The case for paying school governors

To date, UK schools have relied on the goodwill of volunteer school governors to attend governor meetings and participate in other school activities e.g. staff grievances, student disciplinaries, planning away days and link-governor school visits.

In October 2017, it was reported that schools in Kent alone have a shortage of 564 governor vacancies!  http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-faces-500-governor-shortfall-133610/   Across South East England, this could be as many as 2,000 governor vacancies or more.

Gone are the days where schools need governors to represent stakeholder groups. Instead they need governors with extensive experience and skills in various professional areas. This allows those governors to provide suitable scrutiny and challenge of school proposals, at the relevant committee meetings.

The problem is, how do you attract and retain part-time governors with the necessary background experience and skills, when all kinds of other organisations also complete to attract non-executive directors, including reimbursing their travel costs and paying a day rate for governance involvement?

Generally in life, you get what you pay for. If people give up their free time and pay their own travel costs to attend governor meetings, then the school can hardly complain about the quality of the governor contributions. Or even complain about a poor meeting attendance record, possibly making some meetings inquorate.

For private schools (funded by tuition fees), if school governors were paid a pro-rata day rate plus travel cost reimbursement, either the school fees would need to cover this cost, or it would be raised through fundraising and lettings activity. For state-funded schools, it’s unlikely that the government will prioritise funding governor fees over core education, so such fees and disbursements would need to be funded from other school sources including; after hours school lettings and annual fundraising events.

Two final points are (1) that introducing a fee and disbursement regime would need to apply to existing and newly recruited governors, in the interests of fairness. And (2) that once some schools start to pay governors fees and disbursements, other schools would need to quickly match these rates, or risk losing governor applicants (and existing governors) to those schools that do pay.  Food for thought?

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Wordsmithing in cyberspace

Hop-off, hip-out, hip-op, hip-in, hop-on, hip-hop!

 

Pub-walking, tipsy-talking, camaraderie-chalking!

 

Day-grey, sun-ray, clay-way, may-stay, walkers-away, ok-ole!

 

Toff with cough makes off in drop-top driven by flop-mop.

 

Park life with the heart life,

Watch charmed life with the chilled life,

And see success mugged by half life.

As haunted life fights with fake life and low life,

So new life fights for this life and right life.

 

 

 

Life insights

Take the windfalls, dodge the pitfalls and don’t chase the waterfalls!

Virtually everyone fails at school. In the sense of failing to see the potential in fellow students and treating them accordingly.

The watch we wear, counts out time for things to happen to us. Our hearts count out time for us to act on the World.

Once upon a time, we used to colonise new lands. Now the Internet of Things colonises our everyday lives.

We see ourselves qualitatively. The Internet of Things sees us quantitatively.

Wouldn’t it be great if each year, they reserved lots of time in UN meetings, to look at which countries of the world that international charities are having to put so much effort into helping. Natural disasters aside, what scrutiny is falling on those countries’ leaders to eliminate corruption, show true leadership and solve the problems their citizens need solving?

Trump

Trump to Kim:

Let’s just make this a flash in the pan, not a flash in the sky.

 

Trump to the media:

Fake news – it’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

This drama about statues is a hiding in plain sight!

I had a word to my Whitehouse maintenance crew. All my doors are revolving doors now.

When it comes to meetings with heads of state, I keep trusted advisers close and my junior family closer.

 

Trump to women:

Comb over and see me sometime!

 

Trump supporters: big em up and fake em up,

Trump press: write em up and send em up,

Post Trump campaigners: label em up and wrap em up!

 

 

 

 

 

First-past-the-post party?

Brexit is a nice distraction from the real UK politicial reform needed – replacing first past the post with proportional representation. Even with a Brexit result that is broadly acceptable to all parties, the real issue is still unfinished business.

Qu: should someone start a single-issue political party to simply campaign for proportional representation, every time there is a general election?

UK austerity

In the current debate about UK austerity, what’s missing from the choice (not the fake choice between austerity and no austerity, but the hard choice between Social and Economic austerity) are two important other options (Productivity improvements and Philanthropy).

To elaborate, the current debate about austerity should be about the mix of four things:

(1) Social austerity – realisable tax rises for some or all current UK tax payers). Of course, history shows us that raising taxes encourages tax avoidance and discourages incentive to work harder.

(2) Economic austerity – alleviating current austerity through borrowing to burden future citizens with greater austerity.

(3) Productivity improvements – workers choosing (through a combination of after-hours study and after-hours volunteering?) to up-skill, to raise their productivity to ultimately alleviate austerity. When we change our expectations, build on small successes to boost our confidence and reframe current problems in a different way using personal flexibility, then there is every chance to better ourselves. If the future is about portfolio careers, and in the age of smart machines, ‘keeping our skin in the game’ through clever design, then up-skilling starts today. After all, process automation and machine learning won’t wait for us, but proceeds at its own pace. A final question about labour productivity at the national level. Which is better – fewer people employed but them generating higher average labour productivity (the French model, relative to the UK model) or, more people employed but with lower average labour productivity (the UK model, relative to the French model).

(4) Philanthropy – particularly high-net-worth individuals forming consortiums, to alleviate UK social deprivation through charitable foundation activity.

The best solution will probably come from a better combination of all four things.

One great opportunity with philanthropy is developing ‘hospital charities’ to build city hospitals that are entirely charity-funded and can take some ongoing pressure off the NHS, care homes and private hospitals. Such hospitals could offer a more selective range of treatments (target elective-surgeries with long waiting lists?), than the NHS.

Food for thought?

UK Politics

Why are journalists (TV or press) so poor at asking UK politicians the right questions? Sometimes it takes a forum like ‘Question Time’ on TV, for voters themselves to ask the right questions to the politicians on the panel. Even then, the politician has to represent all the views and ministerial portfolios of their party, in a quick two minute answer.

General Election Result

From the General Election result in the UK on Friday 9th June, two things were very clear if you look past the spin. Firstly, the country is incredibly divided – witness the 2 main parties respective vote shares. And the resulting number of marginal seats all over Britain.

And secondly, a 7 week electoral campaign period was worse than no campaign at all. Clearly, no party had enough time to deeply communicate its ideas, policies and vision for the UK to the voters.  Following a 7 week campaign and the carrot of free tuition fees (under Labour), British youth turned out in record numbers to vote – the record turn-out being a victory for democracy. But did the youth really understand what they were voting for, being novices on; the election process, the party policies and the globally inter-dependent World we now find ourselves in.  The same could be said about many veteran voters.

First-past-the-post 

The basic electoral system in the UK needs to switch to a proportional representation system, instead of the first-past-the-post. After all, if it’s good enough for a Brexit referendum and local government elections, it ought to be good enough for general elections too. Some examples of the problem: (1) The SNP at the 2015 general election polled roughly 50% of the vote, but gained 56 of 59 seats! Equally UKIP gained about 4M votes (80% of the population of Scotland) but only 1 seat in the UK parliament.

More generally, people’s vote in a safe seat with a huge margin, is essentially worthless. However, their vote, if it happens to be in a highly marginal seat, is massively influential.

U-turns in office

Politicians need to formulate clever and effective policies that fix big problems and are easy to communicate to voters. Once formulated, the party in office shouldn’t then be doing U-turns on those promises.

If any kind of coalition government is formed, U turns are inevitable, in order for coalition compromises to be reached. The best chance of avoiding coalition outcomes (policy U turns) is to have proportional representation.

Where’s the honesty in the debate?

The level of honest debate in UK politics needs to massively increase, if we are to heal the social divisions and cure people’s cynicism of politicians. In life outside politics, you can’t make sensible decisions based on lies. So why do voters tolerate so much spin from politicians, on something as important as running the country?

Politicians don’t create jobs, except indirectly in state-owned enterprises and government departments. Even then, they take no enterprise risk and put no personal investment into those enterprises. Politicians lie in taking the credit for job creation and what’s worse, take the public’s appreciation away from business start ups, large businesses and not for profit employers – the ones creating tax receipts, jobs & futures for the citizens. Maybe we need a series of fines that politicians have to pay personally (to charities or food banks) when they are caught out in a lie?

Honest debate isn’t just about avoiding lies. It’s also about making realistic assumptions. Can any party realistically govern in a hung parliament situation, let alone negotiate Brexit? How much tax can really be collected from the super rich? How much can social services be cut, before the social fabric is lost forever? Are some benefits better provided by charities. rather than by central government (charities are apolitical and experts at grant making)? Is trying to create a balanced annual budget by trimming public spending (often labelled as austerity) inherently evil and uncaring, or is the problem more about the taxes collected not getting through to the people who need it most? Can nationalised utilities and local bodies really run things like companies and schools better for the voters? Can a free health system with massive staff shortages cope without some kind of rationing of its services? Can a home country really become independent and still expect to side-step their share of the national debt/keep the Barnet formula subsidy/keep using the old currency? Will massive public borrowing for big infrastructure projects really pay off tenfold? How likely is it that workers ,will move to other parts of the country where the job vacancies are?

A final thought. The World is growing more complex and more inter-connected far faster than political systems and career politicians can adjust to those changes. As the complexity rises, voters go to the polls armed with less and less understanding of what they are really voting for – they focus on party values rather than manifesto implications.

The only real solution to that trend is voters choosing to educate themselves on; economics, global trade, technology, law and international trade.