Kyra Journal January 2018; Research & Resource Digest

Teaching Schools

Governance survey results

The National Governance Association (NGA) has published (22 September) the results of its joint survey of governance with the TES, in which more than 5,300 school governors and trustees shared their views and experiences. The key findings from the survey are summarised below (source: NGA):

  • Funding pressures are the main concern of governors and trustees – 72% do not believe that they can be managed without any adverse impact on the quality of education.
  • 30% of governors and trustees said their school had already reduced the number of teaching staff because of funding constraints, while 33% said they anticipated doing so in the next two years.
  • 17% agreed that the removal of national curriculum levels had been a positive change whilst 41% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
  • 36% of governors and trustees said they have now developed their own progress measure.
  • There is a slight fall in the proportion of governing boards struggling to appoint across all levels.
  • 95% agreed that high quality indication training should be mandatory, and 40% said their responsibilities were not manageable in 10 – 20 days.
  • 4 in 5 governors and trustees are currently or were previously in managerial or professional occupations, suggesting they have significant skills and experience to offer schools.
  • 55% of respondents state that they find it difficult to recruit to their governing board.

Further details can be found: https://www.nga.org.uk/News/NGA-News/Key-findings-of-NGA-TES-annual-school-governance-s.aspx

 
School governance

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has published (13 September) a report ‘Who governs our schools? Trends, tensions and opportunities’, by one of RSA’s Fellows, Tony Breslin. The report explores six key themes: participation and citizenship; induction and training; policymaking; role of stakeholders; autonomy; and inter-sector collaboration; and makes a number of recommendations regarding the future of school governance. Some of the key points from the report are summarised below (source: RSA):

  • We need a better understanding of governance across the teaching profession and amongst others who work in and with schools, especially amongst school leaders and those who aspire to such roles.
  • It is common for changes to school governance arrangements to emerge as the unintended consequences of change elsewhere in the system. How we govern our schools should be an education policy priority, not an afterthought.
  • Building on the locally contextualised knowledge of parents, staff, students and members of the local community is not a block on good governance; it is often the route to it – and it may have significant benefits in terms of personal and community development for the individuals and neighbourhoods concerned.
  • We need to understand the impact of the shift towards formal school partnerships, both at local and system level, especially in terms of the recruitment and retention of headteachers, senior leaders and governors.
  • We need to share lessons about what is and isn’t good governance across and between sectors; those involved in school governance may have lessons to learn about governance from elsewhere in the public sector, the voluntary and community sector and the business world, but they also have much to offer, not least in terms of a universal commitment to values-driven leadership that places transparency and community service at its core.
How to improve academy trust governance

Schools Week has published (11 September) an article by Forum Education’s Chief Executive, Michael Pain, which considers the fundamental challenge for the multi-academy trust system regarding the quality of governance. Michael says that while some MATs are developing strong trust boards, many others find it difficult to recruit and retain people of the necessary calibre. Michael highlights three key recommendations from Forum’s recent roundtable report on MAT governance:

  • There needs to be more openness across the system about academy trust Members, as it is they who appoint trustees and keep an eye on the board’s performance. The roundtable report recommends that trust websites should include a statement from each member on what motivates them in the role and the skills and experience they bring. It also recommends that the Department for Education (DfE) undertake a full audit of members and establish a charter for them to sign, setting out their duties to the trusts and the children they serve.
  • The report recommends that the DfE consider introducing an incentive scheme requiring organisations of a certain size to support a proportion of staff to become MAT trustees.
  • The report also recommends improvements to trustee training, which should include an overview of procurement law, how to reduce, address and manage conflicts of interest, and executive pay.  Trustees should access training every two years in order to keep up to date with the latest guidance and legislative requirements.

Further information can be found: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/how-to-improve-academy-trust-governance/

Model code of conduct for school governing boards

 The National Governance Association (NGA) has published (1 September) an updated model code of conduct for school governing boards, which aims to be used and easily tailored in any school governance setting. The code sets out the expectations on and commitment required from school governors, trustees and academy committee members in order for the governing board to properly carry out it work within the school/s and the community. The code covers: roles and responsibilities; commitment; relationships; confidentiality; conflicts of interest; the Seven Principles of Public Life.

Further information can be found: https://www.nga.org.uk/Guidance/Legislation,policies-and-procedures/Model-Policies/Code-of-Practice.aspx

Constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has published (29 August) updated statutory guidance on the constitution of governing bodies of all local-authority-maintained schools. The guidance has been updated to include information about new powers to remove elected governors, which will apply from 1 September 2017. The guidance states that the governing body may remove an elected parent or staff governor, in the same way as they can remove co-opted governors – by majority decision of the governing body. However, it also states “Governing bodies are expected only to exercise the power to remove an elected governor in exceptional circumstances where the actions or behaviour of the elected governor warrants removal rather than suspension. The power should not be used simply to remove dissenting or challenging voices.” The guidance also reiterates that any person removed as an elected governor from the governing body during their term of office will be disqualified from serving or continuing to serve as a school governor, in any school, for five years from the date of their removal. The guidance emphasises, therefore, that the power to remove an elected governor should only be used in exceptional circumstances.

Further information can be found: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/constitution-of-governing-bodies-of-maintained-schools