Academies Bill [HL] — Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Baroness Sharp of Guildford Baroness Sharp of Guildford Liberal Democrat 7:15 pm, 7th July 2010

I rise to speak to Amendment 17A in my name and those of my noble friends Lady Walmsley and Lady Garden. I entirely share the view of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, in relation to not being too prescriptive. We also very much share her view that school governors should represent the community that the school serves. In that respect, it is very important that parents, in particular, are represented. She said that only one parent was elected. However, in academies, the parent governor is currently appointed, not elected, and that is an important point.

I declare an interest. I am both a governor of a small primary school in Guildford and a member of the corporation-effectively a governor-of Guildford College, so I am actively a governor of schools at the moment.

Amendment 17A is different from the amendment put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, in three respects. First, rather than prescribe a percentage, we are suggesting specific numbers-a minimum of three and a maximum of seven parents, although obviously the figure will vary according to the size of the governing body, which itself will vary according to the size of the school. There has to be considerable flexibility here. Secondly, we are anxious to see representation from staff, including support staff, as well as from parents. Lastly, we also want to see representation from the local community, and what better way to do that than to have a representative from the local authority? In all three senses, we feel it is important that there should be representation of the community that is served by the school. Therefore, we thoroughly endorse the sentiments put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, although we have put a slightly different slant on it.