Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Effective Governing Body Case Study: The Byrchall High School, Wigan

The Byrchall High School, Wigan

The school is a larger than average secondary school situated in an urban area. It has specialist status for mathematics and computing and is also a Training School and a Leading Edge School.

Over a three-year period, governors, working in close partnership with the headteacher and the school leadership team, had developed a strong sense of trust and openness which enabled them to both challenge and support the work of school leaders. This approach to governance had been particularly effective in raising standards in science. The governors became aware of concerns related to the effectiveness of the science department because those who were parents themselves voiced concerns about teaching and learning. Concerns were confirmed when governors met with the school improvement partner and the headteacher as part of the target-setting processes at the school.

An action plan was drawn up. When this plan was shared with governors there were detailed discussions about the planned actions and timescales. As a consequence, governors asked for some points for action to be brought forward. One governor volunteered to become the link science governor and was closely involved in monitoring and reporting on progress in the science department to the full governing body. This involvement with the department included regular meetings with the deputy headteacher who had line management responsibility for the head of the science department. Discussions between the link governor and staff focused on systems for tracking the attainment and progress of students. These identified some classes where students were not on track to reach their targets and the link governor was able to ask what support was being provided for individual teachers and students. The leadership team responded by providing additional support and training for teachers and some pupils. The link governor made regular reports to the curriculum and staffing committee so that all governors were able to monitor performance. Both the head of the science department and the deputy headteacher were invited to present reports to the two committees.

Although governors understood the underlying issues related to staff absence, they were clear in their expectation that the students deserved to be doing as well in science as they were in other subjects. The most recent results at the school indicated that attainment and rates of progress in science were continuing to improve and were almost in line with attainment in English and mathematics.

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