Byline: Moira Sharkey
FEWER people in Wales want to become school governors - with vacancies in primary schools up by 60% over the past decade.
A study by the Welsh Conservatives found that, since 1998, the number of men and women taking up the role in Welsh primary schools had fallen by 2,000.
Shadow Education Minister Andrew Davies AM believes the Welsh Assembly Government needs to work more with Local Education Authorities (LEAs) to improve recruitment.
While there is a downward trend in primary schools, with 18,737 serving governors in 2007 com- pared to 20,597in 1998, the figures also show there are now more women governors in primary schools than men. There are nearly 2,500 fewer men on primary school governing bodies than a decade ago while the number of women rose by about 1,000.
By comparison, there are more than 4,000 serving governors in secondary schools-which is a rise on 1998 figures. Yet this increase in recruitment has not matched an increase in demand, with the number of vacancies now standing at 255 compared to 118 a decade ago.
Mr Davies said: "School governors provide an important link between primary schools and the local community. They also play a vital role in the running of the school. Teachers are worked incredibly hard in the classroom and governors provide much needed support. It is extremely disappointing to see that there are so many vacancies across Wales for these roles, and an overall drop in the number serving. It is also worrying to see the number of men getting involved as governors has dropped by nearly 2,500 over the last 10 years.
"It is important that these boards are representative of the local community and not skewed towards one gender or another."
He added: "The Welsh Assembly Government needs to work with LEAs to try and fill these vacancies. If nothing is done and numbers continue to fall then it will be children and teachers who suffer."
Dr Heledd Hayes, an education officer with NUT Cymru, said recruitment of governors had been an ongoing problem adding: "It is interesting to see more women involved in primary schools. …