Optimus Conference: Strategic and robust governance matters

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I’m somewhat of a Conference junkie! I have a scientific background and used to routinely attend/present at conferences. I found those events very useful. Their usefulness for me stemmed from the fact that they were great if you wanted to learn about the latest or the best practice in your field, they were a very good form of training and they were valuable from a networking point of view. Although I’ve stopped working now, I still attend conferences, except now they are about governance rather than genetics. The “learning about best practice, training and networking” happens in these governance conferences too. The next conference I will be attending is the Optimus Conference on Strategic and Robust Governance being held in Birmingham on 19th June 2014 where all these factors will be in evidence.

So, why should one attend this conference? Well, we know that governance is under the spotlight as never before and rightly so. Governance is expected to be strategic but at the same time robust. Governors are expected to hold headteachers to account but also support the school leadership. Emma Knights (Chief Executive, National Governors’ Association) will be talking about how we can strike a balance between support and challenge in her keynote address. One of the afternoon sessions is also on the subject of challenge. Sue Pagliaro, Director LiveLearn, will be running this session.

We hold the headteacher to account and Ofsted is one of the bodies which holds us to account. Who better than Jackie Krafft (HMI and National Lead for Governance, Ofsted) to tell us what outstanding governance looks like, in her keynote address? In the afternoon there will be two sessions, one presenting a case study from a primary and the second from a secondary, focusing on how Ofsted inspected governance, what questions were asked and what Outstanding looks like.

If we are to have a governing board which is capable of robust governance, then we need to be able to recruit people who will become effective governors. Ruth Agnew will be addressing this issue in her keynote address. She will be talking about how we can identify, attract, recruit and retain effective governors.

The other main attraction of this event is that our own Shena Lewington, known to everyone in governance as @clerktogovernor will be in the Chair. She is also running a session on clerking. If anyone can tell you about best practice as far as clerking is concerned, Shena can!

With the arrival of the Academies programme governance has changed forever. Academy governors are company directors and charity trustees. Mark Blois, Head of Education at Browne Jacobson LLP will be running two sessions. The first one is on the additional responsibilities of academy governors and the second one is about governance in group structures.

There will also be sessions on data (for primary and secondary governors), performance management which will be run by Ruth and Andy Kent. I have seen them present before and I can tell you they make a formidable team!

There will also be sessions on how to carry out a skills audit, how to develop and monitor strategic vision and school development plan and how to develop an effective relationship between the headteacher and chair of governors.

If the above account has whetted your appetite and you want to find out more, you can download the brochure here. If you want to attend the conference, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that you have missed the early bird discount. The good news is that if you book through this link and quote the promotional code GMN, you can receive £50 off the standard delegate place. So why not book and come along to what promises to be a great event. You can bring a governor along for free. Or you may want to bring your clerk along to learn about clerking from the best!


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