Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Effective Governing Body Case Study: The Charter School, Southwark

The Charter School, Southwark

The school was established in 2000. Students are from a diverse range of cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds. The school became a business and enterprise college in September 2005 and was awarded high-performing specialist school status in April 2009, with science as a second specialism.

Effective links had been established with key curriculum leaders and their staff through the link governor system. This allowed governors to discharge their statutory obligation to ensure that the National Curriculum was being delivered as well as being an integral part of the school’s cycle of monitoring, review and self-evaluation. The information gathered by link governors on the curriculum, teaching and learning, staffing and resource allocation helped them to undertstand the context of the school’s improvement planning and its impact on students’ achievement. By visiting the school and engaging in formal dialogue with curriculum leaders, link governors appreciated the realities of school life and the issues faced by staff and pupils. The system also helped school staff understand the role of a governor and fostered closer links with the governing body.

High quality written guidelines set out a clear, shared view of the link governor role and their responsibilities and duties. The purpose of the system, and how it worked, was made clear. Link governors made at least one visit during the academic year. The focus of visits was closely aligned to school improvement and curriculum priorities. The visits were fact finding with the aim of building a ‘critical friend’ working relationship. They enabled more effective and better informed governance of teaching and curriculum issues. Helpful written prompts were provided to identify what a link governor might look for during a school visit. These were very broad ranging and included reviewing: changes to personnel; the curriculum; and professional development priorities for team members and the progress made towards meeting them. A proforma to record notes of the meeting, agreed by the link governor and the curriculum leader, was shared with other governors and the results were reported on at full governing body meetings.

Governors relished the opportunity to be involved and curriculum leaders saw the process as an integral part of their self-evaluation. They valued the opportunity to celebrate success and raise issues that were relevant to their area of work.

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