School governors hit back at comments

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SCHOOL governors have scoffed at suggestions made by Ofsted’s chief inspector that they need to take more of a “professional approach”.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned that some governors are not up to scratch, saying they would rather spend time “looking at the quality of lunches and not enough on maths and English”.

But the chairman of Hartlepool Governors’ Association disagrees, saying governors in Hartlepool are passionate about the schools they represent.

John Ibbotson, 77, a retired teacher, who is also the chairman of governors at Jesmond Gardens Primary School and is on the board of governors at St Helen’s Primary School and Dyke House Sports and Technology College, all in the town, said: “What I find is governors in Hartlepool are extremely passionate about children’s learning.

“There may be some people who become governors and don’t contribute as much as perhaps they should, but they don’t tend to last very long.”

Sir Michael’s comments come amid concerns by Ofsted that governors need more information to hold their schools to account.

He has now announced that every primary and secondary school will have a database – giving information on how well a school is performing in test and exam results, as well as attendance, compared with other similar schools – accessible by governors.

He is also considering paying some governors “with the necessary expertise to challenge and support schools with a long legacy of under-performance” to work alongside the voluntary governors.

The Reverend Kate Brooke, the chairman of governors at St Hild’s CE School, in Hartlepool’s King Oswy Drive, dismissed Sir Michael’s comments.

She said: “Officials often like to make a sound-bite statement, but it’s never as clear cut as that.

“Governors are not there to tell the school how to run itself, but to make sure the school is running itself.

“And in response to Sir Michael’s comment, we have never discussed lunches at St Hild’s, high on our agenda is always the achievements of our students.”

Marion Agar, chairman of governors at High Tunstall College of Science, who has around 20 years of experience, added: “I would be very interested to see what sort of evidence Sir Michael has to substantiate those sorts of comments.

“All of the governors at High Tunstall are committed to supporting the students across the board and we have a very active governing body.”