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Governing Body Review January 2015

 

Whalley Church of England Primary School – Governing Body Review, January 2015

 

Governing bodies’ core functions

 

The department (for education) has high expectations of governing bodies. They are the strategic leaders of our schools and have a vital role to play in making sure every child gets the best possible education. For maintained schools this is reflected in the law, which states that the purpose of maintained school governing bodies is to ‘conduct the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement at the school. In all types of schools, governing bodies should have a strong focus on three core strategic functions:

 

    -Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction

 

    -Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff

   

    -Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent

The Governors' Handbook, DfE

 

 

The Ofsted inspection includes a review of the effectiveness of the school's governing body as part of the judgement on the quality of leadership and management of the school.  HMI will evaluate the extent to which governors:

 

  • ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • contribute to the school's self-evaluation and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the school, including the impact of their own work
  • support and strengthen school leadership, including by developing their own skills
  • provide challenge and hold the HT and other senior leaders to account for improving the quality of teaching, pupils' achievement and pupils' behaviour and safety, including by using the data dashboard, other progress data, examination outcomes and test results
  • use performance management systems, including the performance management of the HT, to improve teaching, leadership and management
  • ensure solvency and probity and that financial resources made available to the school are managed effectively
  • operate in such a way that statutory duties are met and priorities approved
  • engage with key stakeholders
  • use the pupil premium and other resources to overcome barriers to learning, including reading, writing and mathematics.

Governing bodies have a vital role to play in driving up school and pupil performance and ensuring that resources are used well to give every child the best possible education. I want all governing bodies to focus ruthlessly on these core strategic functions, and avoid getting distracted by more peripheral matters.                                                                                                        Lord Nash, Governors Handbook May 2014.

 

 

 

 

Ofsted Inspection Report

 

As a result of its Ofsted inspection in November 2014, the school was judged as 'requires improvement' and the inspector made the following observations on the effectiveness of the governance of the school:

 

  • The governors' plan for the leadership of the school is only partly in place. The interim arrangements for the role of the headteacher mean that the school is too reliant on the acting headteacher and the assistant head to bring about the required improvements.
  • The Chair of the Governing Body has managed the difficulties the school has faced with rigour and determination. He demonstrates his commitment to ensure that the school improves quickly, so that the pupils of Whalley Church of England Primary School achieve the high standards of which they are capable.
  • Governors now know how well their pupils are doing, in comparison with pupils locally and nationally. They show good understanding of data relating to the standards their pupils are capable of reaching. They know that the quality of teaching is inconsistent across the school.
  • Governors are developing their role in overseeing the arrangements for the appraisal of teachers. However, these arrangements are not yet rigorous enough to be fully effective.
  • Governors know the school's allocation of pupil premium funding and that there have been some improvements in the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.
  • Training is helping governors to quickly acquire the skills they need to hold school leaders fully to account. They are reviewing the work of committees and individual governors so that the governing body is strengthened by effective systems for checking all aspects of the school's performance.
  • Under the new leadership governors ensure that safeguarding and child protection requirements are met. 
  •  

Report Summary

 

This is a very proactive and loyal governing body. That all governors are committed to ensuring the best outcomes for the pupils of the school is very evident from discussions as part of the GB review, and from the minutes of GB and committee meetings.    The GB is working in close partnership with the acting headteacher and school advisers to drive forward required improvements in school performance.  Governors fully understand their strategic role, and make good use of training and development opportunities to enhance their effectiveness.

 

Key      CoG/Chair of governing body       GB/Governing Body      GS/Governor Services           HT/Headteacher                MIT/Monitoring and Intervention team    

VC/Vice Chair             SDP/School Development Plan                  SEC/Standards & Effectiveness Committee                              SLT/Senior Leadership Team           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review and Recommendations

 

 

Area reviewed

 

 

Current Practice & Recommendations

 

  • Do we have the right skills on the GB?

 

a)    Completed skills audit

 

An audit of governor skills is undertaken annually. The results are collated in a matrix enabling the identification of criteria for governor recruitment and the training and development needs of governors, individually and collectively.

b)    Appointments & interviews based on skills required

 

The GB has effectively used the audit to identify skills gaps in the search for new governors when vacancies have arisen.

 

 

c)    Training & Development Plan

 

The GB has a comprehensive training and development plan, based on the annual skills audit, individual governor roles and responsibilities within the GB, and which also covers whole GB training and development needs.

 

 

 

  • Are we as effective as we could be?

 

a)    Understanding roles & responsibilities, including what it means to be strategic

 

A formal induction process for new governors is well established, and discussions with recent new governors show this to be very effective.

 

The GB are considering establishing a mentor support system for new governors.

 

Their training and development record is exemplary, in particular that of the CoG. Reports on training and development undertaken are regularly received at full GB meetings, and implications for governor and GB practice and behaviour discussed and acted upon.   All governors are committed to the requirement to keep their own skills and knowledge of governance up to date, in the best interests of the school, and attendance at training and development events is very good.  Governors have recently attended sessions on the 'More Effective GB' and the 'GB Role in School Improvement'.

 

Evidence from minutes clearly demonstrate that the GB understands and carries out its strategic role in working with the Acting HT, and school advisers via the SEC, to ensure that the focus is on the required school improvements.

 

The GB should arrange for the GS training session 'Aiming High' for all governors.

 

b)    Professional clerk/efficient meetings

 

The GB employs the local authority's GS to provide a clerking and advisory service.

 

The CoG and chairs of committees should continue to work with the clerk so that minutes fully reflect agreed actions and timescales.

 

c)    Knowledge of good practice nationally

 

Through attending Chairs forums and other events available via the subscription to GS, governors are aware of developments and good practice in school governance and it is evident that the GB reviews its practice as a result of this knowledge.  

 

For example the GB has recently revised its Visit Policy and Guide for Governors to ensure that the GB is able to gather the information it needs for effective decision-making.

 

d)    GB size, composition & structure

 

The GB has recently reconstituted under the new regulations and reduced the membership from 14 to 12, following advice from the Diocese.

 

There are currently three working committees, Resources, Personnel & Curriculum and Standards & Effectiveness.

 

As there is overlap in the terms of reference for these committees, as well as common membership, the GB is advised to review this structure to make best use of volunteer time and to streamline the decision-making process.

 

The GB could develop a two committee model with Resources incorporating Personnel, and Standards & Effectiveness incorporating Curriculum and monitoring of the quality of teaching.

 

All governors are linked to a class within the school, and additionally take on a range of nominated roles.

 

The GB should regularly review the range of these roles to ensure that the GB has adequate information to support its understanding of the school and to aid its decision making.

 

e)    All governors make regular contributions?

 

All governors are proactive in their support for the school and in driving forward required school improvements and, as volunteers with work and other commitments, effectively organise and prioritise their available time in support of the school.   Nominated governors provide reports to the appropriate committee and GB meetings.

 

Governors have been involved in teaching and learning walks, as well as book scrutinies, and all are clear on their role in such visits, providing effective and informative reports to the GB.

 

The GB could formalise a programme of visits and reports directed by the priorities of the SDP.

 

f)     Annual review of performance

The GB has previously reviewed its effectiveness and prepared a development plan, which was discussed at its Summer 2014 meeting. This, together with its skills audit and governor training and development plan, means that the GB is well placed to develop its capacity to achieve the required school improvements.

 

The GB should arrange to review its progress against its development plan at regular intervals.

 

 

  • Does the school have a clear vision?

 

a)    Vision for 3-5 years ahead

 

 

The GB has reviewed its vision for the school in conjunction with staff to prepare for the pending HT recruitment and selection process.

 

Governors are clear in their resolve to move the school to 'good' and subsequently 'outstanding' within a short timescale.

 

b)    Agreed strategy /development plan to achieve vision

 

The GB has a well-defined school improvement plan, with clearly identified targets and timescales, in order to achieve the agreed vision.

 

c)   GB activities & agenda driven by agreed strategy/ development plan

The agreed SDP, post-Ofsted, provides the focus for GB and committee meeting agendas and for gathering information via, for example, governor visits to school.

 

 

  • Do we hold school leaders to account?

 

a)   Understanding performance data

The GB is provided with a comprehensive range of data from the HT and external sources at its full GB and committee meetings.

 

There is evidence that governors review and evaluate the data in preparation for GB and committee meetings, and that the data and progress is appropriately challenged in order to achieve agreed performance targets for the school.

 

The CoG has made efforts to ensure that all governors are able to understand the data provided, and that training and development sessions attended and planned further develop governor skills in this key area of responsibility.

 

b)    Governor visits to school

 

Governor visits to school to observe teaching and learning audits and book scrutinies have provided, and will continue to provide, information for the GB on the preparation of and interpretation of school performance data.

 

c)    Regular monitoring of school development plan

 

The GB regularly monitors progress against the SDP via the SEC, which meets half-termly. This progress is reported to all governors at full governing body meetings so that all are fully conversant with progress.

 

 

 

 

d)    Effective performance management of HT & staff

 

This is carried out by the GB's HT performance management committee and the objectives set for the HT are linked to the priorities of the SDP. The GB also ensures that robust performance management systems for staff are in place with objectives linked to the SDP, through monitoring of anonymised appraisal reports.

 

The GB monitors the quality of teaching within the school identifying the percentage of teaching staff judged as good/outstanding and ensuring that effective and timely support programmes are in place for any identified as requiring improvement.

 

e)   Robust financial management systems & best value for money

Evidence from minutes of Resources Committee and GB meetings demonstrates that the GB adopts an appropriately strategic role in ensuring best value for money, and that financial decisions are clearly linked to the priorities of the SDP.

 

 

 

  • Are we properly engaged with our community?

 

a)    Listen to and understand pupils, parents and staff

 

The GB receives feedback from pupil surveys via HT reports and there is governor representation on the school council.

 

Staff surveys have also been regularly carried out on behalf of the GB to gauge staff morale and views, with the next planned for Summer 2015. The survey is based on the Ofsted model and responses are anonymous.

 

A survey of parent view has recently been completed, with a follow-up planned for 12 months later.  

 

The GB should ensure that minutes of its meetings reflect that the views of pupils, parents and staff are taken into account its decision-making and forward planning.

 

b)    Report to parents and local community regularly

 

Reports of the results of these surveys are prepared for governors, staff and parents.

 

As a Church of England school, a very supportive and effective relationship exists with the parish community and Blackburn Diocese.

 

 

c)    Benefits of collaboration with other schools/sectors

 

The GB is developing further links with neighbouring schools to arrange joint training and development sessions for governors.

 

The GB also fully supports current and planned school to school collaboration arrangements so that staff can be aware of and share good practice in achieving school improvement.

 

 

  • Does our chair show effective leadership?

 

a)    Regular review of the chair's performance

 

The GB elects the CoG and VC on an annual basis.

 

 

b)    Good succession planning

 

Whilst the current CoG is very effective, and a new VC has recently been elected, governors are proactively considering arrangements for succession planning.

 

The GB should ensure that other governors, in addition to the CoG/VC, are encouraged to and have the opportunity to attend events such as Chairs Forums and Chairs training and development sessions.

 

As part of the GB's development plan, governors could be encouraged to take on different nominated governor roles and change membership of committees to broaden experiences and skills in preparation for GB leadership.

 

c)   Chair/committee chairs re-elected each year

The GB elects chairs of committees on an annual basis, and this could provide an opportunity to appoint governors other than the CoG/VC to build up experience as part of the GB's succession planning.

 

The GB could consider rotating which governors are elected to these roles, and CoG/VC roles, so that experience is developed across a wide range of governors, and whilst current more experienced governors are still members of the governing body to provide support.

 

 

  • Are we having an impact on outcomes for pupils?

 

How much has the school improved over the last 3 years, and what has been GB contribution to this?

 

The GB has responded quickly and effectively to the recent Ofsted inspection outcome, and progress towards identified required improvements is clearly evident, as is the high commitment of the governors to achieving this progress.

 

The GB is focused on securing the leadership of the school and in ensuring that a leader of the right calibre is appointed to secure their vision for the school.

 

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Governing Body Action Plan

 

 

Section

Agreed action

Governor(s) responsible

By When

Date Completed

 

2a

 

 

 

Agree a mentor support system for new governors.

 

 

 

 

 

Arrange for the GS training session 'Aiming High' for all governors.

 

 

 

 

 

2b

 

CoG and chairs of committees continue to work with the clerk so that minutes fully reflect agreed actions and timescales.

 

 

 

 

 

2d

 

 

 

Develop a two committee model with Resources incorporating Personnel, and Standards & Effectiveness incorporating Curriculum and monitoring of the quality of teaching.

 

 

 

 

 

Regularly review the range of nominated governor roles to ensure that the GB has adequate information to support its understanding of the school and to aid its decision making.

 

 

 

 

 

2e

 

Formalise a programme of nominated governor visits and reports directed by the priorities of the SDP.

 

 

 

 

 

2f

 

Arrange to review GB progress against its development plan at regular intervals.

 

 

 

 

 

5a

 

 

Ensure that minutes of GB meetings reflect that the views of pupils, parents and staff are taken into account its decision-making and forward planning.

 

 

 

 

 

6b

 

 

 

Ensure that other governors, in addition to the CoG/VC, are encouraged to and have the opportunity to attend events such as Chairs Forums and Chairs training and development sessions.

 

 

 

 

 

Encourage governors, as part of the GB's development plan, to take on different nominated governor roles and change membership of committees to broaden experiences and skills in preparation for GB leadership.

 

 

 

 

6c

 

 

Appoint governors other than the CoG/VC as chairs of committees to build up experience as part of the GB's succession planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotate chair of committee and CoG/VC roles, so that experience is developed across a wide range of governors, and whilst current more experienced governors are still members of the governing body to provide support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review undertaken by:

 

Name:     Helen Brownjohn, Head of Governor Services, Lancashire County Council

 

Signed:  

 

 

Date:     19 February 2015