Eight in 10 governors have ’negative’ view of government’s education policies

School governors have given a damning verdict on the government’s performance, with eight in 10 governors having a ‘negative’ view of government policies, according to a survey conducted by the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and TES.

The survey received responses from 5,000 school governors and trustees, with only 12 per cent of respondents having a positive view of the government’s performance. In contrast, 77.8 per cent of respondents have a negative view, with 52.5 per cent offering a ‘very negative’ verdict – a 21.7 percentage point increase from last year.

Less than seven percent said that they supported the goal of every school becoming an academy, while 85.6 per cent opposed the idea.

Other key findings include:
- Squeezed budgets mean many schools have been forced to shed staff, with further reductions to staff spending expected over the next two years
- Teacher shortages seem to be getting worse
- Schools that opt for academy status are not embracing the freedoms it brings in terms of curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions
- Secondary governors are using 11-16 funding to subsidise their sixth forms, as cuts in post-16 budgets bite

Additionally, a supplementary snap poll of nearly a thousand school governors found that 78.2 per cent were opposed to plans to reintroduce selection in English schools, with 82.5 per cent saying they would not introduce selection into their admissions.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA, said: “Those governing our schools are generally unhappy with the direction of government education policy: with more than six times the number of respondents negative about the government’s policies than positive. Those governing academies are a little bit more positive, but really not that much: 70 per cent of trustees of multi academy trusts (MATs) are negative about government policy. So many of the very people who are in the business of helping the government deliver its MAT agenda are not in tune with the rest of the government’s approach to education.”

She continued: “the high level of dissatisfaction found by this survey means the new Secretary of State needs to have a major rethink about the way her department is approaching the army of volunteers who are responsible for overseeing the education of pupils and expenditure of billions of pounds of public money. Those governing are still being largely overlooked – and the great majority of them are fed up with the situation. They have a huge amount of knowledge and experience, and the Secretary of State needs to tap into that collective wisdom.”

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