Tag Archives: Training

Governors and @researchED1 matters

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

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

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

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

Ed 2014 Matters

Governors Go To researchEd Cambridge!

Governors go to #rED15 because research matters Part 1

Governors go to #rED15 because research matters Part 2

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

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

@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.

Governance matters at #EducationFest 


Next week for two days (23rd, 24th) I’ll be at Wellington College attending the Telegraph Festival of Edcation. Not only will I have the chance to hear (and hopefully meet) educators who I admire greatly, I’m also lucky enough to be taking part in two panel discussions on governance.

The organisers need to be thanked for including a governance strand. If governance is your “thing” then these sessions will be of interest to you.

Thursday:

1. School Governors: Rising to The Challenge Jo Penn, Naureen Khalid, Clare Collins (11:50-12:40; MFL 2)

2.Building an education system on lasting collaboration, leadership and great governance Sir David Carter (13:30-14:20; Waterloo Hall)

3. The Everchanging Governance Landscape Naureen Khalid, Katie Paxton-Dogget, Jo Penn, Prof Chris James (14:30-15:20; MFL 2)

4. Education Education Renumeration: should governors be paid? Gerard Kelly and Emma Knights  (14:30-15:20; Concert Room)

Friday

5. Amo, Amas, A MAT; achieving a successful love match Donna Munday, Kien Lac (13:30-14:20; MFL 4)

6. Leadership makes the biggest difference Prof Toby Salt, Nicole McCartney (14:30-15:20; MFL 7)

7. Effective governance in multi academy trusts Andy Guest, Chris Tweedale (16:00-16:50; MFL 9)

The complete programme can be downloaded using this link

Schools White Paper 2016; governance matters

Schools White Paper 2016 (Educational Excellence Everywhere) was published on 17th March 2016. The governance related parts (Chapter 3) are as below. (text in bold is my emphasis).

Strategic leadership and oversight by skilled governing boards

3.27. As we move to a more autonomous school-led system, it is increasingly vital that schools operate under effective governing boards. As the key decision maker and accountable body for their school(s), governing boards have a vital strategic role, which they should deliver in a dynamic and professional manner: focusing strongly on their core functions of setting the vision and ethos for their school(s), holding school leaders to account and making sure money is well spent.

3.28. The growth of MATs will improve the quality of governance – meaning that the best governing boards will take responsibility for more schools. As fewer, more highly skilled boards take more strategic oversight of the trust’s schools, MAT boards will increasingly use professionals to hold individual school-level heads to account for educational standards and the professional management of the school, allowing school-level governing boards to focus on understanding and championing the needs of pupils, parents and the wider local community. This does not mean less accountability – MATs must publish a clear scheme of delegation to set out how their governance is organised, including any functions they choose to delegate to regional or school level.

3.29. In recent years we have given governing boards more freedom to appoint the best possible people with the skills the board needs to be effective.

3.30. We will expect all governing boards to focus on seeking people with the right skills for governance, and so we will no longer require academy trusts to reserve places for elected parents on governing boards. We will offer this freedom to all open and new academies, and as we move towards a system where every school is an academy, fully skills-based governance will become the norm across the education system.

3.31. Parents often have these skills and many parents already play a valuable role in governance – and will always be encouraged to serve on governing boards. We will also expect every academy to put in place arrangements for meaningful engagement with all parents, to listen to their views and feedback.

3.32. To encourage everyone involved in governance to develop their skills, we will work with schools and MATs to develop a competency framework defining the core skills and knowledge needed for governance in different contexts. We will also set a new, stronger requirement on all governing boards to ensure that individuals are properly inducted, and receive the training or development they need to develop the skills set out in the competency framework. We have extended licensed delivery of NCTL training programmes for chairs and clerks until September 2017, and will review our approach to governance training programmes in light of the new competency framework.

3.33. Clear, high quality information about performance is essential for good governance, and so we will make it easier for members of governing boards to access high quality, objective data about their school’s educational and financial performance.

3.34. In March 2016 we launched a new, clearer website displaying school performance tables, making it easier for governing boards, parents and others to find key information and compare the results of schools (see more in chapter 7). We will continue to develop this in response to feedback to make it easier than ever to understand a school’s performance. Where data suggests that there may be an issue within a school or MAT, we will pilot a proactive approach to alert governing boards so that they can investigate and, if necessary, take action.

3.35. We have a long and rich tradition of voluntary trusteeship and we expect the vast majority of those involved in governance will continue to be unpaid, volunteering to serve their community and give their school(s) the benefit of their expertise and commitment. As the scale of the challenge in governing large and growing MATs increases, we may see more of them seeking Charity Commission authorisation to offer payment to attract the very best people into key positions such as the chair of the board.

We will establish a database of everyone involved in governance. We intend to legislate so we can bar unsuitable individuals from being governors of maintained schools (as we can already in academies and independent schools).

The crucial role of governance makes it more important than ever to ensure that only the right individuals are involved. So we will extend Edubase to establish a database of everyone involved in governance, requiring schools and MATs to start providing information from September 2016, and we intend to legislate so that we have the power to bar unsuitable individuals from being governors of maintained schools, to mirror the existing barring power for academies and independent schools.

 

The Governance handbook Contents: Working out what’s new matters. Part 1

The Governors’ handbook has been renamed as The Governance handbook and was published on 26th Nov 2015. There seems to have been a rather a major re-write rather than just additions to the older versions as is clear from the comparison of the Contents pages below. This is perhaps why an appendix detailing all the changes wasn’t included in the new version as it would have been a rather long appendix! I will be reading the new version over the next few days and will blog any major changes/additions.

Sir Michael Wilshaw’s views on governance matter

In his second monthly commentary, Sir Michael Wilshaw discussed the role governance plays in today’s complex educational landscape. The important points in his commentary, for me, are as below.

1. Importance of training: Sir M Wilshaw is of the opinion that people who do not have the right training and the understanding of the role have no place on boards. He is disappointed that there has been no progress on making training mandatory. He believes high quality training, especially for chairs and vice chairs is essential. He has asked inspectors to focus on training and the arrangement to schools make for this when they judge governance.

I agree with all of this and have previously written about it here and here . Governors themselves have been asking for training, at least induction training, to be made mandatory. This is especially important as governors in academies are company directors and charity trustees and need to understand what this entails.

2. Payment: He asks once again if the time has come to think of paying governors, at least the chair and vice chair, in order to recruit the most able people to serve on boards of schools in difficult circumstances.

Nothing I have read so far convinces me that paying would help raise governance standards. I have written in more detail about this here.

3. Board constitution: Sir M Wilshaw discusses “representative governors”, in particular parent governors. He agrees with the Department’s view that governance should be about the level of knowledge people bring to the board rather than how many people represent particular groups.

I have expressed my views on this here and here.

Sir M Wilshaw goes on to say that commitment to the role is essential and there is no place for people who serve on boards just to enhance their CV’s (I am reminded of Gove’s “local worthies”!).

4. In depth survey into board effectiveness: Ofsted will carry out an “in-depth and far-reaching survey” into effectiveness of governance. The report will be published next year and will be looking into

  • Do boards have enough professional skills and experience?
  • Paying governors
  • Do LA’s and Regional Commissioners intervene soon enough?
  • Are there provisions for training?
  • Support received for appointments of heads and the board’s role in succession planning
  • Role of NLG’s
  • Are external reviews of governance an effective tool to bring about improvement?
  • Challenges of governing stand alone academies
  • Relationship between MAT boards and their local governing bodies

This seems like it will be an extensive piece of work. I’m interested in finding out how it will be done. Will governors of schools being inspected between now and when the report is published be used to inform Ofsted’s views on the above matters? I think governors of schools due to be inspected should be ready to answer questions on at least some of the above (training will definitely be asked about, I think).

One concern is whether Ofsted has the governance expertise to undertake this task. 

As part of this survey he is calling for evidence from anyone who has a view to express. I hope governors and trustees will take part in this survey so that our views are expressed and hopefully inform the report.

It has been pointed out that clerks are conspicous by their absence in this commentary.

I share these concerns. Clerks can make or break a governing board. For a board to be truly effective it needs to have the services of a good, independent, well paid, professional clerk. Maybe the survey Ofsted will carry out needs to look at this too.
Update: 

Emma Knights of NGA responds

Martin Mathews responds

Sir John Dunford comments

Developing skilled and strategic governance matters

Optimus Education have organised conferences on governance in the past (I have storified tweets from the Birmingham conference here). As these events have proved to be very popular Optimus have decided to hold the conference again on 14th October, this time in Leeds. What’s more if you use the promotion code NK01 you can get £30 off the standard rate.*

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

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

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

The new Ofsted framework and governors

This will be the focus of the first keynote address of the day which will be delivered by Ruth Agnew. She will also be talking about evidence which you may be expected to present during your inspection. Ruth is a National Leader of Governance and a very experienced governance consultant. Her address will be worth listening to (especially as she is someone who really engages her audience).

Roles and responsibilities of governors and trustees

The second keynote will be delivered by Emma Knights, Chief Executive NGA. Her keynote will be about the effective governance after the Trojan Horse scandal and the roles and responsibilities of governors. Emma will also be leading one of the morning’s sessions.

Understanding statutory obligations of governing bodies

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

Recruitment of skilled governors

The fourth keynote will be delivered by Lynne Tommony, National Leader of Governance who will be looking at how governing bodies can identify and recruit highly skilled governors. Recruitment of skilled governors is becoming more and more important but, sadly, at the same time for many governing bodies, it is also becoming harder. This session will, therefore, be very useful and timely.

Streamed sessions

There will be various sessions running throughout the day which will equip you with tools to help your governing body discharge its functions effectively.

Morning sessions:

1A You will have a chance to hear from Matt Millar, NLG and Chair of Governors about his Ofsted experience. He will be talking about what evidence were the inspectors looking for and what questions were put to him and his fellow governors.

1B Emma will lead this session and she will be talking about NGA’s new framework of governance and how that can be used to drive the development of strategic vision by governing bodies.

1C As governors one of our duties is data evaluation which is what Dr Jamie Clarke, Executive Headteacher, Sponne School will be talking about

After lunch sessions:

2A Yvonne Lewington’s, (Lead Consultant, From Good To Outstanding), session will be on skill audits. She will be talking about how to conduct an audit and how to use the results to inform your governing body’s training and recruitment needs.

2B Sue Pagliaro, Director, LiveLearn (UK) Ltd, School Governance Consultancy will be discussing effective clerking. Professional and effective clerking is very important and this session will focus on how governing bodies can make best use of their clerks.

2C Governors, especially those who serve on Standards/Curriculum committees will find Deborah Thompson’s, (Head of School Improvement, London Borough of Enfield) session very useful. She will be talking about the changes in the curriculum and assessment and what governors need to know/do moving forward.

3A As governors we are expected to ask questions, hold the school to account and provide effective challenge. Shena Lewington (Governance Consultant whose website is a very rich source resources for governors) will be holding a session which will equip governors to do just this by developing questioning skills and building confidence.

3B In this session Ruth will be talking about how to structure governing bodies and committees so that they work efficiently and using best practice examples.

3C Andy Kent (NLG and Chair, National Co-ordinators of Governor Services) will be discussing the ways and methods governing bodies can use to evaluate their schools’ strengths and weaknesses and how to devise school improvement plans.

Who should attend the conference?

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

You may also like to read

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

Questioning and effective challenge by Shena Lewington

Developing skilled and strategic governing bodies by Ruth Agnew

* Not to be used in conjuction with any other offer.