Wales' School Governors Are 'Left without a Voice' by Cuts

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Wales' School Governors Are 'Left without a Voice' by Cuts


Byline: The Welsh Government 2018-19 budget, published late last year, saw the removal of core funding for Governors Wales, the independent advice service for school governors across the country. In the wake of the cuts, vice-chairman of governors Hugh Pattrick explores the impact and what the future holds

THE role of a school governor has changed dramatically. In the 23 years Governors Wales has been operating, we've not only seen an increase in governors using our service but also witnessed a transformation in the issues impacting today's school environment than would have been the case some two decades ago.

Governors Wales was set up back in 1995, for which I was one of the founding members, to support volunteer governors in their role as they hold trained educators to account.

The complexity of the role, no more so than in today's society, can admittedly make it difficult at times. But I imagine that what inspires governors to take up the post derives from the same wish I had 23 years ago, to create the best educational environment for children in Wales.

It was hugely disappointing and saddening, then, to receive the news that the core funding for Governors Wales would be withdrawn, leaving our school governors without an independent and national voice for their role in the education industry.

How can we properly regulate our schools and offer those 21,000 volunteering governors the advice they so desperately need, without an independent expert service to guide them? We are living in times of austerity, something Governors Wales, along with almost all Government funded sectors, can appreciate. As an organisation we have already made changes, such as downsizing office premises, to reflect this.

Yet, the service provided by Governors Wales has only increased against the odds and as an organisation we require a mere PS7 per governor in Wales per year to keep the service alive. A small price to pay when it comes to the quality of education for future generation. To put this into context, if all governors were paid for their role it would amount to an estimated PS3m in costs.

So where will governors go for their support without the service? Local authorities will be required to step in even more and fill the gap, albeit facing funding cuts and capacity pressures of their own.

And while they will be able to extend a certain level of support, governors will require a quick response to often very niche requests regarding educational matters that as volunteers they aren't expected to know themselves.

Without Governors Wales to provide a quick response, it will be at the detriment to the effectiveness of governors which will ultimately impact on our schools.

It is without the service's helpline, high quality support publications and user friendly website however, that I feel governors will be hit the hardest. Governors Wales' confidential, bi-lingual helpline and email provides support on any issue concerning school governance in Wales, operating 9am to 8pm on weekdays. …

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