essential component of that system, and the Local Associations are a key part of the education system’s development. It is in the best interests of schools for both governors, as school-based representatives of the community, and the Local Authority, as the democratic authority, to develop coherent and practical links one with the other. This is a key role for Local Associations but across the country not enough governors are engaging with either their Local Association or with their Local Authority. What can you and your governing board do to change that?

Questions for governing boards, chairs and individual governors

  • Do you know your governor representative on the Schools Forum?
  • Have you met the parent governor on the Education Scrutiny Committee
  • Do you read the minutes of the Schools Forum?
  • How often do you meet with governors from another school?
  • How do you share experiences with other governors?
  • According to the NGA, 50% of areas in England have local associations – you can find out if yours is listed by browsing the list on the NGA site.

Do leave your views in the comments below. Do you use your local association fully? If not, why not?


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