Schemes of Delegation matter

On Friday, 5th October 2018 I attended the ICSA Academy Governance Conference. The day was packed with really good, thought provoking presentations. In this blog I will write about what various presenters had to say about schemes of delegation (SoD).

A SoD is a key document which lays out which functions have been delegated to which body. The trust boards of multi-academy trusts (MATs) determine the extent of delegation to local governing bodies (LGBs). Once this has been decided the SoD must be published on websites.

Leora Cruddas (CEO Confederation of School Trusts) spoke about the importance of a good SoD. She said that trustees need to own their SoD and not get someone external to the organisation to draw it for them. Sam Henson, Head of Information National Governance Association, spoke in the afternoon. He said that NGA publishes model SoD but he agreed with Leora that trustees should look at these model documents and adapt them to their MAT. Different MATs use different SoD. Sam informed the delegates that NGA now uses the term “mixed delegation” rather than “earned autonomy”. Leora also said that the SoD should not be a long, complicated document but should be simple and easy to understand by anyone reading it.

As MATs grow they need to keep the governance structure under review. It is also a good idea to review your SoD and see if it is still fit for purpose. Is it making the LGB feel part of the MAT? Do they feel that they are an effective and valuable part of the whole organisation? As Leora said why have committees if you don’t give committees work to do? The MAT does, however, need to ensure that the LGB understands that it is the trust board which is the legally accountable body. At the same time the board needs to assure that the work is not being duplicated at any particular level. The role of the LGB is not to hold the board to account. This does not mean that there can or should be no challenge from the LGB. Good governance requires good, constructive challenge. The LGB should be acting as the eyes and ears of the trust board and feeding back local concerns as well as what is working well to the board.

Liz Dawson and Anna Machin (Ark Schools) spoke about how governance is structured in their organisation. They have decided to call their SoD Accountabilities Framework. They said that important points to remember when drawing up a SoD is that you are really clear about the role, purpose and function of each layer of your governance structure. As an organisation matures or grows it is helpful to review your SoD. It is also a good idea to get feedback when you are thinking of revising your SoD. This will help people feel part of the process and they will feel they own the document.

The fact that the SoD can and should be under review is a very important one. When MATs are looking for schools to join their organisation they should make it clear to them that the SoD the MAT has at that moment in time may not be the same further down the line, that revisions are possible. Any governing body which is considering joining a MAT must realise that the SoD is something which the trust board is legally allowed to change. They should understand that powers delegated to them may be withdrawn or increased in the future. If and when this happens, it must not come as a shock. This is not to say that the board should not explain why that has happened. As noted above revisions which have considered feedback from everyone concerned will have more buy in from everyone. A very interesting point was made by an audience member that if anyone was going for a headship in a school which was part of a MAT, they should consider the SoD carefully. This brings me to another important point. Everybody who is involved with MAT governance should know their Articles, SoD and other governance documents inside out.

Functions which are delegated to LGBs may include monitoring how the school is operating within the agreed policies, managing its finances, meeting agreed targets, engaging with stakeholders, reporting to the board, etc. Liz and Anna had mentioned that although their heads of schools are not line managed y the LGBs, the chair of the LGBs are part of the heads’ appraisal team as they work closely with the heads and their input is valuable.

SoD also came up in the presentation by Hannah Catchpool (Partner, head of academies, RSM) and James Saunders (Audit Director, RSM). They said that questions from an auditors’ point of view concerning the SoD are

  • How up to date is your SoD?
  • Are all staff aware of it?
  • Are people following the SoD and only approving/signing off things they have delegated powers to do so?

In summary, the scheme of delegation is a very important document. It lays out the functions delegated by the board to the LGB. It should be easy to read and understand. It must be published on the website and everyone in the organisation must be aware of it and should know what they are delegated to do. The board is legally empowered to change the SoD. The SoD should be kept under review and this is especially important when the MAT grows or undergoes other changes.

If you are interested in reading the tweets from the conference, you can do so using this link.


Blogging matters

Blogging 2

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

During my time on social media I have noticed that more and more have started to blog. I have also noticed that  governors are not well represented amongst these bloggers. I think that governors should think about blogging about their experiences, thoughts, best practises etc.

Why blog?

  • Blogging is a powerful means of getting your ideas out to a wider audience.
  • You can use blogs to highlight issues which may interest other governors (for example, I had asked Ofsted to clarify what they expected governors to do during a school monitoring visit. I published the response I received on my blog which meant that governors who follow my blog were able to read Ofsted’s response).
  • Blogging can be a means of sharing good practice (for example how to carry out monitoring visits).
  • Blogging can be a means of starting a debate (for example should Ofsted inspect MATs).
  • Blogging can make you reflect on your own practice.
  • You can use certain times of the year (your blog anniversary, New Year) to look back and celebrate your achievements or examine why you didn’t accomplish all that you had hoped to and then work out what to do next.
  • Blogs can be used to collate information. At the end of each calendar year I write a review of the year where I collect links to important information published during the year. This saves me time when I need to look up something.
  • You can use it to compile resources. I, for example, have been collecting questions governors have been asked during Ofsted inspections.
  • I use my blog to “store or file” important documents (I have the links to Governors Guide to the Law and the various versions of the Handbook saved on my blog.
  • You may find posts on other blogs which are of interest to you. These can then be re-blogged on your site bringing them to the attention of people who follow your blog
  • I have used blogs to write about conferences I have attended. This serves two proposes. It becomes a permanent record of what I found interesting which I can go back to. This also means that people who could not attend the conference in person can read about it on my blog.
  • If you are writing a thesis, article, book or preparing a speech, then blogging can be a means of “road test” your ideas.
  • Sometimes, while discussing something on Twitter, you are constrained by the fact that you can use 280 characters only. Following the Twitter discussion with a blog is one way of getting your point of view across fully.

What stops people blogging?

  • Some people may feel they don’t have enough free time to blog. I feel that if you feel strongly about blogging then you can find time to do so. Educational bloggers, for example, are all holding down jobs but do manage to blog.
  • Lack of confidence may stop some people. Like anything else you may do, confidence comes with time. If you have someone who can read your drafts and give you feedback, that may be one way of building up confidence. Blogs are not books or academic theses and therefore are easier to write.
  • Thinking you have nothing to say, or nothing interesting to say may stop some people too. Everyone has something to say!
  • Governors, for example, may feel that governance issues are confidential issues and therefore they don’t feel they can blog about these. Of course, confidential issues must never be blogged about but that is not what I’m saying you should do. You can write about these in such a way that confidentiality isn’t breached. For example, if your board has an issue with the Chair becoming too “cosy” with the head, you can blog about qualities of a good chair and highlight that a good chair will maintain a professional relationship with the head. As long as you don’t indentify the people involved you will be ok. If you feel unable to talk about the issues even in general terms then there is still a great deal which needs to be discussed; Ofsted’s expectations of governance; are they real or not, for example.
  • Some people would like to start blogging but don’t know how. Read on, help is at hand!

A (short, simple) guide to blogging

  • Think about what you would like to write about. You can read blogs written by other governors here to get an idea of what other governors are writing about. Try to find something you feel passionate about which perhaps is not already being covered.
  • Choose a name for your blog and try to steer clear of common names.
  • While there are many blogging platforms, I prefer WordPress. There is a free option so you don’t have to pay to start a blog. Go to the WordPress site and set up your blog. You will need a valid email address before you can set this up. I won’t go through all the steps here but feel free to get in touch (or ask on Twitter) if you need any help.You can remain anonymous if that’s what you prefer to do.
  • If you are on Twitter and/or Facebook, then link your blog to these sites. This way whenever you publish a post it will be publicised on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Write as much as you can about yourself (unless you are blogging anonymously of course). People who will read your blogs would like to find out a bit more about you.
  • Blog posts should not be too long as people either don’t read them or give up half way. 1000-1500 words is about right.
  • Once you have published your post do tweet about it. If you are a member of a group on any other social media platform, then post a link to your post there too. Promoting your posts is a completely acceptable way of increasing traffic to your blog.
  • Ending the post with a question may encourage people to comment on your blog. If people comment on your blog then do engage with them. You can set your blog up so that comments will need to be approved by you before they are published.
  • If you decide to use an image then make sure you are not breaching  copyright rules. There are many sites which will allow you to download free images.

As you can see, blogging isn’t difficult and there are many benefits to be had. So, let’s get some more governors blogging!


Maximising governance time matters; a checklist. With thanks to Aidan Severs

I recently read a very interesting article by Aidan Severs on how to maximise learning time in lessons. He gave a ten point checklist which people could use to streamline lessons. I read his checklist and thought that it could be adopted for governance. So, here goes.

1. Reduce distractions
When you’re in a governors’ meeting does it sometimes go off into tangents which have nothing to do with the topic being discussed? If this happens then, as Chair, you should try and gently bring the discussion back to the item on the agenda. This will help keep attention focused on what needs to be discussed and also stop the meeting overrunning.

2. Match activities to lesson objectives
Aidan explains why this is important in a class setting. Matching activities to governance objectives is just as important. For example, if governors carry out school visits, the reason for the visit must be clear and should feed into how we challenge and support our school leaders. Some boards find it useful to ask governors to monitor specific areas or classes. Others align the visits to specific areas of the school development plan. Which ever way you do it, you should ensure that these activities lead to maximum understanding of how the school is performing.

3. Intelligent sequencing
Match your meeting agenda to what happens in schools. Discussion of exam results and finances/budgets should happen at particular times of the year. Also give some thought to the order in which you want to cover the various items.

4. Lesson structure
Aidan says lessons should be organised in a way which will make the most use of the available time. For board meetings structure of the meeting is of similar importance. Plan the agenda well in advance. Seek input from the head. Your clerk’s help is invaluable in drawing up the agenda. They will help ensure nothing of importance is left off the agenda. Decide how much time each item should be allocated to each item on the agenda. If you have invited a staff member who usually doesn’t attend your meetings, then try and put the item to which they would be contributing at the top of the agenda and once that’s been dealt with let them leave.

5. Scaffolding and differentiation
Aidan talks about how teachers can structure lessons so each child’s learning is maximised. This made me think of governors who have just joined the board. Though not scaffolding in the sense that Aidan was talking about, but we, especially chairs, can take steps to ensure that the new governor understands what’s being discussed. First and foremost, if your new governor is from a field other than education then do make sure they have a glossary of terms which they’ll come across. For someone who has not worked in schools terms like SDP, AfL, DSL, EBacc, FFT, FSM etc will mean nothing. They may not feel confident enough to ask what these terms stand for so it’s a good idea to provide a glossary to new governors.

6. Preparedness
Aidan says, “Precious learning time is often lost when teachers are less prepared than they could be.” The same could be said of our meetings; precious meeting time is often lost when governors are less prepared than they could be. The expectation that everyone would have read the papers beforehand should be made clear to all. Governors should also submit any papers they have prepared in enough time for the clerk to add them to the meeting pack which should go out seven days in advance.

7. Written instructions
I think it’s of great importance to agree and write down policies and procedures which will dictate how you conduct business. For example, procedure for electing chair/vice chair, governor monitoring visit policy, terms of reference, procedures around conducting virtual meetings, etc for your committees, etc.

8. Routines
Aidan talks about how routines can save time and hence maximise learning. Routines can also help save time during meetings so you get the maximum amounts of work done. For example, you may consider asking governors to send you/the clerk any typos or spelling mistakes in the draft minutes before the meeting so that these can be corrected and time isn’t spent on pointing these out during the meeting. You may also like to consider labelling every item on the agenda as “For discussion/For information/Requires action” etc. Once this becomes routine you may find that it saves time by focussing attention on what needs to be done.

9. Feedback
Aidan talks about in-lesson feedback to ensure that no child ends up wasting valuable learning time. Feedback is important for governors too. Consider asking your governors for feedback on how they think meetings have worked out, what has been achieved, how the chairing/clerking has helped (or not). The chair should also try and meet individual governors so they can talk about how individual governors feel about their role and what support they may need in the coming year.

10. Behaviour management
Aidan talks about how and why good behaviour maximises learning time. Good behaviour is important for good governance too. Punctuality is the first thing which comes to mind. No one likes to be kept waiting. Yes, sometimes things happen which will mean people can’t get to the meeting on time but these should be the exception rather than the norm. Chairs have an important role to play here. If you see someone dominating the conversation then make a point of asking others for their contributions. A code of conduct should be agreed and signed by all at the start of the year. It might be an idea to devote some time to discussing this at your first meeting of the year so that people understand what the code requires and how breaches, if any, will be dealt with.

Is there anything you would add to the above list?

Related blog:

Meeting matters: 3 reasons why leaders sould talk less in meetings

In Defence of Attendance Awards

This is a must read blog. It shows how thinking about a policy and adapting it to suit your context can mean that you have a policy which works for you, your students and parents. I’d urge governors to read this, especially if your school has attendance awards.


This is one of those posts that could be seen as slightly controversial but I’ll say it anyway. Lately on twitter I’ve been reading lots of tweets and threads from people who are very upset about giving attendance awards to children at the end of the year. The main reason cited is that it’s unfair to children who have medical problems and will never be able to win this award. Well as harsh as it sounds, life is actually very unfair. It’s a lesson we have to learn in life. We can’t remove the reward for all children because some can’t participate.

I am an Assistant Head at a special school in Blackpool and many of our cohort are profoundly poorly. Every day brings major challenges for our children. For some staying alive is the challenge they face on a daily basis. They are that poorly. I’m talking about children…

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Ofsted Inspection Handbook Sept 2018; knowing what’s changed matters

Ofsted have published the Sept 2018 version of its Inspection hadbook. For my previous blog I had extracted those parts of the handbook which talked about governance. Jude Hunton had asked on twitter if there were significant changes between the updated version and the old one. Elizabeth Boulton, Head of Research Dissemination Ofsted, had kndly responded. She told us how to check for changes in the update (click on show all updates which is next to the publication date) and listed the changes. This may be of interest to others too so I am copying the changes below.

Updated handbook: added privacy notice information, updated ‘Inspection of religious education and collective worship’ section (in annex). Updated ‘Clarification for schools/Ofsted inspection myths’ document: added new information in ‘Evidence for inspection section’ about attainment, added new sections on performance management, safeguarding, and the curriculum.

Updated paragraphs 21 and 23 to clarify that good schools are now inspected approximately every 4 years.

Paragraph 17 has been amended to clarify the position for inspecting exempt schools.

Updated for changes to ‘Requires improvement’ monitoring and changes arising from the second consultation on short inspections.

Changes to the Outcomes for pupils section reflecting changes to GCSE grades and data reports (a new IDSR); updates to Clarification for schools section and mythbuster document around myths and misunderstandings; clarification of arrangements for meeting relevant members of the governance structure and inclusion of chief executives or equivalents in inspections of academies in multi-academy trusts; and new content explaining what happens to schools that receive the ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ judgements.

Link to latest inspection blog post with summary of changes to handbook.

Updated to reflect changes in legislation.

Added HTML version of inspection myths document.

Updated clarification document for schools added. This document has been updated to reflect the handbook for use from September 2015.

Final document for use from September 2015 published.

First published.

Ofsted Inspection Handbook (Sept 2018) and governance matters

Ofsted has recently published the School Inspection Handbook (Sept 2018). This handbook is primarily a guide for inspectors on how to carry out school inspections. However, it is made available to schools and other organisations to ensure that they are informed about the process and procedures of inspection. Below are extracts from the Handbook which relate to governors/governance. The Handbook also includes information concerning the meeting which the inspectors will hold with those responsible for governance as well as information about who can attend the feedback meeting and see the draft report. There are many myths around the role of governors during inspection so the clarification is welcome.

Outstanding/exempt schools

21. In addition, exempt schools may be inspected between risk assessments where:

  • concerns are raised about standards of leadership or governance

Short inspections of good schools

As is the case for all schools, a good school may still receive a ‘no formal designation’ inspection carried out under section 8 at any time if:

  • concerns are raised about standards of leadership or governance that suggest that it should be inspected earlier than its next scheduled inspection

Statutory provisions

  • Ofsted will report on any failure to comply with statutory arrangements, including those relating to the workforce, where these form part of the inspection framework and evaluation schedule (Part 2 of this handbook)
  • Leadership and governance
  • As many governors or trustees as possible are invited to meet inspectors during an inspection.
  • For academies, inspectors meet those directly responsible for management and governance, including the CEO/their delegate (or equivalent), the chair of the board of trustees and other trustees.
  • An inspector may talk to the chair of governors by telephone if s/he is unable to attend a face-to-face meeting with the inspector in school.
  • All those responsible for governance need to know the outcome of the inspection as soon as possible. Individual governor representatives must keep the outcomes confidential until the school has received the final inspection report.

Notification and introduction

37. 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.

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

  • confirm what the governance structure of the school or academy is,31 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 board of trustees and as many governors as possible – they will also invite as many governors as possible to attend the final feedback meeting

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

  • documented evidence of the work of those responsible for governance 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.

The start of the on-site inspection

62. Inspectors will not arrive before 8.00am. The lead inspector should meet the headteacher and/or senior leadership team briefly at the beginning of the inspection to:

  • confirm arrangements for meetings with representatives of those responsible for the governance of the school and with key staff

Observing teaching, learning and assessment

67. 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. Inspectors will also include evidence from observing pupils learning in, for example, extra-curricular activities. This range of evidence also informs the evaluation of pupils’ progress, pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare, and the impact of leaders’ and managers’ improvements to teaching and assessment.

Meeting those responsible for governance

88. 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.

89. 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

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

  • the chair of the school’s governing board and as many governors as possible
  • for academies, the chair of the board of trustees and as many trustees as possible

97. 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 howto 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 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, theymust 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

Special measures

108. When the evidence indicates that one or more of the key judgements is inadequate, inspectors must consider whether the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education. If this is confirmed by the evidence, inspectors must consider whether leaders, managers and governors are demonstrating the capacity to improve the school. If both of these conditions are met then the school requires special measures. If neither or only one of these two conditions are met, the school has serious weaknesses

After the inspection

Arrangements for publishing the report

121. Inspection reports will be quality-assured before Ofsted sends a draft copy to the school. The draft report is restricted and confidential to the relevant personnel (as determined by the school), including those responsible for governance, and should not be shared more widely or published.

Effectiveness of leadership and management

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

152. 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 action 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 ahigh 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 promote effective practice across the school
  • how effectively leaders monitor the progress of pupils to ensure that none falls behind and underachieves, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • how well leaders and governors engage with parents 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

Sources of evidence

154. 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.


156. 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’.


157. 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 board55 at school level, as well as the trustees.

158. 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.

159. 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
  • 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.

160. 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.

161. 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.’

162. 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:

Use of the pupil premium

163. 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

Grade descriptors for the effectiveness of leadership and management

Note: Grade descriptors are not a checklist. Inspectors adopt a ‘best fit’ approach that relies on the professional judgement of the inspection team.

Outstanding (1)

  • Leaders and governors have created a culture that enables pupils and staff to excel. They are committed unwaveringly to setting high expectations for the conduct of pupils and staff. Relationships between staff and pupils are exemplary.
  • Leaders and governors focus on consistently improving outcomes for all pupils, but especially for disadvantaged pupils. They are uncompromising in their ambition
  • Governors systematically challenge senior leaders so that the effective deployment of staff and resources, including the pupil premium, the primary PE and sport premium, Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium and special educational needs funding, secures excellent outcomes for pupils. Governors do not shy away from challenging leaders about variations in outcomes for pupil groups and between disadvantaged and other pupils nationally.
  • Leaders and governors have a deep, accurate understanding of the school’s effectiveness informed by the views of pupils, parents and staff. They use this to keep the school improving by focusing on the impact of their actions in key areas.
  • Leaders and governors use high quality professional development to encourage, challenge and support teachers’ improvement. Teaching is highly effective across the school

Good (2)

  • Leaders and governors are ambitious for all pupils and promote improvement effectively. The school’s actions secure improvement in disadvantaged pupils’ progress, which isrising, including in English and mathematics.
  • Leaders and governors have an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education at the school. This helps them plan, monitor and refine actions to improve all key aspects of the school’s work.
  • Leaders and governors use professional development effectively to improve teaching. They use accurate monitoring to identify and spread good practice across the school.
  • Governors hold senior leaders stringently to account for all aspects of the school’s performance, including the use of pupil premium, the primary PE and sport premium, Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium and special educational needs funding, ensuring that the skilful deployment of staff and resources delivers good or improving outcomes for pupils.

Requires improvement (3)

  • Leadership and management are not yet good.

Inadequate (4)

Leadership and management are likely to be inadequate if one or more of the following applies.

  • Capacity for securing further improvement is poor and the improvements leaders and governors have made are unsustainable, have been implemented too slowly or are overly dependent on external support.
  • Leaders and governors, through their words, actions or influence, directly and/or indirectly, undermine or fail to promote equality of opportunity. They do not prevent discriminatory behaviour and prejudiced actions and views.
  • Leaders and governors are not protecting pupils from radicalisation and extremist views when pupils are vulnerable to these. Policy and practice are poor, which means pupils are at risk.

Attendance and punctuality

Sources of evidence

180. Inspectors will make this judgement using evidence seen during the inspection as well as evidence of trends over time. The judgement will be informed by documentary evidence about behaviour, including how the school tackles poor behaviour, as well as discussions with and observations of pupils at break times, lunchtimes and between lessons. Inspectors will assess the school’s use of exclusion, including the rates, patterns and reasons for exclusion, as well as any differences between groups of pupils. Inspectors will gather the views of parents, staff, governors and other stakeholders.

Inspection of religious education and collective worship

Schools with a religious character

The inspectors who conduct section 48 inspections are appointed by the school’s governing body or the foundation governors in a voluntary controlled school, having consulted with person(s) prescribed in regulations (normally the appropriate religious authority) where applicable. The inspectors are normally drawn from the relevant faith group’s section 48 inspection service, although not all faith groups have their own inspectors organised in this way. Regulations specify that section 48 inspections must be conducted within five school years from the end of the school year in which the last section 48 inspection took place.

The relationship between section 5 and section 48 inspections is governed by a protocol between Ofsted and signatory faith group inspectorates. Ofsted’s lead inspector should check the section 48 arrangements and:

  • if no section 48 inspection by a suitable person has taken place, the lead inspector should check the arrangements; if the governors have not arrangedfor a section 48 inspection, inspectors should conclude that they have failed to carry out a statutory responsibility and refer to this in the section 5 inspection report, as part of the governance narrative under the leadership and management section of the report.

31This must be checked with the headteacher as part of the call. Where multi-academy trusts have delegated responsibility to local governing bodies, this should be set out in a scheme of delegation. Academies should also set out their governance structure in their annual statement of accounts, which can generally be accessed through the DfE performance tables’ site. Inspectors should clarify where responsibility lies and who they should talk with during the inspection, especially where a school is part of a multi-academy trust.

55In a multi-academy trust, this could include meeting with a local governing board where relevant responsibilities are devolved in accordance with the scheme of delegation.

Governance matters at Festival of Education Part 2

Photo Credit: Cat Scutt
Left to right: Mark Lehain, Katie Paxton-Dogget, Naureen Khalid, Jo Penn, Will Malard

On Friday 22nd June 2018 I chaired a panel discussion at the Festival of Education at Wellington College. With an ever increasing number of schools joining Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs), there is a need to understand how these are governed. This was a well attended session. It was good to see so many people take an interest in governance. What was especially pleasing was that governors and trustees and even a Member of a trust were present.

The session looked at “The Brave New World of MAT Governance“. The experts who took part in the discussion were

  • Jo Penn: Jo 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
  • Katie Paxton-Doggett: Katie is the author of ‘How to Run an Academy School’ and ‘Maximise Your Income: A guide for academies and schools’. Dual-qualified as a Solicitor and Chartered Company Secretary, Katie has significant experience in providing specialist governance support to various academies and MATs
  • Will Millard: Will is a Senior Associate at LKMco where he undertakes research into education and youth policy, and works with a range of organisations to help them develop new projects, and assess and enhance their social impact
  • Mark Lehain: Mark has a wealth of educational experience, having founded one of the first free schools (Bedford Free School) in the country. Bedford Free School has thrived and they have created the Advantage Schools MAT. Mark is the Director of Parents and Teachers for Excellence. He was appointed Interim Director of New Schools Network in March 2018

The discussion started with the panel being asked to define effective MAT governance and to suggest ways by which we can judge how good or otherwise the trustees are. The panel was in agreement with Jo who said that effective governance is effective governance irrespective of the structure. For governance to be effective we need a clear strategic vision, transparency, accountability, ethical leadership and effective training at all levels. Katie agreed that training should be mandatory. She also made the point that there is no need to re-invent the wheel; we can learn from other sectors. Will referenced the research  published recently by LKMco. It is difficult to answer what is effective MAT governance because research has shown that MATs are different and they change as they expand which brings about changes in the way they are governed. As it’s difficult to define, it’s difficult to design a matrix to judge how effective it is. Mark said that if the outcomes for students are good and the right decisions are being made at the right time we may be able to say that the trustees are doing a good job.

Talking about MAT expansion led the discussion to whether governors are coping with moving from governing one school to governing groups of schools in MATs. Katie was of the opinion that governing MATs requires a massive change of mindset and people need to understand that they need to step away from representing just one school. Jo talked about her own experience. She has been a governor in almost all settings but the biggest challenge was the change from being a trustee in a single academy trust (SAT) to a member of the local governing body (LGB) when the SAT joined a MAT. She explained that when the SAT trustees were discussion joining a MAT, the most challenging discussion was around giving up some autonomy to gain other advantages. Jo also warned that we need to be cautious and careful as we now have a two tier system. We may leave those governors behind who are governing LA schools if we aren’t careful because we are so busy talking about the importance of MAT governance.

Talking about LGBs led us to discussing schemes of delegation (SOD). Mark agreed with Jo that when schools join a MAT they have to give up something to gain something. Mark warned that there is a danger that if we take too much away from the local governors and give it to the centre then people may not want to put themselves forward to serve on LGBs. When Bedford Free School was forming a MAT and was talking to other schools there was a great deal of discussion around the SOD. They put in a lot of thinking around the SOD and have kept it under review. Like everything else, there isn’t a one size fits all SOD, appoint made by Katie who said MATs should look at a SOD and then adapt it to their schools and context. Katie talked about the work she has done with community MATs. The back office services were centralised but the teaching and learning and how students were doing, the “proper governance” stuff happened at the local level. So the SOD is about delegation at the local level and the trustees having an oversight rather than doing it at the board level.

The panel then discussed whether centralisation of some services like finance and delegating monitoring of teaching and learning o the LGB would make serving on the LGB more or less attractive. Jo was the opinion that if the LGB feeds back to the board who then take decisions then the LGB may not feel empowered making it less attractive. Katie pointed out that there are models which empower the LGBs. Jo also made the point that the SOD is not written in stone and the board is legally allowed to change it if it wishes to do so.

The panel also discussed how performance of MATs could be judged. Mark was of the opinion that at the minute we have no one who has enough experience of running MATs to be able to judge performance of other MATs. There is also the fact that MATs are very different. For example Harris, ARK, Tauhedul, Inspiration, Reach2 are all very different from each other. Mark’s worry is that by trying to judge MATs we may end up trying to standardise the way they are run. Mark admitted that there have been failures in the way MATs are run but there have been examples of poor governance in the maintained sector too. What we should do is try and learn from these failures. Will said that the research had not shown a clear relationship between SOD and MAT performance and he reiterated Mark’s point that there is no clear one good way to judge MAT performance. According to Katie, the success/failure is not about structures but about the people, about what they are doing and how they are using the structures. With MATs we are at a stage where we can still shape things.

We talked a little about the executive function in MATs. Mark said that in theory there should be a difference between the executive leaders of single schools and those of MATs but in practice people are still finding their way. The role of a MAT CEO is very different to that of a head of a single school

I then asked the panel to give me a short answer to the following question before we took questions from the floor.

What is the one thing you would change to make MAT governance effective?

Jo: Mandatory training for everyone involved in governance. Accredited pre-appointment training same way as it’s done for magistrates. People join boards without a real understanding of the role. It takes a while to get to grips with the role.

Will: Agree with Jo.

Katie: Not sure the MAT structure actually works. Take a step back and see how schools fit together in the legal structure.

Mark: Training of company secretaries. The role of the clerk in a maintained school is an important role but a completely different one to that of a Company ecretary in a MAT. We sometimes use clerk and Company Secretary as interchangeable terms but they are different roles. How many clerks know their Articles of Association inside out and understand the law around that?

Questions from the floor:

Is there a tangible way for businesses to support governance in schools?

Jo: Businesses should encourage their staff to become governors and give them the time and space to do it.

Katie: Businesses should understand that their employees will be getting board level experience which they can bring back to their companies.

Are the challenges in recruiting to MAT boards different to recruiting to boards of single schools?

Naureen: People may find it more attractive to govern in their local school, in a school in their community as they feel connected to it than joining a MAT board which may sit in a different city. People may ask themselves if they have the skills or the time to govern 20 schools.

Katie: The more specific I have been about the skills I want, the more successful I have been in recruiting. This is true for parent governors too. Even in small schools if you are very specific about the skills you want then weirdly it brings more people forward. So rather than sending out a general letter, be very specific about the skills you are looking for and people reading the letter will go “Ooh that’s me”. It appeals to their sense of worth

Jo: Don’t think with MAT boards we’ve reached a point where the boards are massively recruiting.

Will: Don’t think the people in general realise how complex the system is. There is a PR challenge in actually setting out that this is what is and this is what you are stepping into.

Question form Katie to the Trust Member: How connected do you feel to your MAT and what do you think you are contributing to the organisation?

I have recently become a Member. I realise that the role is different to that of the trustees as Members have fewer duties than trustees. I see the role as one of holding the trustees to account. It is a brave new world. This is why it is good to come to groups like this and learn from each other.

Mark: We have a come a long way since 2010 when  people did not have a clear understanding about the difference between Members, trustees, directors and governors. People now understand that Members really need to appoint good trustees. We are in a much stronger position now. It may not be quite right but we are much closer to a really effective system now.

And on that positive note, the session came to an end. I’m very grateful to Jo, Katie, Mark and Will for their valuable contributions and to everyone else who attended the session. Like the gentleman said the value of these sessions is in the learning which takes place when we talk and discuss issues with each other. I’m already thinking ahead to the 2019 Festival of Education and hope to see many of you there.

Schools Week covered our session in the Festival of Education coverage (Note: The piece mentions Gillian Allcroft from NGA whereas it was Katie who was part of the panel).

I have previusly blogged about other sessions which I attended and which were aroud goverance.