We have already written about Nicky Morgan’s ‘devo-max’ White Paper, paying particular attention to her claim the measures outlined are driven by a desire to hand down more power to schools, away from the micro-management of Westminster and Whitehall. One detail that calls this claim into question, however, is the decision to abolish parent governors. Introduced in 1980, the inclusion of elected parents in a school’s governing body is now an established norm, something that seems entirely sensible, and yet Morgan’s White Paper proposes governing bodies must “focus on seeking people with the right skills for governance” (hardly controversial), and thus removes the requirement to “reserve places for elected parents on governing boards.”
It’s not quite clear what the ‘right skills for governance’ are, nor why parents should lack these skills as is essentially implied, and one imagines that what parents may hypothetically lack in terms of ‘governance’ is made up for by a genuine interest in ensuring a school’s performance is the best it can possibly be.
If academisation is about localising power, taking it from democratically elected parents seems a very strange way to go about it, but maybe it offers a renewed opportunity to think about the role parents should play over their children’s education, a question of particular relevance to educational technology.
The idea of introducing parents onto school’s governing bodies was in part to do with the marketisation of education – parents were viewed as offering the perspective of ‘customers’ or ‘consumers’. If that was true thirty years ago, it’s even more true now, when private sector involvement in the public sector is higher than ever – and in the education sector, technology companies are undoubtedly one of the key players, from computers and electronic whiteboards to e-learning platforms like SAM. So should parents be allowed to have a greater say on what technology schools or academies purchase?
Whatever the answer, it’s unlikely parents will ever be given a say over this, especially as we see their already limited power diminish. But at SAM we’re aware that parents will want to purchase our product even if their school or academy trust hasn’t, and we’ve developed a Home User subscription package to remedy this.