Tag Archives: Recruitment

New governor induction matters


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

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

Induction Pack

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

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

Expectations

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

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

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Head appointment matters; Governors’ role in the recruitment process

I alltended the first Women Ed Residential Conference on 13th Feb 2016 (I was able to go to only the Saturday session). My session was on “Appointing a headteacher. All you wanted to know about the GB’s role in the recruitment process but didn’t know who to ask”.  My slides from the session are below.

 

Further reading:

Choosing the right school to apply to apply for headship and Being a headteacher interviewee by Stuart Lock

New Challenge? Advice for getting that job by Tom Sherrington

Constitution of MS governing bodies; August 2015 statutory guidance. Knowing what’s changed matters

14th August saw the publication of the statutory guidance relating to the constitution of governing bodies (GB’s) of maintained schools. As the guidance is statutory GB’s and local authorities MUST have regard to it. The guidance was last published in March 2015. Changes to the March version are indicated below in red and my comments are in green.

Main points

E. Anyone appointing governors to the governing body must appoint someone they believe has the skills to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school. Their decisions should be informed by interviews and references.

K. Governing bodies should publish on their websites information about their governors, including relevant business and pecuniary interests.

Priorities in deciding the membership of the governing body

13.     A skills audit, such as that produced by the National Governors’ Association, should be used to identify the skills, knowledge and experience of current governors and any additional specific skills or experience that the governing body ideally requires. The outcome of the audit will help the governing body or other appointing persons3 to formulate their opinion as to whether prospective governors have the skills to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school. To make an informed decision on the matter an interview or detailed discussion will need to take place with each prospective candidate, with references (oral or written) taken as necessary and appropriate. The skills audit will also help to inform governor elections as discussed below. [This, I think, is a good move. It will allow the GB to spell out the needs of the GB and also make clear the commitment needed. GB’s sometimes do not make it clear that governance is much more than attending a few meetings a year. It is in everyone’s interest if the nature of the job and the commitment needed is made clear right from the start.]

15.     Governing bodies and others responsible for nominating or appointing governors should make use of all available channels to identify suitable governors. This includes the services of SGOSS and Inspiring the Future which are funded by the Department to provide a free service to governing bodies, local authorities and diocese to help them find new governors with the skills they require.

17.     We recognise that there are people who have the skill and the time to serve effectively on a number of governing bodies, and we do not want to restrict their ability to do so. However, where a prospective governor is already a governor of another school, the chair of governors should speak to the chair of the other governing body to discuss both the skills of the individual and, where appropriate, their capacity to serve effectively on an additional governing body. It is likely that only in exceptional circumstances will it be practical and beneficial for an individual to serve on more than two governing bodies – but this is rightly a matter for the appointing body to decide. [Gemma raised an interesting question on Twitter regarding this; what would happen if the Chair of Governors decided to join another GB. Would the Vice Chair be contacted or would the fact that the prospective candidate is a Chair mean that the new GB does not need to check his/her skills and ability to serve on two GB’s?]

Publication of Governor’s Details and the Register of Interests

25.     Governors hold an important public office and their identity should be known to their school and wider communities. In the interests of transparency, a governing body should publish on its website up-to-date details of its governance arrangements in a readily accessible form (Readily accessible means that the information should be on a webpage without the need to download or open a separate document.).
This should include:

• the structure and remit of the governing body and any committees, and the full names of the chair of each;

• for each governor who has served at any point over the past 12 months:

• their full names, date of appointment, term of office, date they stepped down (where applicable), who appointed them (in accordance with the governing body’s instrument of government),

• relevant business and pecuniary interests (as recorded in the register of interests) including:

• governance roles in other educational institutions;

• any material interests arising from relationships between governors or relationships between governors and school staff (including spouses, partners and close relatives); and

• their attendance record at governing body and committee meetings over the last academic year.

[Academies already publish the above information about their governors. Now GB’s of maintained schools will also need to publish this information. Although this may be in response to certain events such as the Trojan Horse, it does mean that GB’s will have to be transparent about their members, their interests, appointment routes, etc. I also like the idea of publicising attendance records.]

27.     Governing bodies should make it clear in their code of conduct that this information will be published on their governors and any associate members. Any governor failing to provide information to enable the governing body to fulfil their responsibilities may be in breach of the code of conduct and as a result be bringing the governing body into disrepute. In such cases the governing body should consider suspending the governor.

As GB’s will have had to reconstitute by 1st Sept 2015, the following paragraphs which were present in the March guidance are no longer in the August guidance.

Transition from 2007 constitution (federation) regulations

28.     All governing bodies must be constituted under the 2012 Constitution Regulations or 2012 Federations Regulations, as appropriate by 1 September 2015. This will create consistency across the country under a single more flexible regulatory framework. Governing bodies may reconstitute on any date up to 1 September 2015 and are invited to consider the most effective and suitable date for reconstitution. Where governing bodies expect to follow the regulatory procedure for removing surplus governors, they will want to ensure that the date of their reconstitution falls before the end of the term of office of their most effective governors.

29.     Governing bodies currently constituted under the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007 or the School Governance (Federations) (England) Regulations 2007 are invited to use the process of transition to take stock of whether their size, structure and membership are fit for purpose to deliver their core functions and other duties. While some may make minimal changes, others may identify the need and opportunity for a fundamental re-fresh. Many governing bodies have already benefited significantly from this process with the help of a skills audit and other self-evaluation tools such as the All Party Parliamentary Group’s ‘20 Questions’ and the criteria for effective governance in Ofsted’s Inspection Handbook.

30.     Governors remaining within the new structure in their current category will continue to serve out their term of office. For those newly appointed or re-appointed to a different category, a new term of office will start. Particularly where there has been significant change, it is likely to be appropriate to hold new elections for a chair and vice-chair of governors. Any change to the number of foundation governors will need to be first negotiated and agreed with the relevant appointing body.

So, the important points, in my opinion are:

  1. While appointing new governors interviews, references should be used. Someone who already serves on one GB can expect his/her Chair to be asked to comment on the person’s skills and the ability to serve on more than one GB.
  2. Details of the GB, committees (including names of governors and their terms of office, appointment routes, business and pecuniary interests, names of committee chairs and attendance records have to be published on websites.
  3. GB’s will need to make sure that the above information is on their websites in “easily accessible format”. In practical terms this would mean that either the clerk will need to be able to make changes to the website as and when needed or send the information to the person who can do so. This is yet another example of the important role played by clerks and the need for GB’s to employ professional clerks
  4. Having a code of conduct is becoming more and more important. The code should include a clause relating to the publication of governor details on the website and it should be made clear that failure to provide these details can constitute a breach of the code which may lead to suspension.
  5. Skill audits are also increasingly important as they can inform training needs and identify gaps which may be filled by appointing governors with requisite skills.

Further reading:

  1. Statutory guidance: Constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools August 2015
  2. Publication of governor’s details and register of interests

Staff interviews; strategic and operational matters

One of the most important jobs a governor could be asked upon to perform is to appoint the head and be involved in the appointment of the senior leadership team. These are key strategic decisions and therefore governors are, rightly, asked to be part of them. Where things get muddied is when governors get involved in appointments of staff who are not part of the leadership team. This can happen for a host of reasons. The governing board and/or school may think that appointments of all staff are part of our function. The board may have someone who has HR experience or qualifications and therefore it is thought that it would be good to involve them and use their expertise. The school may not have enough staff to form an interview panel and asks governors to make up numbers. The Head may get along really well with the Chair and other governors and values their opinion. None of these, in my opinion, are valid reasons for governors to stray into what is essentially an operational matter.

It is true that governing boards are now expected to recruit for skills. This, however, does not mean that boards are looking for free or cheap labour! If there is an HR expert on the board then that does not means that he/she should be involved in interviews as an HR expert. Schools should have procedures in place to take care of HR. Having skilled people on the board means you have people who have the skill to ask the right questions to determine if the right procedures are in place and being adhered to. They are not there to DO the work.

If the school does not have enough people to make up an interview panel then that may mean two things. The school leadership may not be doing enough to develop and train their middle and senior leaders. These interviews are an excellent opportunity for heads to develop their team. So, instead of offering to plug the gap, governors need to be looking at why these skills are not present in house. The other thing you need to consider is if it is time to admit that you are too small to be viable and look at federating or joining a MAT. This is something that is hard to hear and take on board, but if you need governors to form an interview panel then your school may be just too small to be viable.

Sometimes governors say that the head really values their opinion and therefore asks them along to the interviews. It is good to hear that the head values their views but, and this is a big but, the head should not ask governors to stray into operational matters and governors need to be clear about this. Heads, chairs and governors should share opinions and should have regard to each others’ views but this should only apply to strategic matters.

Governors have been known to say that governance take up a lot of their time. This is one example of time spent by governors on doing something which is not part of their role.

I did a search on the web for examples of questions teachers and classroom assistants could be asked at interviews. Examples of these are copied below.

Interview questions

  • What are your particular strengths in the curriculum? (Primary Teachers)
  • If we were to walk in to your classroom what would we see?
  • Tell us about a recent lesson which was good and why you felt it was good/successful
  • Tell us about a recent lesson which was not so good and why you felt it was not as successful as you would have liked
  • How is your classroom management?
  • Name some methods/strategies you use to maintain discipline in your classes
  • How do you help weaker students in your classes?
  • How do you differentiate work?
  • How do you know if students are learning in your class?
  • How do you gauge this?
  • What forms of assessment do you use and how do you use this information? How does this impact on planning and future activities?
  • Do you use formative or summative assessment in your teaching?

Teaching Assistant

  • Why do you want to be a teaching assistant?
  • Why do you think you would be a good teaching assistant?
  • What do you think the role of a teaching assistant is?
  • What do you think will be the main activities you will do each day as a teaching assistant?
  • How would you deal with a child who was throwing paper around the classroom?
  • What’s your experience of working with children?
  • Why do you enjoy working with children?
  • What experience could you bring from previous posts to your work at this school?
  • What would you do if a child complained they were bored?
  • What would you do if a child didn’t understand what they were supposed to be doing?
  • How could you support pupils’ reading?
  • How can you tell whether children have learnt something during the task they’ve just completed?

After reading these questions I am even more convinced that taking part in interviews for positions other than those of the leadership team is not a strategic role. It leads to confusion about the different roles, interference in management, governors spending time on something which NGA and DfE agree is not part of governor’s remit and also means that opportunities for development of leaders are reduced or lost.

 

 

 

 

Recruitment matters

Governing bodies are starting to get noticed and that is how it should be. This renewed focus on governing bodies can only be a good thing as it will lead to raising the profile of governors. For far too long governors have been working away in the background without anyone, or hardly anyone, noticing what an essential service they provide and what hard work that is. This renewed focus on governance also means an increased accountability, again a very good thing. The third thing which I hope this focus on governance will bring about is the recognition by governing bodies of the need to recruit the “right” governors to fill the empty places around the table.

I have previously written about some of the qualities which a person needs to possess in order to be considered a “right” governor. The next question is where and how do we find this person?! In order to recruit the right person you need to use all the resources at your disposal. Consider a “Recruitment Agency”. One example of this is SGOSS. Have you thought of using your Clerk as a head-hunter?! If you employ a professional clerk then he/she would be clerking other GBs too and would have firsthand experience of how good those governors are. Let your Clerk know that you would value his/her input and ask for feelers to be put out. The Clerk would probably know if a governor was interested in joining another GB. If you have a good clerk and that clerk recommends a governor, then don’t let that governor slip through your fingers! When appointing governors, if possible, seek feedback from people who know or work with the potential governor. Social media can be a powerful tool while searching for people to serve on your board. Consider using social media like Twitter to advertise the fact that you are looking for a new parent governor, for example.

When appointing governors try and make sure you don’t end up with the same type of people around the table. This means there needs to be mixture of skills and to achieve this you should think of conducting a skills’ review before you recruit new governors. The review would reveal which skills were available to you and which were lacking. You could then tailor your recruitment drive to ensure that you had a variety of skills around the table to call upon. Remember though that you are appointing people for their experience in various fields, not to use them as “cheap or free labour”!

It may be best to have a “job description” or a person specification. This should make it clear what the board expects from the successful applicant (such as the how many meetings will the governor be expected to attend, the need for training, etc.).

When thinking of appointing or recruiting new governors think about board diversity. Will someone looking around your table, describe your governors as being “male, pale and stale?” Are both genders represented equally or are most of your governors men? If the answer is no to the first half of the question and yes to the second half, then do you know why? Is there anything you can do while recruiting to change that? You may need to go out into the community and ask what you could do to attract more women. You may need to change the timings of some of your meetings or you may need to give some thought to providing child care while they are attending meetings. If you are a secondary school, you may have 6th Form students who may be willing to run a crèche once or twice a term. Changing the timing or providing a crèche may help attract those women who may not have applied otherwise.

Do your governors come from the various racial and ethnic groups which make up your community? When advertising for jobs we make sure we include a statement about being an equal opportunity employer. Maybe thought needs to be given to a similar statement when we are looking to appoint governors. This may help in attracting the underrepresented groups. What may also help in recruitment from these groups is if you were to make it clear how diversity in the board make up will help the students and the school.

What is the average age of your governors? Young people have a lot to offer. They may have skills the older members of the board lack and they can, therefore, contribute as much as the older governors. Clare Collins has recently written about an initiative she is involved with. She found the young governors she was working with to be energetic, enthusiastic and curious. She feels that boards should have governors who are “young enough to be able to really relate to the children now going through our schools”. Surely, this can only be a good thing. This is where using social media will be really useful. You will be able to reach your young audience more easily if you use social media to announce the fact that you are recruiting.

One important point to remember is that you must not let the above become a box ticking exercise. Recruiting people so that you are able to get the right people around the table with a diversity of skills, ethnic backgrounds, gender, and age will have many advantages. It reflects your school and local community, it will lead to healthier debate and hopefully it will make your board more capable of tackling issues.


Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hopefully, with the right strategies the right people will be recruited so that governing bodies become more like the bright, happy picture just above rather than the grey and dull one at the top.