A compact and worthwhile read for new school governors.

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Dates 28 September 2013 – 09 October 2013
Time spent reading 1 hour, 45 minutes
Highlights 45
Comments 11
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use your tablet computer if you have one. Laptops have largely failed to gain a foothold in meetings – the screen seems to act as a physical barrier – and if you keep looking at your smartphone your colleagues might think you are texting for someone to come and rescue you!

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Good advice for any meetings, not just governor meetings. Tablets seem to be more socially acceptable. Using a stylus is even better in terms of how other people in the meeting feel about your use of an electronic tool. If you're writing by hand, you're highly unlikely to be working on your emails!

Ofsted inspections focus on five areas

Governors take the longer strategic view: assessing where we are now as a school, agreeing on where we are going, finding out whether we are on track and what needs to be done to improve the quality of education.

The chair should evaluate the governing body’s hard and soft outcomes from time to time. Give everyone a sticky note, put a sheet of flipchart paper by the exit and ask everyone to rate the meeting with a number on their sticky note.

To evaluate staff confidence, invite the head teacher to consult with the staff and feed back to the chair.

Setting the vision is not easy because a vision statement has to be straightforward, command the support of the whole school community and be distinguishable from that of every other school.

The self-evaluation form (SEF) has become the dominant mechanism for raising standards in schools and, as a governor, it will be a key document for you to regularly scrutinise.

There is no such thing as a perfect individual but we can create a perfect team. We need to know what our weaknesses are – our skills and knowledge gaps – and then fill them.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Succinctly put. One for you, @waynemitchell35.

Items evaluated as grades 3 and 4 can be transferred to the leadership section of the school improvement plan. This provides clear evidence of good leadership by the governing body: using accurate self-evaluation to identify and tackle any weaknesses.

An outstanding SEF will comprise judgements about the quality of provision, about how we are doing, with brief references to the context. Essentially it should be bullet points evaluating provision with a column for recording where evidence to prove the judgement can be found.

Schools can choose their own SEF from the various formats available. Whatever form is used, however, this is such an important document that governing bodies should make sure it is a main agenda item at least once a term.

efficient and effective policy review is an essential part of leadership and of the day-to-day management of the school. The challenge, therefore, is how to allocate just enough time so that you achieve the benefits.

This list will, however, help governors to ask the right questions about which ones should apply to your school.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Good list of statutory policies.

Being a governor is not just about attending meetings. It also involves evaluating the school’s leadership team on the basis of what happens in the school on a daily basis and the only way to do this is to visit during the school day – once a term is about right.

Another resource is Parent View on the Ofsted website.

How to set up a visit

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Excellent guide.

The most important thing governors should know about is the progress pupils are making in the school.

Governors must insist that the head teacher (and their staff) turn data into information. A graph can be very helpful but it is the information derived from it that matters.

Governors must decide, along with the head teacher, what the key data sets are and what information the governing body wants to receive based on that data. In addition, head teachers must be free to choose other data from all the statistics available to illustrate a particular issue.

The agenda of every full governing body meeting should include a head teacher’s report.

this is an opportunity when the chair could either allow a period for silent reading or suggest those present pair up to read and discuss the report together. Longer will be needed for this option, but it can be more suitable if there are new governors or observers present. The task set in each case will be to identify possible questions.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This sounds horrible! Surely the documents should be circulated ahead of time and questions prepared in advance of the meeting.

Whilst it is a matter for the governing body to decide the format for reports delivered to them, if changes are proposed to current practice then they must be well managed. The head teacher is likely to have well-founded views, and it is their report after all.

Asking the head teacher for anonymised data on the extent to which appraisal informs pay decisions will begin to give governors an insight into this subject.

Good ideas are good ideas wherever they come from.

Education is one of the services which has been devolved to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so the schooling systems of the four countries of the United Kingdom have been diverging since the start of this century.

From 2015 the state will guarantee to provide a place of full-time education or training to age 18 – the raising of the participation age (RPA). At the moment, there are no plans to use the law to enforce attendance beyond the current school leaving age of 16.

Regulation also stops any one provider of examinations cornering the market and making excessive profits by making their exams easy to pass. Freedom for schools to choose which qualifications to offer can only be provided by giving awarding bodies much less freedom in the content they test and how they test it.

Regulation also stops any one provider of examinations cornering the market and making excessive profits by making their exams easy to pass. Freedom for schools to choose which qualifications to offer can only be provided by giving awarding bodies much less freedom in the content they test and how they test it.

In order to increase competition between schools, local authorities lost the power to create school catchment areas.

The School Data Dashboard I am launching today raises the stakes. Many governors know their school well already. But for those that don’t, there are now no excuses. Inspectors will be very critical of governing bodies who, despite the dashboard, still don’t know their school well enough.

It is part of the etiquette of the teaching profession that outgoing head teachers do not participate in any way in the appointment of their successor.

Increasingly Facebook pages are used to complement the main school website. If your school doesn’t already have a Facebook page, this may be the moment.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran


Usually, potential applicants will be encouraged to visit the school. This must be carefully considered and must not unfairly advantage or disadvantage any candidate. No one involved in the final appointment process should be involved.

References are of increasingly limited value.

Department for Education – schools/leadership/governance This is a truly comprehensive website.

Twenty key questions for a school governing body to ask itself

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This is good stuff.

Head teacher’s report: suggested headings

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Good reference.

Other expenditure is referred to as revenue

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This doesn't make any sense.

Governing bodies delegate most matters to the head teacher. The main power it cannot hand over is approving the annual budget plan.

Parents cannot be required to sign anything, but it is good practice to invite them to sign a declaration that they understand and accept the agreement. It is also good practice for the governing body to ask the head teacher how many parents sign and what the barriers to achieving 100% sign-up are. Governors should also know to what extent the home–school agreement is contributing to the school achieving its aims.

National curriculum. This is a framework of 12 subjects, divided into Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. It is only compulsory in schools in England and only in local authority schools. A tightly defined national curriculum was introduced in the 1980s; before that schools were responsible for developing their own curriculum. The national curriculum is more flexible now, once again giving schools a measure of choice. Private schools and academies do not have to follow the national curriculum.

If the child’s parents were not married at the time of the birth, the mother has parental responsibility for the child, and the father is able to acquire parental responsibility for the child if he: marries the mother of the child; enters into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother; registers the child’s birth jointly with the mother (effective from 1 December 2003, but not retrospective); or applies to the court for a parental responsibility order.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I did not know this.

Overall attendance is typically around 95%.

The definition of PA is 15%: that is, pupils should be present for more than 85% of sessions. There are two sessions in a school day and typically 190 days in a school year. This threshold is used so that interventions can be monitored (What actions?) and evaluated (How well are they working?) and compared with other schools locally and nationally.

Schools are expected to target this money at improving the quality of provision for each of the eligible pupils and evaluate accurately the extent to which this has been achieved. Governors must ensure this is part of the data set in the head teacher’s report to the governing body.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Pupil premium.