Ofsted have announced that they will be starting their own blog to keep us updated on any up and coming changes etc. There will be posts on Myth Busting! Very important as there are always different rumours going around as to what Ofsted will and wont do! The blog can be found here https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/
In May 2013, I was designated as a National Leader of Governance by the NCTL (National College). As part of that process I also undertook the College’s training to carry out External Reviews of Governance (ERGs). I have since then undertaken about 6 ERGs with successful outcomes
However, in Ofsted’s Annual Report 2014, there was a ‘mixed bag’ on their judgement on ERGs. The report stated ‘Reviews of Governance are having limited impact’. Ofsted went on to state the following: “Unfortunately, our evidence suggests that these reviews have had varying levels of impact, often taking too long to arrange and not being carried out in a robust way. In about half of these schools, there had been problems with governor recruitment or a lack of training for governors and this had limited the impact of the review. In some cases, schools had refused even to engage with the review’s findings.”
Of the ones I have carried out, I would like to think they have all been effective and carried out in a robust way. There is little guidance available to schools as to how to choose a reviewer and many companies who have been providing educational services have jumped ‘on the bandwagon’ without really knowing what is expected from a review. It is true to say that there is no system of Quality Assurance but that is the same with any consultancy, isn’t it? However, if the review is carried out in the appropriate time frame, then the feedback from the HMI monitoring team is the assurance that the school needs. So my advice is if you need a review done get it done so that the inspectors can see it at their next visit and they will give you some external assurance.
However, sadly not all inspectors are interested in the reviews – that has been my experience in one school and the also the one where the school did not really engage with the process.
Remember, this is not a tick box exercise! Just like with any new system being introduced there are teething problems and we all need to learn as to what is the most effective way of carrying our the reviews and how will it benefit the school and the governing body to go forward. So I am really looking forward to some good evidence based research from the National College and also from Ofsted on how to make ERGS more effective.
Finally, schools and governors need to remember that ERGs are ‘their’ reviews and so they need to engage with the process to get the most of of it.
It’s that time of year when targets are being set for the different year groups in schools. This is an interesting year as we are in ‘the twilight zone’ as far as assessment and targets are concerned. See post on ‘Life after Levels‘. However we as governors still need to do our job as far as holding the school to account. So what are they things we need to do? We need to ask how targets are set and then look at these targets so as to assess progress.
When looking for improvement, according to Department for Education’s chief analyst Tim Leunig, there are five key questions to explore with the schools we govern (Questions were obtained from the Schools Improvement Network):
1. After being on track previously, pupil X is now falling behind. Has something happened to this pupil, and has the school implemented strategies to try to reverse this lower rate of progress?
2. Classes taught by teacher X appear to be making less progress than those taught by other teachers. Is this teacher too harsh, or are there issues in their teaching that need to be addressed?
3. Set X in English is making less progress than expected while others taught by the same teacher are doing well. Are a number of disruptive pupils making this class hard to teach and what strategies have been put place to combat this?
4. Some pupils are doing better than expected. Did the school put anything in place to help achieve this and has it now raised targets for these pupils?
5. The school claimed that pupil X was on track to achieve a Level 4b, but they ended up with a Level 3. Is there a problem with the way the school is tracking pupil progress? What is being done to improve this?
I think there are numerous others questions we as governors can ask before we focus on individual children but these five questions does give you a flavour of the type of monitoring we should be doing – basically are children progressing as they should be and if not why not and what are we doing about it. Also we need to make sure that there are also strategies for ‘catching up’ when the required progress in one year has not happened.
At the start of this year, I kept hearing governors and headteachers talking about the paucity of the current assessment system and how things were going to change. ‘Yes, levels were going’!….. But what were they going to be replaced by? Everywhere conference or training session I attended there was another variant of the ‘silver bullet’ of the new system of assessing students. Everyone had the best and everyone seemed to be trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak!
After the initial interest I was inundated with different systems etc that I switched off completely! I am sure that I am not the only one out there taking a wait and see approach.
What I have decided to do instead is to read as much as I can so that when out schools start putting proposals in front of us governors I will be slightly more informed to be able to ask those ‘challenging’ questions and also have a half decent informed conversation with them.
So I am keeping a track of key articles which I think are helping me formulate some of my ideas.
The evil offspring of APP – A blog from a teacher with some very sound advice IMO
The NAHT model is broadly the same as that which led to my Key Objectives, although notable for its brevity in terms of objectives. There are a few key principles that underpin it, which include:
- The assessment should link closely to the taught curriculum
- Not everything that is taught should be assessed
- Key Performance Indicators [KPIs] should be selected for each year group and subject, against which teachers can make assessments.
- End of year descriptors, based on the KPIs can be used for more summative judgements
- The whole process should include in-school, and where possible, inter-school moderation
There is also the work done by Tim Oates, of Cambridge Assessment, who was also the chair of the Epert Panl that informed the government’s decision to move away from levels. Here in this TES article there is a Question and Answer session and there is also a YouTube video of him talking about life after levels and the need to change the current system
I always say that I will keep this blog up to date and then all good intentions disappear. I has been a very busy year as far as governance is concerned. We have had to get all our paperwork in order for the application of the new school. This has been an excellent opportunity in making sure everything is in order. This has meant that the start of the academic year has been a lot smoother and a lot less panicky. The executive HT of our Trust and the chairs of our committees have spent some time looking at our GB business cycle and we now have agendas for all out committees identified and agreed for the whole year.
Our programme of work is also link with our Governors Development plan – our key focus begin to make sure that the new Local Governing Body is fit for purpose and carrying out its tasks of holding the school to account.
At the same time I am helping out at another GB that needs some development work very rapidly.
The governance reviews also continue and also the NLG deployment in helping other chairs’ of Governing Bodies.
The University of Manchester has as one of their five goals the concept of Social Responsibility. As part of this initiative they are really pushing forward in engaging with their staff to become governors. The great thing about this initiative is that they also support their governors with network meetings etc and also a yearly conference. I have been involved with helping the group with developing their initiative and also running some training sessions for their governors.
Yesterday, March 26th, I ran a workshop on Supporting a Developing a Governing body – irrespective of whether it was RI, good or outstanding. Here is my Prezi presentation of that workshop.
We have all been at this place where there is so much changing within the educational landscape and not enough time to read everything and keep up to date. But some of us do sometimes manage to read and this is mainly thanks to all my twitter friends who keep me up to date. So I have decided to issue Governors Bulletin – Spring 2 2014, twice a term, to keep them up to date with what is happening and any key issues etc they might wish to look out for. WE also have a brief summary of what all the committees have been doing and any training that is worth attending.
I hope it does the job but will revisit it in a year’s time to see if all the work was worth it.