Strengthening governance St Custard’s school governors were baffled by Ofsted’s accusation that they were “too operational”
Is governance weak? the extent to which governors discharge their responsibilities: good 52%; outstanding 18% special school governance more effective than mainstream better in secondary than primary increasingly governors are holding schools to account – but not consistently not all governors are fully involved in shaping their school’s strategic direction or in evaluating school performance effectiveness of self-evaluation is closely linked with that of the governing body. in inadequate schools, governors are often ill-informed about the school’s performance and do not provide sufficient challenge HMCI report 2009
Governance isn’t weak but... Overloaded Overcomplicated Overlooked It is generally working well, thanks to the efforts of all those involved It could be improved and it will need to change if it is to respond to the ways schools are changing Bath Uni school governance study Oct 2008
Evidence About 85% of the governors in our survey reported that their governing bodies were effective A slightly smaller proportion of the headteachers we surveyed agreed with that assessment The governors’ and headteachers’ assessments are therefore broadly comparable with Ofsted judgements of school governing over a number of years Ofsted reports that governing is less effective more often in schools in disadvantaged settings So, although school governing appears to be working well generally, there is room for improvement in the governing of a minority of schools and especially in the governing of schools in disadvantaged settings
Evidence Effective governing bodies contribute positively in a range of ways but ineffective governing bodies tend not to challenge the headteacher, monitor plans and targets, undertake a scrutiny role and ensure the accountability of the governing body Governing bodies may not engage in discussions about ‘the kind of school we want’ and are not required to undertake any formal reporting on their work The governors were in complete agreement – everything was bloomin’ marvellous! Trebles all round!
Recent reports Governing Our Schools Bath Uni and BITC The 21 st century school: implications and challenges for school governing bodies
Bath Uni report recommendations The range of governing body responsibilities should be reduced The role of governing bodies should be simplified The status of governing bodies should be enhanced, their contribution more widely recognised, and greater publicity given to school governing in all sectors of society especially the business community Clarify specific responsibilities of head and GB Raise status of clerk Raise profile of governance Improve representativeness of GBs Strengthen links with community Make compulsory training for chairs, clerks and new governors Strengthen inspection of GBs Evaluate new models of governance
BITC report recommendations Clarity of purpose Composition Skills audit Professional clerking Recruitment Placement Induction and training Attracting governors Recognition “Ah, Blenkinsop – so you’re the new chap, eh? Thought I recognised you – weren’t you up before the court last week for money laundering? Welcome to the finance committee.”
Ministerial group report recommendations School level Strategic not operational Terms of reference Broaden range of stakeholders National level Transparent recruitment More flexible stakeholder model Raise status, skills and independence of clerks Training and mentoring for chairs Access to high quality training Self evaluation
Common recommendations Greater clarity over roles Professional clerking Mandatory training for new governors, chairs and clerks Wider representation Work of GBs should be recognised, profile raised Policy-makers’ decisions What can we do?
What can NCOGS do? Publish Manifesto widely Work with partners to promote Manifesto Seek to influence policy makers – eg professional clerking Respond to White Paper
What can COGS do? Publicise Manifesto locally Work with local partners to promote Manifesto Work together as a regional group to respond to White Paper Prioritise joint strategies to address the common recommendations in our work – eg how to raise profile of governance
Challenges Staying focused on governance when jobs are threatened Keeping governance strong as the educational landscape changes Keeping the map up to date Spotting and seizing new opportunities Supporting and encouraging each other
Strengths COGS are the prime source of everything that strengthens governance – good advice, clear guidance and effective training We’re cost effective and valued by governors We network brilliantly in our regions
Weaknesses Changes in LAs are weakening us Money’s getting tighter Communication between regional groups Not valued enough by our LAs
Threats Budget cuts Governance not prioritised in Ofsted inspections Loss of business Competition COGS and NCOGS collapse as organisations
Opportunities New ways of working Alternative service models LA LA buy out Partnerships Community interest company Limited company Possible roles Delivery Brokerage Commissioning Consultancy Possible customers Own LA Other LAs Schools Trusts Private companies NGA
Then maybe... Lord Gove (108) presents the 2075 award for the strongest governing body in England to “St Custard’s Free -Academy -Specialist -Beacon -Community -Grant -Maintained (but we keep quiet about it) -Church of the Latter Day Hedge Fund Managers Chuckle College for Young Gentlefolk”, Aston juxta Mondrum.