What difference do governors from a business background make to the effectiveness of a governing body? An article by Tom Dobson et al in Educational Management, Administration and Leadership (2020 Vol 48) considers exactly that question. Titled ‘Boundary Crossing in School Governing Bodies: Perspectives from the Business Community’, the article reviews research conducted in 2018. It considers the first year experience of volunteers from Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) who took up roles as governors.
In the last ten years the expectations of governors have shifted from monitoring and supervision to strategic leadership. In the context of growing numbers of multi-academy trusts and the adoption of a more business-like model in school leadership, a range of skills are increasingly valued for governance: strategic leadership experience, financial and legal expertise, and organisational capacity.
Many schools struggle to fill governor places, attempting to balance a desire to represent the communities in which the school operates and a need to have a skill set that enables the governing body to operate effectively. Organisations such as LBG, the police service and charities like Governors for Schools encourage those with expertise outside of education to volunteer as governors.
The article by Dobson et al concludes that the benefits of recruiting governors with a business background are felt by headteachers, governing bodies and the person volunteering. It also concludes that professional development is essential for the rapid integration of new governors and their ability to effectively deploy their skills in their new context. In the context of many local authorities having a reduced capacity to lead CPD for governors, it seems that online provision such as that offered by The Key and the NGA will become increasingly important, and that headteachers should be liaising with chairs of governors to schedule bespoke induction programmes.