November 24, 2015

Should governors be paid?

Should governors be paid?

I was interested in Ofsted’s Chief Inspector’s views recently on the importance of effective chairs and vice chairs of governors. I don’t always agree with him but in this instance I fully support his views. It is interesting that during my time at Ofsted we both spoke about trying to attract outstanding lead governors to schools where traditionally it had been difficult to get a sufficiently skilled and talented individual. He was very keen on paying for these services, using fixed term contracts, that include a clear element of independent performance management. It wasn’t an approach he was keen to see everywhere but it was a tactic that could be used when necessary. It is strange but following the discussion with Michael Wilshaw I often used the interview question ‘Should governors be paid?’ as part of the final HMI recruitment process. I have used it frequently for headship roles ever since. There is obviously no right or wrong answer but it does often provide for an open discussion and some varied views. I think some candidates view it as a ‘curve ball’ but it does often allow the interview to move into new territory.

Recently, I asked for clarification from our trust board whether chairs of governors should, in exceptional circumstances, be paid. They were emphatic in their response. No!

The Co-operative Group provides some brilliant governors for our academies and they are supported by committed and professional governors drawn from the local community and in some cases professional backgrounds. At times, some parent governors find the governing body environment testing and a challenge but we have some strong examples where these issues have been successfully addressed. From my experience it is all down to the chair of governors, the personal support they make available and whether the meetings etc are encouraging, fun and forward reaching. I’m pleased to report that many of the governing body meetings I observe are just like that.