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Statutory guidance matters; removal of elected govenors

The Department for Education has today issued the updated statutory guidance setting out the arrangements for the constitution of governing bodies of all local-authority-maintained schools. It has been updated with guidance on new powers to remove elected governors. The passages relating to the removal of elected governors are as below. I have highlighted (in red) passages which, I think, governors should pay extra attention to.

C.5. Removal of governors (regulations 20-24A)

The governing body may also remove an appointed or an elected, parent or staff governor.

It is advised that every effort be made to avoid potential difficulties later by informing prospective election candidates, or appointees, of the nature of the role. It is advised that their agreement is secured to a clear set of expectations for behaviour and conduct – as set out in a code of conduct. A code of conduct is expected to detail (within the parameters of relevant regulations and this guidance) the circumstances in which the governing body may suspend or remove a governor. Good training, a thorough induction and effective chairing are also vital in helping to prevent situations occurring in the first place. It is advised that induction includes a clear setting out of the expectations of the governor role.

Governing bodies are expected only to exercise the power to remove an elected governor in exceptional circumstances where the actions or behaviour of the elected governor warrants removal rather than suspension. The power should not be used simply to remove dissenting or challenging voices. Good governance involves asking courageous questions and offering appropriate professional challenge. A diverse range of viewpoints contributes to healthy debate and good decision making; and avoids governing boards becoming inappropriately dominated by a single narrow perspective.

The five year disqualification term for removal reflects the expectation that the power to remove an elected governor will only be used in exceptional and serious circumstances (and such seriousness will depend on the facts of the case). Examples which could give rise to removal are where:

(a) there have been repeated grounds for suspension;

(b) there has been serious misconduct. Governing bodies should decide what constitutes serious misconduct based on the facts of the case. However, it is expected that any actions that compromise the Nolan principles, if sufficiently serious, would be considered in scope of this reason for removal.

(c) a governor displays repeated and serious incompetence; for example where an elected governor is unwilling or unable, despite all appropriate support, to develop the skills to contribute to effective governance; or where attendance is so irregular that the governor is unable to make any meaningful contribution to the work of the board.

(d) the governor has engaged in conduct aimed at undermining fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; and/or;

(e) the actions of the governor are significantly detrimental to the effective operation of the governing body, distracting it from its core strategic functions; and/or the actions of a governor interferes with the operational efficiency of the school thereby wasting a significant amount of headteacher and /or senior leadership time.

C.6 Procedure for removal of governors by the governing body (regulation 25)

Removal by a governing body of a co-opted governor, partnership governor, ex-officio foundation governor, appointed parent governor or elected parent or staff governor is effected by resolution of the governing body but only if:

  • the removal is confirmed by a resolution passed at a second meeting of the governing body not less than 14 days after the first meeting;
  • the removal of the governor has been specified as an item on the agenda of both meetings; and
  • the following additional conditions are satisfied.

Where the governor concerned is an ex-officio foundation governor, or is a partnership governor whose removal has been requested by the nominating body, the additional condition is that the governing body considers the reasons for removal and gives the governor concerned the chance to make a statement in response.

Where the governor concerned is a co-opted governor, a partnership governor, elected parent or staff governor, or an appointed parent governor, the governor proposing the removal must at the meeting give reasons for the proposal and the governor concerned must have the chance to make a statement in response.

Governing bodies are expected to provide an appeals procedure to enable any removed governor to test the reasonableness of the governing body’s decision to remove them. It is advised that an independent panel conducts the appeal, which could include a governor from another school, and/or a suitable official from the local authority, or a suitable diocesan representative.

It is advised that any governor subject to removal is provided with written details of the case against them ahead of any meeting, and it is advised this includes details of how their case is being handled, and the timeframes involved. They must then be given sufficient time and support to respond.

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Interview matters; mistakes to avoid

On Saturday 1st July 2017 Katie Paxton-Dogget and I made our way to Aureus School in Didcot for the #WomenEd Regional event. We are grateful to Hannah Wilson who gave us the opportunity to present on governance.

The topic we chose was “interviews; how not to get them wrong.” Here are the slides from our session. I’ll write a sentence or two about each slide so they make sense when you see them.

Slide 3: Not going on a school tour is a mistake. Candidates should visit school to get a “feel” for the place and the area which you won’t get from looking at websites. Do you want to work in that school, in that area? Do you want to live in that area? Can you commute? What about your spouse’s job and you kids’ school?

Slide 7: Send off for the application form. Many places now ask you not to send your CV. If that’s the case then don’t. You’ll be wasting your time.

Slide 8:Read the application form carefully. What is the job spec and can you do it? Do you want to do it?

Slide 9: What is the person spec and do you match it? Here A is Application, I is interview. E is essential and D is desirable.

Slide 10: The essentials are essential. You may not be shortlisted if you don’t have the essentials.

Slide 11: Take great care filling out the form. Don’t leave it till the last minute.

Slide 12: Take your time over it. This is your chance to sell yourself to the panel. Don’t rush when filling it.

Slide 13: Another mistake candidates soetines make is not answering what was asked. For example if a CV is not required then don’t send in one.

Slide 14: Not proofreading is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Proof read it more than once. Leave it for a week or so and proofread it again. Then ask someone else to read it for you. They may pick up some mistakes which you didn’t. If you can get someone not in education to read your application, then they might pick up something you think is clear but is actually not.

Slide 15: Governors especially don’t like spelling mistakes! Don’t rely on spell check.

Slide 16: Some applicants fill out as many application forms as they can. They change the name of the school and that’s it. They copy and paste the rest. The panel can usually tell  if you’ve done that. It’ll be very clear that you aren’t applying to their school. Tailor your application to the school.

Slide 17: Don’t think you’ve been shortlisted to make up the numbers. We don’t want to waste our time or yours. Another mistake people make is thinking if there is an internal candidate then the panel has already decided to appoint the internal candidate. This is wrong. We want the best person for the job. If you think the interview is a formality and the internal candidate will be appointed then you will be selling yourself short. And this will also affect your performance.

Slide 19: Don’t wing it! Be well prepar3ed for the interview. Research the school as much as you can.

Slide 20: Appearing uninterested or unprepared will not endear you to the panel!

Slide 21: Another mistake is not asking any questions of the panel. The interview is a two way street. Ask questions to work out if you’ll be happy working there.

Slide 22: Being prepared is good but don’t give answers which appeared to be rehearsed. For example if asked what’s your biggest weakness don’t say things which sound trite or show a lack of insight.

Slide 23: Don’t badmouth current/previous employers. Don’t appear to be angry. Panel has only your side of the story so they won’t be able to make a judgement if what you are saying is correct.

Slide 24: Trying to fudge answers never goes down well. Give honest answers. For example gaps in employment. Remember the Apprentice interviews!

I saw an article on how to ace presentations  during interviews so I thought I’d add the link, in case it’s useful for people reading this post.  

 

 

Major incidents matter; some questions for governors to consider/ask

A few months ago I attended a workshop on helping protect against and preparing for a terrorist attack. After the events in Manchester and London I thought it may help other governors if I shared the notes I had made at the workshop. These are my notes and should be read as just that. Do contact your local police for any specific advice you may need. During the workshop we discussed scenarios and came up with various questions we should be asking ourselves in order to prepare for any eventuality. These questions are an aid to start thinking of how prepared we are and what else we may need to do. There are no right or wrong answers as the answers to these questions will depend on your setting.

Classification of Levels of threat:

  • Critical: Attack expected immediately (issued for a short period of time as it’s difficult to maintain over a long period)
  • Severe: Attack is highly likely
  • Substantial: Strong possibility of an attack
  • Moderate: Attack possible but not likely
  • Low: Attack unlikely

Threats we face:

  • Mass casualty attacks.
  • There will probably be no warnings
  • Crowded places are more likely to be targeted
  • Attack may be through person or vehicle borne devises
  • Methods are constantly evolving

Places attractive to terrorists:

These are places where they can blend in, places where they can predict procedures, public places. Schools are all of the above. We need to assess where we are most vulnerable. We need to be able to prevent people coming in, protect the items we work with being used (like chemicals in our labs) and prevent our reputation being our greatest risk.

Scenario: There’s been an attack in the town centre. What will you do?

  • How will you know there has been an attack in your town centre? Can you share information quickly with other local schools? Is there a television in the school which is on all the time and tuned to a news channel? Police will have other priorities and informing schools will not be at the top of their list.
  • What is our responsibility to students/staff who may be out of school? Can we check if they are ok? Do we have the capability to do this?
  • What will we tell parents who may call the school having heard of the incident?
    Have a holding statement ready, something along the lines of: “Yes, we are aware that an incident has taken place. We are in the process of assessing the situation and will put updates on the website”.
  • Put information on the website.
  • Put a pre-recorded message on the phone, something along the lines of: “Yes we know about the incident. We are taking steps to ensure that our students and staff are safe. Please look at the website for further updates.”
  • Consider lockdown. Are we able to lockdown our establishment? Primary schools may be able to do this more easily than secondary ones. If we do have a lockdown then will students who are off site be able to return?
  • How will you inform staff who are in different classes/places?
    One attendee told us about a new system in her school. There are speakers in every room. There is a central button which is pressed and the announcement is made through the speakers. The message is a pre-recorded one. In her school the message is, “Will all staff please respond to a Code Blue”. The staff have practised this and know how to respond. Another option is to use a klaxon. Newer fire alarm systems have different broadcasts which can be used
  • Whose responsibility is to put out the message? Is it head alone? What training have the staff received?
  • How will staff communicate the message to the students in the class?
  • Do you have a media person whose responsibility it would be to respond to the media?
  • Consider having a “Decision Log” which would record all the steps taken. This may be of great importance, especially if decisions are challenged at a later date.
  • Remember mobile phones may go down. Landlines usually hold
  • Responsibilities which used to fall to the LA now fall to the Board of Trustees, so make arrangements to inform them. They may even deal with the media for you.

Scenario: After the incident in the town centre a car drives into school, hits a wall and explodes. What will you do in this situation?

  • COSH: Are your chemicals in danger of exploding?
  • Are there casualties? If these are taken to the hospital then will a staff member go with them?
  • Make 999 call. There should be one person whose responsibility it is to make the call. He/she then comes back and reports that the call has been made. Tell them which services you need. Make sure you give as much information as you can. For example: A car has driven into school and exploded. There is a burst water mains and electric cables are down. Building is probably unstable. The main access in blocked but you can come in through the alternate route which is xxx. There is a fire in the science block which is located xxx (they won’t know where your science block was).
  • Don’t put your safety at risk. It’s human nature to go to help. Don’t become a victim and help others only if it’s safe for you to do so. Assess the scene. Remember SAD CHALETS:
    Survey, Assess, Disseminate-Casualties, Hazards, Access, Location, Emergency Services (required), Type of incident, Safety
  • It may take 10-15 minutes for the police to arrive as they will be dealing with the incident in the town centre. Ambulance will take longer to arrive
  • If possible give a map of the site to the emergency services when they arrive
  • This is a major incident. Are your first aid boxes enough to deal with this situation? Consider having few “Major Incident First Aid Kits” on the site.
  • If you are the person who is surveying the site then deputise someone else to ring 999 and ask him/her to come back and tell you that the call has been made
  • What if your chain of command has been taken out/is unable to respond? Who takes over?
  • 90-95% of injuries in a blast are due to flying glass.
  • Effects of blast
    • Blast wave
    • Fire wall
    • Brisance (shattering)
    • Primary fragments
    • Secondary fragments
    • Ground shock
  • Look at what type of glass there is in your building. Laminated glass holds and reduces casualties
  • If you are planning an invacuation area (where you would go in a lockdown), then it may be an idea to get a blast engineer to evaluate the area and asses suitability

Scenario: Automatic weapons

  • Intel says an attack with automatic weapons in unlikely in the UK.
  • More likely is an attack with a bladed weapon or a single shot weapon
  • Things to consider:
    • What cover is available to you (a) from view (b) from fire? Steel work is obviously better as cover from fire but you will have to do what you can with what you have (“when you’ve got no choice, then that’s your choice”).
    • Government advice is to Run, Hide, Tell
    • Assess your school
      • Can you run with 30 students?
      • Is there a good place to hide?
      • Can your access controls keep people out?
      • When police arrive, follow their orders/instructions immediately. Don’t give them reason to suspect that you are one of the “bad guys”

Other points to consider:

  • Do you have an emergency plan which deals with the above?
  • Are all staff aware of the plan? Have they had training/drill?
  • Do you have a prepared holding statement?
  • Do you have a designated person to contact the emergency services?
  • Do you have a designated person who will deal with the media?
  • Have you thought about how to deal with staff/students who may be off site if you have a lockdown?
  • Do you have means of contacting every classroom and every place on your site where you may have staff and students?
  • How/what will you tell the students?
  • If you have casualties who have to be taken to the hospital then will a staff member go with them?
  • Are your first aid boxes enough to deal with this situation?
  • What if your chain of command has been taken out/is unable to respond? Who takes over?
  • What cover is available to you (a) from view (b) from fire?
  • Do you have a major incidents kit, Hi vis jackets for chain of command?
  • Is there a map of the school for emergency services that includes where equipment is contained?

Further reading:

Two guides produced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and London First are worth reading. These are ‘Secure in the knowledge’ and ‘Expecting the unexpected’. Both are downloadable free of charge

Expecting the unexpected:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/61089/expecting-the-unexpected.pdf

Secure i the knowledge:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/62327/secure-in-the-knowledge.pdf

Governors and @researchED1 matters

researchED is a grass-roots movement which aims to improve research literacy and allows educators to access best research. As governors we need to be interested in education and this interest should go beyond governance in our own school. As governors we may, at times, feel slightly detached from what happens in classrooms, what do teachers think and the direction education and educational research is moving in. Attending events such as these gives governors a chance to meet and exchange ideas and views with teachers. It may help you to better understand what is happening in your school, especially if your teachers are engaged in research. Understanding what educational research is all about and what good educational research looks like may help you to question and understand the impact of what teachers in your school may be doing. It may be that some of the teachers from your school are also interested in attending the event. This provides an ideal opportunity to go together and discuss educational matters with your teachers outside of a board meeting. Such interaction between staff and governors is invaluable.

These events usually have a presentation from Ofsted. I have had the opportunity to listen to Mike Cladingbowl, Sean Harford and Amanda Spielman at these events. The presentations are usually followed by a question/answer session and I have always used the opportunity to ask a governance related question.

The other good thing about attending such events is the networking opportunities they provide. Some of the contacts you make may be helpful to teachers in your school too. Best of all, unlike many other events, researchED is very reasonably priced. This is important to me as I do not ask the school to purchase my ticket for me. The ticket includes access to all sessions and includes lunch too.

I have attended researchED conferences in the past and have blogged about them. If you are interested in reading these blogs then the links to them are as below.

Ed 2014 Matters

Governors Go To researchEd Cambridge!

Governors go to #rED15 because research matters Part 1

Governors go to #rED15 because research matters Part 2

If this has whet your appetite then there are two researchED events coming up. The first on 1st July 2017 in Rugby and tickets can be bought using this link. The second is the 2017 National Conference on Sept 9th 2017. More information about this (including how to buy tickets) is here.

If you do go to either or both of these then please do tweet/blog. And if you do go to the National Conference, then hopefully I’ll see you there!

Governance matters at the #EducationFest


One of the biggest events on the edu conference calendar is back. The Telegraph Festival of Education is being held on the 22nd and 23rd of June at Wellington College. This will be third year I will be attending the Festival and to say I’m very excited would be an understatement!

The two day programme is jam-packed with educational goodies. There’s something for everyone. For the first time this year there is a dedicated SEN strand curated by Jarlath O’Brien, Headteacher, Carwarden Community School. There will be a wonderful researchED all day event. Dr David James and Ian Warwick have curated a full day session on World Class: Tackling the ten most important challenges facing schools today” which promises to be amazing. WomenEd and BAMEed are also well represented. There will be a chance to hear from the likes of Sir Roger Scruton, Dr Becky Allen, Sean Harford, Prof Rob Coe, Christine Counsell, Tom Bennett, Martin Robinson, Katharine Birbalsingh, Sir David  Carter, Daisy Christodoulou, Tarjunder Gill, Vic Goddard, Stuart Lock, Tom Sherrington, Loic Menzies, Carl Hendrick and many, many more. However, the thing I’m most excited about is, obviously, the governance strand.

I’m grateful to the organisers that they have, again, given a platform to governors. I am very lucky that I will be taking part in one of these sessions. This is a panel discussion on “Governance in the 21st Century“. With more and more schools joining multi academy trusts governance looks very different than it did twenty or even ten years ago. Schools are expected to be outward facing and boards and schools are expected to collaborate. Boards are expected to be increasingly skilled based.  This session hopes to explore how governors continue to hold schools to account as well as provide support while facing these challenges themselves. To discuss these issues, I will be joined by the following people who bring a wealth of governance experience.

Pat Petch OBE has been a school governor for over 30 years – but not all that time was spent at the same school! Pat has extensive experience of school governance.  She has been a governor at a nursery school and an adult college and most descriptions of school in between. More recently Pat has chaired three Interim Executive Boards resulting in schools moving out of special measures and now flourishing. This experience proved to be both extremely challenging and very rewarding. Pat was a member of the steering group that set up the National Governors’ Council (now the NGA) and chaired it for four years. She was awarded an OBE in 1999 for services to education. She is now an independent education consultant and delivers support for schools and governor training courses in various London Boroughs.

Jo Penn has many years of experience as a school governor. She is currently Chair of a Local Authority Primary School Governing Body and on the Board of a Secondary Academy. She has also been a member of a Special School Interim Executive Board and Chair of a Foundation School/converter Academy for four years. Jo is an experienced National Leader of Governance offering support to other chairs and governing bodies. In 2013 Jo co-founded @UkGovchat on Twitter, bringing governors from around the country together in weekly chat sessions for mutual challenge, support and development. She is an occasional blogger at Challenge, Support and All That Jazz

Steve Penny has been a governor for some six years, and Chair for the last two, at a single convertor academy girls’ school, that admits boys into the Sixth Form.  Steve is an Engineering Ambassador and a STEM UCAS tutor for the Social Mobility Foundation having completed a further degree with the OU which included experience of teaching in secondary schools

Su Turner is an experienced parent and LA governor in both primary and secondary schools, and is currently chair of a secondary academy.  Su’s recent national work has allowed her to work with the National Schools Commissioner and other senior education leaders to debate topical issues such as local accountability for education, and the changing role of councils. Su is Founder and Director of Insight to Impact Consulting Ltd – a governance improvement consultancy. So, do come and join us and take part in the discussion.

The other governance sessions are:

Does size matter? The growth of multi academy trusts”. This panel discussion will look at the need for good governance in MATs of all sizes and different ways that this can be achieved. It will also consider how governance structures and processes need to be adapted depending on the size and needs of the MAT. The panel consists of Jon Coles, Chief Executive of United Learning, Emma Knights, CEO of NGA, Roger Inman, Head of Education Department at Stone King, and Liz Holmes, Vice Chair of the Board of Faringdon Academy of Schools (a community MAT in Oxfordshire). The panel will be chaired by Katie Paxton-Dogget who is a governance specialist and author of “How to run an Academy School”. 

Challanges of school governance in 2017 pesented by Emma Knights, CEO of National Governance Association. 

The programme for both the days can be viewed here. If this has whet your appetite then tickets are still available and can be booked using this link (there’s even a special rate for governors!).

Five governance principles that matter

Bloggers have recently been writing posts about five things. Old Andrew has listed five of these posts. I thought I’d write one too so here are my five governance things which I think are important for good, effective and ethical governance, governance which should ensure that the children in our schools get the best possible education. 

1. Nolan Principles of Public Life

Governors hold public office. We are responsible for spending public money. Nolan Principles should be the foundation on which we base our governance. This would ensure we govern ethically. 

2. Strategic vs Operational 

It’s imperative that governors understand the difference between strategic and operational and stick to doing the strategic. Focusing on the strategic would mean they do justice to their core responsibilities. It would also mean that the line between school leadership and management isn’t blurred. Thirdly, focusing on the strategic is one of the ways governors can try and ensure their workload remains manageable. 

3. Corporate responsibility

Governing boards are corporate bodies. Governors need to remember that debate and expressing opinions in the boardroom are important and needed but once a decision is made then everyone needs to ensure that they back that decision. 

4. Continued Professional Development 

Every profession expects people to undertake some form of CPD. Governance should be the same. The Board should make it clear that it expects governors to keep up to date and attend relevant CPD courses. Governors, in turn, should be provided opportunities to do so by the Board. Governors sometimes ask, “Can we afford to attend courses?” My reply to that is, “Can we afford not to?” Yes, budgets are tight but be creative. Join with other boards to access training, if your board is a member of NGA then use the weekly bulletin, the magazine and conferences to keep up to date. Join Twitter and Facebook. 

5. Accountability 

As far as governors are concerned, accountability is a two way process. Governors hold the head and the school accountable and are themselves accountable to DfE/EFA/LA, Ofsted, parents and community. In the case of academies the board of directors is also accountable to the Members of the Trust. In the case of multi-academy trusts the board also holds the local governing body accountable. Academy governors also have to abide by Company Law and Charity Law rules. If governors ensure that there are robust accountability systems in place then that would aid good governance. 

Guest Post: How to Motivate High Performance Employees?

Below is an article published by Dr Fida Chishti. When I read it I thought that this is something heads, SLT and governors could benefit from too. Not only are the tips useful, it can also be a useful question to ask at interviews of prospective candidates. The article is reproduced below with Dr Chishti’s permission. The original article can be accessed via this link.

How to motivate high performance employees?

Just the other day I was interviewing for a hybrid CTO / COO role and one of the questions posed to me was…How would you motivate high performance employees in your team?

I thought to myself, what an excellent question, as it addressed the other end of the spectrum of what you commonly might get asked instead…i.e., how do you deal with underachievers? And at the same time also focused on, arguably more importantly, those within your team who are often responsible for helping you deliver success.

As I quickly formulated my response I thought of the many high performance employees I’ve had the good fortune to hire and lead and what it was that really lit up their eyes when engaging them to work to their full potential. At the same time I also thought of what would motivate me (as the question might have been meant to explore this too ;-)).

Here’s my response paraphrased below….

You must inspire them, through sharing your vision, i.e., the big picture and where they fit in to it and how they perform a key role within it. They need to feel part of that vision, part of the team and that they are responsible for making it happen.

High performers need to be empowered, you need to expect high standards from them and set them stretch goals. You’ll also need to engage with them more and regularly complement good work and reward achievements when key milestones are achieved. It’s important to provide recognition especially amongst their peers,
this does not need to be monetary in nature as often non-monetary recognition (e.g., an expenses paid meal for two, tickets to the theatre) is all it takes to show that they are valued and their work is appreciated.

Though I didn’t have time to go into it at the time I also thought of a couple of frameworks I’d learnt about on my executive MBA, namely Kotter’s 8 Change Accelerators [1], [2] and Lencioni’s ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ [3] – though not exclusively targeting inspiration and motivation of high performers – they are excellent frameworks around which to develop high performing teams and deliver any transformation project.

In summary

In order to motivate high performers:

  1. Inspire them
  2. Share your vision, the big picture, and where they fit into it
  3. Let them know they are integral to its success; they perform a key role; they are part of the team
  4. Empower them
  5. Set stretch goals and high standards
  6. Reward achievements and complement good work.
  7. Publicly recognise their efforts and show that you value and appreciate their work

Please feel free to comment or add your own thoughts on what else you’ve found to work.

Further reading

[1] Kotter J. P. (2012). Accelerate! Boston, Harvard Business Review, HBR.org.

[2] Kotter J. P. (2006). Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail, Boston, Harvard Business Review, HBR.org.

[3] Lencioni P. (2002). ‘The five dysfunctions of a team: a leadership fable’. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.