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External Reviews of Governance

December 18, 2014

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.

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