Exclusive: Schools struggling to fill governor posts as candidates daunted by work

The concern is that academies are going to find it harder and harder to recruit new governors

A recruitment crisis has left thousands of schools unable to fill vacancies on their governing bodies, as potential candidates are intimidated by their responsibilities.

One in four academies (27 per cent) says it has found it more difficult to fill  vacancies since their school opted for academy status, according to research seen by The Independent.

However, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) said the problem was more widespread than just academies – with council-run schools also finding it hard to fill vacancies.

A specialist charity set up to promote governing estimated that as many as one in 10 governors’ posts – amounting  to 30,000 across the country – is unfilled.

The crisis comes at a time of growing public scrutiny of governors with schools in  Birmingham, both academies and city-council-run schools, set to have their governor bodies sacked after inspectors ruled they were “inadequate”. The schools were investigated as a result of the allegations of a “Trojan Horse” plot by hard-line Islamists to take them over.

The research, carried out by the firm UHY Hacker Young, which audits academy accounts, found 20 per cent of academy governors quit before their four-year term of office expired or decided not to renew their term.

One in 10 of the schools surveyed said it would consider paying its governors if rules governing non-staff remuneration by schools were lifted.

The study said many governors found the amount of responsibility they have – holding the head to account and, in academies, being responsible for the entire running of the school – “overwhelming”.

Many heads of governing bodies now believe specialist skills are needed to fulfil their financial responsibilities and hold head teachers to account over academic performance.

Allan Hickie, a partner in UHY Hacker Young, said: “With talk of a tougher Ofsted inspection regime and an intense spotlight on school governance, the concern is that academies are going to find it harder and harder to recruit new governors.” He added: “Ofsted is now very focused on ensuring that schools don’t ‘coast’. If a school already has a high-achieving intake, then good results alone will not guarantee a good Ofsted report. That gives governors complex new data to understand around what ‘value’ the school adds.

“One chair told us that most governors find it very difficult to query the vast amount of data they get and that they really needed governors from an education background to challenge the school leadership team on performance.

“If schools cannot find individuals that already  have the expertise to take  on these roles easily, then more support needs to be made available… People will not willingly give up their  time if they are concerned they will find the responsibilities overwhelming.”

The NGA said it had found two-thirds of schools acknowledged difficulties in filling governing posts in a survey completed by 7,700 schools. It said that problems in council-run schools were, if anything, worse than in academies.

However, this could be down to the fact that primary schools – which were less likely to be academies – had the biggest problems as they had to recruit from a smaller base.

A survey conducted jointly by the NGA and the University of Bath said potential recruits found the workload and responsibility “daunting”.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “The role of governors is more vital than ever. The future of our school system is in their hands as they hold school and college leaders to account for improving performance and scrutinising finances.”

“We are working to help academy trusts recruit people with the right skills – for example by setting up the Inspiring Governors Alliance last month and funding the charity SGOSS to help schools to recruit new governors with the skills they need.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life