London East Governor and School Support Services

Ofsted questions for governance of 21st century schools

Posted: November 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

On 19 November Sir Michael Wilshaw (HMCI) commissioned Ofsted inspectors to carry out an in-depth and far-reaching survey into the effectiveness of governance in our schools. Ofsted will publish a report next year. He also launched a call for evidence  to inform this piece of work from anyone who has views and experience to contribute. This call for evidence is open until 31 January 2016 and asks

  • What are the main challenges of being a governor or trustee in an increasingly diverse education system?
  • What skills and experience do governors and trustees need to perform their increasingly important role?
  • To what extent is regular and relevant training for governors important? What training should be mandatory for governors and trustees?
  • Who should hold governors and trustees to account for the decisions that they make and the actions that they take?
  • Has the time now arrived to make provision for paid governance? If so, why?
  • To what extent are external reviews of governance an effective tool for improving standards? 


The survey by Ofsted will

  •  examine whether governing boards have the right mix of professional skills and experience needed to perform their increasingly important role
  • assess whether the time has now arrived to make provision for paid governance
  • look at whether local authorities, Regional School Commissioners and others intervene early enough when problems with the governance of a school are spotted between Ofsted inspections
  • explore whether in an increasingly diverse system, the right structures are in place to support governors and trustees, and to deliver the training they need to hold schools to account
  • investigate the level of guidance and support governors receive for headship appointments
  • look at the extent to which governors are involved in succession planning for school leaders
  • look at whether external reviews of governance are an effective tool for improving standards
  • look at the role performed by National Leaders of Governance and whether there are enough of them to make a difference


Extracts from HMCI’s briefing “21st century governance needed for 21st century schools”  include

  • Governors and trustees are there to set the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction. They are also expected to hold the headteacher to account for the performance of teachers and pupils, and to ensure that public money is being well spent.
  • Disappointment that there has been such little progress on his recommendation for compulsory training. High-quality training for all governors, but particularly the chair and vice-chair, is vital to the success of our schools and Her Majesty’s Inspectors, will focus particularly on training and the arrangements schools are making to source expertise in this vital work. In the last academic year alone, there were nearly 500 schools (out of 5000 inspected) where inspectors were so concerned about the performance of the governing board that they called for outside experts to be drafted in to carry out an urgent external review of governance
  • When leadership and management of a school are judged to be ineffective, entrenched weak governance is invariably one of the underlying reasons eg


  • governors who lack the professional knowledge or educational background to sufficiently challenge senior leaders
  • governors who have not received the regular, relevant, high-quality training to enable them to do their job effectively
  • governors who lack curiosity and are too willing to accept what they are being told about pupils’ progress and the quality of teaching. As a consequence, they often hold an overly optimistic view of how the school is performing
  • governors who may know what the school’s pupil premium funding is being spent on but have little idea whether it’s actually having any impact on improving outcomes for disadvantaged children
  • governors who devote too much time and attention to the marginal issues (like the school uniform, dinner menu or the peeling paintwork in the main hall) instead of focusing on the core issues that really matter – the quality of teaching, the progress and achievement of pupils and the underlying school culture
  • It would be unrealistic to expect every member of the governing board to have a deep knowledge of educational issues. However, it is essential for the 2 or 3 people who hold the most senior roles on the board, and who could be responsible for ‘cascading’ training to other members
  • In addition, these senior governors need to be able to ask the probing questions and hold the difficult conversations when necessary.
  • Ofsted identified standalone academies as the most vulnerable to decline and failure.

The briefing in full is on the Ofsted website



DfE update November

Posted: November 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

DBS checks mandatory for maintained school governors in 2016

New Regulations will require all governors, including all new governors, to receive an enhanced check by the Disclosure and Barring Service where they have not already been checked.

The proposed changes are:

  1. To require, from 1 April 2016, all new governors at maintained schools to be DBS checked before appointment or as soon as practical thereafter.
  2. To require that by 1 September 2016 all existing governors must have a DBS check.


Changes to parent representation on Federated Governing Bodies

DfE propose to amend regulations on the constitution to give governing bodies more flexibility over their membership by:

  1. removing the requirement that the governing body includes a parent governor from each of the schools in the federation; and
  2. replacing it with a requirement that the governing body of the federation includes two, and only two, parent governors.

The detail and time scale for this change is not yet clear; DfE is also preparing for a public consultation on possible further changes to the constitution regulations


Separately from the Ofsted investigation, DfE has asked for recommendations on what expectations should be in terms of the training  (or professional learning and development)of new governors, chairs, clerks, the content of any such training, who should deliver any such training.


Governors Handbook


A new version of the Handbook is due to be published “soon” (middle of November) This new edition has been re-named the ‘Governance Handbook’ to make clear that it applies to all those involved in governance.  As well as being updated to reflect changes to the law affecting boards and changes to education policy, the new version includes:

  • A new structure to better focus on the core functions of the board and the essentials of effective governance;
  • A reduction in size of twenty pages, with links signposting to further guidance where required; and
  • Further links to best practice and to the resources and support available to boards to be effective.



Posted: November 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

After many years, and without prior notice, GovernorLine has ceased operating.

 The organisation that used to run it for DfE now advise that for specific support governors go to National Governors Association, National Co-ordinators of Governor Services or Information for School and college Governors

 There is no indication from DfE of a replacement service


Education and Adoption Bill Briefing

Posted: October 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

NAHT, along with ATL, NUT, UNISON and the NGA, along with support from PTA-UK, have produced a joint briefing on the Education and Adoption Bill. They are concerned that the Bill will silence the voices of parents, governors and local authorities in respect of both school standards and the right to a voice over the future of their local school. This briefing is for peers involved in the Bill’s second reading, and is intended to set out our joint concerns that go to the heart of this legislation.

De-regulation undone – behaviour and term dates

Posted: September 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Update from DfE 18 September


Dear Colleague


You will be aware that the Deregulation Act 2015 received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015. (Details on Blog 18 June) I would like to update you on the commencement of provisions set out within Schedule 16 (Schools: Reduction of Burdens)


The following provision will commence from 1 January 2016:

Home School Agreements


*   Repeal of the requirement for governing bodies of maintained schools, city technology colleges, city colleges for the technology of the arts and academy schools to adopt Home School Agreements and associated parental declarations. If schools choose they can have voluntary home school agreements.


*   The Department for Education’s Behaviour and Discipline advice for headteachers and school staff for schools will be updated as a result of this change in due course.


The following provisions will not be commenced:


Governing Body – Written statement of general principles on behaviour


*   The provision which removes the requirement on governing bodies of Maintained schools, pupil referral units and non-maintained special schools in England to produce a written statement of general principles which the head teacher must have regard to when setting out the school’s behaviour policy will not be commenced. These governing bodies will still have to produce a written statement of general principles on behaviour.

*   The Government is clear, ensuring good pupil behaviour in all our schools is a necessary condition to raising academic standards and ensuring teachers can teach and pupils can learn. It is important, therefore, for schools to have a behaviour policy and that governing bodies should continue to set out in writing the principles on which the head teacher should base that policy.



School Term Dates


*   The provision which gives the governing bodies of community, voluntary controlled, community special schools, and maintained nursery schools in England the responsibility for setting their own school term and holiday dates will not be commenced. These schools will not therefore be given the power to set their own term dates.

*   Currently academies, free schools, foundation schools and voluntary-aided schools have freedom over their term dates. Local authorities already have the power to vary term dates for other schools including for individual schools, and there has been no real clamour from maintained schools which do not have this power to have this freedom. Given this it would not be appropriate to commence with widening this to those maintained schools themselves, but we encourage local authorities to listen sympathetically to arguments for change from these schools.


Those schools that are performing well can still choose to become academies in order to set their own term dates.

Updated DfE guidance: GB constitution

Posted: September 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Over the summer DfE replaced the statutory guidance document to revise information on the constitution of governing bodies.


While this is substantially unchanged from March 2015 as far as the actual structure is concerned (and there is no need for the existing GB to change again now constituted under 2012 Regulations) there are some changes of detail concerning the recruitment of governors and publication of their details once appointed. As statutory guidance the GB must have regard to it – added comments on what needs to be done.


(a) Appointment / election of governors (paragraphs 13, 14, 17)

  • an interview or detailed discussion will need to take place with each prospective candidate for appointment with references (oral or written) taken as necessary and appropriate.
  • to help all prospective governors understand clearly the role of a governor before they are nominated for appointment or election prospective governors may be invited to observe a governing body meeting and to meet the chair and other governors and the headteacher
  • where a prospective governor is already a governor of another school, the chair of governors should speak to the chair of the other governing body to discuss both the skills of the individual and, where appropriate, their capacity to serve effectively on an additional governing body. Although it is up to the GB to decide, DfE consider it will only be practical and beneficial for an individual to serve on more than two governing bodies in exceptional circumstances.



These changes can be included in the procedure followed when vacancies are being considered


(b) Publication of Governor’s details and the Register of Interests (paragraph 25, 26)


  • In the interests of transparency, a governing body should publish on its website up-to-date details of its governance arrangements in a readily accessible form (defined as being on a webpage without the need to download or open a separate document) These details include the following
  • the structure and remit of the governing body and any committees, and the full names of the chair of each and for each governor who has served at any point over the past 12 months
  • their full names, date of appointment, term of office, date they stepped down (where applicable), who appointed them
  •  relevant business and pecuniary interests (as recorded in the register of interests) including:
  • governance roles in other educational institutions;
  • any material interests arising from relationships between governors or relationships between governors and school staff (including spouses, partners and close relatives); and
  • their attendance record at governing body and committee meetings over the last academic year.
  • Governing bodies should also publish this information for associate members, making clear whether they have voting rights on any of the committees to which they have been appointed.



As this adds to the information needed from governors (as underlined above) need to seek additional details (and update the register) at the next and subsequent meetings of the GB and compile the attendance record for last academic year (which includes all committees). These details will then need to be added to the website with any changes or additions added during the year


No advice from the LA or others on the format or a template for this information as yet but expect that such information may follow from various sources.

Ofsted Inspections

Posted: September 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »


The revised school inspection handbook for use from September 2015 was published at the end of August. Key points for governors include:

In advance of the visit the lead inspector will discuss arrangements with the Head including “arrangements for a meeting with the chair of the governing body and as many governors as possible, and request that as many governors as possible are also present at the final feedback meeting”

At the start of the inspection information is expected to be available including “documented evidence of the work of governors and their priorities”

Inspectors will always seek to meet those responsible for governance during the inspection. This includes maintained school governors. The contribution of governors to the school’s performance is evaluated as part of the judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management. As with the meetings between inspectors and pupils, parents and staff, meetings with governors should take place without the headteacher or senior staff.

In line with the Common Inspection Framework, inspectors will make key judgements on the following areas:

  • overall effectiveness
  • effectiveness of leadership and management
  • quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • outcomes for pupils.

Inspectors use the following four-point scale to make all judgements,

    • grade 1: outstanding
    • grade 2: good
    • grade 3: requires improvement
    • grade 4: inadequate

In making judgements on the effectiveness of leadership and management inspectors will consider:

  • the leaders’ and governors’ vision and ambition for the school and how these are communicated to staff, parents and pupils
  • whether leaders and governors have created a culture of high expectations, aspirations and scholastic excellence in which the highest achievement in academic and vocational work is recognised as vitally important
  • whether leaders have the highest expectations for social behaviour among pupils and staff, so that respect and courtesy are the norm
  • the rigour and accuracy of self-evaluation and how well it leads to planning that secures continual improvement
  • the design, implementation and evaluation of the curriculum, ensuring breadth and balance and its impact on pupils’ outcomes and their personal, development, behaviour and welfare
  • how well the school supports the formal curriculum with extra-curricular opportunities for pupils to extend their knowledge and understanding and to improve their skills in a range of artistic, creative and sporting activities
  • how effectively leaders use the primary PE and sport premium and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • how well the school prepares pupils positively for life in modern Britain and promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith
  • the effectiveness of the actions leaders take to secure and sustain improvements to teaching, learning and assessment and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • how well leaders ensure that the school has a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff to deliver a high quality education for all pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • the quality of continuing professional development for teachers at the start and middle of their careers and later, including to develop leadership capacity and how leaders and governors use performance management to promote effective practice across the school
  • how effectively leaders monitor the progress of groups of pupils to ensure that none falls behind and underachieve, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • how well leaders and governors engage with parents, carers and other stakeholders and agencies to support all pupils
  • how effectively leaders use additional funding, including the pupil premium, and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • the effectiveness of governors in discharging their core statutory functions (as set out in the Governors Handbook)
  • how well leaders and governors promote all forms of equality and foster greater understanding of and respect for people of all faiths (and those of no faith), races, genders, ages, disability and sexual orientations (and other groups with protected characteristics ), through their words, actions and influence within the school and more widely in the community
  • the effectiveness of safeguarding
  • the effectiveness of leaders’ and governors’ work to raise awareness and keep pupils safe from the dangers of abuse, sexual exploitation, radicalisation and extremism and what the staff do when they suspect that pupils are vulnerable to these issues.


Inspectors will seek evidence of the impact of those responsible for governance. This includes maintained school governors, (Where a children’s centre is managed directly by the school’s governing body, inspectors will consider the impact of any judgements about the children’s centre or the services and activities offered through or by the centre, in judging leadership and management)

Inspectors will consider whether governors:

  • work effectively with leaders to communicate the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school and develop a culture of ambition
  • provide a balance of challenge and support to leaders, understanding the strengths and areas needing improvement at the school
  • provide support for an effective headteacher or are hindering school improvement because of a lack of understanding of the issues facing the school
  • understand how the school makes decisions about teachers’ salary progression and performance
  • performance manage the headteacher rigorously
  • understand the impact of teaching, learning and assessment on the progress of pupils currently in the school
  • ensure that assessment information from leaders provides governors with sufficient and accurate information to ask probing questions about outcomes for pupils
  • ensure that the school’s finances are properly managed and can evaluate how the school is using the pupil premium and the primary PE and sport premium
  • are transparent and accountable, including in recruitment of staff, governance structures, attendance at meetings and contact with parents.Inspectors will recommend an external review if governance is weak.Grade descriptors for the effectiveness of leadership and management are included in the Handbook (p42)

Myth – governance

Posted: September 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Myth: Individuals are not allowed to serve on the governing body or board of more than 2 schools or academies.

Fact: There is no rule to prevent an individual from serving as a governor or trustee at more than 2 schools or academies. We recognise that there are people who have the unique skills and the time to serve effectively on a number of governing bodies, and we do not want to restrict their ability to do so. The Governors’ handbook and statutory guidance for local-authority-maintained schools state that boards and other appointing bodies should interview and take references to ensure the people they appoint are appropriate and have the necessary skills and time to serve effectively. This is especially important if they are already serving on the governing board of other schools. That decision should be made by the body making the appointment. We expect that individuals will only be able to serve effectively on more than 2 boards in exceptional circumstances.

(DfE 9 September 2015)

Constitution of governing bodies

Posted: August 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

This statutory guidance for school and governing bodies was updated on 14 August 2015.

Statutory guidance is issued by law and must be followed unless there’s a good reason not to.

The document explains the arrangements for the constitution of governing bodies of all local-authority-maintained schools and covers:

  • the description of the different categories of governor
  • how governing bodies are constituted
  • terms of office
  • removal and disqualification of governors
  • instruments of government
  • “all aspects of the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012”

Most of the advice had been included in the edition published in March but extends that on the process of appointing governors and information that must be included on the school website:

Prospective Governors

  • To inform their opinion on whether prospective governors have the skills to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school , governors will need to arrange “an interview or detailed discussion” with each candidate
  • References (oral or written) should be taken “as necessary and appropriate”
  • Where a prospective governor already serves on another governing body the chair should contact the other chair to discuss the individual’s skills and their capacity to be effective on another. DfE believe that only in exceptional circumstances will it be “practical and beneficial” to serve on more than two governing bodies

Publication of Governor’s Details

  • In the interests of transparency governance arrangements should be published on the website. These should be “readily accessible” and on a webpage without the need to download or open a separate document.
  • “Structure and remit of the governing body and any committees and the full names of the chair of each”
  • Include each governor(and associate member) “who has served at any point over the last twelve months”
  • Give full names as well as date of appointment and term of office
  • Relevant business and pecuniary interests ( as recorded in the register of interests)
  • Material interests arising from relationships “between governors or between governors and staff (including spouses, partners and close relatives)”
  • Attendance record at governing body and committee meetings over the last academic year

Further information on the application of these requirements is being sought

What is a link Governor?

Posted: August 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Useful summary republished by Sheena Lewington (Clerk to Governors) explains different meanings used and roles update from archived DfE advice