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Press Release - 14 October 2008

School governing is ‘overloaded, overcomplicated and overlooked’ - says new University research

Research by the University of Bath has highlighted the need for change to improve the vital role played by the 330,000 school governors in England.

The research has highlighted that school governing is currently ‘overloaded, overcomplicated and overlooked’ and could put many people off becoming a school governor.

A team of academics from the University of Bath, led by Professor Chris James from the Department of Education, conducted the School Governance Study on behalf of Business in the Community.

Its findings will be included in Business in the Community’s report ‘Governing our Schools’ which will be published today 14 October. The recommendations in the report will be considered by the National Council of Educational Excellence at their next meeting. The Council, established by the Prime Minister in July 2007, helps form government education policy. It will also be used to inform a Ministerial Working Group which is currently looking at school governing.

Professor Chris James said: “School governing is important and it is generally working well thanks to the efforts of all those involved. However, it could be improved and it will need to change if it is to respond to the ways schools are changing.”

The study outlines that at present school governing is:


Professor James added: “Our study suggests that to overcome these problems the range of governing body responsibilities should be reduced, the role of governing bodies simplified, and their status enhanced so their contribution is more widely recognised and appreciated.

Specific recommendations in the University study include:

Professor James concluded: “Our research proposes a number of changes to the work of school governors which we believe could make a very positive impact on what is a vital role in today’s society.”

The University’s research is the most in-depth and comprehensive work of its kind in the past 10 years. It was commissioned by Business in the Community and sponsored by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

Supporting Professor James in his research were Dr Maria Balarin, Dr Steve Brammer and Mark McCormack, who are all based at the University of Bath.

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: