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An investigation into how human and social capital may be acquired and utilised by school governors

Dagg, Lynne (2020) An investigation into how human and social capital may be acquired and utilised by school governors. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


School governors in England have been described as the “Hidden Givers” (James, et al., 2010) but many governors, particularly parent governors and governors appointed by the Local Education Authority, have been criticised for what they bring to the governing body. This research was conducted at a time of change for governing bodies which, from 2014, had to consider the existing skills of governors when recruiting to the governing body.
The thesis is based on a small-scale research project utilising a case study methodology (Cohen, et al., 2018; Punch, 2009). Interviews were conducted with 20 school governors within one local authority area in the north east of England. The interviewees included members of governing bodies of both academies and maintained schools. Some of those interviewed had served as school governors for over 20 years while others were relatively new to the position. It was intended that the diversity would allow an insight into the research from the perspective of a range of governors. Data analysis was conducted using qualitative data analysis techniques.
Coleman (1988) suggests that the term human capital refers to the skills and capabilities that an individual holds (Coleman, 1988). Social capital theorists (e.g. Putnam, 1995; Coleman, 1988) suggest that social capital is about relationships and comes in various forms including binding, bridging and linking (Woolcock, 2001). This thesis investigates how being a school governor can change the levels of human and social capital of individuals performing the role.
The thesis was based on three research aims. The first aim was to consider whether school governors simply applied existing skills to the role and, if so, whether this was a good thing. It was found that while some governors did only apply existing skills that many also gained new skills.
The second research aim was to investigate what people gain in terms of training and experience from becoming a school governor. The literature available (e.g. Thody, 1999) suggested that governors do not attend training very frequently. The interviewees stated that they did attend training when things changed or they felt they needed to refresh their knowledge but said that they did not see the point of repeating training. Governor training is not prioritised and these governors felt it was important. The work undertaken by governors included serving on a range of committees and acting as link governors. Governor training was used in a range of circumstances including voluntary work and paid employment.
The final aim was to identify whether some governors gained real benefits as a result of becoming a school governor. Many of the governors made statements which showed a very strong bond with the school, reflecting stronger social capital which some utilised outside the school context. These governors already had good levels of social capital before they became school governors but developed it further within the school governor role.
The thesis suggests on the basis of the evidence collected that being a school governor benefits both society and the individual and that these benefits are utilised not only within the school but in the wider community.

Lynne Dagg PhD Submission 2020 Final.pdf - Published Version
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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 12992

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Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2021 15:16
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2021 15:30


Author: Lynne Dagg

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Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries

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