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The key areas that were open for debate included:

A number of governor curators and industry experts, comprising government cyber security experts and education policy advisors, made up the debate panel including:


  • Mr Hennessy from Channel 4’s Educating Cardiff – teacher at Willows High School
  • Phillippa De’Ath – Vice Chairman of Hackney New School
  • Miles Berry – principal lecturer in computing at Roehampton University
  • Jay Abbott – founder of the government’s CyberSecurity Challenge project
  • David Mitchell – former head teacher turned educational tech consultant
  • Sue Nieland – from Tech Partnership, the government licensed network of employers creating the skills for the digital economy
  • Ian Glover – president of CREST, the national regulatory body for cyber security professionals

Curating Governors

  • Julia Skinner – retired head, governor, author of the Head’s Office blog and founder of the 100 Word Challenge
  • Ben Kay – IBM executive, education blogger, and governor
  • John Cowell – school governor and ICT evangelist, specialising in giving educators and governors the straight answers when it comes to technology their school requires

The event was supported by recent research we’d undertaken at BETT 2016, which showed that confidence in schools’ governing bodies is at a dangerous low point, and aimed to offer support and advice to a select audience of schools governors from across the UK to address this gap and prevent further exclusion from education peers.

The research also highlighted a number of other key factors:

  • 37% of schools believe they could function just as successfully without a governing body
  • 70% of educators feel that governors don’t understand the issues teachers face on a daily basis
  • 68% of educators believe governors don’t know enough about technology to be helpful to their schools
  • 45% of educators think governance has little positive effect on their school’s technology strategy
  • Over half of educators believe governance has little or no influence on the curriculum of their school
  • 6 out of 10 educators believe teachers should take a bigger role in the selection of governors
  • 75% of educators believe school governors should be inspected as a separate body by Ofsted
  • More educators believe that governors’ prime role should be to look after pupils than focusing on business strategy or finance concerns
  • Educators believe the prime role of governance is to be ensuring that the school always puts the needs of the pupils first (35%)
  • Just 2% believe the prime role of governance is to champion the needs of SEN or vulnerable pupils – but 25% want governors to have better knowledge on SEN issues
  • Just over 1 in 10 (13%) think that the primary role of governors should be to make sure schools pass Ofsted, tests and other examinations
  • One third of educators believe governors are lacking understanding of digital safeguarding

With all this out on the table, our panel took to the floor to debate the 3 key areas open for discussion.

Take a look at what they had to say:

Julia Skinner, governor, ex-head of school and founder of the 100 Word Challenge, commented: “Although the research findings are harsh and make difficult reading, it’s essential that governance knows how we are really perceived by our colleagues in education. Changes to the way governors are selected, trained and called to account are long overdue, and I’m a passionate supporter of that change. Governors are one of the largest voluntary bodies in the UK, and we need better, more supported training and information, particularly on technology and curricular issues.”

Stone Group’s CEO, Simon Harbridge, commented, “Looking at the survey results at face value, it seems a great pity that the hard work of such a willing force as school governors should be held in such disappointing opinion. I don’t think governors have enough access to quality information and training on how to make positive effect to the curriculum and support teachers, with technology and pedagogical ideas on its use in class, and for business.”

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