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Although there is a lack of national statistical data, available evidence has shown that certain groups of people are under-represented in school governing bodies.
This brief summarises a report from the Institute for Volunteering Research which was published in December 2003 concentrating on six groups: minority ethnic groups, young people, disabled people, lone parents, people who are unemployed or on low incomes, and business people.
The brief outlines the report's survey of literature published since 1983. It also summarises the findings of interviews with organisations representing governors and the six groups identified, and with individual school governors who belong to the under-represented groups. The brief makes clear that while some of the barriers to inclusion are specific to certain groups, many of the groups have difficulties in common.
It is now widely recognised that it is in the interests of all stakeholders to ensure that school governing bodies are representative of their communities, but research confirms that at present volunteers within governing bodies tend to be drawn from certain sections of society.
This brief offers a summary of recommendations intended to encourage under-represented groups to apply for positions as governors, and to improve the retention rates of governors from these groups.