The education secretary reassured governors that she knows how important they are – revealing that it’s something her husband Jonathan (a governor of three schools) is keen to stress.
Nicky Morgan said that the importance of governors would grow as the sector moved to a school-led system.
“But perhaps don’t tell that to my husband who is governor of two primary schools and an FE college . . . he already tells me how important he feels in the local education landscape.”
But his role on three governing bodies appears to go against guidelines in the Governors’ Handbook that state: “only in exceptional circumstances is it likely to be practical and beneficial for an individual to serve on more than two governing bodies”.
Mr Morgan, an architect and deputy leader of Charnwood Borough Council in Leicestershire, is a governor at Mountfields Lodge School, Burton-on-the-Wolds Primary School and Loughborough College of Further Education – all in Ms Morgan’s Loughborough constituency.
A spokesperson for the education secretary said: “He sits on three governing bodies and brings unique skills, given he’s an architect – skills these governing bodies are lacking.
“They are different settings – two are primary schools and one an FE college – and all of the appointments were before Nicky took up her role.”
In the handbook’s foreword, junior schools minister Lord Nash said it provided “essential information all governors need . . .”
It states: “Where a prospective governor has been or is already a governor of another school, the chair of governors should speak to the chair of the other governing body to discuss both the skills of the individual and, where appropriate, their capacity to serve effectively on an additional governing body.”
It said that it could be beneficial for strong governors and chairs to move on to another school after a time to “help share expertise across the system”.
A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “There is no rule to prevent an individual from serving as a governor for more than two schools.
“However, the Governors’ Handbook is clear that they should have sufficient capacity to fulfil the role.”
DfE officials are taking steps to ensure they know when governors are on more than one governing body by requiring them to include it in registers of interests from September.
Academy governors have been required to publish a register since last September. Mr Morgan declares his roles on his council’s website. He is also a director at Mountfields Lodge School, a primary that converted to an academy in 2012.