GOVAS AGM Monday 9th July 2018 : Chair’s Report
In writing this report, I want first to place on record my and the GOVAS committee’s thanks to our former chair, Stu Foster, for his work and commitment for GOVAS over a number of years. I took over as chair in February. I would also like to thank the support and contribution of committee members over the last twelve months
This new format AGM is the second GOVAS has arranged at Priestnall in the summer term alongside an external speaker, following last year’s presentation on financial efficiencies. We are very appreciative of Anne Seneviratne ( HMI) finding the time to present to this meeting.
The “ main event” for GOVAS each school is the organisation of the annual conference, once again held at Marple Hall in March, a conference that is actively supported by Officers from Stockport Council. We gave it the title “Effective Governance in Challenging Times”, with the Chief Executive of the National Governance Association (NGA), Emma Knights, our guest speaker. The overall feedback from the 135 governors attending was overwhelmingly positive. Initial discussions on next year’s conference are already underway. Conference presentations, including from workshops, are available on the GOVAS website.
GOVAS has continued to meet regularly with the Director of Education Services, Phil Beswick , alongside a number of his colleagues , and with Pam Dunham , who leads the governor service. These meetings allow for a sharing of views and information on school facing issues within the Borough and assist in raising the profile of governance and underlining the nature and importance of the role. We will look to ensure a brief summary update of discussion is published on the website after each meeting.
Governors/Trustees will I am sure need no reminding of the continuing challenges we face in in delivering our core functions amid continuing turbulence and uncertainty, much of which in my view is a consequence of the national policy context within which we all operate. Last month I listened to a presentation from Damien Hinds at the NGA national conference in Manchester, the latest in a line of Secretaries of State for Education. Each new Secretary of State, irrespective of their and Government party political affiliation, brings a fresh perspective and priorities and policy direction can shift, sometimes dramatically. Whilst Mr Hinds was complimentary about the work undertaken by governors, and announced increased national funding for governor training, nothing was said about the curriculum and assessment changes, teacher supply, the funding of pay increases or school capital funding, nor about the budgetary challenges schools (and councils) are facing as pupil numbers rise.
In terms of budgets, and with Stockport remaining as one of the lowest school funded Council’s in England , there does not as yet appear to be any signal that November’s budget will bring additional real term funding for schools. Playing our part as governors, with school leaders and others, to lobby for improved national funding, seems to me one
important priority for GOVAS and its members in the school year ahead. To maximise our chances of impact we will need to seek to work collaboratively with school leaders and others. Another area where there is much scope for development, amid some local activity I know, is for chairs ( and/or governor/trustee representatives) to find ways to develop a local forum
Locally, we will be saying farewell to Phil Beswick in October. Phil has been a champion for Stockport schools and Stockport children and young people for many years and will be sadly missed. GOVAS thanks him for his support and challenge, and his willingness to listen and wishes him all the best in his retirement. We await news of the Council’s succession plan and evidence of its continuing commitment and capacity to support and promote high quality education and outcomes for all our young people. This is a critical moment for Stockport schools.
Finally a word about GOVAS and the future. If the association is to survive and make a worthwhile system contribution, we need both your continued support at the Conference and the Summer Term meeting, and also some new faces on our Committee, individuals willing and able to make a contribution to our work. We also need school governing boards that have academised to be willing to pay the GOVAS membership fee. Some, but not all, do. The fee remains £10 per school board per year, which to the best of my knowledge and understanding in comparison with other governor associations is an extremely low amount. Maintained schools have the £10 paid via agreement with the School forum.
Nomination forms for the GOVAS committee are downloadable from our website home page. ( www.govas.org.uk )
Andy Kent ( GOVAS CHAIR) July 2018