GOVAS was represented at the recent NGA Summer Conference, at which the keynote speaker was Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education. This was the first time that a SoS had attended such a conference and can be seen as a sign of the increased profile of governance and governors.
There has been much talk recently about having the ‘right people around the table’ and hopefully all maintained schools have now reconstituted their governing boards (and listed their members on the web-site!), so it was a little surprising to hear that the government is continuing to look at the make-up of these boards and in particular,
The stakeholder model
"what makes your contribution so important isn’t the particular group you represent, it’s the skills, expertise and wisdom you bring to the running of a school.”
No one would deny that getting a good mix of skills is crucial to be a good board, but so is enthusiasm and commitment, which the stakeholder model encourages and surely it would make sense to allow the newly reconstituted boards to bed-in first before proposing further changes? Let us know what you think.
She also referred to the move towards
" an increasingly school-led, profession-driven system” and that "a school-led system doesn’t mean schools as islands,
making their own way. It means schools fully integrated with the local community, responsive to local parents and, crucially, connected with, learning from and supporting other schools. And you as governors will play a crucial role in this; ensuring your school is fully linked with the world outside”
This is an area that we perhaps still have plenty to do in Stockport. School-to-school support is embedded and thriving in pockets across the borough, but this is not universal and is something that , as governors, we should be actively trying to promote. Do you know how your school interacts with other schools and what benefits accrue from this? If you feel that you need further advise and support in this area, please let us know. The speech finished with a section on coasting schools. If this means shifting the focus away from the C/D borderline to making sure that every child achieves their full potential, then we can have no complaints. Hopefully this will be the case, rather than just another route to academy conversion.
The Secretary of State indicated in questions later, that reform to school funding was unlikely by 2016/17, so we are looking at 2017/18 at the earliest, if you can wait that long. She did make the point that the current national formula reflects areas of deprivation, and that the Pupil Premium also targets these areas and that this would now need to be taken into account (we have had surprisingly similar debates within Stockport!)
Her speech was well received, providing challenge for the way ahead, but plenty of support and recognition for the job that governors do - which we don’t always get.
The Conference as a whole was a good event, with a number of interesting workshops and, just as importantly, the opportunity to make contact with and learn from governors across the country.
GOVAS will continue to keep you informed on the above issues and all other governance matters. For now though, as the end of term approaches, we hope you have a good break over the summer and return fresh for the challenges ahead to make Stockport the best place for young people to achieve their full potential.