From September 2017, the governing boards of schools and academies will be granted the power to remove elected parent governors and staff governors.
A new regulation, introduced without fanfare in March, extends the process currently available for removal of board-appointed (co-opted) parent governors. Subject to certain conditions, including giving a parent governor the opportunity to respond to a proposed removal, it will be possible to remove any governor through a majority vote of the board.
The changes reflect campaigning by, amongst others, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the NAHT has said that the new power will allow schools and academies to remove ‘maverick’ or ‘incompetent’ governors. The National Governance Association has cautiously supported the changes but noted that they must be accompanied by clear guidance.
The move also follows the scrapped Department for Education (DfE) proposals to abolish parent governorship entirely, which were met with discontent in much of the education community. The DfE, under the stewardship of several Education Secretaries, has been contemplating changes to parent governorship for some time, suggesting that the ability to remove elected parent governors will contribute to the efficiency of school and academy boards.
The DfE is due to produce guidance on the circumstances in which the new power of removal should be used, and it is expected that the justification for a proposed removal will need to be detailed and fair, and that the processes by which removal is carried out must be fair and robust.
Removal of parent governors will of course be very uncommon but once the guidelines have been published, schools and academies may wish to discuss the changes at a board meeting. This will be an opportunity to share information on the changes and also to reassure incumbent parent governors that the powers, if they are ever needed at all, will be used fairly.
Michelmores’ Education team provide specialist governance advice to schools and academies across the country. If you would like to discuss an issue involving parent governors with us please contact our specialist Education Law team.