Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Education as a business - the lessons from history.

There is all the difference in the world between a school governor with a general interest in education and a governor with the experience and specialist knowledge of education sufficient for them to be able to act as a critical friend to the school - especially with regard to the quality of teaching and learning. Without knowing what questions to ask and the range of plausible answers I don’t see how any non-expert could carry out that role.  Surely the quality of the education on offer is crucial to virtually all the stakeholders in a school and anything that diminishes the influence of the “education experts” should be viewed with suspicion?  

When a school becomes an academy the temptation is always going to be to fill the Governing Body with accountants, solicitors and other professional “worthies” hoping that they will offer free support to the school in areas where the senior leadership team have gaps in their knowledge or experience. Is this going to be at the expense of other stakeholders?
A complicating factor is that a volunteer from an educational background is unlikely to find the hard-nosed accountants and HR managers congenial company when it comes to running a school. From my own experience in Further Education and in schools I would be prepared to bet that most educational governors will want nothing whatsoever to do with the business side of running the school. Time will tell if my worries are justified but anybody who was involved in Further Education in the last decade of the 20th century knows what happened to standards when colleges became businesses.

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