Helen Jones – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Education

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Helen Jones on 2016-03-22.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what evidence she took into account before making it her policy to abolish the right of parents to be represented on school governing bodies; and if she will place copies of such evidence in the Library.

Edward Timpson

The Government’s education White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, published on 17 March 2016, makes it clear that many parents already play a valuable role in governance and that parents will always be encouraged to serve on governing boards. Governing boards have a vital strategic role and need people with the right skills to succeed. We will always encourage parents to serve on governing boards and in many cases academy trusts will continue to find people with the skills and experience they need among parents. Moving from a representational to a fully skills-based governance model means ending the absolute requirement for academy trusts to include two elected parents on the board of trustees (or in the case of multi-academy trusts either on the board or on each local governing body). Many parents will, of course, have relevant expertise and boards will continue to be free to appoint them. Trusts may also retain elected parent trustees if they so wish.

High quality leadership and governance will be vital as we devolve more power to schools. That is why our entire approach from governance, to curriculum, to budgets, has been to give schools the freedom to adapt the model that works best for them.

The Government’s objective is to increase academies’ engagement with parents and for the first time we will be creating a new expectation that every academy puts in place arrangements for meaningful engagement with all parents, to listen to their views and feedback. This is one of a number of policies outlined in the White Paper for enabling parents to be more engaged with their children’s education and compliments more regular surveys of parental satisfaction with their children’s schools, which we will publish. We are also launching a Parent Portal to provide information on school performance, guidance on how the school system works and how to raise complaints. This new website will act as a reliable point of reference for parents so they know exactly how they can get involved in their child’s education.