The County Council
At the highest level of local government our schools are administered by Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC). Day to day decisions are taken by the eight-member Cabinet, one member of which has specific responsibility for education and skills. This post is currently held by Mike Appleyard.
The policies and decisions of the Council and Cabinet are scrutinised by Select Committees, one of which is the Children’s Social Care and Learning Select Committee. The membership of the Committee – as set out in the Council’s constitution – includes three parent governor representatives (there is a statutory basis for this under the Parent Governor Representatives (England) Regulations 2001). The Local Authority makes arrangements for the election of governors to fill these posts. You can see the LA guidance on the election held in Spring 2017 here: Election Guidance.
Some school-related activities are based on the Children and Young Persons Partnership areas, which in turn are based on district council boundaries. There are three, coinciding with the districts of Aylesbury Vale, Wycombe, and a combination of South Bucks and Chiltern.
NOTE: a proposal is currently under consideration at ministerial level for a major redesign of the Bucks local government structure, with the present two-tier arrangement being replaced by either one or two unitary authorities. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced in Parliament on 12 March 2018 that he was ‘minded’ to accept the single authority proposal. Representations may be made to him until 25 May. The existing district councils favour a two authority model, on based on the current Aylesbury Vale district and the other comprising the current Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe districts. The effect this might have on the Bucks education landscape is unclear.
At official level schools are the responsibility of the Director of Education, who reports to the Managing Director of Social Care and Learning. Currently these posts are held by Sarah Callaghan and Tolis Vouyioukas respectively.
Until the summer of 2018 some BCC functions and services were commissioned from the Buckinghamshire Learning Trust, but that arrangement has now ceased and statutory functions relating to governance have been returned to BCC itself.
Buckinghamshire Learning Trust
The Buckinghamshire Learning Trust was established in 2013 as a charitable company with the principal objectives of advancing the education and life-chances of children. Its activities are outlined on its website here, and since the end of the commission arrangement with BCC (see above) are traded services.
The Buckinghamshire Learning Trust is governed by a board of trustees. Its Articles of Association provide for two governor seats on the board, one representing the primary phase and one the secondary, elected by primary and secondary providers respectively.
Bodies with governors on them
A number of consultative, deliberative and decision-making bodies within the Bucks Framework have governors on them. The principal ones are:
- The Children’s Social Care and Learning Select Committee (see above).
- The Board of Trustees of the Buckinghamshire Learning Trust (see above).
- The Schools Forum: a statutory body which plays a part in the way in which funds are allocated to schools within the County, making some decisions and advising the Council on others. The Constitution requires at least one governor to be a member but provides for more and expresses a preference that there will be. In practice there are governor members covering all school types and phases. Governor members are elected, and the current electoral process aims to achieve a balanced representation across school types.
- The School Governance Consultative Board: a joint forum acting as an interface between the Local Authority and Bucks governors. The Constitution provides for one governor member from each of the Partnership areas (see above), and one from the Buckinghamshire Association of School Governors. The selection process is not specified.
- Local Children and Young People’s Partnership Boards: the constitution for the three LCYPPBs includes school governors within the membership, but the number and mode of appointment is not specified.
Local networking groups
A number of local networking groups for Bucks governors have emerged in recent years. They are self-organising and self-sustaining, though BASG can provide help with the cost of venues. All welcome governors who wish to participate. See under Local Networking Groups on this website.
Headteachers meet in local liaison groups (19 in all) which include schools of all types and phases. For the primary phase these feed into three primary hubs, based on the partnership areas (see above). Beyond that the Primary Executive Board is the overarching strategic decision-making body of the Primary Voice process representing the views of all Primary schools in Buckinghamshire.
The Buckinghamshire Association of Secondary Headteachers (BASH) performs a similar function for the secondary sector. All Secondary schools are members. BASH is an independent association, run by the Secondary Headteachers.
The Buckinghamshire Academy for School Leadership (BASL) aims to improve the quality of leadership, teaching and learning in the county through professional development, collaboration and mutual support. All Headteachers of Buckinghamshire maintained schools and Academies are members and entitled to stand for election to the BASL Board. For more information see http://www.baslonline.org.
There is a good account of these structures in the Handbook for New Headteachers in Bucks.