How we deal with results matters

The other day I read a wonderful blog by John Tomsett which talked about how Results Day can affect Heads (This much I know). The post was very well received.

The post got me thinking. Good Governing Bodies and good Heads and SLT work as a team. Their common purpose is to deliver the best education to the students under their charge. Results and league tables are not the be all and end all, but they do matter. Parents will look at league tables while deciding on the schools they will entrust their children to. Newspapers publish league tables and endless discussion items. Politicians use results and league tables to demonstrate whichever policy is or will be the flavour of the day. Ofsted will get interested if there is a decline in the attainment of students of a school. Heads and SLT will review results and see what worked and what didn’t.

So, what should governors be doing come result day? The first thing to remember is that if the governing body had been doing what it is supposed to do well, then baring a major disaster, results should not come as a surprise to the governors. Governors should have been monitoring throughout the year. They should be aware of what teaching and learning is like in their school. They should know how staff monitor, evaluate and assess progress throughout the year. They should know if the cohort in one year may perform differently than the previous cohorts and the reasons for this. In other words, results day should not come as a shock (pleasant or otherwise) if the governing body and the SLT have been working as a team. If the results were good then the governing body should make sure that the hard work of all involved (students, staff and parents) is recognised and they are all congratulated. If the results were not good, then the governing body should have been aware that this may happen and be ready to work with the SLT to put strategies into place to remedy the situation.

What happens if the results day delivers a shock to the governing body? The first thing to do is ask why this was so. There may be a perfectly reasonable reason for this, for example change in grade boundaries. A good governing body will analyse the results forensically and ask tough questions. The SLT should expect to be asked these tough questions and should be prepared to give answers and explanations. If this does not happen then governors need to examine their working practices and ask questions of themselves. Did they carry out monitoring as they should have? Were they aware of how teaching and learning is assessed at the school? Are there subject to subject variations? Were the SLT aware that there may be problems? Did governors accept the information provided to them or did they question and dissect it? How well informed are they as far as the data is concerned? What is the relationship between the governors and the SLT like? John, in his post, says that the buck stops with the Head. It does and it doesn’t. The day to day running of the school is the Head’s responsibility. But the governing body cannot stand back. It needs to step up to the plate. Do what you are supposed to do and do it well. This includes asking tough questions, being very comfortable with the data and working out what needs to be done and then do it. Education is a team effort and everyone (staff, governors, students and parents) need to perform well if we are to get the results we desire.

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