Saturday, 21 May 2011

Ofsted Effective Governance: Supporting school leaders

Following on from Yesterday article on Effective Governance by Ofsted:

Supporting school leaders

13. Governors were proud to be part of their schools and saw themselves as advocates for the pupils. Schools were supported very effectively by governors who acted as their champions in the local and wider community, often promoting the school’s interests and successes at a local and national level.

The headteacher of a special school heard that a nearby outdoor pursuit facility that was run by the local authority was to be closed. A recent survey, carried out by the governing body, indicated that some parents were not satisfied with the current out-of-school provision on offer. Together the headteacher and governors explored the feasibility of taking over the facility and approached the local authority with plans. They were successful and are in the process of improving the quality of the facility.

14. Governors brought a wide range of skills and expertise that they used effectively to support school leaders. For example, governors with experience in personnel used their skills and knowledge to support school leaders dealing with a range of staffing issues. These included supporting leaders who were managing incidents of staff underperformance, addressing high levels of staff absence or reducing staffing levels.

15. Financial expertise was used to support school leaders to make difficult resourcing decisions. There were examples in the schools visited of how governors supported the school to secure improved or additional accommodation and resources.

Governors of a special school produced a business case for a new building project based on current and projected pupil numbers. This demonstrated the potential savings that could be made by the local authority by not placing pupils with special educational needs in schools outside the local authority area. Agreement was reached with local decision-makers and the school building is now completed.

16. There were other examples of governors supporting school leaders in appointing excellent teachers, including providing training on recruitment, using relevant workplace skills, and being part of staff appointment panels.

17. Governors in the schools visited were committed to making sure that all school staff, including the headteachers, were provided with opportunities for relevant professional development. They recognised the benefits of professional development for both the individual members of staff and the work of the school. For example, in a secondary school governors supported professional development that helped the school to retain high-quality members of staff.

The headteacher of a secondary school was initially seconded to the post for six months following an inspection which judged that the school required special measures. Governors supported the new headteacher in taking action to improve the quality of teaching and to reduce the deficit budget quickly. The school made rapid progress and was judged as outstanding in its most recent inspection. The headteacher was appointed as the substantive post-holder and began to support two other schools. Governors fully endorsed this work with other schools because in their view it both helped other schools and enabled them to retain their excellent headteacher. The headteacher stated that the passion the governors demonstrated for their school, and the support and challenge they provided, had also motivated him to stay.

18. Teachers valued the interest that governors showed in their work, which they explained helped to maintain high levels of staff morale. For example, governors who were linked specifically to particular departments, or aspects of a school’s work, developed a positive relationship with the member of staff responsible and gained an in-depth knowledge of particular areas of the school’s work.

19. Positive relationships between the headteacher, the chair of governors and the clerk to the governors were essential to school leaders in feeling supported. These positive relationships were based on open, honest dialogue, a clear understanding of their different roles and responsibilities and a shared commitment to securing the very best provision and outcomes for the pupils.

The Full Ofsted Report on School Governance can be found at:

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