On the 15th December, 2016 Ofsted published a survey report on governance arrangements in complex and challenging circumstances. The full report can be found via this link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-governance
The report identifies the barriers faced by governors in these schools and the actions taken to strengthen their professional skills and fulfil their roles as effective, strategic school leaders.
Ofsted had the following recommendations :
Governing boards of all schools should:
- ensure clarity of roles, responsibilities and lines of accountability for governance, particularly where multi-level governance makes accountability complex
- publish information about governance on the school website in line with statutory requirements or the academy funding agreement to ensure transparency and clarity of roles and responsibilities
- ensure that they have a robust review method in place to assure themselves that the board is effective
- secure professional support and governor training as needed to ensure effective governance.
Multi-academy trusts should:
- review schemes of delegation annually and ensure that clear lines of accountability, back to trust board level, are understood and effective
- publish each academy’s annually reviewed scheme of delegation on the website of the multi-academy trust and ensure that local governing boards, where they exist, fully understand their roles and responsibilities
- ensure that local governing boards use support from experts across the trust and beyond to closely monitor the performance of schools where they have delegated responsibility for doing so.
I do not have much issue with these recommendations so far.
Self review by reflecting on our work internally or with the assistance of an NLG (declaring an interest here!) is something I have no issue accepting. We should all reflect at the end of each academic year on our performance as a governor. Have we contributed at meetings? Have we offered challenge and support? Have we completed any training and shared that with our colleagues? Have we read enough to keep up to date? Are we on the right committees? Do we engage with information services? Do we attend our local governor forum meetings (declaring an interest here too!)?
I will not repeat the whole report and leave you to have that pleasure yourself.
However, a storm erupted on social media at this :
Paying the chairs of governing bodies can act as a means to achieving a professional and open relationship between governors and school leaders.
Ofsted suggested that a way to address weak governance was to pay chairs of governing bodies. The watchdog found that paid chairs often have “more open and honest discussions” with headteachers.
I took slight issue with the assumption that I was not professional or did not have an open and honest relationship with colleagues and school leaders because I was an unpaid volunteer.
Many views for and against payment for chairs took place! Where would the money come from? How many ‘professionals’ who do not volunteer now would change their mind if they were paid? Could the chair remain impartial if they were paid by the school? Would the annual election of the chair get in the way of the process? Will paying a reluctant chair improve their professionalism? Should the chair of a MAT be paid? Being a member of a governing board was a way to give something back to the community and that should not be undermined. Were the surveys large enough to draw those conclusions?
The suggestion of payment conflicts with the view of the National Governors’ Association, which states chairs and all governors should remain a voluntary unpaid role and state their position in their blog www.nga.org.uk
What do you think? Time to debate it again?