Friday, 14 October 2011

National College: Improving Your School Case Study

Siddique Hussain, a business owner and adult lecturer, has been a governor of five
schools in Sandwell in the West Midlands, including three years as chair of governors
at St Paul’s Church of England School in Tipton.

Siddique said: “I was asked to work with St Paul’s by the local authority. The school’s 2008 Ofsted inspection had raised some concerns about the governing body and its ability to hold the school leadership team to account, particularly over standards and achievement. The school was rated satisfactory overall.

“With a new headteacher on board, there were several key changes we needed to make. First, we needed to sort out governors’ roles and responsibilities. People’s understanding of them was either muddled or non-existent and there was very little committee structure. Everything
tended to be done in a group, if at all. 

Finance and staffing, for example, were handled by the same committee with the same members, presenting a potential conflict of interest.

“We set up separate committees and also created a new one for curriculum, enabling us to monitor how each subject area was performing, and any resource issues or particular successes as well as concerns.

“Delegating responsibility was important. One thing I was adamant about was that each committee should have its own chair – and it shouldn’t be me. It reinforced the notion of our collective responsibility, and meant the knowledge about the school was widely shared and would also help with succession planning.

“Another key move was getting to grips with data. The school improvement partner (SIP) at the local authority was critical here in helping the governors to analyse data so that we were in a position to ask incisive questions, rather than superficial ones, about the issues in the school. 

Literacy was one area we needed to improve and theSIP was very good at pinpointing where the data revealed a weakness in a particular group. He would put options to us; we’d examine them and then discuss them with the headteacher. It enabled us to have an informed conversation with the senior leadership team.

“In November 2010, the school was rated ‘good with outstanding features’ by Ofsted.

Inspectors said it had ‘improved strongly’.The effectiveness of the governing body in challenging and supporting the school was also rated ‘good’.”

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