Saturday, 4 June 2011

Effective Governing Body Case Study: Linden Lodge School, Wandsworth

Linden Lodge School, Wandsworth

Linden Lodge is a large day and residential special school for pupils aged 2–19 years with a wide range of visual impairment and other complex needs, including severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. The school also provides: mobility training; a range of therapy, including physiotherapy; occupational therapy; speech and language therapy; and music and play therapy. A nurse is on site to cater for pupils’ medical needs. Pupils come from a wide catchment area that includes 28 local authorities.

Trusted and valued members of the school, governors were exceptionally involved in all aspects of school life. The chair of the governing body stressed the importance of communication, trust and integrity. Governors were encouraged to be open and honest with each other, and with staff, parents and partners, and to openly express their opinions. There was a strong emphasis on providing informed challenge and holding leaders to account. Governing body meetings were characterised by robust, high-quality debate and discussion. New initiatives were always fully debated, and the consequences and outcomes anticipated and evaluated.

Governors learnt from past experience of managing projects and painstakingly assessed what could have been done better. They used the knowledge gained from these assessments to inform and plan future development. For example, the local authority raised a proposal to include pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities at the school, who would be accommodated in a new custom-built centre. The governing body reached a consensus to accept the proposal and, using a calm, measured and thorough approach, they challenged at every stage. They made sure that they gathered accurate information and sought the views of all those involved, including parents, students, health professionals and staff. The governing body visited provision in other schools and consulted partner schools. They negotiated certain conditions with the local authority so that management of the new provision rested with the governing body and the school budget was not compromised. The governing body stipulated the timescale for building work so that an existing project, the installation of the hydrotherapy pool, would not be adversely affected.

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