Friday, 31 December 2010

Nominate a School Governor for a New Year Honour

Seven School Governors which are all Chairs of Governors receive Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s Honours list announced today. I have listed each of them in full below. Congratulations to them all!

Melvyn Edward Butcher Chairman of Governors, Leagrave Primary School, Luton. For voluntary service to Education.

John Maxwell First Chairman of Board of Governors, Enniskillen Integrated Primary School. For voluntary service to Education in Northern Ireland.

Raymond Nicholas, JP Chairman of Governors, Almondbury High School, Kirklees. For voluntary service to Education.

Graham Smallbourne, Chairman of Governors, Purcell School,Bushey, Hertfordshire. For voluntary service to Music Education.

Rodney Mackie Iven Thomas Chairman of Governors, Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School, Ramsgate. For voluntary service to Education.

Mrs Doreen Lilian Tozer Chair of Governors, Dunstone Primary School and Vice-Chair of Governors, Stuart Road Primary School, Plymouth. For voluntary service to Education.

Mrs Mollie White Chair of Governors, Lantern's Nursery School and Children's Centre, Winchester, Hampshire. For voluntary service to Education.

It is a shame not to see more on the list considering the coalition aim for the big society.

However it is not the fault of government but ordinary people who can nominate the unsung school governors volunteers by nominating someone they know for a Queens’s honour.

How to nominate a School Governor for a honour

All you need to do is fill in a form which can be downloaded from the link above. Say why the School governor deserves to be recognised and get at least two short letters of support.

Let’s make it a new year’s resolution get more School Governors on the list next year!

Good Luck!

The role of the Link Governor

As governors we understand the need for members of staff to undertake continuing professional development but how many of us think along the same lines for ourselves? The pace of change within education is so dynamic that any governor training undertaken three years ago is probably now out of date.

The Guide to the Law says:

● training for all governors and clerks is to be encouraged

● training will help them become more effective

● all governors, however experienced, need training to improve their effectiveness in the role and to keep abreast of developments that may affect their school and their role as a governor

● new governors should take advantage of induction training.
We have a responsibility to ensure that our knowledge and practice are current and up to date and one strategy which can support this is for the governing body to appoint a nominated link governor. Many governing bodies follow this practice, of course, but some do not and for some who are appointed this responsibility is not made clear to them. In a nutshell, the role of the link governor is to have an oversight of all matters relating to training and development for individual governors and the whole governing body.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Active School governance

Active governance

Like all responsible and professional bodies, the governing body should commit to its own
professional development and training should be seen as an entitlement. Visiting the school provides important opportunities for governors to better understand both the strengths of the school and the working environment. All visits should arranged by appointment in accordance with an agreed protocol.


Governing bodies should make it clear that there is an expectation that all new governors (including staff governors) commit to undertake both school based induction and professional induction training.

All governors should commit to specific issue based training as it arises.

It is essential to have a properly trained governing body and appropriate budget allocations should enable this to happen.

Effective training should be planned to include both internal and external providers and should consist of a manageable programme combining activities for individual and small groups of governors and occasional activities for full governing bodies working in partnership with leadership teams.

Visiting the school

Visits should be planned in advance and agreed with the leadership team.

Governing bodies should expect school leaders to welcome governors to visit the school, both formally to monitor agreed priorities and developments, and less formally to broaden their knowledge of the school.

School leaders should expect governors to adhere to visiting protocols, to be professional in their monitoring role, and to be sensitive to the pressures of the school calendar.

Taken from a joint document entitled 'What governing bodies should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing bodies' The document was written in 2008 by the NGA (National Governors Association) working together with the two main headteacher’s unions, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT).

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Information provided to the governing body


The governing body is reliant on the school to provide it promptly with the information that it needs to carry out its role. In addition to documents they are required by law to approve (such as the School Profile), governing bodies should expect to receive:

School improvement partner reports and any local authority school improvement visit reports

The RAISEonline report (in full to at least one governor)

Budget reports presented in an appropriate format

Self-evaluation form (SEF) (Due to be retired)

All Sensitive information must be kept confidential

Taken from a joint document entitled 'What governing bodies should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing bodies' The document was written in 2008 by the NGA (National Governors Association) working together with the two main headteacher’s unions, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT).

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The role of the Chair of Governors

The role of the chair of governors

As the principal link between the governing body and the headteacher, the chair of the governing body bears additional responsibilities.

The headteacher and the chair of the governing body should meet regularly at mutually convenient times to discuss school matters.

The chair should be prepared to undertake any necessary additional training, and to attend local
authority (or other locality) briefing meetings in order to fulfil her/his role. This expectation should be underpinned with the appropriate budget commitment for training and expenses.

The chair must have regard to the limitations stipulated in government guidance when exercising ‘chair’s action’:

The chair or vice chair has the power to carry out functions of the governing body if a delay in exercising a function is likely to be seriously detrimental to the interests of the school, a pupil at the school or their parents, or a person who works at the school. This
power excludes matters related to the alteration and closure of schools, change of school category, change of school name, approval of the budget, discipline policies and admissions. Any action taken under this power must be reported to the governing body.

(Ch 3 Para 48, A Guide to the Law for School Governors)

Taken from a joint document entitled 'What governing bodies should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing bodies' The document was written in 2008 by the NGA (National Governors Association) working together with the two main headteacher’s unions, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT).

Monday, 27 December 2010

Supporting the governing body

Supporting the governing body

In order to manage its workload, it is vital that the governing body is properly supported and serviced.


Even in the many schools where the clerk to the governing body is also employed to carry out different duties under a separate contract, resources should be made available for the clerk to be properly qualified and capable of servicing and advising the governing body with independence. The clerk should have a job description and pay grade appropriate to the post.

The governing body should use the clerk to manage the business of the governing body, and should not make unnecessary demands of other school staff.


Governors’ out of pocket expenses should be reimbursed as per an agreed policy on governors’

There should be adequate allowance in the budget for governors’ expenses.

Taken from a joint document entitled 'What governing bodies should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing bodies' The document was written in 2008 by the NGA (National Governors Association) working together with the two main headteacher’s unions, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT).

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The distinction between governance and management

Governance and management

The distinction between governance and management needs to be clearly understood by all
involved, so that governors are not asked to, and do not try to, involve themselves in day to day management.

The governing body expects to be able to monitor the work of the school and to hold the headteacher to account for the performance of the school. It is vital
that the headteacher is present or is represented at full governing body meetings. However, other school leaders may represent the management of the school at other meetings. For example, the school business manager may be the appropriate person to attend budget monitoring meetings.

School leaders should not be micro-managed, and the governing body should concentrate on matters related to strategy and school effectiveness, delegating those tasks which are deemed to be managerial rather than strategic (for example the deployment of staff below leadership team level). School leadership teams should be fully involved in discussions of strategic issues

Taken from a joint document entitled 'What governing bodies should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing bodies' The document was written in 2008 by the NGA (National Governors Association) working together with the two main headteacher’s unions, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT).

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Governing Body Ways of working

Merry Christmas everyone. Over the next seven days of the holiday period I have scheduled a 7 part blog based on a paper about What governing bodies should expect from schools leaders and
what school leaders should expect from governing bodies. Have a Happy new year!

Governing Body Ways of working

The way that the governing body operates and the way that it organises itself should be related to thenature of its work. Governing bodies have considerable freedom regarding the delegation of work to committees or individuals (including the chair and the headteacher) and they should carefully consider the tasks to be undertaken before making decisions on the delegation of responsibilities. Governing bodies should keep their working practices under review.

Governing bodies are required to act in accordance with the provisions of the workforce agreement and must have regard to the work-life balance of school leaders when arranging meeting times.

School leaders should have regard to governors’ work and other commitments when meetings are being arranged.

It should be the joint responsibility of school leaders and the governing body to ensure that meetings are well planned, at appropriate intervals, with agendas

Taken from a joint document entitled 'What governing bodies should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing bodies' The document was written in 2008 by the NGA (National Governors Association) working together with the two main headteacher’s unions, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT).

Friday, 24 December 2010

What makes an effective governing body meeting?

The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) included in its Governors’ Handbook
some years ago, the following definition:- “An effective meeting is one in which time is used well, with less important items kept within bounds to allow time for major ones. It is one which leads to clear decisions, leaving no doubt what action is to be taken, by whom, by when, and in consultation with which others.

It should be clear how governors will be informed that their decision has been implemented and of progress generally. At an effective meeting, there will have been restraint on rambling or irrelevant contributions, without hurting anyone.

This is not easy, however, it is important that nobody should leave the meeting feeling aggrieved at not having been given a chance to speak, and indeed that everyone should have contributed”. This definition is still valid, but if its aims are to be achieved, all governors must, jointly and individually, play their part.

What governors can do:-

• attend all meetings, but in the event of not being able to do so present apologies to the clerk, with the reasons for absence (as governors have to consider whether to accept them) before
the meeting
• arrive in good time for meetings
• prepare for the meeting, by reading any previously circulated papers, and by seeking copies of any papers referred to on the agenda, that have either been lost or never received, from either the clerk or the school before the meeting
• contribute effectively to items under discussion and avoid anecdotal side issues which have little or no relevance to the item
• follow agreed procedures, including “written and unwritten rules of conduct”
• noting, at the meeting, rather than waiting for the minutes, any action necessary, either by an individual or by a committee of which the governor is a member
• accept the majority view of the governing body, even if this does not accord with his/her own personal views
• respect the confidentiality of issues discussed.

What the clerk can do:-

• organise meetings and papers efficiently - agenda and supporting papers must be distributed to governors at least 7 days prior to the meeting. A well structured, carefully planed agenda which focuses on the statutory items, the inclusion of timings and a lead governor will provide clarity to
all those attending as to who is leading the item and an expectation of the length of discussion time. Try to avoid the inclusion of Any other Business (AOB) – this can cause governors to spend a lot of additional time at the end of a meeting discussing points that could have been included on the agenda in the first instance

• provide information and procedural advice at the meeting
• copy the briefing and post briefing papers to the chairman and the headteacher (these are
provided by the authority)
• produce clear minutes with action items easily identifiable enabling follow up and matters arising to be identified at future meetings.

What the chairman can do:-

• purposeful chairing, bringing out the best in all governors, keeping a brisk pace, and ensuring that decisions are properly taken and clearly understood
• keep chairman’s action brief and succinct – governors cannot always know the full details relating to an issue; the information provided should only indicate a clear outcome and whether
there are any recommendations to the governing body for example to review a policy. Should an appeal be raised there will be subsequently un-tainted governors to hear that appeal
• acquaint him/herself with the papers before the meeting, possibly after consultation with the headteacher and clerk
• open the meeting promptly at the scheduled starting time
• introduce and welcome new governors and encourage them to participate
• be aware of the Regulations relating to the conduct of the meeting and governing body procedures, but at the same time be prepared to seek advice from the clerk on procedural issues
• ensure that all governors have the opportunity to contribute to specific issues, and make sure that governors are clear on what they have agreed and, if appropriate, who is to progress action
• clarify for governors whether items are for information or require a decision, and, for the latter, keep discussions to the point
• ensure that discussions revolve around policies and action and not personalities, but, where this is not possible, make sure that governors are aware of the need for confidentiality to be observed
• make sure that future meetings, both of the governing body and any established committees, are arranged to consider appropriate business
• any other business should be strongly discouraged except in an urgent situation as it might well disenfranchise governors not present from discussing items they may consider important
• finally, make sure that the meeting is completed within a reasonable time. Meetings extending beyond two to two and a half hours will become progressively less productive, as the attention span of governors begins to wander!

What the headteacher can do:-

• circulate his/her report to governors in advance of the meeting and make sure that any acronyms used are explained for the benefit of, particularly, new governors
• minimise the number of documents to be tabled at the meeting, although, if papers are to be made available at the meeting, ensure that copies are available for all governors and an opportunity to absorb the content is provided
• draw governors’ attention to specific issues in his/her report, particularly those requiring a decision by the governing body, rather than almost talking them through the report verbatim.

Finally consider the practical arrangements for the meeting and consider these questions:-
• is the meeting room welcoming and provides adequate and suitable seating for all governors and expected visitors? Meeting in the nursery or reception class may be informative, but the seating is rarely conducive to a comfortable meeting!
• not essential, and acknowledging that the costs will normally come from the school budget, will light refreshments or at least drinks by provided?

These will be appreciated by governors, especially those coming straight from work.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

OECD Programme for International Student Assessment figures

Last week the OECD released the latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) figures. These show that the UK is now ranked 25th in reading, 27th in maths and 16th in science; all lower than in previous years.

As School governors we all know that there is room for improvement in the attainment levels of our most disadvantaged pupils and this is where the UK does particularly badly.

School governors need to be sure that they are both receiving and understanding the data for individual schools so that when underachievement happens we can challenge the education professionals to make a difference.

The PISA report in full and well is worth a read is linked below.,3343,en_2649_201185_46623628_1_1_1_1,00.html

Michael Gove's comment on PISA results can be found below.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

School Governors' One-Stop Shop

School Governors’ One-Stop Shop (SGOSS) has a bank of volunteers ready and willing to take on the challenge of being a school governor. In some areas of England SGOSS has so many volunteers that it has had to close its books to further applicants. SGOSS is no longer proactively recruiting in the Birmingham, Hertfordshire, Manchester, Staffordshire, Surrey or the London Boroughs of Barnet, Camden Croydon, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Lambeth or Wandsworth. If you are in these areas and in need of school governors, please contact SGOSS. It has people ready and waiting, eager to be put in contact with your school. Tel: 020 7354 9805

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The importance of Training as a School Governor

As part of my role as Parent Governor Representative on Surrey’s Education, Learning and Development Select I asked a public question early this year about how many Surrey School Governors took part in formal training during the previous year. The answer from Surrey’s governance partners Babcock 4S was as follows:

• 1,522 governors (26%) of all Surrey Governors took part in the main School Governor training programme.

• 59% of new governors undertook induction training

• 50% of all schools participated in a whole governing body training session.

At the time the report was compiled there were 5793 School Governors in Surrey.

I don’t know how this compares with other Local Authorities but I suspect it is maybe above average in some areas.

The review on School governance earlier this year under the last government recommended:

• Improved governor training and mandatory training for chairs of governing bodies.

• All governing bodies to have a trained clerk.

• All members of governing bodies should have access to high quality training and induction.

• A new national training programme for chairs of governors, developed in close cooperation with a range of partners.

Much of this has been repeated in the recent Schools White Paper

However, training should not just be for new governors, clerks and chairs.

It is just as important that all school governors who have been in post for years attend training on a regular basis.

Although Babcock 4S on behalf of Surrey County Council run an excellent face to face training programme, there is still room for Online Governor training to complement rather than replace face to face training.

My first experience of Governor online training was Safer Recruitment at by Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC).

When the Safer Recruitment training was launched it was plagued with technical issues and many governors found the assessment/test at the end impossible to pass even when they knew the answers. I had to retake the test myself 10 times before scoring the necessary C grade.

My other two experiences of Governor Online training have been GEL & Modern Governor.

Surrey recently agreed a deal with GEL to supply Online Governor Training to all Surrey Governors

I have also had the opportunity to demo some excellent courses on Modern Governor.

I am sure there are some other equally good training platforms for School Governors but I haven’t experienced them yet. Happy to do so if they make a demo available.

It is all about life long learning!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Spring Term Statutory & Recommended tasks for governing bodies

Last week, the Department of Education published the statutory tasks and recommended actions for governing bodies for the autumn term. This amused many as most had already held their autumn full governing body meeting!

Today in the post I received my copy of Surrey Governor with the spring term statutory tasks and recommended actions for governing bodies. I thought I would share these with non Surrey governors incase the Department of Education publish the spring tasks in June next year!

Spring Term Statutory Tasks

Admissions Crieria for all schools for September 2012/2013 intake must by statute, be proposed, have undergone consultation and be finalised by April 15th 2011.

School Profile: To prepare and approve the School profile ready for publication on 31st July 2011.

Budget Plan:

To approve the 2011/2012 Budget plan and planned extended services and to review all local Finance policies.

Governors to receive a report in projected year end balances and on their proposed use.

Spring Term Recommended Actions

Continue to review, interpret and communicate the Recruitment & Selection management guidance.

Consider undertaking appropriate training for formal hearings and appeals.

Plan ahead for the appointment of Authority governors before their end of term.

Discuss appropriate use of e-mail as a method of communication.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

CMI & SGOSS join force to help School Governance

In the wake of comments from Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Education, in which he stated that the government will be “making governance simpler and financial management less onerous” the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and SGOSS (the School Governors’ One-Stop Shop) have formed a partnership designed to support governors as they work with the head and his senior team to transform schools across the UK.

“School governors may be widely respected within their communities but often they are among the first to be criticised when schools fail to perform. It’s no enviable position; they give their time voluntarily, but frequently do so without recourse to consistent levels of training or support. In an environment in which the quality of school leadership, at every level, is critical to the future success of its pupils, this cannot be allowed to continue”, says Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive at CMI.

She was speaking as CMI and the SGOSS joined forces, today, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The new strategic partnership has been created to promote professionalism amongst school governors and improve management of schools across the UK. By working together, CMI and SGOSS will be able to help governors:

Work alongside school leaders to improve the quality of education on offer in schools across the country make better use of resources, through an increased understanding of budgeting and the role it plays in school developmentbetter meet stakeholder needs, by developing the skills required to create customer-driven improvements to school provisions

Lead people and teams, by enhancing communication and conflict resolution capabilities.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Steve Acklam, chief executive of SGOSS, said: “Running a school in today’s environment mirrors the way many businesses are, and should be, managed. In these circumstances, the skills that the professional business community have been developing for years need to be replicated for the benefit of the education community and I welcome the chance to work with CMI to ensure schools benefit from the professionalism and capability that their members have to offer.”

An additional aim of the MoU is for SGOSS and CMI to collaboratively promote the benefits of volunteering as a school governor. Together, both partners will demonstrate that by becoming a school governor, individuals will develop many of the skills required in business. They will also highlight how schools can gain, by bringing in experience and expertise from the business community.

Ruth Spellman, chief executive of CMI, added: “How we educate today’s school children will have a dramatic effect on the quality of the leaders of tomorrow. By working in partnership, our two organisations will be able to develop the skills of those responsible for running our schools, meaning that pupils will benefit from schools that are run effectively, efficiently and in their best interests. In other words, the focus will be on improving performance so the quality of education rises too. I am delighted to bring the parties together and look forward to a successful future together.”

Saturday, 18 December 2010

NGA looks for ideas for Chair of Governors Training

In the recent Schools White Paper, the Government has asked National College to update training for chairs of governors. The National College has in turn asked us the NGA to work with them on this project. So if you are a Chair of Governors with ideas of what are the crucial components in the training for the role, do send any thoughts to with the subject ‘training for chairs’. What is the most important thing you have learnt about being an effective chair, and what is the best way of learning? How are you making sure there is someone ready to take over the reins from you? Have you been on any training you would recommend to a new or aspiring chair?

Personally I believe there should be a face to face induction one day training course which includes head teachers at the training. This is what we do at Surrey and I believe it works very well.

I also believe the National College should partner with an on-line training provider to provide Chair of Governors training on-line in modules with both assessments and a certification process.

Friday, 17 December 2010

School health and safety policies

Following a government review, schools are being encouraged to reappraise their approach to health and safety in the face of growing concerns that children are being denied educational opportunities by the modern safety culture and teachers’ fears of legal action being taken against them if things go wrong.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, referred to businesses being 'drowned in red tape, confusion and the fear of being sued for even minor accidents' and commissioned Lord Young to carry out a review to 'put some common sense back into health and safety'.

When the report of that review, Common Sense, Common Safety, was published in October it attacked the 'compensation culture', which Lord Young said he believed was 'at the heart of the problems that so beset health and safety today'. He blamed lawyers working under 'no win, no fee' agreements for giving too many accident victims the impression that they may be 'entitled to handsome rewards just for making a claim regardless of any personal responsibility'.

Fear of litigation, compounded by the 'overzealous approach' of some health and safety consultants was leading to a goal of eliminating all risk from the workplace instead of setting out the 'rational, proportionate approach that the Health and Safety at Work Act demands', he argued. Lord Young added that this was a fear 'that not only blights the workplace but almost every walk of life – from schools and fetes, to voluntary work and everyday sports and cultural activities'.

His report concluded that: 'This disproportionate approach has also had a negative impact on education in this country and has decreased the number of opportunities available to children to experience risk in a controlled environment, especially through school trips and competitive sport. My proposals aim to ease the administrative burden on teachers that the current health and safety regime has brought about to ensure that children do not miss out on important experiences'.

Lord Young's conclusions about schools echoed the more detailed findings of a report published earlier this year by a coalition of safety organisations. After visiting 11 schools in England, researchers for the Child Safety Education Coalition reported that schools have a strong commitment to the aims of keeping pupils safe and helping them to learn how to adopt safe practices, but found there was some concern among school staff about repercussions should things go wrong during practical activities and that this can limit pupils' opportunities.

In their report, Learning to Adopt Safe Practices, the researchers found that many schools are constrained by assuming that parents expect the school environment and school activities to be as safe as possible. They added that: 'In secondary schools, senior staff and governors are mindful of high profile instances where serious mishaps with practical activities in school or on trips have led to severe recrimination.' The report said that while school leaders recognise the importance of safety education and practical opportunities to learn about risks, they are also aware of the damaging consequences such a mishap could have for their school and often feel obliged to attach yet higher priority to keeping pupils 100% safe while in school or under the supervision of school staff.

Schools are aware of this dilemma. One vice-chair of governors told the researchers: 'We may be going over the top with health and safety in this country', and went on to say that many activities that were common practice in schools, and that provided worthwhile learning, are not now being done because teachers are concerned about repercussions should things go wrong.

The report praised governors for taking their duty of care seriously, particularly with the issues relating to the health and safety of buildings. It described how they ‘generally delegate responsibility appropriately to the headteacher and largely assume that a correct professional line will be taken, but expect to be consulted on new initiatives that have safety and welfare implications, such as trips that include an overnight stay’.

Lord Young has also proposed separating out 'low hazard environments' including shops and classrooms for a simpler process of written risk assessment than other work premises. He suggested that this could be achieved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 'providing simple advice promoted through targeted communications and a downloadable checklist for risk assessments'.

The HSE has already developed an on-line classroom risk assessment tool, which it says should take around 20 minutes to complete. It is seeking views on how the tool functions and how it compares to existing guidance on risk assessment until February 4.

HSE Classroom risk assessment can be found at:

As explained in A Guide to the Law for School Governors, under the Act, responsibility for the health and safety of pupils, staff and visitors lies with the governing body of the school, either as the employer of school staff or because it controls school premises (or both). Governing bodies must take all reasonable measures to ensure that the premises, and equipment on the premises, are safe and do not put the health of pupils at risk while they are there.

Schools must have a health and safety policy and governing bodies of community and voluntary controlled schools have to use the one provided by their local authority. The relevant powers and responsibilities of governors and local authorities are outlined in the government's 2001 document Health and safety: responsibilities and powers, which also includes a list of key elements of a health and safety policy. It can be downloaded from:

Governors looking for guidance on school trips will find that useful information and advice continues to be available on the Learning Outside The Classroom website at

Common Sense Common Safety is available from:

Learning to Adopt Safe Practices can be downloaded from

Written by David Gordon of School Governor Update

If you want to subscribe free of charge to School Governor Update Click the link below

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tasks that need to be completed by school governors throughout autumn

The following key tasks need to be completed by school governors throughout the autumn term.

Approve school improvement plan.

Receive headteacher's report.

Review performance management policy.

Review public examination results/national tests.

Set dates for meetings for the year.

Set objectives for the governing body for the year.

The following statutory tasks need to be completed by the school governors throughout the autumn term.

Decide committee structure, membership and reference terms.

Draw up freedom of information publication scheme.

Elect a chair and vice-chair, and schedule next election (where the term of office for the chair or vice-chair has expired).

Review headteacher performance.

Review school charging policy.

Set pupil performance targets.

Full details can be found at the Department of Education Website or link below

I don't know about other School Governing bodies but we held our Autumn Full Governing Body meeting early October. Releasing this in mid December seems rather late. Better late than never I suppose!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Gunman fires on School Governors

Clay Duke, 56, walked into a School Governing meeting at the Bay School District in Panama City in Florida, US on Tuesday afternoon and spray-painted a symbol on a wall before attempting to shoot the school governors with a handgun.

Duke, whose wife had lost her job in local education spending cuts, told them "I'm going to die today" before opening fire. He missed each school governor, and was shot by a security guard before killing himself.

Footage of the meeting, which was being broadcast live by a local news website, was released soon afterwards.

Ginger Littleton, a School Governor who had escaped the meeting room, was seen creeping back in behind Duke and attempting to disarm him with her handbag.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Head Teacher appointed Husband as consultant on Governing Body

THE former headteacher of a primary school who appointed her husband to the governing body, made unauthorised payments to him and claimed further unauthorised expenses for a trip to Sri Lanka, has been banned from teaching.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) found Gillian Smyth guilty of unacceptable professional conduct while headteacher at Colham Manor Primary School, in Yiewsley, between November 2003 and March 31 last year.

It banned her for at least two years.

GTC Committee chairman, Derek Johns, said that the appointment of Mrs Smyth's husband, Peter, to the governing body in a consulting role 'required a very clear audit trail as to his appointment', and added that she had a responsibility to make sure that the correct procedures were carried out and the governors advised accordingly.

He said the evidence was that there was no note of the appointment, no terms and conditions of employment, and sparse minutes of the governing body as to the appointment.

Mr Johns added there was evidence that three payments were made to Mr Smyth before his appointment on November 5, 2007, and a further £5,200 payment made to him afterwards, which was 'in breach of the delegation authority of Mrs Smyth'.

He continued: "We are satisfied that Mrs Smyth failed to declare on the register of interest that Mr Smyth was her husband.

Mrs Smyth, as the lead professional, should have been aware of the need to protect the public interest."

As well as making unauthorised claims for expenses for a trip to Sri Lanka, he said, she also falsified documents, declared incorrect financial figures to Hillingdon Council and authorised payments to builders and their sub-contractors that were 'not in line with procedures', and allowed the consequent false reclamation of VAT refunds.

She also made 'irregular' changes to documents, changing one female member of staff's contract from part-time to full-time just before her maternity leave. Another had her contract changed without the consent of, and against the wishes of, school governors.

Mr Johns said Mrs Smyth also granted an unauthorised loan of £300 to a member of staff, and failed to check that repayments were made.

"The facts we have found proved are a substantial departure from the standards expected of the profession," he said in a statement.

"We have concluded that Mrs Smyth has no insight into her behaviour.

"This is not a case of an isolated incident but conduct that has taken place over a number of years. This is a case where Mrs Smyth has expressed no remorse."

Chris Spencer, corporate director of education and children's services, said: "Hillingdon Council terminated the headteacher's contract of employment for gross mis-conduct with effect from March 31, 2009.

"The temporary headteacher arrangements that have been working successfully in the school since last summer remain in place.

"We are pleased the GTC supports the council in recognising the seriousness of this case."

Story from Uxbridge Gazette

Monday, 13 December 2010

School Budget Settlement for 2011-2012

The Coalition Government will today unveil plans to give schools an extra £430 for every pupil they take in from disadvantaged homes.

The money, to be announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove with today's school budget settlement for 2011-12, will be available for every pupil whose parents have an income of less than £16,000 a year and are thus entitled to free school meals.

The policy is being portrayed as the "big concession" won from the Conservatives by the Liberal Democrats in the coalition agreement after the election. However, opposition MPs and teachers' leaders have warned that the scheme is "robbing Peter to pay Paul", as much of the cash will come from within the existing schools budget.

Primaries and secondaries with large numbers of children from middle-class backgrounds may be hardest hit by the Government’s “pupil premium” reforms claims the Telegraph today.

Below is the written ministerial statement by Education Secretary Michael Gove on 13 December 2010. He announces the local authority allocations for the dedicated schools grant and capital for 2011-12 and for the early intervention grant in 2011-12 and 2012-13

Below is a link to a letter from Michael Gove to Head teachers and Chairs of Governors.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Teachers Pay and Conditions

This week I have been reading the Teachers Pay & Conditions 2010 document. A whooping 195 page document and hardly a riveting read!

However as part of Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act passed by the previous government in October last year governing bodies have a duty to enforce it and can be sanctioned
by the local authority if they fail to do so. The ultimate sanction after a warning is to appoint additional governors,suspend the schools delegated budget or replace the governing body with an Interim Executive Board.

Local authorities and governing bodies are required to have regard to the statutory guidance, and in respect of guidance on procedural matters a court or tribunal may take any failure to do so into account in any proceedings.

The main changes to the Document since 2009 are as follows (paragraph references are to paragraphs in the Document):

(a) pay scales bringing in a 2.3% pay award from 1 September 2010 have been incorporated (paragraphs 6.4, 17.3, 19.2, 27.1, 33.3 and 35.2)

(b) an increase of 2.3% in the value of the TLR1 and TLR2 ranges (paragraph 21.2) from 1 September 2010; and a requirement to increase all TLRs in payment by 2.3% from 1 September 2010 (paragraph 22)

(c) a new SEN range of between £2,001 and £3,954 together with revised criteria replaces the previous system of two separate and defined SEN allowances (paragraph 25.1)

(d) additional increases for some main and upper pay scale teachers in inner London

(e) revised provisions for the threshold assessment process (paragraphs 19)

(f) the provisions which relate to teachers’ conditions of employment and professional responsibilities have been revised and restructured (Parts 8 to 10).

Saturday, 11 December 2010

School Governing Body Code of Practice

The National Governors’ Association (NGA) has for a number of years recommended that governing bodies adopt a code of practice which sets out the purpose of the governing body and describes the appropriate relationship between individual governors, the whole governing body and the leadership team of the school.

The NGA recommend that the code should be thoroughly discussed so that the whole governing body has ownership of it, and, once it has been adopted, the governors should be asked to review it and sign it, on an annual basis ideally at the first meeting in the autumn term.

Some governing bodies already have a code of conduct. However there are also many governing bodies which do not yet have a code of conduct and the NGA wants to help spread this good practice.

Each governing body may want to tailor this recommended code to their own situation, but this gives them a starting point which is built on the best practice from around the country.

Download Code of Practice here

Friday, 10 December 2010

Pupils as School governors?

Attempts to link governing bodies with pupils and pupil councils have a long history. Since the beginning of school governing bodies, a few schools have given pupils observer status at meetings, or provided time at meetings for pupils to raise issues. The 1977 Taylor Report recommended the statutory inclusion of parents and pupils on Governing Bodies. The 1980 Act required each school to have a governing body, with parental but not pupils’ representation.

An Education Select Committee again recommended the inclusion of pupils. The DfES response was to reject the idea, although it conceded: “We agree that governing bodies should establish arrangements which enable them to keep in touch with the views of pupils as well as their parents”.

From September 2003, pupils of any age can serve as associate members of their own or any other school governing body or committees, although pupils under the age of eighteen will not be given voting rights. In order to do this, a school governing body will need to reconstitute itself.

School governing bodies could embrace this change, to the point where the inclusion of pupils on governing bodies, possibly with voting rights, will be as universal and welcomed as parent governors are today. Beyond this, it may become compulsory for pupils to be represented on governing bodies. Parent governors emerged in this way, first as a voluntary initiative in a few Local authorities before becoming compulsory at a later point.

Schools could consider the appointment of Pupil Associate Members, but decide that there are other, more effective ways of encouraging pupil participation in decision making, including the creation of less formal links with governing bodies.

Read more on the subject here

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Council Leader calls on School Governors to apologise

THE leader of Swansea Council has said he wanted to sack a failing school's governors 18 months ago.

Chris Holley made the comments at a meeting to decide the fate of Daniel James School in Treboeth, Swansea.

He said he laid the blame for the school's problems is with the school governors, who were responsible for the hiring and firing of teachers and the curriculum.

"Eighteen months ago I asked the director of education (Richard Parry) to sack the governing body," he said. "The school wasn't improving. It wasn't giving the quality of education you would expect and that the authority demands through the Welsh Assembly and Estyn, and that is that all our children have the same standard (of education)."

Mr Holley said he still stood by his comments and called on the school governors to apologise to the school, which could close by August 2012.

Following the meeting, he added: "The director asked if he could work with the governors to make improvements, and to be fair, he worked very hard, but it didn't happen."

"One thing we haven't seen from the governing body is an apology," Mr Holley told the cabinet meeting. "I haven't seen anything from the governing body to say they are sorry that the school has slipped into special measures and that's a disgrace."

Speaking after the meeting, chairwoman of the governors, Councillor Ceinwen Thomas, labelled Mr Holley's comments "slanderous" and said she would take legal action.

Full Story

I think it is interesting that recent research has said it is uncertain whether School Governance plays a vital role in a School's success yet when a School fails it is all the fault of the School Governors. In my opinion, the most important part School governors have to play in the success or failure of a school is in recruiting the right head teacher and senior management team.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

What Ofsted think of School Governance in their annual report

I have only just round to reading the Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills. The full report can be downloaded from Ofsted.

The report notes that School governance was outstanding or good in 56% of schools, which is significant decrease on 70% in 2008/09. The report goes on to say:

“The strength of leadership and management is pivotal to schools’ improvement. Effective leaders know their school well and set ambitious targets based on perceptive self-evaluation"

"School Governance is one of the weaker aspects of leadership inspected this year, being good or outstanding in 56% of schools. In just over a fifth of the schools inspected, School governance was judged to be less effective than leadership, which suggests that there is potential in many schools for governors to make a greater contribution than they do at present to improving outcomes"

"School Governors are most effective when they are fully involved in the school’s self-evaluation and use the knowledge gained to challenge the school, understand its strengths and weaknesses and contribute to shaping its strategic direction. In contrast, weak governance is likely to fail to ensure statutory requirements are met, for example those related to safeguarding. In addition, where governance is weak, the involvement of governors in monitoring the quality of provision is not well-enough defined or sufficiently rigorous and challenging.”

A new Ofsted framework is coming which will focus on four key areas: pupil achievement, the quality of teaching, leadership and management, and the behaviour and safety of pupils. There will be a consultation process about the new framework which will be released soon.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Chair of Governors angered that assault teacher is reinstated

A teacher who was suspended earlier this year has been reinstated to his job nine months after being cautioned for common assault.

The 50-year-old teacher was suspended after being cautioned in March. He has remained on full pay ever since.

The caution related to an incident in February which resulted in injuries to a woman’s hand and a school child, who was present.

After an investigation, a meeting of Wiltshire Council and a panel of school governors decided that he would be allowed to return to teaching.

Mr Threlfall also served as a staff school governor but last week resigned from the appointment.

The decision to allow him back to teach has angered Phillippa Lynch, chairman of governors.

Mother-of-three Mrs Lynch, who has been a governor for 16 years, said: “It is a difficult decision for me to make but I will seriously consider resigning from my post if he comes back to teach.

“Everyone thought that the suspension was the right thing to do. He remained on full pay throughout.

“We have been told that we have to treat it as though he has been off sick for nine months so he has to be reintroduced to the job gradually but I expect he will be back full-time before Christmas.

“I don’t think my position as chairman of governors is tenable. I don’t feel resentful towards the governors and I don’t blame the school. I feel the local authority has let us down massively.

“The school governors were appalled but with the information that Wiltshire Council provided to them they were left with little choice.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “The decision on this matter was made by a panel of the school’s own governors following a hearing.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Chair of Governors says ‘Pupils need affluent parents to help’

When Fiona Millar was elected as a parent school governor at Gospel Oak primary school 18 years ago, she says she had no idea what was in store for her.

Within months of taking up the post, she realised that the school, which had previously enjoyed a glorious history and had been the choice of many affluent parents, was deemed by Ofsted to be “failing”.

On top of juggling a hectic career in journalism, Ms Millar found herself thrust into late-night meetings while confidence in the school evaporated and it “haemorrhaged parents, teachers and pupils”.

“It couldn’t really have sunk any lower than it did,” says Ms Millar, whose partner is Alastair Campbell, once prime minister Tony Blair’s director of communications.

Ms Millar is preparing to step down from her role as chair of governors.

“Several governors took their children out of the school and we slumped to the bottom of league tables.

“Inspectors shone a bright light into some very murky corners and revealed a dysfunctional, poorly led institution, in which many class teachers were floundering and pupils failing. Just 37 per cent of children reached the required KS2 level in maths, where that figure is now over 80 per cent. It was a pretty low standard of education.”

Ms Millar kept her children in Gospel Oak and turning the school around became almost an “obsession” for her.

Along with a group of parents, she fought for better teaching across the board, and slowly but surely standards improved. Finally, following the appointment of current headteacher Alan Seymour, who was drafted in to advise on recruitment but ended up taking the job himself, the school has gone from strength to strength.

So why has she chosen this year to retire?

Ms Millar said: “Well there are number of reasons really. My term was coming to an end and I’ve recently become chair at William Ellis, making it hard work juggling the governance of both schools. Gospel Oak is now very stable, whereas William Ellis had had quite a turbulent time, so I decided I would rather dedicate my time to William Ellis.”

The most pressing challenge is to find a new headteacher for the all-boys school William Ellis, which has had two permanent heads and one interim in the last two years.

In 1995, Ms Millar left her job at the Daily Express and spent eight years as an aide to Prime Minister’s wife Cherie Blair. This position meant her interests and views became exposed to public scrutiny. In 2003 she hit the headlines after writing a letter to parents critici sing funding cuts that would have forced the school to slash its budget by £127,000, axing school trips and site refurbishment plans.

More recently a debate with journalist Toby Young over his plans to set up one of Michael Gove’s Free Schools in west London ended with a vicious personal attack on Ms Millar, during which he referred to her as a “nasty piece of work”. But she takes that largely on the chin.

“I think my time at No 10 made me immune to all that really,” said Ms Millar. “Clearly Toby Young doesn’t like anybody questioning him. We’d had a bit of an on-line debate and then he just went berserk. The irony is he went to William Ellis so he’s a local school boy himself.”

Where Ms Millar disagrees with supporters of free schools, such as Mr Young, is over the role of parents, and she has written extensively on how they can shape their children’s schools rather than opting out of the comprehensive system. To this end she has launched a website called the Local Schools Network.

“My children all went to their local schools [Gospel Oak, Parliament Hill and William Ellis] and they’ve all achieved and gone on to good universities,” she added.

“The truth is that children who come from affluent backgrounds with educated parents with books, conversation and a positive home learning environments can overcome some weak teaching.

“It is the children who are not in that position that are short-changed if more affluent parents leave.”

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Headteacher sacked by School Governors after failing to eat a cake

A slice of birthday cake was left for head teacher Diane Hill in her in-tray by an office worker, when she failed to eat the gift. The member of staff took offence and lodged a complaint with school governors.

The head teacher was also said to have failed to commiserate after the death of a staff member's dog.

She was further accused, wrongly, of confiscating a kettle from the staff room during a row over unwashed crockery. Another complaint to governors centred on Miss Hill's failure to ask a colleague about her mother's health.

In yet another incident, cleaners and dinner ladies at the Plymouth school complained they had been excluded from a "secret Santa" present-buying list – and when Miss Hill investigated the matter, she was accused of intimidating the person who had compiled the list.
Friends of Miss Hill say that the flurry of trivial accusations stemmed, in fact, from resentment among a small group of staff that the new head teacher was changing the established way of doing things – or in some cases by personal dislike of her.

Yet after hearing the litany of complaints, the school's governors decided to suspend the head on full pay, leading to a full-on war of allegations and counter-allegations.

The local authority, Plymouth city council, then launched a full investigation which ultimately led to Miss Hill's dismissal.

Now she has been awarded undisclosed damages after the city council agreed an out-of-court settlement just before an employment tribunal was due to take place.

The total cost to taxpayers of the payout, the investigation, and other costs arising from the case is understood to exceed £300,000.

A parent at the school, Fiona Kerr, said: "We have lost the most fantastic head teacher, and for what? A few people's hurt feelings. It's disgraceful.
"The school had become lazy. Other schools had improved immensely and Devonport had stood still. Diane was a great loss."

Miss Hill's friends say that the case raises important questions about the powers of school governors and about reforms proposed by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, which would hand them even more control.

The former head teacher is bound by a confidentiality clause which prevents her from talking about what happened at the school.

But a friend speaking on her behalf said Miss Hill was concerned that other heads could suffer similar treatment – and may be left even more isolated by the Government's plans.

The friend said: "The outcome of this whole sorry incident is that they (School Governors) have potentially destroyed Diane's career.

"Her case should act as a warning to others, particularly since governing bodies are now being given more power and independence by the Government."

The final report by city council education officials made numerous comments about the head teacher's frosty relationship with staff, but nowhere did it claim there had been serious incompetence or misconduct on her part.

The birthday cake incident stands out as the most extraordinary complaint in Miss Hill's case – particularly because the 48-year-old has dietary requirements which mean she cannot eat cake.
"She is allergic to milk. This was a sponge cake with cream in the middle," said her friend, who declined to be named.

"It would be funny if it were not so serious. I don't think there was a single allegation that amounted to anything substantial."

The friend added: "When all this was going on Diane was on the floor, devastated. She lost two stone in weight, and cried until she could not cry any more."

One School governor, who declined to be named, said: "The art of successful management is to get on with people and Diane was catastrophic"

"She fell out with office staff, teacher, parents, governors and then local authority officers. "How can you carry a headship if you can't keep in with at least somebody?"
"I feel she was completely out of her depth."

Another School governor said: "She ignored the sixth form and I think the school lost credence in her time. The whole thing caused us a great deal of time and stress."

But another School governor was more sympathetic to Miss Hill's case, saying: "I felt a bit uneasy as it progressed that it was rather trivial and there was a bit of a witch-hunt going on"
"People claimed there was an atmosphere of fear at the school, but I think things had snowballed and developed a life of its own."

A joint statement issued after last month's settlement by the governing body, the city council and Miss Hill said: "The parties are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution to events that resulted in Miss Hill's departure from the school."This has been a prolonged and unfortunate process for all."

Full Story

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Toby Young looks to EC Harris to set-up Free School

According to an article in It claimed Toby Young's Free School has awarded Built Asset Consultancy firm EC Harris the contract to set-up his Free School including the SchoolcGovernance framework

The Story from says:

"EC Harris has won contracts to work on three of the government’s flagship free schools

EC Harris has won contracts to work on three of the government’s flagship free schools, including journalist Toby Young’s free school in west London.

The consultant will provide educational advice, recruit staff and set up the governance for Young’s free school; help with the business case for the I-Foundation Hindu primary school in Leicester; and design the King’s Science Academy in Bradford.

The contracts all start immediately and are expected to finish in September 2011, the target date for the opening of the government’s first 16 free schools"

My own view is, whilst it seems sensible to employ consultants to project management the Free school build, asset management and help with the recruitment process I am not convinced getting the same commercial firm to set-up School governance is such a great idea. Surely there should be checks and balance in any School Governance model and the poacher/gamekeeper saying comes to mind.


I emailed to Toby Young today to ask him to comment on the story in the article.

Toby says the article is "slightly misleading. Although EC Harris is managing all aspects of the project save for the site and ICT. But they're very light touch. There's been no attempt to impose an education template or a governance model. They're working with us to help us realise our vision but it remains very much our vision"

"On the governance specifically the only advice we've received is from a solicitor employed by EC Harris"

"How we set up our Board of Governors, who we appoint as Governors and how the school is governed going forward is and will remain the sole responsibility of the West London Free School"

Thanks for setting the record straight Toby!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Parents ask for reinstatement of 7 School Governors sacked by the Bishop

Parents have signed a petition demanding the reinstatement of seven sacked school governors at a Catholic school in Suffolk.

The headteacher Pauline Lawrence of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Sudbury is absent and the foundation school governors had all been dismissed by the Rt Rev Michael Evans of the Diocese of East Anglia.

Parents concerned about the future of their children’s education at the school started a petition which demands the diocese reinstate the governors or give a full explanation for the controversial action.

One parent said the school had been through enough over the last 18 months and the school governors had to be reinstated following the “disgraceful” action by the bishop to remove them.

In a statement from the East Anglian Diocese a spokesman said Mrs Kemble had taken on the role of executive headteacher on September 20 after she was approached by the local authority to cover Mrs Lawrence’s absence.

Regarding the issue of the sacked foundation governors he said the bishop removed them, with the support of the local authority, after asking them to make written representations to him.

Parents angry at the actions of the bishop say they will remove their children from the school if the situation is not resolved.

Parents received a letter from the school this week inviting them to a meeting on Monday with Julie O’Connor, director of the East Anglian Diocesan School’s Service, to discuss the issue of the school’s governors and the future of the school.

A spokesman from Suffolk County Council said they could not comment on the petition as they had not seen it.

No-one from the Diocese of East Anglia was available for comment at the time of going to press.

Comments left by parents on the petition included:

- “We need our governors reinstated. They were part of the school when it was successful before all this mess started. I cannot believe also that Father Peter Brett, the school priest, as been removed from post, this is disgraceful. An explanation is needed for this action at least.”

- “I am extremely concerned in the way in which the foundation governors have been removed. Mrs Kemble had gone some way in stabilising the school and the action of the diocese has completely undone that hard work. I think for the sake of the stability of the school a full explanation needs to be given along with all details of future plans.”

- “It seems unlikely that removal of governors during such a turbulent time could be helpful for the survival of the school. The governors have St Joseph’s interests clearly at heart and are working very hard to try to preserve the school and restore many of the aspects of happy school life that have been lost.”

Thursday, 2 December 2010

DfE releases advice on Adverse Weather School Closures

The Department of Education has released updated information on the subject of School Closures during adverse weather. Over 4,000 Schools were closed today across the UK.

"The recent severe weather has hit many parts of the country, and has disrupted schools alongside many other sectors. We are grateful to the headteachers, school staff and local communities who have worked hard to keep their schools open.

The decision whether to close must be for headteachers. They know their schools and the surrounding areas. We hope that they will continue to use common sense in assessing risks and keep their schools open whenever it is safe to do so. Schools play a key role in their local communities and by staying open help both their pupils and parents.

Headteachers should not be worried about the impact that remaining open may have on their attendance statistics. We have in September 2010 amended the relevant regulations so that, when a pupil cannot get in because of severe weather, the school can use attendance code Y, which means that the pupil’s absence will not affect the attendance statistics. If the headteacher believes that a child could have got to school, then the child should be recorded as code O for unauthorised absence".

Primary school pays a contractor to clear snow to stay open

A north Devon primary school is paying a private contractor to clear snow and stay open.

Marwood Primary School, near Barnstaple, Devon has spent £300 to keep the lane leading up to it open.

Highways authority Devon County Council said it could not afford to clear access to every primary school.

Other Barnstaple primary schools have been closed by the snow.

Marwood head teacher Alun Dobson said it was the school governors' policy to keep the school open for its 100 pupils.

Snow fell in the area, making a lane to the rural school dangerous.

Mr Dobson said: "We are not on a gritting route, so we had to use our own resources.

"This is our plan agreed by the governors, but we will be making representations to the county council to get the money back."

The policy of the Devon county council, which has issued a list of snow-affected schools, is to clear access to all secondary schools, but not all primary schools.

A spokesman said: "There are so many of the primary schools in rural locations that it would be unaffordable."

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Does Every Child still Matter?

The 10 year anniversary of the murder 10 year old Damilola Taylor in Peckham last week reminded me of that is also it was also the 10 anniversary of the death of 8 year old Victoria Climbie. There were film crews in Peckham asking what has changed in 10 years. It is worth reflecting what has happened since Victoria's death through neglect.

In 2003, the Government published the Green Paper called Every Child Matters alongside the formal response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbié. In 2004 the Children Act became law. This legislation is the legal underpinning for Every Child Matters, which sets out the then Government’s approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19.

The aim of the Every Child Matters programme is to give all children the support they need to:

Be healthy

Stay safe

Enjoy and achieve

Make a positive contribution

Achieve economic well-being.

The Every Child Matters agenda was further developed through publication of the Children's Plan in December 2007. The Children's Plan was a ten-year strategy to make England the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up.

In February this year the then Shadow Secretary of Education Michael Gove gave tabled an early day motion saying:

"That this House notes with sadness that 25 February 2010 marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Victoria Climbié in Haringey and that, had she lived, she would now be 18 years old; welcomes the conference being held on that date in Portcullis House by the Victoria Climbié Foundation; commends and congratulates it on its excellent work over the past decade, particularly the opening of the Foundation's school in the Ivory Coast and its project work to raise child protection awareness both in the UK and in Africa; and hopes that further lessons will be learnt from the tragic deaths of Victoria and other children"

I was some what surprised there was not even one mention of Every Child Matters in the 95 page Schools White Paper last week.

Personally we embed the five principles of E.C.M. into all our governing body meetings. After every full governing body meeting or committee meeting we ask ourselves the questions linked to Every Child Matters.

We ask what have we discussed during the meeting that keeps our pupils healthy, keeps them safe, allows them to enjoy and achieve and enables them to make a positive contribution.

We find it is an interesting self evaluation exercise at the end of all governing meetings.

Could a Victoria Climbié case happen again?

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What barriers deter people from becoming a school governor?

Do you think there are barriers which deter people from becoming a school governor?

Lord Hill has called for governors with ideas on how we can remove any barriers which may prevent people from becoming school governors.

He has set up the email address to which people can email suggestions.

My own thoughts which I have emailed to Lord hill are:

1) Get employers firmly on board. Many public bodies already allow employees to serve civic duties up to 5 days without any financial penalty to the individual. i.e The employee does not take these days as holiday or unpaid leave. They continue to be paid for their time serving as a school governor.

It would be good to extend this to all public bodies and private companies above a certain size, say over 250 employees.

2) Reward employers whose employees gave their time as school governors, public recognition or possibly tax rebates for the amount of time employees spent on civil duty.

Hampshire County council already do a good job recognising employers. See link with story below.

3)Encourage more young people to get involved with School Governing by giving away music concert tickets in a similar scheme to Orange Rockcorps

4) Encourage single parents to become School Governing by paying for Child care provision. Single parents could be encouraged to join governing bodies if baby sitting or child provision was paid for without financial penalty to the school. At the moment it is down to each school what they allow under their governor expenses policy.

5) Review the criteria for being a school governor. There are many limitations which might scare some members of the community away from becoming a School governor.

What do others think?

Monday, 29 November 2010

School Governors seek judicial review to prevent part closure

School Governors have a High Court date set to challenge the Welsh Assembly’s handling of the proposed closure of their sixth form.

A judicial review sought by Brynmawr Foundation School’s governors will be heard in Cardiff in January next year.

The School governors are challenging whether the Welsh Assembly’s delegation of powers to Blaenau Gwent council to propose and consult on closing their sixth form was legal.

They claim the school’s foundation status, which means it is run by its own governing body but funded by the state, prevents any authority but the Welsh Assembly from proposing a closure of any part of the school.

Full Story at

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Review of the Schools White Paper

I am still re-reading the Schools White Paper to understand the full picture.

A colleague in Surrey's education world described the white paper this week as "an interesting collection of ideas which weren't necessarily joined up" I would agree with this sentiment. We will have to wait for further legalisation to work out how many of these ideas could be implemented.

A Summary from the NGA can be found below:


The National College to offer high quality training to chairs of governors.
Legislation will be passed to relax the requirements on size and proportionality of governing bodies, allowing schools to alter the constitution if they wish from early 2012 (there will be a requirement of a minimum of two parent governors, and in governing bodies where a foundation body appoints the majority of the governors it will continue to do so).

Governors will be given easier access to data in order to determine how their schools compared with others.The requirement for every school to have a school improvement partner will be removed. The recently introduced option for parents to refer to complaints to the Ombudsman will be repealed and a yet to be announced ‘route to complain in the most cost effective way’ will be introduced

Performance tables:

The current contextual value added (CVA) measure will be abolished. More emphasis will be placed on progress.

Will report specifically on pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium in the Performance Tables.

Review performance measures for Special Schools

The ‘floor standards’ of acceptable performance for schools is to be raised:
Secondary schools - if fewer than 35% of pupils achieve 5 A*-Cs including English and Maths (and going forwards in Science) and fewer pupils make good progress between key stage two and key stage four.

Primary schools – if fewer than 60% of pupils achieve level four in English and Maths and fewer pupils than average make the expected levels of progress between Key Stage 1 & 2.

Teaching and Leadership – the Government will:

Cease to fund initial teacher training for graduates who do not have at least a 2:2 degree
Will expand Teach First and offer financial incentives to attract the best candidates into shortage subjects

Create a network of Teaching Schools – on the model of teaching hospitals – to give outstanding schools the role of leading the training of teachers

Increase the number of Local and National Leaders of Education

End centralised (including Local Authority) target setting for schools


independent appeals panel to be retained, but without the power to require a pupil’s

Curriculum, Assessment and Qualifications.

Introduce the English Baccalaureate – (students who achieve A*-C I/GCSEs in English, maths, the sciences, a modern or ancient foreign language and a humanity such as history or geography will receive a certificate)

Once the Professor Alison Wolf has reported on vocational qualifications, make any necessary reforms

The new National Curriculum will be ‘slim, clear and authoritative’

A levels – Ofqual to be asked to change the rules on resits of modules to prevent students from re-sitting large numbers of units.

GCSEs – to reverse the trend towards modular courses, Ofqual to be asked to review GCSEs with a view to reverting to end of course exams

Ofqual have been asked to revisit marking schemes with a view to re-introducing separate assessment of spelling, punctuation and grammar into all GCSE’s.

On the issue of grammar, perhaps the DfE could also do with a little lesson – the NGA is name checked in paragraph 6.29; unfortunately someone failed to notice that Governors’ should have an apostrophe.

New Schools System

This covers the expansion of the Academies programme and the presumption that all new schools will be Academies

School Improvement

Makes clear that schools –‘governors, head teachers and teachers’ have responsibility for improvement. If schools are providing a good education they will be free to set their own targets and improvement priorities.

Schools below the floor standard and which are not progressing, or are judged inadequate will be subject to intervention with the presumption they will be converting into Academy Status.

If Academies or Free Schools fail to meet the floor standards they will also be subject to floor standards they will also be subject to intervention.

School Funding

A national funding formula is to be introduced, but local authorities would still be responsible
for distributing funding to maintained schools.

The YPLA will be abolished, but replaced by the Education Funding Agency

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Remote UK School Governor is based in New Zealand

Angie Lund remains is a remote UK school governor while based in New Zealand as she addresses issues while she is physically 11,500 miles away.

Her decision to become a remote school governor came about because the Chair of Governors wanted her to maintain her previous School governor role after she emigrated to New Zealand with her family. She had been working on a very strong development plan for the school with lots of accompanying HR related issues such as staff restructuring, new job descriptions, policies and procedures and she wanted to see this plan to fruition.

Initially, the governing body were unsure how the situation would pan out as the role of remote school governing was new to all of them. However, during the past three months it has worked very effectively for all concerned.

Technology is at the heart of my role of a remote school governor. Email and Skype are the two main tools I use, with the phone being used occasionally. My Head has had a few people issues while I’ve been away and we’ve had Skype video calls discussing what to do and I’ve emailed responses, advice and guidance to him.

Angie uses the Modern Governor service for School Governor training.

Due to the success to date, Angie would like to continue as a remote governor. She may stay on the board in an advisory capacity but with no voting rights to make things easier or she may stay on as a full member which will mean that we will Skype the meetings which is very easy to do in reality.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Employers thanked for supporting school governors

Companies have been thanked by Hampshire County Council for encouraging their staff to volunteer as school governors and making it possible for them to carry out their duties.

The County Council’s employer awards recognise what these companies do to enable local people to have a say in the running of Hampshire schools.

Employers receiving awards say supporting school governors is a way of supporting local communities

Many School Governors hold voluntary positions in schools and spend around 20 hours a term on school business. Although much of this is in their own time, employers who are flexible with
their employees’ in their voluntary governor role do make a real difference to the community and have a positive impact on schools.

Employers receiving awards say supporting school governors is a way of supporting local communities and of raising the company’s profile, as well as developing the skills and confidence of their staff.

Councillor Roy Perry Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services , said: “School governors play a vital role in the running and operation of our schools so it’s important to give public recognition to the companies that support their work. Without their employer’s encouragement and flexibility many governors would not be able to take on governor duties and schools would miss out on the varied skills and perspectives they provide. I’d like to thank these companies and others in Hampshire who support their employees in this way.”

Great story! It would be great if more councils recognised employers in a similar way. It would also be great if more employers encourage their employees to become School Governors.

Full story can be found here:

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Strong leader or Bully?

A headteacher of a primary school has been banned from teaching for two years after he bullied and intimidated his staff.

Bryan Eade, of Coningsby St Michael's Church Of England Primary School, was banned by the General Teaching Council following a 2 day inquiry into the allegations against him.

The GTC said Mr Eade had bullied and intimidated his staff, failed to foster an open, fair and equitable culture, failed to create effective working relations and failed to delegate responsibilities appropriately.

Mr Eade denied the allegations and said he had not intended to bully or intimidate anyone and that he had been acting as a strong leader.

The GTC said that following complaints by teachers at the school about Mr Eade's conduct, the school governors carried out an investigation and interviewed 20 staff.

Sean Westaway, the chair of governors, gave evidence at the hearing and confirmed that some staff were bullied and intimidated. He described Mr Eade as dictatorial and said he had been dismissed following the investigation.

Full story from

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Online Petition demands resignation of Grammar School chair of governers

More than a 100 people have formally demanded the chair of governors at a Merseyside grammar school quits amid the continued absence of its headteacher.

Angry parents and other supporters of West Kirby’s Calday Grange Grammar school have turned to the power of the internet and made their feelings known in an online petition.

The top performing school’s headteacher, Andrew Hall, was suspended just over a year ago and was later told he faced 13 allegations which ranged from failure to report a foetus in a jar to being part of a bullying regime in the school.

Mr Hall, recovering from heart failure in April which friends blame on his enforced absence, had his suspension lifted last month – almost a year to the day after he was told to stay away from the school he had led since 2002.

But parents’ hopes for a swift reinstatement of Mr Hall were dashed with school governors confirming he will be “re-suspended” and put before a disciplinary panel as soon as he does go back.

Since the departure of Mr Hall, the school governors have faced parents and government concerns over the school’s governance and its trust status which saw it enlist Liverpool University, Unilever and Maestro Services Ltd as partners to share expertise and formally contribute to the running of the school. And Ofsted has also confirmed it is probing parents’ claims “broken governance” is hitting standards at the top-performing school.

An online petition sent to both Ofsted and the school has been set up by former pupil and head boy Anthony Phillips.

The petition demands the “reinstatement of Mr Hall as head master of Calday Grange Grammar School” and adds: “We also want the chair of governors, Margaret Twemlow, to step down.”

It has already attracted the signatures of 110 supporters, including Matthew Baylis who said an interim governing body from another local authority should take over to decide whether Mr Hall should be reinstated.

He said: “The governors should all stand down. A fresh pair of eyes is what is needed.”

But chair of governors Margaret Twemlow insisted: “I will be not be standing down.”

She added: “Mr Hall could only be reinstated if he went through the correct process of a disciplinary hearing. It was not the governors who decided Mr Hall had a case to answer but the result of an independent investigation carried out by Wirral council.

“As a governing body, we have followed due process and robustly sought to conclude matters for approximately the last seven months but have been unsuccessful due to matters beyond our control.”

Full story at

Schools White Paper on School Governance

I have highlighted some quotes relating to School Governance from today's Schools White Paper for those who have not read the whole 95 page document.

"School governors are the unsung heroes of our education system. They are one of the biggest volunteer forces in the country, working in their spare time to promote school improvement and to support head teachers and teachers in their work. To date, governors have not received the recognition, support or attention that they deserve. We will put that right"

"The time and expertise of governors needs to be better respected and deployed.Sometimes governing bodies lack the information or training to challenge effectively and support the head teacher and senior leadership of a school to improve. We will work with the National Governors Association and others to clarify governing body accountabilities and responsibilities to focus more strongly on strategic direction, and encourage schools to appoint trained clerks who can offer expert advice and guidance to support them. We will make it easier for governors to set high expectations and ask challenging questions, by giving governors easier access to data about how their school compares to others, and the National College will offer high-quality training for chairs of governors"

"Governing bodies benefit from having people with business or management experience as members, and employers find that their staff benefit from and enjoy serving as school governors. We will work with the Education Employer Taskforce, Business in the Community, the Institute for Education Business Excellence, the School Governor’s One Stop Shop, and others to encourage business people and professionals to volunteer as governors.

"Many of the most successful schools have smaller governing bodies with
individuals drawn from a wide range of people rooted in the community, such asparents, businesses, local government and the voluntary sector.

"Smaller governing bodies with the right skills are able to be more decisive, supporting the head teacher and championing high standards. We will legislate in the forthcoming Education Bill so that all schools can establish smaller governing bodies with appointments primarily focused on skills."

"From early 2012 we will allow all schools to adopt this more flexible model of school governance if they choose to, while ensuring a minimum of two parent governors. Schools which currently have a majority of governors appointed by a foundation (often faith voluntary aided schools) will continue to do so"

10 key questions for School governors to ask

1. What are the school’s values? Are they reflected in our long term
development plans?

2. How are we going to raise standards for all children, including the most
and least able, those with Special Educational Needs, boys and girls, and
any who are currently underachieving?

3. Have we got the right staff and the right development and reward

4. Do we have a sound financial strategy, get good value for money and have
robust procurement and financial systems?

5. Do we keep our buildings and other assets in good condition and are they
well used?

6. How well does the curriculum provide for and stretch all pupils?

7. How well do we keep parents informed and take account of their views?

8. Do we keep children safe and meet the statutory health and safety

9. How is pupil behaviour? Do we tackle the root causes of poor behaviour?

10. Do we offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities which engage all

Very interesting!, I will comment on indivdual aspects of these announcements later when I have had time to digest and think about them.

The schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching published today

The Schools whitepaper is published today. Below is text direct from the Department of Education website. More on this later.

The schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, sets out a radical reform programme for the schools system, with schools freed from the constraints of central Government direction and teachers placed firmly at the heart of school improvement.

The White Paper also sets out:

• powers for teachers to improve discipline, and trialling a new approach to exclusions

• a vision for a transformed school curriculum supported by rigorous assessment and qualifications

• more academies and free schools and a strong strategic role for local authorities

• changes to school performance tables, Ofsted inspections and governance

• a fairer funding system including a pupil premium to channel more money to the most deprived children

• school-led school improvement replacing top-down initiatives.

Download and and view the Schools White Paper from link below

More commentary on this white paper later once I have read it!