Governors are well known as the country’s largest volunteer workforce but the new study shows an ignorance of their responsibilities.
A poll of almost 1,800 people asked the question: “Who do you think is primarily responsible for signing off the school budget and managing the performance of the headteacher in England’s schools?”
Only 18 per cent named governors. Eight per cent said education secretary Michael Gove, 15 per cent the local authority, and 41 per cent did not know.
However, another poll of 1,700 adults found that 27 per cent would be willing to volunteer as a school governor at their local school, regardless of whether they had children there. Adults aged 18 to 24 were more likely to want to volunteer than any other age group. There are currently around 30,000 vacant governor places in schools in England.
Both polls were conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Ten Governor Support service and come after the formation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership (APPG).
Lord Bichard, who is advising Ten Governor Support, said: “If the general population is unclear about the role of school governors, how can schools expect to recruit people who understand what they are required to do?
“If we can raise awareness of school governance and the need to support them in their role, our schools would be in a far stronger position.”
Elsewhere, the APPG has created a list of 20 challenging questions which governing bodies are being encouraged to ask themselves at the start of the each school year.
The list covers topics such as skills, effectiveness, strategy, accountability, engagement and impact of the governing body and include questions like: “Are we properly engaged with our school community, the wider school sector, and the outside world?”
For more on Ten Governor Support, visit www.tengovernor.com and for the 20 challenging questions for school governors, visit http://bit.ly/Qd3Txv