Tag Archives: governing body

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!).

What governors think of the NAHT motion matters

Today scrolling through Twitter I came across the following tweet.

This was the NAHT debating a motion asking Ofsted to REDUCE emphasis on inspecting governance as part of Leadership and Management. I asked for comments from other governors. Almost all were surprised at this. We couldn’t understand the reasoning behind the motion. There were some light hearted comments such as “Isn’t it lovely that they are concerned about extra pressure on us. They are only looking out for us.” Another comment, in similar vein, was from me. I said that reading this gave me the impression that somewhere a conversation like the one below had taken place which led to the motion.

GB to Head, “Could you include x,y,z in your report, please?”

Head to GB,”Don’t worry about that. I’ve got it under control.”

GB to Head, “No, we really do need it. For one thing it’s our job. For another, we are due an Ofsted and we want to ensure we know our stuff.”

Head to GB, “Ah, Ofsted! Don’t worry about that. We’ll get them not to hold you to account. We’ll tell them you’ve got too much work to do.”

Other governors had also read the Schools Week tweet which led to more discussions. Numerous serious points were made in response to my question and question/comments by others. I’ve summarised discussions from different threads on Twitter and Facebook below.

  • This may indicate that heads don’t really understand governance
  • The role and responsibility has changed since I’ve been a governor. The workload means it’s like a job now
  • There are some heads who get frustrated by their governors and we must acknowledge this. On the other hand there are also heads who try and run the school as their personal fiefdom and try and exclude the GB. We have a duty to be as professional as we can and heads need to understand and respect what governance is and what we do
  • Not a straight forward debate. Looking at the framework, it is a part time job
  • Collaboration is key
  • Power grab?
  • We are volunteers which means that if the workload gets too much we can leave. “But I’m a volunteer” should not be used as an excuse
  • Unfortunate that those who may have had a poor experience of governance assume it’s typical in every institution
  • Are they are considering our health and wellbeing?
  • We have gone from “cup of tea, sticky bun and agree with the head” to a very different model. Some governors and heads have kept up and some haven’t
  • Getting paid may be a better route than downplaying the role in Ofsted inspections. But if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys!
  • Some governing bodies create an unnecessary workload for themselves and do not distribute workload effectively.
  • Training of governors is an issue
  • Motion was proposed and passed at the conference. The reason for it needs to be heard
  • If governance goes wrong then everything will
  • Schools need good governance and governance needs to be accountable
  • Really disappointed to see this motion
  • Governance is essential in any organisation
  • My role as chair is far more stressful than my job (I’m saying this tongue-in-cheek)
  • If this happened, where is the incentive to fix bad governance? One role of god governance is to hold heads to account. How would that happen?
  • Perhaps they don’t want to be held to account
  • I feel passionately that strong governance remains
  • Personally I would prefer separate judgement for governance
  • I don’t agree the governance should be a separate judgement. We are part of leadership and management and this emphasises that
  • GBs are accountable in law. Reduce work load by discouraging unneeded hoop jumping? Yes. Make GBs less accountable? Absolutely not!
  • Train governors to understand role. That will help in reducing workload
  • I can see two sides to this. The possible impact of poor governance on a head and the inability of a head to control good governance
  • Ofsted don’t have the expertise to measure governance accurately
  • Inspectors shouldn’t be judging without full understanding
  • Can have good school leaders let down by poor governance. Opposite also happens
  • In some schools senior leaders have little or no contact with governors. Not great for headship preparation
  • Many heads do not do governance training and do not understand the role
  • In one GB meeting the head brought so many staff that they outnumbered the governors
  • Part of the issue is the paucity of governance subject content in many NPQH courses. Starting with a low knowledge base does not help

The debate wasn’t live streamed and the only other tweet I saw was one saying that the motion had been carried. So, we don’t know the context to the motion or how the debate went. Governors would like to know more about what was behind the motion but want to make it clear that we do not wish for reduced accountability or reduced emphasis on governance within the leadership and management judgement. If the motion had called for induction for new governors and CPD we too would have been behind the motion. 

@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.

SEND Governor matters

I was invited to the launch of the Driver Youth Trust report, Through the Looking Glass. There were interesting presentations followed by a panel discussion. During the panel discussion StarlightMcKinzie asked a very important question, “Shouldn’t all governors be governors of SEND?” The short answer is yes. All governors should be clear that their role is looking after the interests of ALL the children and hence they are all governors of SEND too. However, many governing bodies do have a designated SEND governor. The Department for Education’s SEND Code of Practice states

6.3 There should be a member of the governing body or a sub-committee with specific oversight of the school’s arrangements for SEN and disability. School leaders should regularly review how expertise and resources used to address SEN can be used to build the quality of whole-school provision as part of their approach to school improvement.

Legally there is no requirement for a particular governor to take on the role of SEND governor. What must happen is oversight, review and monitoring of the SEND provision. The governing body (GB) decides how best to do this. Many GBs decide to appoint a SEND governor who then reports back to the GB. This, in my view, is a good way to function. The advantages of having a named SEND governor are

  • One named person takes the lead and ownership and then reports back to the whole GB
  • There are many areas which the GB needs to monitor and for all of these areas school visits will form an integral part of the monitoring. Having named governors for these areas means that the
    • Work load is divided and few governors do not end up doing all the tasks. As governors are volunteers this is essential so that their time is utilised effectively
    • Having one governor “look after” SEND means that one governor is then “accountable” for monitoring. This ensures that SEND doesn’t get neglected because everyone assumed someone else would do it
  • The SEND governor would, as part of the monitoring visits, meet with the SENDCo. One named governor performing the role of SEND governor means that the SENDCo can develop a professional relationship with that person. This would be difficult if different governors came into school to have conversations with the SENDCo
  • Because these monitoring visits would be arranged between two people, the SEND governor and the SENDCo, it would be easier for them to schedule regular visits as only two diaries need to be consulted. Different people coming in to meet the SENDCo would be more difficult to arrange than just one governor visiting. Having more than one person coming in may also increase the workload of the SENDCo as different people may want to focus on different things and also lead to duplication
  • Governors should attend training which would help them to function effectively. Having one named governor taking on the role of SEND governor means that there are more chances of this governor attending relevant training/briefing.
  • Different governors bring different skills to the boardroom. The GB may be lucky enough to have someone with a good understanding of SEND issues or someone who is interested enough to attend training/briefings/read research so as to become well informed of SEND issues. Giving this governor the role of SEND governor means that the GB is utilising the skills available to it effectively

Though having one named governor is, in my opinion, a good way to monitor and evaluate the SEND provision, the GB must ensure that ALL governors are aware of the issues and take responsibility for the SEND children. This is done by ensuring there is regular reporting by the governor and SENDCo and that SEND is a regular item on the agenda. At the end of the day although having one named governor is an efficient way of performing the role, the GB is a corporate body and the responsibility is a corporate responsibility.

Some other points to consider:

  • It may be better not to take on this role in the school your child attends if you are the parent of a SEND child
  • The SEND governor should have frequent meetings with the SENDCo (perhaps termly so that the GB has reports to consider at every meeting).
  • It would also help if the SEND governor could also meet with the pastoral team in order to get acquainted with the complete picture of the support available to SEND children

Are there any other points which should be added to the above?

Competency matters; knowledge and skills needed by at least one person

The Competency Framework was published last week alongside the revised Governance handbook.  DfE have identified six features of effective governance in the handbook. The framework lists 16 competencies for these six features. It has tried to “define more clearly the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for governance to play its full part in this [enough good school places for every child] vision.” The framework has been organised so that it first details the knowledge and skills needed by everyone and then explains what’s needed by chairs and finally those skills and knowledge which at least someone on the board must have. The framework lists some of the ways boards can make use of it (how to carry out a skills audit (NGA are revising their skills audit in light of this framework), define training needs, self evaluation etc). Sir David Carter pointed out on Twitter that the framework should not be used a checklist but as a tool. Also remember that, depending upon your context, parts of this may not apply to you.

There have been some comments that the framework is over burdensome. I had a read and decided to split it into three sections; applicable to all, applicable to chairs and finally competencies which at least someone should have. When you split it this way and then read it, I don’t think anyone can argue that this is what we should be aiming for. In fact I would argue that all “good” boards are already doing this and it would help others on their journey to becoming the type of board each and every school deserves. Again, this is not a checklist. Use it to inform your training needs, for example, or to drive your recruitment.

This blog lists the knowledge and skills which at least one person on the board should have or develop with training. The previous blogs dealt with knowledge and skills needed by everyone and those needed by chairs.

2.ACCOUNTABILITY FOR EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS AND FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

  • Educational improvement
    • Has knowledge of the requirements relating to the education of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
    • Has knowledge of the requirements relating to the safeguarding of children in education including the Prevent duty, th e duties and responsibilities in relation to health and safety in education
    • Is confident in their challenge to executive leaders on strategies for monitoring and improving the behaviour and safety of pupils/students
  • Rigorous analysis of data
    • Reviews and analyses a broad range of information and data in order to spot trends and patterns
  • Financial frameworks and accountability
    • Has knowledge of the organisations’ current financial health and efficiency and how this compares with similar organisations both locally and nationally
    • Uses their detailed financial knowledge and experience, which is appropriate for the scale of the organisation, to provide advice and guidance to the board
  • Staffing and performance management
    • Has knowledge of human resource (HR) education policy and the organisation’s processes in relation to teachers’ pay and conditions and the role of governance in staffing reviews, restructuring and due diligence
    • Monitors the outcome of pay decisions, including the extent to which different groups of teachers may progress at different rates and checks processes operate fairly

 

Competency Framework matters; knowledge and skills needed by chairs

The Competency Framework was published last week alongside the revised Governance handbook.  DfE have identified six features of effective governance in the handbook. The framework lists 16 competencies for these six features. It has tried to “define more clearly the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for governance to play its full part in this [enough good school places for every child] vision.” The framework has been organised so that it first details the knowledge and skills needed by everyone and then explains what’s needed by chairs and finally the skills and knowledge which at least someone on the board must have. The framework lists some of the ways boards can make use of it (how to carry out a skills audit (NGA are revising their skills audit in light of this framework), define training needs, self evaluation etc). Sir David Carter pointed out on Twitter that the framework should not be used a checklist but as a tool. Also remember that, depending upon your context, parts of this may not apply to you.

There have been some comments that the framework is over burdensome. I had a read and decided to split it into three sections; applicable to all, applicable to chairs and finally competencies which at least someone should have. When you split it this way and then read it, I don’t think anyone can argue that this is what we should be aiming for. In fact I would argue that all “good” boards are already doing this and it would help others on their  journey to becoming the type of board each and every school deserves. Again, this is not a checklist. Use it to inform your training needs, for example, or to drive your recruitment.

This blog lists the knowledge and skills which chairs should have or develop with training. The previous  blog dealt with knowledge and skills needed by everyone  and the third will deal with skills and knowledge needed by at least one  person on the board.

1 STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP

  • Setting the direction
    • Knows about national and regional educational priorities and the implications of these for the board and the organisation
    • Knows about leadership and management processes and tools that support organisational change
    • Thinks strategically
    • Leads the board and executive leaders in ensuring operational decisions contribute to strategic priorities
    • Adopts and strategically leads a systematic approach to change management
    • Provides effective leadership of organisational change even when this is difficult
  • Culture, values and ethos
    • Is able to recognise when the board or an individual member is not behaving as expected and take appropriate action to address this
    • Leads board meetings in a way which embodies the culture, values and ethos of the organisation
  • Decision-making
    • Ensures the board understands the scope of issues in question and is clear about decisions they need to make
    • Summarises the position in order to support the board to reach consensus where there are diverging views
    • Ensures that different perspectives, viewpoints and dissenting voices are properly taken into account and recorded
    • Facilitates decision-making even if difficult and manages the expectations of executive leaders when doing so
    • Recognises the limits of any discretionary chair’s powers and uses them under due guidance and consideration and with a view to limiting such use
    • Ensures the board seeks guidance from executive leaders or others in the senior leadership team and from the clerk/governance professional  before the board  commits to significant or controversial courses of action
  • Collaborative working with stakeholders and partners
    • Knows about the links that the organisation needs to make with the wider community
    • Knows about the impact and influence that a leader in the community has particularly on educational issues
    • Communicates clearly with colleagues, parents and carers, partners and other agencies and checks that their message has been heard and understood
    • Consider how to tailor their communications style in order to build rapport and confidence with stakeholders
    • Is proactive in seeking and maximising opportunities for partnership working where these are conducive to achieving the agreed strategic goals
    • Is proactive in sharing good practice and lessons learned where these can benefit others and the organisation
    • Demonstrates how stakeholder concerns and questions have shaped board discussions if not necessarily the final decision
    • When appropriate, seeks external professional advice, knowing where this advice is available from and how to go about requesting it
  • Risk management
    • Leads the board and challenges leaders appropriately in setting risk appetite and tolerance
    • Ensures that the board has sight of, and understands, organisational risks and undertakes scrutiny of risk management plans
    • Leads by example to avoid, declare and manage conflicts of interes
    • Knows when the board needs external expert advice on risk management

2. Accountability for educational standards and financial performance

  • Educational improvement
    • Works with the clerk, to ensure the right data is provided by executive leaders, which is accessible to board and open to scrutiny
    • Promotes the importance of data interrogation to hold executive leaders to account
  • Financial frameworks and accountability
    • Ensures the board holds executive leaders to account for financial and business management, as much as educational outcomes
    • Leads the board to identify when specialist skills and experience in audit, fraud or human resources is required either to undertake a specific task or more regularly to lead committees of the board
  • Financial management and monitoring
    • Knows about the process and documentation needed to make decisions related to leadership appraisal
    • Is confident and prepared in undertaking leadership appraisal
    • Is able to explain to the board their proposals on leadership pay awards for approval
  • External accountability
    • Is confident in providing strategic leadership to the board during periods of scrutiny
    • Ensures the board is aware of, and prepared for, formal external scrutiny

3. People

  • Building an effective team
    • Knows about the importance of succession planning to the ongoing effectiveness of both the board and the organisation
    • Ensure that everyone understands why they have been recruited and what role they play in the governance structure
    • Ensures new people are helped to understand their non-executive leadership role, the role of the board and the vision and strategy of the organisation enabling them to make a full contribution
    • Sets high expectations for conduct and behaviour for all those in governance and is an exemplary role model in demonstrating these
    • Creates an atmosphere of open, honest discussion where it is safe to challenge conventional wisdom
    • Creates a sense of inclusiveness where each member understands their individual contribution to the collective work of the board
    • Promotes and fosters a supportive working relationship between the: board, clerk/governance professional, executive leaders, staff of the organisation and external stakeholders
    • Identifies and cultivates leadership within the board
    • Recognises individual and group achievements, not just in relation to the board but in the wider organisation
    • Takes a strategic view of the skills that the board needs, identifies gaps and takes action to ensure these are filled
    • Develops the competence of the vice-chair to act as chair should the need arise.
    • Builds a close, open and supportive working relationship with the vice-chair which respects the differences in their roles
    • Values the importance of the clerk/governance professional and their assistance in the coordination of leadership and governance requirements of the organisation
    • Listens to the clerk/governance professional and takes direction from them on issues of compliance and other matters

4. Structures

  • Roles and responsibilities
    • Knows about the importance of their non-executive leadership role, not just in their current position but in terms of their contribution to local and, where appropriate, national educational improvement priorities
    • Leads discussions and decisions about what functions to delegate

5. Compliance

  • Statutory and contractual requirements
    • Sets sufficiently high expectations of the clerk governance professional, as applicable, ensuring the board is compliant with the regulatory framework for governance and, where appropriate, Charity and Company La
    • Ensures the board receives appropriate training or development where required on issues of compliance

6. Evaluation

  • Managing self-review and development
    • Actively invites feedback on their own performance as chair
    • Puts the needs of the board and organisation ahead of their own personal ambition and is willing to step down or move on at the appropriate time
  • Managing and developing the board’s effectiveness
    • Different leadership styles and applies these appropriately to enhance their personal effectiveness
    • Sets challenging development goals and works effectively with the board to meet them
    • Leads performance review of the board and its committees
    • Undertakes open and honest conversations with board members about their performance and development needs, and if appropriate, commitment or tenure
    • Recognises and develops talent in board members and ensures they are provided with opportunities to realise their potential
    • Creates a culture in which board members are encouraged to take ownership of their own development
    • Promotes and facilitates coaching, development, mentoring and support for all members of the board
    • Is open to providing peer support to other chairs and takes opportunities to share good practice and learning

Competency Framework matters; knowledge and skills needed by all

 The Competency Framework was published last week alongside the revised Governance handbook.  DfE have identified six features of effective governance in the handbook. The framework lists 16 competencies for these six features. It has tried to “define more clearly the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for governance to play its full part in this [enough good school places for every child] vision.” The framework has been organised so that it first details the knowledge and skills needed by everyone and then explains what’s needed by chairs and finally the skills and knowledge which at least someone on the board must have. The framework lists some of the ways boards can make use of it (how to carry out a skills audit (NGA are revising their skills audit in light of this framework), define training needs, self evaluation etc). Sir David Carter pointed out on Twitter that the framework should not be used a checklist but as a tool. Also remember that, depending upon your context, parts of this may not apply to you.

There have been some comments that the framework is over burdensome. I had a read and decided to split it into three sections; applicable to all, applicable to chairs and finally competencies which at least someone should have. When you split it this way and then read it, I don’t think anyone can argue that this is what we should be aiming for. In fact I would argue that all “good” boards are already doing this and it would help others on their  journey to becoming the type of board each and every school deserves. Again, this is not a checklist. Use it to inform your training needs, for example, or to drive your recruitment.

This blog lists the knowledge and skills which everyone should have or develop with training. The next blog will deal with knowledge and skills needed by chairs and the third those needed by at least one  person on the board.

KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS NEEDED BY EVERYONE.

1. Strategic Leadership

  • Setting direction
    • Has knowledge of key themes of national education policy and the local education context
    • Knows about key features of effective governance
    • Knows about the strategic priorities (and where appropriate, charitable objects) for their organisation
    • Has tools and techniques for strategic planning
    • Knows about principles of effective change management
    • Knows about the difference between strategic and operational decisions
    • Thinks strategically and contributes to the development of the organisation’s strategy
    • Can articulate the organisation’s strategic priorities (and where appropriate, charitable objects) and explain how these inform goals
    • Can put in place plans for monitoring progress towards strategic goals
    • Supports strategic change having challenged as appropriate so that change is in the best interests of children, young people and the organisation (and aligned with charitable objects, where appropriate)
    • Is able to champion the reasons for, and benefits of, change to all
  • Culture, values and ethos
    • Knows about the values of the organisation and how these are reflected in strategy and improvement plans
    • Knows about the ethos of the organisation and, where appropriate, that of the foundation trust including in relation to any religious character
    • Knows about the code of conduct for the board and how this embodies the culture, values and ethos of the organisation
    • Can set and agree the distinctive characteristics and culture of the organisation or, in schools with a religious designation, preserve and develop the distinctive character set out in the organisation’s trust deed
    • Acts in a way that exemplifies and reinforces the organisation’s culture, values and ethos
    • Ensures that policy and practice align with the organisation’s culture, values and ethos
  • Decision-making
    • Identifies viable options and those most likely to achieve the organisation’s goals and objectives
    • Puts aside vested or personal interests to make decisions that are in the best interests of all pupils/students
    • Acts with honesty, frankness and objectivity taking decisions impartially, fairly and on merit using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias
    • Brings integrity, and considers a range of perspectives and diverse ways of thinking to challenge the status quo, reject assumptions and take nothing for granted
    • Identifies when to seek the advice of an independent clerk/governance professional for guidance on statutory and legal responsibilities and ethical aspects of the board’s decision-making
    • Abides by the principle of collective-decision making and stands by the decisions of the board, even where their own view differ
    • Encourages transparency in decision making and is willingly answerable to, and open to challenge from, those with an interest in decisions made
  • Collaborative working with stakeholders and partners
    • Knows about key stakeholders and their relationship with the organisation
    • Knows about principles of effective stakeholder management
    • Knows about ools and techniques for stakeholder engagement, particularly with regard to engaging parents and carers
    • Is proactive in consulting, and responding to, the views of a wide group of stakeholders when planning and making decisions
    • Anticipates, prepare for and welcome stakeholder questions and ensures that these are answered in a relevant, appropriate and timely manne
    • Works in partnership with outside bodies where this will contribute to achieving the goals of the organisation
    • Uses clear language and messaging to communicate to parents and carers, pupils/students, staff and the local community
    • Is credible, open, honest and appropriate when communicating with stakeholders and partners including clear and timely feedback on how their views have been taken into account
    • Considers the impact of the board’s decisions and the effect they will have on the key stakeholder groups and especially parents and carers and the local community
    • Acts as an ambassador for the organisation
    • Supports and challenges leaders to raise aspiration and community cohesion both within the wider community and with local employers
  • Risk management
    • Knows about the principles of risk management and how these apply to education and the organisation
    • Knows about the process for risk management in the organisation and especially how and when risks are escalated through the organisation for action
    • Knows about the risks or issues that can arise from conflicts of interest or a breach of confidentiality
    • Is able to identify and prioritise the organisational and key risks, their impact and appropriate countermeasures, contingencies and risk owners
    • Ensures risk management and internal control systems are robust enough to enable the organisation to deliver its strategy in the short- and long-term
    • Advises on how risks should be managed or mitigated to reduce the likelihood or impact of the risk and on how to achieve the right balance of risk
    • Ensures the risk management and internal control systems are monitored and reviewed and appropriate actions are taken
    • Actively avoids conflicts of interest or otherwise declares and manages them

2. Accountability for educational standards and financial performance

  • Educational improvement
    • Knows about the importance and impact of high-quality teaching to improving outcomes and the systems, techniques and strategies used to measure teaching quality, pupil progress and attainment
    • Knows about the importance of a broad and balanced of the curriculum
    • Knows about the rationale for the chosen curriculum and how this both promotes the ethos of the organisation and meets the needs of the pupils/students
    • Knows about the relevant national standards for the phase and type of education and how these are used for accountability and benchmarking
    • Knows about the relevant statutory testing and assessment regime
    • Knows about the purposes and principles of assessment outlined in the final report of the Commission on Assessment Without Levels.
    • Knows about the rationale behind the assessment system being used to monitor and measure pupil progress in the organisation
    • Knows about the key principles, drivers and cycle of school improvement
    • Knows about the relevant indicators for monitoring behaviour and safety including information about admissions, exclusions, behaviour incidents, bullying and complaints
    • Knows about the role of behaviour in maintaining a safe environment and promoting learning
    • Establishes clear expectations for executive leaders in relation to the process of educational improvement and intended outcomes
    • Define the range and format of information and data they need in order to hold executive leaders to account
    • Seeks evidence from executive leaders to demonstrate the appropriateness and potential impact of proposed improvement initiatives
    • Questions leaders on how the in-school assessment system in use effectively supports the attainment and progress of all pupils, including those with a Special Educational Need or Disability (SEND)
  • Rigorous analysis of data
    • Knows about the DfE performance tables and school comparison tool
    • Knows about RAISEOnline for school and pupil data
    • Knows about the evidence base that data is derived from e.g. pupil attainment and progress data and how it is collected, quality assured and monitored across the organisation
    • Knows about the context of the school and in relation to other schools
    • Knows about information about attendance and exclusions in the school, local area and nationally
    • Knows about the importance of triangulating information about pupil progress and attainment with other evidence including information from, executive leaders (e.g. lesson observations, work scrutiny and learning walks), stakeholders including parents, pupils, staff) and external information (benchmarks, peer reviews, external experts)
    • Analyses and interprets data in order to evaluate performance of groups of pupils/students
    • Analyses and interprets progression and destination data to understand where young people are moving on to after leaving the organisation
    • Uses published data to understand better which areas of school performance need improvement and is able to identify any further data that is required
    • Questions leaders on whether they are collecting the right data to inform their assessment and challenges appropriately when data collection is not adding value.
    • Challenges senior leaders to ensure that the collection of assessment data is purposeful, efficient and valid.
  • Financial frameworks and accountability
    • Knows about the financial policies and procedures of the organisation, including its funding arrangements, funding streams and its mechanisms for ensuring financial accountability
    • Knows about the organisation’s internal control processes and how these are used to monitor spend and ensure propriety to secure value for public money
    • Knows about tthe financial health and efficiency of the organisation and how this compares with similar organisations locally and nationally
    • Has a basic understanding of financial management in order to ensure the integrity of financial information received by the board and to establish robust financial controls
    • Has confidence in the arrangements for the provision of accurate and timely financial information, and the financial systems used to generate such information
    • Interprets budget monitoring information and communicate this clearly to others
    • Participates in the organisation’s self-evaluation of activities relating to financial performance, efficiency and control
    • Is rigorous in their questioning to understand whether enough being done to drive financial efficiency and align budgets to priorities
  • Financial management and monitoring
    • Knows about the organisation’s process for resource allocation and the importance of focussing allocations on impact and outcomes
    • Knows about the importance of setting and agreeing a viable financial strategy and plan which ensure sustainability and solvency
    • Knows about how the organisation receives funding through the pupil premium and other grants e.g. primary sport funding, how these are spent and how spending has an impact on pupil outcomes
    • Knows about the budget setting, audit requirements and timescales for the organisation and checks that they are followed
    • Knows about the principles of budget management and how these are used in the organisation
    • Assimilates the financial implications of organisational priorities and use this knowledge to make decisions about allocating current and future funding
    • Interprets financial data and asks informed questions about income, expenditure and resource allocation and alignment with the strategic plan priorities
  • Staffing and performance management
    • Knows about the organisation’s annual expenditure on staff and resource and any data against which this can be benchmarked against
    • Knows about how staff are recruited to the organisation and how this compares to good recruitment and retention practice
    • Knows about how staff performance management is used throughout the organisation in line with strategic goals and priorities and how this links to the criteria for staff pay progression, objective setting and development planning
    • Knows about the remuneration system for staff across the organisation
    • Ensures that the staffing and leadership structures are fit for purpose
    • Takes full responsibility for maintaining, updating and implementing a robust and considered pay policy
    • Feels confident in approving and applying the system for performance management of executive leaders
    • Identifies and considers the budgetary implication of pay decisions and considers these in the context of the spending plan
    • Pays due regard to ensuring that leaders and teachers are able to have a satisfactory work life balance
  • External accountability
    • Knows about the purpose, nature and processes of formal accountability and scrutiny (e.g. DfE, Ofsted, EFA etc.) and what is required by way of evidence
    • Knows about the national performance measures used to monitor and report performance –including the minimum standards that trigger eligibility for intervention
    • Ensures appropriate structures, processes and professional development are in place to support the demands of internal and external scrutiny
    • Values the ownership that parents and carers and other stakeholders feel about ‘their school’ and ensures that the board makes itself accessible and answerable to them
    • Uses an understanding of relevant data and information to present verbal and written responses to external scrutiny (e.g. inspectors/RSCs/EFA)

3. People

  • Building an effective team
    • Demonstrates commitment to their role and to active participation in governance
    • Ability to acquire the basic knowledge that they need to be effective in their role
    • Uses active listening effectively to build rapport and strong collaborative relationships
    • Welcomes constructive challenge and is respectful when challenging others
    • Provides timely feedback and is positive about receiving feedback in return
    • Seeks to resolve misunderstanding at the earliest stage in order to prevent conflict
    • Raises doubts and encourages the expression of differences of opinion
    • Is honest, reflective and self-critical about mistakes made and lessons learned
    • Influences others and builds consensus using persuasion and clear presentation of their views
    • Demonstrates professional ethics, values and sound judgement
    • Recognises the importance of, and values the advice provided by, the clerk/governance professional role in supporting the board.

4. Structures

  • Roles and responsibilities
    • Knows about the role, responsibilities and accountabilities of the board, and its three core functions
    • Knows about the strategic nature of the board’s role and how this differs from the role of executive leaders and what is expected of each other
    • In academy trusts, knows about the role and powers of Members and how these relate to those of the board
    • Knows about the governance structure of the organisation and particularly how governance functions are organised and delegated, including where decisions are made
    • Knows how the board and any committees (including local governing bodies in a MAT)are constituted
    • Is able to contribute to the design of governance and committee structures that are fit for purpose and appropriate to the scale and complexity of the organisation
    • Is able to adapt existing committee structures as necessary in light of learning/experience including evaluation of impact

5. Compliance

  • Statutory and contractual requirements
    • Knows about the legal, regulatory and financial requirements on the board
    • Knows about the need to have regard to any statutory guidance and government advice including the Governance Handbook
    • Knows about the duties placed upon them under education and employment legislation, and, for academy trusts, the Academies Financial Handbook and their funding agreement(s)
    • Knows about the articles of association or instrument of government and where applicable, the Trust Deeds
    • Knows about the Ofsted inspection/regulatory framework
    • Where applicable, knows about the denominational inspection carried in accordance with s. 48 of the Education Act 2005
    • Knows about the board’s responsibilities in regard to Equalities and Health and Safety legislation
    • Knows about duties relating to safeguarding, including the Prevent Duty; duties related to special education needs and disabilities (SEND); and duties related to information, including in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000
    • Knows about the school’s whistleblowing policy and procedures and any responsibilities of the board within it
    • Knows about the importance of adhering to organisation policies e.g. on parental complaints or staff discipline issues
    • Is able to speak up when concerned about non-compliance where it has not been picked-up by the board or where they feel it is not being taken seriously
    • Is able to explain the board’s legal responsibilities and accountabilities
    • Is able to identify when specialist advice may be required

6. Evaluation

  • Managing self-review and development
    • Recognises their own strengths and areas for development and seeks support and training to improve knowledge and skills where necessary
    • Is outward facing and focused on learning from others to improve practice
    • Maintains a personal development plan to improve his/her effectiveness and links this to the strategic aims of the organisation
    • Is open to taking-up opportunities, when appropriate, to attend training and any other opportunities to develop knowledge, skills and behaviours
    • Obtains feedback from a diverse range of colleagues and stakeholders to inform their own development
    • Undertakes self-review, reflecting on their personal contributions to the board, demonstrating and developing their commitment to improvement, identifying areas for development and building on existing knowledge and skills
  • Managing and developing the board’s effectiveness
    • Evaluates the impact of the board’s decisions on pupil/student outcomes
    • Utilises inspection feedback fully to inform decisions about board development
    • Contributes to self-evaluation processes to identify strengths and areas for board development