Trends in the governance and governing of schools in England

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This article identifies and develops themes in changes in the governance
and governing of schools in England in the last 40 years. The themes are: the drive to improve school performance and pupil attainment; the depoliticisation of school
governing; the development of school governing as managerial scrutiny; the growth in the influence of Ofsted; the increasing diversity of institutional forms and governing structures; the increasingly conflicting roles of school governing bodies; the development of the role of the head teacher in governance; the overall decline in the influence of the local authority in school governing and governance; the changing influences on the stakeholder model; and changes in the nature of governing, effectiveness and future prospects. The analysis draws on recent research reports and relevant statutes, policies and guidance. Two main arguments develop. First, a tension is at work in the system generally between (peripheral/school) autonomy and (central/government) control and direction, which has significant implications for the role of the local authority. Second, the stakeholder involvement and democratic accountability purposes of school governing have shifted towards an explicit purpose of improving institutional performance, which is configured in a relatively narrow way.
This change has implications for the way that the legitimacy of school governance is viewed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-909
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number6
Early online date31 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • School governing
  • school governance
  • school autonomy and governance
  • local authorities and schools


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