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NAHT responds to government's announcements on governance and accountability

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On Saturday 9 June 2018, secretary of state for education Damian Hinds spoke at the National Governance Association's annual conference. During his speech, he acknowledged the vital role that school governors play and announced that the budget for training governors would be doubled.

He said: “Without you, our schools simply would not run.” The full speech can be read here.

Responding to the speech, Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “We are pleased to see these volunteers being given much more attention, with more effort and money put into recruiting and developing the best people. We need high-quality individuals who can best represent their school communities, with an emphasis on diversity and an insistence on mandatory training.”

Governors fulfil an important part of the accountability framework for schools, but the education secretary said that accountability needed a shake-up. He said: “I have also acknowledged that, vital as accountability is, the current system we have can lead to stress and anxiety for some teachers, leaders and governors - the fear of inspection, of a single bad results year and of the school being made to convert to an academy.

“In the future, an Ofsted inadequate judgement alone will lead to hard action to convert a local authority maintained school to an academy. And schools will no longer face those visits from regional schools commissioners' advisers that can sometimes feel a lot like an inspection. I want to recast accountability, not as something to be feared or a blame game, but rather analysing what's not working and then fixing it, collaboratively.”

Damian also sought to strengthen the guidance for schools on senior leadership pay and on related-party transactions. He said: “From April, trusts will have to seek approval from EFSA for related-party transaction payments of more than £20,000. Transactions less than £20,000 will need to be formally declared.”

Nick concluded: “NAHT welcomes the strengthening of advice to academies on related-party transactions and on the setting of executive pay. However, the average salary for leadership group teachers is less than £55,000. Education is certainly not a sector where high salaries are common yet pay rates of a very small minority are the ones that grab the headlines. It is therefore absolutely right that transparency and fairness should be the key features of all pay arrangements.

“NAHT’s accountability commission is evaluating different approaches for holding schools of all types to account and will report in September. Already, the work of the group is helping to shape the debate around school accountability. We look forward to talking further with the Department for Education about arrangements for holding MATs to account, at a future commission session."

First published 13 June 2018