Government calls on businesses to help with the running of schools

Davenant Foundation School, Chester Road, Loughton

Education secretary Damian Hinds will issue a “call to arms” for school governors and trustees, urging leading businesses and skilled professionals to support schools and education.

In a keynote speech to the National Governance Association conference today, Hinds will call upon leading employers to “play their part in helping the next generation to thrive”.

The businesses will be asked to lend their expertise to fill the governor and trustee roles around the country, as currently 10 per cent of posts in schools around the country are empty.

Hinds will say: “How would we run our schools without this army of volunteers? I want to do everything I can to help boost governor recruitment and retention. Because, quite simply, we need more great people.”

“Today I’m issuing a call to arms … Because of course to become a governor, people with full-time jobs will need their employer’s support. I believe businesses can make a contribution to society here – and it’s not just schools either.”

The education secretary intends to double the current budget for the “army of volunteers” to £6bn up to 2021 to make training courses accessible.

Governors and trustees are involved in developing strategy, managing budgets and overseeing the running of the school including holding headteachers to account for the school’s performance.

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “Good governance doesn’t just apply to business, it is also crucial to the way we run our schools. Indeed many of the skills acquired in corporate directorship roles are directly transferable to the education sector.”

“Institute of Directors members know this first-hand and many are already actively involved with the schools system, but there are so many more company directors who could be using their expertise and experience for the benefit of their local communities.”

The National Governance Association found that last year 250,000 people served on school governing boards, making it one of the largest volunteer groups in the country.

However, it also found that more are still needed as around a third of England’s governing boards have vacancies.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association, said: “The call by the secretary of state and Institute of Directors for employers to support their employees to govern schools is most welcome.”

“Governing boards need skilled volunteers and a good mixture of perspectives and experience around the table in order to effectively support and challenge school leaders, making decisions in the interest of all pupils.”