NGA reveals the challenges & opportunities for School Governors

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Information about NGA reveals the challenges & opportunities for School Governors

Published on February 28, 2014

Author: learning_pool



National Governor Association's Chief Executive Emma Knights uncovers the challenges and opportunities facing School Governors at Governor Live 2014.

Challenges and opportunities for school governance Feb 2014 Emma Knights, Chief Executive, NGA 0121 237 3780

Governance in the spotlight • The great & the good are taking an interest eg. Select ctte report; HMCI & ministerial speeches, and more funding for governor & clerks’ training • More autonomy brings more responsibility & more risks but organisations with strong governance do not fail • More decision-making is being devolved eg. Academy conversion, performance related pay • The Sept 2012 Ofsted framework raised the bar • Limited resources requires more efficiency • Learning from other sectors

Challenges for governors Include: • Setting the vision & engaging with the strategic; • Ensuring quality of teaching and good outcomes for children – measuring what we value; • Hiring, firing & performance managing headteachers; • Staff development & performance-related pay; • Money: revenue and capital; • External support and the need to collaborate; • Federation & governing more than one school; • Finding good governors with the time; • Finding new ways of working: effective practice & review • Additional challenges for the chair: leading the GB

Effective governance 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The right people round the table Understanding role & responsibilities Good chairing Professional clerking Good relationships based on trust Knowing the school – the data, the staff, the parents, the children, the community 7. Committed to asking challenging questions 8. Confident to have courageous conversations in the interests of the children and young people

Challenge 1 Governance structures & processes • Size & composition • Stakeholders vs business - model – Legitimacy: ownership of schools – Do we know what our stakeholders think? Parents, pupils, staff, neighbours, employers & other services – Hard nosed vs valuing the important • Recruitment and induction of governors • Be clear about time needed but use it well - Reduce the paperwork • Clerking Matters

Challenge 2 Setting the vision, ethos & strategic direction The strategic: where we are now, where we want to be and how we are going to get there • School priorities should stem from the vision, and then drive all the GB’s work – Measuring what we value • What we want our children to leave school with is strategic: so GBs do need to engage with the curriculum offer without stepping over the line – Preparing for the introduction of the National Curriculum changes, plus a review of the rest of the curriculum

Challenge 3 Ensuring quality of teaching and good outcomes for children • Understanding data: FFT Governor Data dashboard • Understanding internal progress data • ‘Triangulating’ the information: – Reports of senior leaders’ observations & learning walks; – Feedback from pupils, staff & parents eg surveys, focus groups; – Visits: governors do not judge teaching themselves. – External validation • Effective performance management & appraisal – Additional challenge with link to pay • Investing in good CPD • Collaboration which makes a difference

Challenge 4 Governing groups of schools • Will small schools be sustainable in the future? • Clear benefits for children (as well as governance); • Multi-academies or LA federations take a range of forms: – Sponsored or school-led groups – Umbrella trusts or MATs/MACs – What is delegated to school level; what is kept at the centre? • Members, Trustees & Directors – Executive and non-executive – Involvement of staff, the Executive Head and/or CEO • How many schools can be governed well in a group?

Challenge 5: Time • Stay strategic & focussed on improvement priorities: – – – – Leave the operational to school leaders; Work with the head and clerk to ensure agenda are focused; Visit school with a purpose to monitor improvement priorities Don’t get overwhelmed by compliance & reviewing policies: focus on principles & delegate procedures • Our message to GBs is recruit good school leaders (a future challenge) and trust them to recruit good staff – Ensure school leaders are equipped to do their jobs, including HR aspects, procurement • Succession plan: Time invested in recruiting new & developing governors is time well-spent – Coming soon: an alliance to engage employers – Aspiring chairs have access to the Chairs' Development Programme

Opportunities • To make a difference to children’s lives • Invest in governing body development: take advantage of the training & support on offer • Review GB structure, practice & impact • Challenge each other as well as school leaders Governing is a thinking role, not a doing role

NGA is a membership organisation • representing the governors and Trustees in all state funded schools in England • our aim to improve the effectiveness of governing bodies by providing expert and tailored information and advice, and challenge when appropriate Standard Governing Body membership is £72: • weekly e-newsletter for all governors, • five copies of the bi-monthly magazine Governing Matters, • access to the members’ area of the website, • a free place at NGA member regional events and national conferences.

GOLD membership Is £260 for a governing body a year and includes: • Access to NGA’s advice line and legal advice • Access to the members’ area of the website and a weekly e-newsletter for all governors & clerks, • the bi-monthly 40 page NGA members’ magazine Governing Matters for all governors, • free places at NGA member regional events and national conferences • A Chair’s Handbook, and induction guides ‘Welcome to Governance’ for all new governors etc For a £30 discount from GOLD membership, quote Live2014 when you ring 0121 237 3780 or email

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