Thursday, 9 June 2011

Effective Governing Body Case Study: Waterville Primary School, North Tyneside

Waterville Primary School, North Tyneside

This average-sized primary school has a high proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals and pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. It has a speech and communication unit.

Some years ago when the school was underperforming, newly appointed governors became aware that governors were not being provided with sufficient information to be able to challenge senior leaders robustly. They also identified that the business of the governing body was not being managed efficiently and effectively. At this time governors benefited significantly from clear guidance and support from the local authority’s governor services. They received training in the appointment and performance management of the headteacher, very useful guidance on planning governing body meetings, and briefings on local and national developments.

The school’s performance has improved significantly over many years and outstanding performance has been maintained at two Ofsted inspections. Improvements to governance have been significant in driving the improvement of the school.

Governors received comprehensive information on the performance of the school and could benchmark it through external audits. The governing body ensured that governors had the skills and experience needed to challenge the information provided by senior leaders. Strong educational challenge was provided by three governors who brought substantial experience and knowledge of primary schools at local and national level. They ensured that other governors understood the information presented so that whole governing body decisions could be made. As a result of the accuracy of the information provided and the school’s track record of success, governors had high levels of trust and confidence in the school’s senior leaders. They were clear about their role in setting and monitoring the school’s strategic priorities and left the operational management to school staff.

A key part of the governing body’s strategy to sustain excellence was their determination to appoint outstanding teachers and to provide them with an environment which ensured that they enjoyed working at the school. They ensured that teachers and other staff were provided with excellent professional development and support that was linked to the achievement of the school’s strategic priorities.

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