Everyone on Board: tackling the democratic deficit on school governing boards

Today Inspiring Governance and the National Governance Association (NGA) relaunch our joint Everyone on Board campaign to diversify school and academy governance.

Over a third of Inspiring Governance’s current governor appointments are from an ethnic minority and nearly half are under 35 years old, yet there is a fast-growing divergence in the wider school system between those making and implementing decisions in our schools and those on the receiving end of those decisions.

We spoke to four brilliant school governors – Bola-Alysia, Jasmin, Justin and Meera – about why volunteering in the role is important to them, the benefits the role brings – and why others should consider joining them.

Why have we relaunched the campaign?

Since 2018 we have been taking concerted action to encourage governing boards to diversify their composition and working to encourage more young and more Black and global majority volunteers to take up decision-making roles on school governing boards.

Recent survey response data shows just 5% of governors coming from a Black and global majority background, only 3.6% of headteachers, and 9% of teachers, set against the latest Gov.uk data showing a primary pupil population with over 36% of children coming from Black and global majority backgrounds. In addition, only 9% of governor respondents to the latest NGA annual survey were under 40 years old.

This democratic deficit leaves many of our boards with potential blind spots, without the breadth of informed support and challenge they need to make vital decisions on education for today’s increasingly diverse generation of students.

This picture of under-representation also risks a huge loss of professional skills and life experience that could otherwise help schools, precisely at a time when over three quarters (77%) of governing boards report their greatest challenges with governor recruitment to date. With government studies showing volunteering at its lowest level since 2013, achieving more representative boards of the communities that schools serve is as essential as it is just.

Research shows diverse governing boards function better, they cover all the angles, and they help schools fulfil their strategic role on race.

This includes ensuring schools tackle racism, look carefully at differential exclusions, scrutinize differential exam performance, and they help schools evaluate their policies for any disproportionate impact on any group of pupils.

So…let’s not miss out on the talents of a generation to guide our schools. Sign up to become a governor with Inspiring Governance – you might just inspire a future governor yourself!

Sign up now