Sunday, 16 October 2011

National College: Leading the Business Case Study

Graham Wilson, a company director, is chair of governors at Manor High School, Oadby,
Leicestershire which became an academy on 1 August 2011.

Graham said: “The process of converting to an academy is a significant leadership and managerial challenge for the governors and they need to be as informed as possible.There is a lot of financial data and legal information to wade through, for example,which, unless you sit on the finance committee, will be unfamiliar, especially the various means by which levels of
funding are calculated. Some of the governors were up to date on the politics involved and understood how the local authority works and what academy status would mean as an organisation, but there were some for whom it was difficult territory. A key task as chair was to ensure that those who have useful knowledge are sharing it with the others and that any
additional financial, HR or other training is in place so that collectively we understand
enough to make informed decisions.

Information-sharing is important in another way, too. It is very easy when changes are afoot for rumours to start swirling around and it can quickly lead to tension. It’s fair to say we had some difficult meetings. For us, the overriding problem seemed to be that people didn’t understand the academy proposal and why the governors felt it would be in the interests of the children.
“As chair it was up to me to lead the governing body through it and to help break down some of the barriers. We set up a committee of staff representatives, people whom the staff trusted, who could keep them up to date with the conversion process. We also had a couple of meetings
where the full governing body met the staff which was useful because we were becoming their employers so it seemed only right that they should know who we were. It was all part of building trust at a challenging time.

“On a project of this magnitude, the relationship between headteacher and chair has to be very strong. The headteacher and I worked very closely together and that’s essential. It is not a task that either the chair or the headteacher should be shouldering alone. The leadership has to
be shared.” 

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