Category Archives: Training

New governor induction matters


Governance is a huge responsibility. Yes, it is a voluntary role but that does not mean that it should not be done well. New governors need support to understand the role and their responsibilities. One way you can do this is by having a good induction programme in place. I’ve decided to jot down my thoughts on what this programme could look like.

  • Arrange for a tour of the school and show them where the meetings are held. (If you hold meetings in the evenings, do make sure new governors know how to gain access to the building)
  • Arrange for the new governor to meet the Chair of Governors (if they haven’t met before), the Head and the Clerk
  • Introduce them to all the governors at the next meeting
  • If your governing body has bought into a training package, make sure the new governor knows how to access it
  • Make sure they know if any induction training is available. If you have not bought into a training package, then do let the new governor know how to access the free online induction module put together by SGOSS, The Key, and Lloyds Bank
  • Assign an experienced governor to act as a mentor who can go through all the documents in the Induction Pack

Induction Pack

Below are some of the documents I think should be included in the Induction Pack.

  • Glossary of educational terms, acronyms, educational jargon (including school specific ones)
  • Articles of Association and Funding Agreement for academy governors (these should be on your website so you can provide a link rather than paper copies)
  • List of governors (include a photograph, role each governor has been assigned, contact details). In case of MATs, if the new governor is member of the LGB then the governor should know how to get in touch with the Trust Board
  • List of the members of the Senior Leadership Team (include details of the SBM, SENDCo, Safeguarding Lead)
  • Contact details of the clerk
  • Details of committees
  • Minutes of last year’s meetings
  • Any Standing orders or Terms of Reference the governing body has agreed
  • Dates of meetings
  • Nolan Principles
  • Code of Conduct (the mentor should go through this and the new governor should fill this and return to the clerk)
  • Business Interest form (to be filled and returned to the clerk)
  • Skills audit (to be filled and returned)
  • Details of any memberships that the governing body holds (such as NGA, The Key, Local governor association)
  • Document detailing expectations (see below)
  • School Development Plan
  • Self Evaluation Plan
  • List of useful websites (including @UKGovChat and School Governors UK Facebook page)
  • If the Governing Body is a member of the NGA then include their publication, Welcome to Governance
  • Governor expenses policy and claim form (if the governing body has agreed one)
  • If the school is part of a MAT a list of schools in the MAT
  • If there is an agreed schedule of governor visits then that should be included as well as the visit protocol and details of how the visit is reported
  • Contact details of the school
  • School calendar

Expectations

  • What new governors can expect from the governing body:
    • A mentor who will be able to offer support and answer questions
    • Meeting papers will be sent out at least one week in advance of the meeting
    • Training will be signposted
    • We will assign you a role/committee to make best use of the skills you bring to the governing body
    • Support from the Chair and Clerk
  • What the governing body expects from you:
    • Attend meetings and be on time
    • If for any reason you cannot attend a meeting then send apologies to the clerk as soon as possible
    • Read all the papers which have been sent to you in advance of the meeting
    • Do ask questions/clarifications. There are no naive questions which shouldn’t be asked. You will bring a new perspective and the other governors will appreciate and welcome it
    • Be responsible for your CPD
    • Try and keep up to date with developments in the field of education and especially governance

Is there anything you would add to the above (or omit?)

@ICSA_News and House of Lords’ Select Committee report matters

ICSA: The Governance Institute is the professional body for governance with members in all sectors. They work with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards of governance and provide qualifications, training and guidance. Below is their article discussing the House of Lords’ Select Committee’s report concerning the revised Governance Code. I thought this article would be of interest to academy trustees too so I am reproducing it here with their permission. The original can be accessed using this link.

ICSA: The Governance Institute welcomes the supportive and helpful report that the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities has published today, especially its support for the revised Governance Code for Charities that aims to improve governance in the charity sector and ensure that charities and their stakeholders focus more effectively on the needs of beneficiaries.

‘The report is particularly timely as it will form part of a trio of governance and regulatory recommendations coming from it, the code and the Law Commission review due in the summer,’ says Louise Thomson, Head of Policy (Not for Profit) at ICSA: The Governance Institute. ‘We particularly welcome the Committee’s positive comments on the draft governance code, which we have helped to author and which we believe will bring substantial benefits to the charity sector.’

Welcome recommendations in the Select Committee’s report include:

  • Support for the revised code and the Charity Commission’s decision to refer to it as the benchmark for governance in the charity sector
  • Regular skills audits of trustee boards. Annual audits for large charities
  • Greater emphasis on trustee induction
  • Board diversity
  • Time limits on trusteeships
  • Regular board reviews. For large charities, this should be annual
  • Good governance reporting, for example charities including a statement in their annual report that they follow the Governance Code for Charities, or a similar specialist governance code relevant to their work, and report any actions taken in light of the code
  • Stakeholder feedback: the provision of regular information to stakeholders that enables them to measure the charity’s success in achieving its purposes.

‘All of the above are important considerations and will help to strengthen governance within the sector. Regular skills audits are essential as they are the primary way that charities can ensure that trustees have the necessary capabilities to undertake their vital governance role. With specific regard to the Committee’s suggestion of a template for inductions and free access for smaller charities, we have guidance on this which smaller charities are welcome to access.

‘ICSA actively supports governance in the sector and welcomes opportunities to work with partners to further enhance understanding and the application of good governance in all sizes of charities,’ adds Louise.

Supporting your governing body’s clerk matters

A good clerk is pivotal in ensuring that the governing body is as effective as it can be. It is true that good schools will have good governing bodies. It is, I think, equally true that good governing bodies have good clerks. For the purpose of this blog, I will assume that your governing body has an independent and professional clerk. What follows are some ideas on how you can support your clerk in order to help the clerk support you.

  • Write a good job description so that everyone is clear about the roles and responsibilities of your clerk. A clear job description also supports the clerk’s effectiveness.
  • Your clerk will be responsible for writing the agendas (in consultation with he Chair and Head) and circulating the agenda and papers. The Chair should make sure they make time to discuss the agenda with the clerk well before the meeting.
  • If you are responsible for a preparing a paper for the next meeting, do send it to the clerk in time for the clerk to include it in the meeting pack.
  • If you had some actions from the last meeting let the clerk know where you are with them. It will make the clerk’s job less stressful if they don’t have to chase you for papers or updates on actions.
  • As the Chair do ensure that when the clerk sends you the draft minutes you turn them around as quickly as possible. Consider using track changes which will help your clerk.
  • Support your clerk by ensuring they have access to good CPD.
  • Chairs should do a low stakes annual appraisal of clerks. This should be an opportunity for both to discuss how they think the governors and clerk worked together, what went well and what could be improved and how.
  • Ensure that your clerk feels like a valued member of the team. Ask for and listen to their advice when you are unsure.
  • Being introduced to and meeting the clerk should be part of your induction process for new governors.
  • There should also be an induction for a new clerk. They should be shown around the school, especially the room where you normally meet, introduced to the Head/SLT and any other member of the school staff they may need to contact and introduced to all the governors.
  • It may be helpful to agree a routine for regular communication between the Chair and the clerk which may contribute to effective use of both the chair’s and the clerk’s time.
  • It may be helpful to have a school email address for your clerk. This can be communicated to everyone via your website. This has various advantages
    • It will help parents and others know how to get in touch
    • It’s preferable than having the clerk’s personal email address in the public domain
    • If your clerk works for other governing bodies then this will help them in organising paperwork for the different governing bodies
  • Can your school provide a pigeon hole for your clerk? There may be instances where people will write to the clerk/GB/Chair. This correspondence should go to a dedicated pigeonhole which the clerk can access easily.
  • Encourage your clerk to keep up with the latest legislation/developments. If your governing body is a member of NGA (and I highly recommend that they are) then see that your clerk knows this and has signed up for the weekly newsletter.
  • Any governor can ask for an item to be put on the agenda. It would be helpful if the Chair would remind governors how to do this and how much notice is required. Clerks shouldn’t have to deal with last minute requests. (If there is a really urgent matter that can be dealt with under AOB and the governors should have an agreed process for this).
  • Make sure the clerk’s pay reflects what they do.
  • Lastly, and very importantly, in all your dealings with your clerk do consider their life/work balance. The chair should not hesitate to intercede if they feel that unfair demands are being made of the clerk.

Is there anything you would add to the above list?

Competency framework matters; personal attributes of effective governors

The Competency Framework lists personal attributes which governors should bring to the board in order to ensure effective governance. I have previously posted slides which detail the competencies needed by all governors, by chairs and by at least one person on the board. Below are slides dealing with the personal attributes of effective governors.

 

Ofsted Inspection Handbook and governance matters

Ofsted has recently published updated Section 5 and Section 8 school inspection handbooks. The revisions to the Section 5 reflect latest education policy and the updates in the Section 8 handbook have been done to ensure it is in line with changes to statutory requirements.

Below I have copied parts of the Section 5 handbook which relate to governors/governance. The important point to note is that inspectors, while judging effectiveness of leadership and management will now also consider how committed the governors are to their own development (see text in red below). This means that we should be prepared to answer questions on the arrangements we have made for our training and CPD. Boards may like to consider maintaining a training log which may include details of governor CPD and its impact.

Notification and introduction

34 During the initial notification phone call, the inspection support administrator will check the number of pupils on roll at the school, the governance arrangements  for the school and whether the school has any special educational needs or additional resource provision

37 The purpose of the lead inspector’s initial call is to:

  • confirm what the governance structure of the school or academy is, including with reference, particularly for academies and multi-academy trusts, to the range of functions delegated to local governing bodies or other committees
  • make arrangements for a meeting with the chair of the governing body, or where appropriate the chair of the multi-academy trust, and as many governors as possible – they will also invite as many governors as possible to attend the final feedback meeting
  • request either a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call with a representative from the local authority, academy chain, multi-academy trust board, sponsor or other relevant responsible body; this does not apply to stand-alone academy converters

38 Inspectors will request that the following information is available at the start of the inspection:

  • documented evidence of the work of governors and their priorities, including any written scheme of delegation for an academy in a multi-academy trust
  • any reports of external evaluation of the school, including any review of governance or use of the pupil premium funding.

64 Inspectors will visit lessons to gather evidence about teaching, learning and assessment and will consider this first-hand evidence alongside documentary evidence about the quality of teaching and views from leaders, governors, staff, pupils and parents.

Meeting those responsible for governance

85 Inspectors will always seek to meet those responsible for governance during the inspection. This will usually include maintained school governors or academy trustees and sponsors (including sponsor representatives, where they exist). However, in a multi-academy trust, the board of trustees may have established a local governing body to which it may have  delegated certain governance functions. In some other cases, there may be a local governing body that is wholly advisory, with no formal governance responsibilities delegated to it. Inspectors should ensure that meetings are with those who are directly responsible for exercising governance of the school and for overseeing its performance.

86 The contribution of governors to the school’s performance is evaluated as part of the judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management. As with the meetings between inspectors and pupils, parents and staff, meetings with those responsible for governance should take place without the headteacher or senior staff.

Providing feedback

92 The on-site inspection concludes with a final feedback meeting with the school. Those connected with the school who may attend include:

  • the headteacher and other senior leaders agreed by the lead inspector and headteacher
  • the chair of the school’s governing board (or the local governing body in the case of an academy that is part of a mult academy trust), and as many governors as possible
  • in an academy that is part of a multi-academy trust, at least one representative of the board of trustees
  • a representative from the local authority (for maintained schools) or academy sponsor and/or the designated responsible body

93 During this meeting, the lead inspector will ensure that the headteacher and governors are clear:

  • about the provisional grades awarded for each key judgement; sufficient detail must be given by the lead inspector to enable all attendees to understand how judgements have been reached and for governors to play a part in beginning to plan how to tackle any areas for improvement
  • that the grades are provisional and so may be subject to change as a result of quality assurance procedures or moderation and must, therefore, be treated as restricted and confidential to the relevant senior personnel (as determined by the school); they must not be shared beyond the school’s leadership team and governors (including those unable to attend the final feedback meeting); information about the inspection outcomes should be shared more widely only when the school receives a copy of the final inspection report
  • about the reasons for recommending an external review of governance and/or an external review of the use of the pupil premium (where applicable) and reference to the fact that this will be followed up at the next inspection
  • that, on receipt of the draft report, they must ensure that the report remains restricted and confidential to the relevant senior personnel (as determined by the school, but including governors) and that the information contained within it is not shared with any third party or published under any circumstances

Serious weaknesses

99  A school is judged to have serious weaknesses because one or more of the key judgements is inadequate (grade 4) and/or there are important weaknesses in the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. However, normally, inspectors will have judged leadership and management to be at least grade 3 because leaders, managers and   governors will have demonstrated the capacity to secure improvement.

Effectiveness of leadership and management

140  The CIF sets out the overarching criteria for judging the effectiveness of leadership and management.

141 In making this judgement in schools, inspectors will consider:

    • the leaders’ and governors’ vision and ambition for the school and how these are communicated to staff, parents and pupils
    • whether leaders and governors have created a culture of high expectations, aspirations and scholastic excellence in which the highest achievement in academic and vocational work is recognised as vitally important
    • how effectively leaders use the primary PE and sport premium and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • the effectiveness of the actions leaders take to secure and sustain improvements to teaching, learning and assessment and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • how well leaders ensure that the school has a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff to deliver a high quality education for all pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • the quality of continuing professional development for teachers at the start and middle of their careers and later, including to develop leadership capacity and how leaders and governors use performance management to promote effective practice across the school
    • how effectively leaders monitor the progress of groups of pupils to ensure that none falls behind and underachieve, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • how well leaders and governors engage with parents, carers and other stakeholders and agencies to support all pupils
    • how effectively leaders use additional funding, including the pupil premium, and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • the effectiveness of governors in discharging their core statutory functions and how committed they are to their own development as governors in order to improve their performance
  • how well leaders and governors promote all forms of equality and foster greater understanding of and respect for people of all faiths (and those of no faith), races, genders, ages, disability and sexual orientations (and other groups with protected characteristics), through their words, actions and influence within the school and more widely in the community
  • the effectiveness of safeguarding
  • the effectiveness of leaders’ and governors’ work to raise awareness and keep pupils safe from the dangers of abuse, sexual exploitation, radicalisation and extremism and what the staff do when they suspect that pupils are vulnerable to these issues.

142 Where the school has received external support, for example from the local authority, academy proprietor or trust, inspectors will evaluate and report on the quality and the impact of the external support and challenge on improvement in the school.

Sources of evidence

143 Inspectors will obtain a range of evidence from meetings with leaders and governors and first-hand evidence of their work across the school. Inspectors will use documentary evidence provided by the school, evaluating the impact of leaders’ and governors’ work, both currently and over time, in conjunction with first-hand evidence. Responses to the staff questionnaire and Parent View will also provide useful evidence for judging the culture that has been established in the school by leaders and managers.

144 Inspectors should consider any evidence the school has from regularly surveying the staff and how leaders and managers have responded to concerns raised by staff or parents, for example about how teachers are supported by senior leaders to tackle low-level disruptive behaviour. Inspectors will always report on the school’s activity to survey staff, whether   through the school’s internal procedures or its use of the Ofsted questionnaire (they will do this in the ‘information about this inspection’ section).

Safeguarding

145 In judging the effectiveness of leadership and management, inspectors must also judge whether the school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils are effective, and whether those responsible for governance ensure that these arrangements are effective. There is detailed guidance on evaluating safeguarding arrangements in ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education, skills settings’.

Governance

146 Inspectors will seek evidence of the impact of those responsible for governance. This includes maintained school governors, proprietors or academy trustees. In a multi-academy trust this may include members of the local governing board at school level, as well as the trustees.

147 Where a children’s centre is managed directly by the school’s governing body, inspectors will consider the impact of any judgements about the children’s centre or the services and activities offered through or by the centre, in judging leadership and management.

148 Inspectors will consider whether governors:

  • work effectively with leaders to communicate the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school and develop a culture of ambition
  • provide a balance of challenge and support to leaders, understanding the strengths and areas needing improvement at the school
  • provide support for an effective headteacher or are hindering school improvement because of a lack of understanding of the issues facing the school
  • understand how the school makes decisions about teachers’ salary progression and performance
  • performance manage the headteacher rigorously
  • understand the impact of teaching, learning and assessment on the progress of pupils currently in the school
  • ensure that assessment information from leaders provides governors with sufficient and accurate information to ask probing questions about outcomes for pupils
  • ensure that the school’s finances are properly managed and can evaluate how the school is using the pupil premium, Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium, primary PE and sport premium, and special educational needs funding
  • are transparent and accountable, including in recruitment of staff, governance structures, attendance at meetings and contact with parents.

149 Inspectors will report on the achievement of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. This includes reporting on the pupils in any specialist resource provision managed by the governing body and the extent to which the education the school provides meets the needs of these pupils.

150 Inspectors will recommend an external review if governance is weak. Under ‘What the school should do to improve further’, inspectors should use the following words in the report:

‘An external review of governance should be undertaken in order to assess how this aspect of leadership and management may be improved.’

151 The school should decide how this review will take place and commission it. Reviews should be developmental. They do not represent a further inspection, although inspectors will follow up on the review during any subsequent inspection. Full details of what might be the form and nature of such reviews can be found at: http://www.gov.uk/reviews-of-school-%09governance.

Use of the pupil premium

152 Inspectors will gather evidence about the use of the pupil premium in relation to the following key issues:

  • how leaders and governors have spent the pupil premium, their rationale for this spending and its intended impact

Attendance and punctuality

Sources of evidence

168 Inspectors will gather the views of parents, staff, governors and other stakeholders

SSAT have published a summary of changes. 

Developing a skilled and strategic governing body matters

30th April is a date marked on my calendar as this is the date Optimus Education will be holding their third annual governance conference in London. Having attended the last one in Birmingham, (I have storified tweets from that conference hereI am looking forward to attending this one too.

Governance is under the spotlight as never before and rightly so in my opinion. Although we are volunteers that does not mean we should not carry out our duties to the best of our abilities. One way to ensure that we do so is by attending training and by finding out about best practice. Attending conferences is one way you can do both.

This conference will be focusing on how we can develop our skills so that we operate strategically. The main take aways from this conference will be

  • understanding the implications for governors of the changes to the Ofsted framework
  • understanding strategies which can be used in recruitment and development of your governing body so that it operates strategically
  • understanding governor responsibilities in light of the Trojan Horse scandal

The new Ofsted framework and governors

This will be the focus of the first keynote address of the day which will be delivered by Ruth Agnew. She will also be talking about evidence which you may be expected to present during your inspection. Ruth is a National Leader of Governance and a very experienced governor. Her address will be worth listening to (especially as she is someone who really engages her audience). You will also have a chance to hear from Matt Millar, NLG and Chair of Governors about his Ofsted experience. He will be talking about what evidence were the inspectors looking for and what questions were put to him and his fellow governors.

Developing your governing body so it operates strategically

The second keynote will be delivered by Emma Knights, Chief Executive NGA. Her keynote will be about the effective governance after the Trojan Horse scandal and the roles and responsibilities of governors. Emma will also be leading one of the morning’s sessions where she will be talking about NGA’s new framework of governance and how that can be used to drive the development of strategic vision by governing bodies.

Understanding statutory obligations of governing bodies

Mark Blois, Partner & Head of Education, Browne Jacobson LLP will deliver the third keynote address. He will be talking about the impact of the latest legislations and guidance on the work of governing bodies. Not only is Mark best placed to talk about legislation and how it affects us, he also chairs a MAT so has practical, on the ground experience as well.

Recruitment of skilled governors

The fourth keynote will be looking at how governing bodies can identify and recruit highly skilled governors. Recruitment of skilled governors is becoming more and more important but, sadly, at the same time it is also becoming harder. This session will, therefore, be very useful and timely.

Streamed sessions

There will be various sessions running throughout the day which will equip you with tools to help your governing body discharge its functions effectively. Ruth will be talking about how to structure your governing body and committees so you work efficiently. Restructuring may involve skill audits and there is a session on just that. Governing bodies need to be able to evaluate their own performance as well as the school’s. If this is something you are thinking of doing then head to Andy Kent’s (NLG and Chair National Co-ordinators of Governor Services) session where he will tell you how to self evaluate and come up with an action plan. As governors one of our duties is data evaluation which is what Dr Jamie Clarke, Executive Headteacher, Sponne School will be talking about. As governors we need to be able to understand assessment and curriculum changes which are the topic of one of the afternoon sessions. Whether we as governors are looking at data or assessment or curriculum changes we need to be able to ask probing questions. Effective and challenging questioning does not come easily to all and if you need help to develop your questioning skills and confidence then you must attend Shena Lewington’s session. Shena is known to all of us as Clerk to Governors and her session will be worth attending. Governors need experienced clerks who can not only minute these challenging questions but also guide and help them. One of the afternoon sessions will be discussing effective clerking and how to make best use of your clerk.

Who should attend the conference?

This conference will be useful for governors, chairs of governors, heads, principals, deputies, vice principals and clerks. In fact anyone involved in governance will be able to find something that will be interest to them. Two delegates can attend the conference for the price of one so you can come with someone from your governing body or school. Delegates will be able to download presentations after the event and they can use these materials to develop their governing bodies. If you do decide to attend, please do say hello. I would love to meet old friends and make new ones.

You may also like to read

For further details and information how to book, have a look at the conference website and download the flyer.

Questioning and effective challenge by Shena Lewington

Developing skilled and strategic governing bodies by Ruth Agnew

 

Corporate boards and training matters

Leading Governance is a professional company which supports the development of corporate boards. They regularly publish a blog and many of the topics covered there hold true for school governing boards too. Recently they published a post on training. As training is equally important for school boards, I thought it would be interesting to read what they had to say about training for directors of corporate boards. As you can see, what is argued below is exactly what many school governors have also been saying. Training is as important for school governors as it is for members of corporate boards.  The blog was published on 3rd Nov 2014 and is reproduced here with their permission.

LG Logo with white border

Learn to Love to Learn

Mandatory governance training. I can almost hear the groans and the chorus of “not again”. And yet just this week, we have heard of trustees being suspended from the Disabled Police Officers Association of Northern Ireland, a second chair stepping down from the child abuse enquiry, and the launch of a criminal investigation into accounting practices at Tesco. Clearly something is not working. If you are a board member, you have a legal duty to exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence in discharging your duties. If you fail in this, the consequences can be serious, and include disqualification as a director, and severe financial penalties. Your organisation should have Director’s Liability Insurance, but the only real way to protect yourself is to do the job of being a board member well. So how do you exercise care, skill and diligence? Care is about giving serious attention and consideration to doing something correctly. In a boardroom situation, this means that all board members must work to put the right values, vision, strategy and policies in place to guide the staff in their day to day operations. The board sets the tone for organisational culture and behaviours. Furthermore, the board is responsible for monitoring progress and compliance. This means they have to check if the organisation is meeting its objectives, satisfying the needs of its customers and other stakeholders, and hitting its financial targets. Skill is about the ability to do something well. There are many different skills all board members need – leadership, communication, challenge, finances, stakeholder engagement, risk management and sound decision making, to name but a few. What surprises many directors is that they need ALL of these skills. It’s not enough to say that John knows about finance and Julie is great at policy development. Each and every board member has to be skilled in all areas. Diligence is about consistently putting in effort. This means preparing thoroughly for board meetings, actually attending them, engaging in all debates and following up on any commitments given. Added to this is a need for board members to take responsibility for their own development. Your reputation and finances are on the line when you assume the role of board member. It therefore makes sense that a good board member will seek out ways to be effective, and constantly improve in their board role. This being the case, it is staggering that so many board members resist training in boardroom development and effective governance. By not keeping up to date with current thinking and best practice, these board members leave themselves open to the risk of governance failure and public censure, as seen in other organisations. This is why I am appealing to board members to learn to love to learn, and embrace continuing personal development as a key pillar of being a successful and effective board member.