The Plastic Hippo

March 4, 2012

Pay day

Filed under: Education — theplastichippo @ 6:11 pm

School governors are an exotic and rare breed. Unsung, generally unloved and usually unnoticed, this endangered species is now under threat of extinction.

Buried within the growing manure heap of self-interest, insider dealing and corruption that masquerades as coalition government “reforms” is an astonishing piece of work by the new head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw. Regular readers of this humble blog might recall how this latest mandarin became the regulator of all things education and now the chief inspector of schools has come up with the marvellous idea of paying school governors. Now, before volunteer governors start throwing their hats into the air with joy, it might be best to pause and take a look at the wider strategy being imposed by the hopeless Michael Gove.

School governors freely give their time, expertise, commitment and dedication for the good of individual schools. They can expect employers to allow time off work for the business of governance and can claim legitimate expenses. In reality, the most a governor gets in return for their important role is a cup of tea and, if they are very lucky, an occasional biscuit. Michael, you can call me Sir, Wilshaw wants to change all that.

He told a commons committee:
“My view is that when a school is doing poorly, we need to think about paid governance. And my view is if a school goes into a requirement to improve category, on the first occasion, the secretary of state should intervene and think about paid governance there.”

The secretary of state, the aforementioned Michael Gove, has publicly stated on many occasions that he intends to make every state school in the country an Academy or a Free School. Here`s the interesting bit. Under the current legislation, there is no compulsion for Academies or Free Schools to have parent, staff or local authority representation. Indeed, the term “governor” will disappear to be replaced with the term “trustee”. Much is made of the new freedoms being given to governing bodies and reassurances given about a “transition period”, but with a Chair of Trustees given the power to appoint and dismiss trustees, it is not difficult to see where this is going.

Governance in sponsored Academies is undertaken by trustees appointed by the sponsor and are usually employees of the private company or Academy trust. Converted Academies can appoint whoever they like and Free Schools seem to be above the law. Given Wilshaw`s plan, the door is open to trustees being paid to turn up and approve whatever Michael Gove demands.

The sublime beauty of this strategy is twofold. Firstly, it gets rid of those troublesome governors who for years and without financial gain have put the interests of schools and children before the egos and ambitions of deluded politicians. Secondly, it allows the minions of megalomaniacs to scoff a bit more wonga from the trough.

In his address to MP`s, Sir Michael Wilshaw expresses the boredom he experienced when reading the latest Ofsted annual report. He said:
“I just think we need to present the data differently and the judgements differently, and I`m in discussion with the executive board at Ofsted about changing the format of the annual report to make it easier to read”.

It is, of course, entirely coincidental that the data previously used to justify the bullying of head teachers and governing bodies is now showing that Academies are not doing as well as Gove and his pals in the Department of Education keep telling us. So, the data will be quietly dropped because it is too hard to understand. Strange then, that the Department is still demanding an improvement in standards of literacy and numeracy. You can read more of this rubbish here.

All this is clearly the work of the hand of Gove, possibly the most inept education secretary since Sir Keith Joseph. Ed Balls was useless in the job, as was Ruth Kelly and Charles Clarke. In recent years, only Alan Johnson, David Blunkett and Estelle Morris came anywhere near competency and they did not last long. Compared to Gove, however, these lightweights have the authority of Aristotle.

Gove rampages through education, lying, cheating and bullying, blaming failing schools, inadequate teachers, incompetent heads and “Trot” governing bodies in the hope that people will not notice a failing, inadequate, incompetent and extremist secretary of state. This pathetic excuse of a man is harming children.

Gove, having been judged to have acted unlawfully over the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme, would now probably not receive a clean CRB check and so, technically, be forbidden from entering a school. Little Michael has thought of this and has decided to do away with the red tape of checking people who are able to come into contact with children.

Gove`s unlawful activity, though, might just come back to haunt him. The former News International journalist used a private email account with the wonderful alias “Mrs Blurt” to conduct government business. Incriminating evidence, it is alleged, has been deleted and Gove might find himself, once again, up before the bench.

One can only hope that Sir Michael Wilshaw will join Gove in the dock. Until then, they will continue to join each other at the trough.


  1. I look at what you say and I despair for the future. I despair my party is saying nothing, I despair the public simply do not realise what is happening to the education that affects our future generations.

    What we will see are schools ditching those pupils who score lowly and lo and behold the ratings suddenly look wonderful, In the mean time people like Ian Shires sits backs and thinks things are wonderful.

    Hell to an handcart springs to mind

    Comment by ianrobo — March 4, 2012 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

    • Ian – you were a party to the SERCO deal and the shambles that followed, so please, at the very least, own up

      Comment by the realist — March 6, 2012 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  2. Nothing happened about cancelling BSF though, did it?
    He’s got away with it so far, hasn’t he?

    Comment by Martin — March 4, 2012 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

    • the whole government have Martin. I am a labour person and we were not perfect but the shaving off of large sums of tax money to the business worlld and donors of the Tory party is shocking.

      Comment by ianrobo — March 4, 2012 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

    • Labour put PFI and privatisation at the heart of public sector spending, despite the idea having been developed under the Tories.

      This was a shameless attempt to suck up to the Tory/business ideal of having public services provided at no direct cost to the tax payer, but with huge and almost eternal ‘knock on’ effects for those entranced by the possibility of new buildings and cheaper operating costs.

      Under the PFI deal the latter can only be achieved by slashing the wages of the worst paid, hacking away at the employment rights of workers and allowing the ‘off book’ national debt to spiral. (At the last count, there is over £20 billion owed in PFI capital debt, let alone the impact on staff, kids and patients.)

      More importantly, PFI has and will continue to create massive payments to the private sector over many years, regardless of the quality of service that we get from our taxes. This is why we are now witnessing the most aggressive attempt of any British government since the Reformation to assume control of the education system

      What, in gods name, is/was wrong with a Local Education Authority?

      At best, an LEA challenged performance and approach, invested where it was most needed and sorted out under-performing Heads, teachers and governors through a rigorous system of local inspection
      At worst it provided a level of local governance and direction, investment and organisation in the local context and a capacity to make changes quickly without unnecessary pressure on pupils, teachers and support staff .


      Ring any bells?

      Perhaps a return to the past might be the best way for Labour to sort out its policies on education

      Comment by the realist — March 6, 2012 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

  3. I told you so!!

    Comment by the realist — March 6, 2012 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

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