Monday, 5 April 2010

Guest Blog on 21st Century Governance on SuperGovernor

This Blog Article was first published as a Guest Blog on the Supergovernor Blog on 5th April 2010.

You Twitterers out there may already know Sean Whetstone (@schoolgoverning). A great supporter of this blog he writes a guest post today on the government’s latest report into school governance. Enjoy!

I am writing this guest blog two days after the government released its long awaited review on School Governance in the 21st century. It is perhaps unfortunate that the working group decided to release the publication on April fools day as it is no joke.

The review doesn’t contain any surprises and many of the anticipated recommendations for governance have been watered down.

The key recommendations are:

• The majority of governing bodies do a good job;
• Governing bodies need to be clear about their purpose and follow a defined set of principles for good governance of schools;
• There needs to be more clarity concerning the strategic management role of the governing body and the day to day management role of head teachers to ensure that neither party crosses over into each other’s role;
• The principle of stakeholder representation on governing bodies is essential but needs to be balanced against a requirement that all governing bodies have the necessary skills to carry out their tasks;
• Improvements to the training for governing body chairs, new governors and governing body clerks needs to be made to clarify the points above.

It is well worth a read and the full 33 page document can be found at

I am glad many of the recommendations complement what my own governing body has been trying to achieve.

When I became a School Governor just 18 short months ago we operated an old style committee structure based around six committees of Assets, Finance, Curriculum, Personnel, Communications and Eco Schools.

In my first two weeks as a governor, the full governing body attended a workshop training session for 21st century governance. The session was led by Steve Barker from VT FourS, a School Governance trainer/consultant for Surrey as well as a Chair of Governors for two schools & an Ofsted Inspector.

Following this informative training workshop, the governing body agreed to re-structure the committee work into just two formal committees.
The Resources committee deals with finance, health & safety and personnel while the Children & Learning committee deals with the curriculum, attainment and safeguarding.

Both of these new committees are very closely aligned to the SEF (Self Evaluation Form). The annual work programme for each committee sets out which strategic, informational and policy review items should be reviewed each term and what sections of the SEF they relate to. It also means we don’t get sucked into discussing “the colour of curtains” as Steve Barker calls it.

18 months later and we wouldn’t dream of returning to the old committee structure.

Another important part of 21st century School Governance highlighted in the review is training. I completely support this recommendation.

I would certainly recommend every School governor completes a blend of face to face, online and whole governing body training sessions.
In my first 18 months of being a School Governor I completed nine courses to help prepare me to give the appropriate skills to support, challenge and help lead the school.

In January this year our school received an Ofsted Inspection under the new framework and along with the whole school the Governing Body was judged to be Grade 1/Outstanding.

I hope our restructuring and focus on training led towards this judgement.


Sean Whetstone

Chair of Governors at a Surrey Infant School

Parent Governor Representative of County Council Schools & Learning Select Committee

@SchoolGoverning on twitter

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