Ministers do not understand the significance of full-academisation, governors warn

The government is “missing the significance” of its own plans to convert every school into an academy, the National Governors Association has warned.

The organisation is also “particularly concerned” over ministers’ decision to scrap mandatory parent governors from academy boards.

The criticisms come in a stinging letter from the NGA addressed to education secretary Nicky Morgan, which states there is a “considerable sadness” among its members that their decisions will be overridden while their “commitment, knowledge, values and skills are being ignored”.

The letter, signed by NGA chief executive Emma Knights and its chair Ian Courtney, states that parent governors are not “representatives”, which it brands a “myth being perpetuated by your department and your ministers”.

“Elected parents are an important part of sound governance of this incredibly important public service; they have knowledge that others governing from outside the school do not have and through election, they ensure that boards do not become small groups of like-minded people who appoint their friends, colleagues and in some cases even relations,” it adds.

The NGA points out that the decision to move the governance of every state school to a board of trustees was a “revolutionary step”. But it adds that it was a step that was “not adequately acknowledged” in the recent White Paper.

“The word trustee was not used once in the paper, and statements continue to be made by government politicians, including the prime minister this week, about freedoms for headteachers, when headteachers within MATs are held to account by chief executives and the CEOs by trust boards. It appears that your government may be missing the significance of these changes,” the letter says.

The NGA also accuses Ms Morgan of going back on her promise that there would be a “period of calm and stability” for schools, given at the organisation’s annual conference last summer.

The NGA said it had supported the government’s statements that governing bodies of schools performing well were best placed to decide whether to convert to academy status or not.

“We were therefore disappointed that the recent White Paper proposes to change this and insist that all schools are transferred to academy status irrespective of the governing body’s views or knowledge of their community. There is no evidence that this will improve the education of pupils in good schools,” it says.

The process of converting is expensive and could act as a distraction to teaching and learning, the letter adds.

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