National News

Important Information for Governors' and Head Teachers'

National Governors' Association (NGA) National News 2016

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 16/12/2016

New funding formula: a fairer portion of not enough

On Wednesday, the government announced the long-awaited second stage of consultation into a new national funding formula for schools. At the moment, pupils living just streets away from each other can have significant variation in the amount of money spent on their education.

It is proposed that changes will be made in two stages:

  1. From April 2018: funding will be re-distributed between local authorities (LA) but LA formulae will remain as a transitional year
  2. From April 2019: a National Funding Formula (which the DfE have styled a hard NFF)

To read more on the proposals, see our news page.

What might the proposals mean for your school? Click here and then download the database, 'Impact of proposed schools'.

We would encourage members to respond to the consultation which closes on 22 March 2017. We would suggest that, rather than simply stating that you will not be able to manage with the required cuts, it would be more persuasive to outline very specific potential implications of the proposals on your school’s budget. NGA will be taking into account members’ views when formulating its own response. Please feel free to send a copy of your response to Gillian Allcroft (gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk). Alternatively you can email Gillian if you simply have something to say about the issue of school funding. We want to hear from you.


National Audit Office: financial sustainability of schools report

This week, the National Audit Office (NAO) published its report which looks at the Department for Education’s (DfE) capability to support state-funded schools in managing the risks to their financial sustainability. The report assessed the following:

  • the challenges to schools’ financial sustainability
  • the DfE’s understanding of, and support for, schools’ financial sustainability
  • how the DfE identifies and addresses the risk of financial failure in schools

Overall, the report recognises that little progress has been made by the Department in its approach to support schools to make efficiencies. It concluded that “until more progress is made, we cannot conclude that the Department’s approach to managing the risks to schools’ financial sustainability is effective and providing value for money.”

In light of this, the NAO has made a series of recommendations to the DfE, some of which are outlined below:

  • The DfE should move faster to set out how it envisages mainstream schools will achieve the necessary savings (£3.0 billion by 2019-20) and provide information and support for schools to do this.
  • The DfE should work with the schools sector to provide evidence that school spending power can be reduced at the same time as educational outcomes are improved. This should be the fundamental priority for the DfE’s School Financial Health and Efficiency programme.
  • The Education Funding Agency should improve its approach to overseeing and intervening in academies and maintained schools in order to prevent financial failure.

For more information, visit the NGA news page.


Ofsted assesses the state of school governance

The schools inspectorate Ofsted has published a new report this week on the state of school governance, called Improving governance: Governance arrangements in complex and challenging circumstances.

The report draws on responses to Ofsted’s public call for evidence last autumn, 96 routine inspections or monitoring visits, and dedicated visits made by inspectors to 24 schools which had recently improved standards. The report outlines the barriers faced by governors in these schools and the actions taken to strengthen their professions skills to fulfil their roles.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governors’ Association, said “The Ofsted report is a missed opportunity. It largely covers old ground and is not as helpful as their last report on learning from the best. Even from the new visits, they could have said: ‘This is what strong governance looks like and this is how we get there.’ They haven’t taken into account much of the existing activity to improve governance”.

To read NGA’s initial analysis of the report, see our news page.


Knowing your school: update to key stage 2 performance tables

This week the Department for Education (DfE) published the key stage (KS) 2 performance tables for the 2015/16 school year. In addition, the DfE has also updated its “compare school and college performance” system to account for the new data. This allows members of the public to search for any school across the database. From this, it is possible to compare the KS2 SATs results and teacher assessment information in one school with any other school across the country.

For governors and trustees, this is an essential resource as it includes a breakdown of expenditure (LA maintained only), key performance indicators and absence rates in each school.

For governors and trustees of secondary schools, the KS4 data will be released on 19 January 2017.

Visit the NGA guidance centre for more information on monitoring performance and curriculum.


Local authority expenditure: useful information for maintained school governors

On Thursday 15 December, the Department for Education released information on local authority (LA) expenditure on education, children and young people’s services. This data is useful for maintained schools as it gives a breakdown of LA expenditure by school type, as well as some useful information on average budgets and expenditure at a school level.

In particular, the number of maintained schools with a deficit budget has increased this year, from 5.4% to 6%. The average surplus has increased by £7,000 (to £141,000), while the average deficit has increased by £12,000 to (£120,000). This has impacted upon secondary schools the most. For maintained secondary schools, the average deficit has increased by £47,000 to £373,000 this year alone.

Visit the NGA guidance centre for an overview of the figures.  


MPs’ inquiry into primary assessment continues

On Wednesday 14 December, the House of Commons Education Select Committee continued its inquiry into primary assessment with an oral evidence session. MPs questioned two panels, the first consisting of serving senior leaders in primary schools and the second consisting of representatives of national organisations.

For more information, see NGA’s parliamentary page.


Schools that work for everyone? NGA’s response

The NGA has submitted its response to the ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation, which closed on Monday 12 December.

The response sets out NGA’s reasons for opposing the government’s proposed expansion of selective education (grammar schools), which are that:

  • pupils from lower income households are not well served by selective education systems and therefore evidence does not support their use to promote social mobility
  • pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are not well served by selective education
  • pupils who do not win places at selective schools tend to do worse than pupils with comparable attainment in non-selective areas
  • there is no evidence that it is possible to devise a “tutor proof test”
  • there is no evidence that it is possible to measure a pupil’s “future potential”
  • there is little demand for the expansion of selective education among governors and trustees who do not consider this a priority in the government’s efforts to improve schools

The response also opposes the proposals to remove the current 50% cap on faith based admissions for new schools with a religious character. The government has proposed a number of alternatives to this “cap” but NGA does not agree that these effectively meet the stated purpose of promoting inclusivity. 

Other topics covered by the consultation is the role of independent schools and universities in supporting state education. While either type of institution can form effective partnerships with state schools, NGA would prefer to see the Department for Education building capacity within the school system through addressing funding shortages, teacher workload, and teacher supply and retention. 

The government will analyse responses to the consultation and is expected to publish a consultation outcome in spring 2017.

Read NGA’s response.


Careers guidance focus group: Monday 16 January 2017, Birmingham

The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGs) at the University of Derby has been commissioned by the Wellcome Trust to develop an online resource for school governors and trustees that helps them to support their schools in the development of career guidance provision.

NGA is supporting iCeGs to develop a comprehensive online resource that provides those who govern with information about the Gatsby Foundation’s 8 benchmarks of good career guidance, case studies, links to other useful resources and a set of questions which they can take to meetings to challenge the school SLT and encourage development.

We want the resource to be versatile, pitched at the right level of detail and in a format that is easily accessible. To that end, we want to set up a focus group to get members’ input and feedback.

The aim of the focus group is to measure the following:

  1. What do you already know about career guidance?
  2. If you know what your schools are doing and if so what are they doing and how are they doing it?
  3. What else do you believe you need to know?
  4. What resources do you believe would support you?

We invite anyone serving as a governor or trustee in a secondary school in England to join us at NGA’s headquarters in central Birmingham on 16 January 2017, 16.30-18.00 pm. Tea and coffee will be provided! 

Please RSVP to Shelby Roberts (shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk).

If you have any queries about this research, or cannot make this event but wish to contribute, please contact Jill Hanson (j.Hanson@derby.ac.uk) or call 01332 592061.


Community MATs network event: Friday 17 February 2017, Birmingham

After a successful first event in Manchester, the second in our series of community MAT network events will be taking place this February. This event is only available to clerks and trustees of Multi-academy trusts. The event will take place in Birmingham (venue to tbc) and will start at 12.00pm (midday). Click here to book.


Calling all Chairs, aspiring Chairs and Clerks

80% funded courses are still available for both the Chairs of Governors' Leadership Development Programme and National Clerks' Development Programme.

The Chairs of Governors’ Leadership Development Programme provides opportunities for chairs and aspiring chairs to develop their school leadership skills. School improvement is a key theme across the programme. The National Clerks' Development Programme develops the skills needed for high quality clerking which in turn is an important step towards improving the effectiveness of governing bodies. Three places per school are available for the Chairs programme and one place per school for Clerks.

To find out which licensees are offering these programs in your area see the NCTL website.

NGA is running these programmes in selected parts of the country through the Leading Governance partnership. So for a fee of only £79, with Leading Governance programmes you will receive five face-to-face sessions, mentoring and a 360 self-evaluation diagnostic. For further information or to express an interest please email leading.governance@nga.org.uk.


NGA to attend BETT Show at EXCEL in London

The BETT Show is returning to London EXCEL on January 25-28 2017. BETT is the leading education technology event held in the UK. NGA will be attending the BETT Show on Saturday January 28 2017. Come and visit us in the Leadership Summit area.  

To find out more about the BETT Show visit their website here.

To register for your free pass for BETT please click here.


Several documents published by Ofqual

This week, the Office for Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has published a number of resources focusing on the summer 2016 exams.

Of note, it published information on malpractice around GCSEs and A levels. There is no statistical difference in the number of overall penalties or warnings issued by the exam boards this year (2,430 penalties for 2016 compared to 2,460 penalties for 2015). However, when broken down by type of penalty or warning, there is some variation.

The number of penalties issued directly to schools or colleges fell by 41% this year. However, there was a 15% rise in the number of candidates caught with an electronic device in an exam (such as a mobile phone) and a 48% increase in the number of warnings and penalties issued to school or college staff. In terms of staff malpractice, most penalties were issued for inappropriate assistance during an exam.

Governors and trustees should ensure that their school has developed an ethos and culture which discourages cheating and malpractice. For more information on ethos, culture or Key Stage 4 curriculum, visit the NGA guidance centre.


Education Policy Institute: second report into impact of grammar schools and social mobility

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has published its second report on the government’s proposals to allow the expansion of selective education in England. The report follows the recent Autumn Statement which announced the expansion will be backed by £200 million capital funding over the next 4 years.

For more information, visit the NGA research page.


Pupil exclusion rates

The Department for Education (DfE) has released information on permanent and fixed exclusion rates for 2014/15. Overall, the permanent exclusion rate increased from 0.06% of enrolled pupils in 2013/14 to 0.07% of enrolled pupils in 2014/15. In addition, the fixed exclusion rate increased from 3.5% to 3.88% from 2013/14 to 2014/15. Across all schools, 83% of permanent exclusions occurred in secondary schools, up from 81% in 2013/14. In addition, secondary schools also accounted for 79% of fixed exclusions, up from 78%. The rate of permanent exclusions in special schools rose slightly from 0.07% in 2013/14 to 0.09% in 2014/15. For fixed exclusions the rate in special schools decreased from 13.9% to 13.5%. The permanent exclusion rate remained the same in primary school at 0.02% and, for fixed exclusions, it rose from 1.02% to 1.1%.

Broken down by local authority, the West Midlands (0.11% of pupil on role) and North West (0.09% of pupils on role) had the highest permanent exclusion rates, with the East of England and South East having the lowest, at 0.05%. Yorkshire and Humber had the highest fixed exclusion rates at 5.28% of pupils, and Outer London had the lowest at 3.15%.

Over half of exclusions were for pupils in year 9 and above. Free school meals pupils were four times as likely to be excluded and special educational needs pupils accounted for over half of all exclusions. Gypsy Roma and Black Caribbean pupils were also much more likely to be excluded than their peers. Across all schools, the most common reason for exclusion was “persistent disruptive behaviour”.

For information on governing boards’ role in exclusion, visit the NGA guidance centre.


New guidance for spending the service premium

The Directorate Children and Young People (set up by the Ministry of Defence to help children and young people connected with service families) has released a good practice guide for spending the service premium in schools. The service premium is provided to schools at a rate of £300 per young person whose parents serve, or have lost their lives, in the armed forces. It is also provided to any young person registered as a “service child” in the school census since 2011. Like the pupil premium, it is the governing boards’ responsibility to ensure this money is spent correctly.

Service children face different challenges to those in receipt of the pupil premium. Therefore, it is important that schools provide tailored provision, which may include helping children to stay in touch with their parents if they are stationed overseas.

The good practice guidance includes eight exemplary case studies of schools who have spent the service premium. It also includes contact details of each school.

Click here to access the guidance.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 09/12/2016

New PISA report 2015

New research has been published this week by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which is led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

PISA is conducted every three years, testing pupils in four subjects (science, mathematics, reading and collaborative problem solving), with one subject being the particular focus each time. The research aims to provide evidence on how the achievement and abilities of 15-year-olds varies across countries. Science was the focus in 2015.

The main headlines were:

  • The average science, mathematics and reading scores of pupils in England have not changed since 2006.
  • English 15-year-olds continue to perform significantly above the OECD average in science while they remain at the OECD average for mathematics.
  • The OECD average has fallen (but only significantly in science) meaning that England’s reading performance is now above average despite having not changed since 2012. Our relative science position has increased compared to 2012 as other countries’ average scores have dropped.
  • East Asian countries continue to dominate the top positions in PISA. Singapore tops PISA 2015 in science, reading and mathematics.

Click here to find out more.


Multi-academy trust: good practice guidance and expectations for growth

The Department for Education (DfE) has today published guidance on establishing and developing multi-academy trusts.

This non-statutory guidance entitled Multi-academy trusts – Good practice guidance and expectations for growth, builds on the commitment made in the DfE white paper Educational Excellence Everywhere to publish ‘design principles’ setting out what the DfE knows about successful MATs.

The document seeks to utilise existing practice across the sector to inform others on: 

  • the characteristics of successful MATs
  • the barriers MATs need to overcome to secure ongoing success
  • what regional school commissioners (RSCs) will look forwhen assessing the capacity of MATs at each stage of their development

The guidance can be accessed here.

NGA has a suite of guidance for multi-academy trusts, including version II of our schemes of delegation and the new guide – Welcome to a Multi Academy Trust, both of which are referenced in the new DfE guidance. 


Education Policy Institute: Faith schools, pupil performance and social selection

A new report by the Education Policy Institute has looked at the performance and characteristics of pupils in faith schools (or to give them their correct title, schools with a religious character). The report found that, while pupils in these schools had higher attainment on average than their peers in non-faith schools at both key stages 2 and 4, faith schools have proportionately fewer pupils with challenging needs. The report outlines that faith schools:

  • educate a lower proportion of disadvantaged children
  • educate a lower proportion of pupils with special educational needs (SEN)
  • enrol a larger proportion of pupils with high prior attainment

The research also explored whether the intake of faith schools reflected the demographics of their local communities.

The report’s authors attempted to assess the educational impact of faith schools. As such, they analysed the performance data of these schools after controlling for deprivation, prior attainment and ethnicity. Having done this, they found that:

  • the difference in attainment between faith and non-faith schools at key stage 2 is so small as to be educationally insignificant
  • at key stage 4, there is a relatively small attainment gain for pupils in faith schools

Based on their findings that the average faith school admits fewer pupils from poor backgrounds than the average non-faith school, the report’s authors conclude that “there is a risk that increasing the numbers of faith schools would come at the price of increased social segregation, with a risk of lower social mobility”.

Full report: Faith schools, pupil performance, and social selection.


Schools that work for everyone

The government’s ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation will close on Monday 12 December at 11:45pm. As the deadline approaches, there has been a flurry of analysis and commentary on aspects of the proposals. NGA’s response to the consultation will be available on the consultations section of the website after submissions have closed.

 
SchoolDash analysis

The education data website SchoolDash has carried out a new analysis of the effects of grammar schools. It found that:

  • disadvantaged pupils are underrepresented in all grammar schools but particularly in partially selective areas
  • the GCSE performance of low and medium ability pupils is slightly worse in fully selective areas than among otherwise similar schools in non-selective areas
  • non-selective schools in selective areas tend to have lower entry rates in certain subjects, such as geography, chemistry, English language, English literature and history (compared to similar non-selective schools in non-selective LAs)
  • at age 16, there are slightly higher progression rates from key stage 4 to key stage 5 in selective areas compared to otherwise similar non-selective areas; there are also higher rates of progression to sixth forms and lower rates of progression to further education colleges
  • selective areas show higher rates of progression from state schools to the most selective universities
  • in selective areas, a much lower proportion of pupils attend private schools

Read the research in full: Do grammar schools work for everyone?

 
Sutton Trust: Gaps in Grammar

A new research briefing for the Sutton Trust looks at the impact of grammar schools on families who are “just about managing” (the government has listed assisting these families as one of the main motivations for their proposals). There is no firm definition of this category and, therefore, the majority of analysis has focused on disadvantaged pupils, defined by eligibility for free school meals.

The Sutton Trust found that, controlling for prior attainment, non-disadvantaged pupils living in neighbourhoods with below average income deprivation are barely more likely to attend grammar schools than those living in the poorest neighbourhoods. It therefore concluded that “this is a strong indication that the ‘just about managing’ families are not being catered for by the current grammar system”.

Report in full: Gaps in Grammar.

 
Private schools respond to proposals

As well as putting forward proposals relating to grammar and faith schools, the consultation also proposes to change the conditions under which independent schools can have charitable status. The government want independent schools to do more to support good school places in the state sector.

The Independent Schools Council (ISC), which represents 1,300 independent schools, has today responded with proposals of its own including:

  • providing 10,000 free places in independent schools for pupils from families unable to afford the fees, with the government providing the funding that a state school would receive for that pupil
  • suitable and willing independent schools will work with others to help set up new state schools

A government response to this and all other consultation submissions will be expected next year.


Casey review: “Attaching more weight to British values, laws and history in our schools”

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published a report by Dame Louise Casey DBE CB, following a review she conducted into integration and opportunity in the most isolated and deprived communities in England. While the review was not focused entirely on schools, there were some observations made and recommendations put forward in order to help promote opportunity and integration in schools.

Some of the observations highlight concerns which have already been raised such as the lifting of the 50% cap on faith-based admissions criteria in new free schools and the wellbeing of children who are being educated in segregated, supplementary and unregistered illegal faith schools. The report makes a number of recommendations, some of which are summarised on the NGA website. Click here for more.


Social Mobility commission: report on post-16 choices for different pupil groups

This week, the Social Mobility commission released a report looking at the education and employment choices of young people who sat their GCSE’s in 2010.

The research focused on four “inequality” challenges that pupils face when moving from secondary to further education. These are social inequality, gender inequality, ethnic inequality and lack of post-sixteen provision.

The social mobility commission report provides some useful insight into the struggles and challenges faced by young people post-16. Governors and trustees need to ensure that their school(s) is providing high quality and impartial careers advice for students. They also need to be aware of the different challenges faced by pupil groups in their school. For more information visit the NGA guidance centre.

Visit the NGA website for a detailed summary of the report’s findings.


Children’s commissioner launches ‘Growing up North’ project

Over the next year, the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, along with a panel of politicians, academics, sports, charities and cultural leaders will embark on the Growing up North project which will gather data on children in the northern region to examine the factors that influence their progression.

This project will build upon already existing work by academics, public bodies and businesses, with hopes to increase the understanding of children’s attitudes, aspiration and expectations and how these relate to locality.

The project places a heavy focus on early years’ education. Although the North East has the best primary schools in the country, the region is still suffering from severe unemployment rates.

Growing up North aims to:

  • look at the progression of children from early years’ education to adulthood across different areas
  • increase understanding of children’s attitudes, aspirations and expectations and how these relate to locality
  • assess the opportunities available to young people between and within different regions
  • make clear recommendations to local, regional and national government, highlighting the need to put children at the heart of regeneration

Commenting at the launch of Growing up North, Anne Longfield said “we need to understand why children do better in some parts of the country than others and what it is about the place they grow up in that supports them to succeed…It’s time to leave north-south divide behind.”


Research on financial education provision for UK teenagers published

The Young Person’s Money Index, an annual research report commissioned by the London Institute for Banking and Finance, was published this week. The report draws on a survey of more than 2000 teenagers aged between 15-18 to examine the attitudes and behaviours of UK students in relation to money and personal finance.

The report is set out in three key sections: the current state of financial education in schools and colleges; the behaviours and attitudes of young people in the UK; and the survey in context of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People.

The report aims to identify the impact and benefit of financial education.

The key findings of the survey can be found on the NGA website.


Free workshops available on Forming or Joining a MAT and Disadvantaged Pupils from January 2017

The National College is adding these two workshops to its range of fully-funded workshops for governors, which also includes workshops on Financial Efficiencies, Performance Related Pay, RAISEonline Primary and RAISEonline Secondary. There are up to three free places available per school.  To find out which licensees are offering these programs in your area see the NCTL website.

NGA is running these workshops in selected parts of the country through the Leading Governance partnership. For further information or to express an interest please email leading.governance@nga.org.uk.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 02/12/2016

Education Select Committee - Multi-academy trusts inquiry

On Wednesday 30 November, the House of Commons Education Select Committee heard from Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash and Education Funding Agency chief executive, Peter Lauener. This formed part of the committee’s ongoing inquiry into multi academy trusts (MATs). Topics of debate included the “mixed economy” of academies and maintained schools in the education sector, with Lord Nash indicating he thought there would be a “tipping point” within the next 5-6 years where such an approach can no longer be sustained.

The committee also focused key questions around the financial performance issues of some MATs and the need to strengthen transparency across the system. While Peter Lauener conceded that the majority of trusts had not been visited by the EFA, he sought to reassure the committee of the quality of the data the EFA use to “extensively monitor” academy trusts, with Lord Nash admitting that some poor practice in MATs was inevitable - “we’re not going to get a perfect system”.

When asked if the 25 live Financial Notices to Improve issued to academy trusts represent a worsening trend, Lord Nash said it was important to put this into perspective against what we know about maintained schools with “academies under much tighter scrutiny”.

The committee also questioned Lord Nash on the increasing concerns around the disparity of pay between the workforce and those at the top level – something Gillian Allcroft, NGA Deputy Chief Executive recently wrote a blog on. The minister responded by referring to autonomy being a key feature of the academy system, which enables the “sector to compare performance with pay” while he committed to “look at bringing it back in line where out of line”.

For more information on the session, including discussion around scrutiny of MAT structures, rebrokering of academies within MATs, MAT growth and diversity within MATs, see NGAs parliamentary page. NGA’s own response to the same inquiry can be found here.


Ofsted Annual Report 2015/16

The Ofsted annual report into the education system in England was published on Thursday 1 September, by Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI).

Presenting his fifth and final report as HMCI before stepping down this month, Sir Michael said “a world class education system is within our grasp – but only if serious capacity challenges are urgently addressed”.

Sir Michael also stressed that a north/south ‘geographical divide’ meant the most able pupils in the North and Midlands were less likely to reach A/A* at GCSE. He said: “Standards can only truly be considered high if they are high in every part of the country and for all pupils regardless of background or ability.”

As well as the report’s main headlines, there were several points made throughout about school governance including how changes to the education system will increase the importance of the role of governing boards and how weak governance is often found to be at the root of school failure. It should be noted that the majority of schools are good or outstanding, with the percentage of such schools now standing at 91%.

Click here to read more about the report.


New report on academy numbers

This week, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) released new research into the “evolving schools’ landscape” since the introduction of Regional School’s Commissioners (RSCs). A Tale of Eight Regions explores how the number and proportion of academies and free schools have changed across England. The key findings include:

  • growth in primary academisation in 2016 has exceeded growth in the secondary phase for the first time
  • growth in schools becoming academies has been steadily falling across both phases in recent years, but the decline in growth in the secondary sector has been steeper
  • South West England remains the most academised region with 38% of schools, compared to just 18% in the North of England and Lancashire and West Yorkshire
  • the difference in the proportion of academies between the most and the least academised regions has increased over 12 months, from 16% to 20%
  • regional variations in the number of single-academy trusts (SATs) and schools in multi-academy (MATs) may make it more difficult for RSCs to find sufficient sponsors from within a region

The NGA is not of the view that any one school structure is better than another in bringing about school improvement. Where a school is good or better, the decision to convert to academy status should rest solely with the governing body. Any decision should be taken after full consideration of what academy status entails and with a clear vision as to how the conversion will improve teaching and learning in the school.

The full report, including information about your region, can be found here. The NFER’s second report will be published in early 2017 and will use the latest performance data to explore future challenges for RSCs. Members looking for more information on academisation can find resources at NGA’s guidance centre, including the new three part release of our updated joint guidance – Staying in Control of your School’s Destiny.


PSHE and SRE should have statutory status say Committee Chairs in letter to Secretary of State

A strongly worded letter co-signed by the Chairs of five Parliamentary Select Committees and addressed to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, calls on the Government to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PHSE) and Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) a statutory subject in all state-funded schools. Current government guidance states that all schools should teach PHSE but that it is “non-statutory”. SRE is compulsory in state maintained secondary schools, but not in academies, free schools or primary schools.

The signatories of the letter urge the government to consider “the consequences of failing to act” citing not just the potential impact this may have on the quality of education in England, but also the “lifelong consequences which can result from patchy or inadequate access to PSHE and SRE”.

The letter draws on the findings of the Women and Equalities Committee’s report on 'Sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools' which outlines evidence that:

  • 29% of 16-18 year old girls said they had experienced unwanted sexual touching at school
  • 71% of all 16-18 year old boys and girls said they had heard regular use of the words "slut" or "slag" towards girls at schools
  • 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year

The key recommendations of that committee included:

  • the government legislates and produces guidance for schools to ensure every school takes appropriate action to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual violence
  • Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate assess schools on how well they are recording, monitoring, preventing and responding to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence
  • making sex and relationships education (SRE) a statutory subject; investing in teacher training; and investing in local third sector specialist support

The NGA supports the view that PSHE and (age appropriate) SRE should be a statutory subject in all state-funded schools as part of a broad and balanced curriculum that should prepare young people for the experiences and challenges of adult life.


Early Years Funding Consultation – Government response published

On Thursday 1 December the Department for Education published its response to the Early Years Funding Consultation. The consultation launched in August was the third strand of the funding consultation.

The outcome of the consultation is that:

A new early years national funding formula will allocate funding to local authorities (LAs) for the existing 15 hour entitlement for all three and four year olds and the addition 15 hours for children of eligible working parents. This will include a base rate and an uplift for additional needs.

  • Hourly (average) funding rates will be increased to:
    • £4.94 from £4.56 for three and four year olds
    • £5.39 from £5.09 for two year olds
  • There will be a minimum funding rate to LAs of £4.30.
  • LAs must pass at least 93% of funding to providers.
  • For the duration of this Parliament an additional £55million a year supplementary funding will be provided to LAs to support maintained nursery schools in recognition of the higher costs these providers face.
  • LAs will be able to use a limited set of funding supplements (no more than 10% of funding allocated to providers) to take account of deprivation, rurality/sparsity, flexibility and quality (workforce/leadership qualifications), and for English as an Additional Language.
  • A new disability access fund will be introduced to support access to free entitlements - £12.5m per year (equivalent to £615 per child accessing their free entitlement).
  • Legislation will be brought forward to require all areas to set up a local inclusion fund for children with special needs and disabilities.  In future this will need to be included in the Local Offer.
  • The Early Years Pupil Premium will continue.

NGA welcomes the additional support for maintained nursery providers. Maintained nurseries have additional costs and are recognised as providing high quality early years education.

We look forward to the second stage of the consultation on the national funding formula and high needs funding.


Health Committee: Children and young people's mental health - The role of education inquiry opens

The Health Committee has announced that it is due to begin an inquiry into the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children and young people and preventing the development of mental health problems.

The Committee will be examining:

  • the promotion emotional wellbeing, building resilience, and establishing and protecting good mental health
  • support for young people with mental health problems
  • building skills for professionals
  • social media and the internet

The Education Committee has been invited to join the inquiry and share its expertise in the education sector with the Health Committee's overview of mental health services.

NGA will be submitting a response to the inquiry and if you have any comments you wish to make on the subject please send them to Shelby.Roberts@nga.org.uk.

Alternatively, the committee is seeking written submissions of up to 3,000 words, which should reach to the committee by Friday 20th January 2017.

NGA covered mental health in the November edition of Governing Matters. This article can be accessed here.  


TIMMS 2015: National report for England

The trends in international mathematics and science study (TIMSS) is a survey of the educational achievement of pupils in years 5 and 9 in 57 participating countries, as well as comparisons of the curriculum and the teaching of these subjects.

The TIMMS 2015: national report for England was published earlier this week and found that while the country’s maths results are now at the highest point for 20 years in both age groups, overall improvement is still lagging behind other countries. Since the first assessment in 1995, England’s score in Maths has increased by 12.8% for nine to ten year olds and by 4% for thirteen to fourteen year olds. Despite this improvement, the score is still behind top achieving countries who have seen more rapid improvement. The report outlines that yet again, the East Asian group of countries continue to perform extremely well across the assessments.  

When analysing the results, the report focused on the following factors:

  • overall performance in maths and science
  • performance by pupil characteristics
  • pupil engagement and confidence in maths and science
  • school environment, leadership and resources
  • teachers and teaching
  • home environment

The report emphasised the link between engagement and confidence in the subjects with overall performance. A large majority reported that the teaching of maths and science was engaging or very engaging, which was a sharp contrast to their peers in the five highest-performing countries.

The most troubling result was that head teachers in England were more likely to report recruitment problems than in most other comparator group countries. Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warned that this recruitment problem is “holding England back from the premier division of international performance.”

The full report can be found here.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 25/11/2016

New guidance - NGA updated schemes of delegation and destiny document

On Wednesday, NGA ran a governance hub and delivered a number of very popular sessions at a major free event in the education calendar - The Academies Show. To coincide with the show, NGA published version II of its working schemes of delegation. The schemes have been developed to help trustees in multi academy trusts (MATs) decide the best governance structure for their group of schools, in order to help trustees and other layers of governance in the trust work effectively together, and to assist trust boards in promoting a culture of honesty, clarity and transparency. These simple models include guidance on how to tailor your scheme and suggest what to delegate and to whom across four different potential models.

To download our revised models, click here.

This week also saw the release of parts 1 and 2 of the updated guidance, published jointly with ASCL and Browne Jacobson: Staying in Control of your School’s Destiny. Part 1 looks at the considerations for forming or joining a group of schools, including the benefits of collaboration, the differences between federations and MATs, lessons so far and how to make the right decision for your school. Part two is designed to help assess what MAT is right for you if you have made the decision to join an already established trust, taking you through the importance of making the right choice, first steps and conducting due diligence to inform your decision. Both are available to download today from the NGA website. Part 3, which will look specifically at the practicalities around forming a brand new MAT from conception, will be released in the coming weeks.

Access the guides here.

For maintained schools who want further information on forming or joining a group of schools, NGA has lots of information on federations, In particular, see NGAs Federation First campaign.


Autumn Statement 2016

This week, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond made his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons. NGA hoped, along with many others in the education sector, for an announcement about schools’ funding. To that end, last week we wrote to the Chancellor about the long delayed consultation on fairer funding; while part one closed seven months ago, with NGA submitting evidence back in April, the response is still yet to be published and part two of the consultation remains just a shimmer on the horizon. Although Minister Nick Gibb has recently confirmed funding changes will be made from April 2018.

In our letter we also urged Mr Hammond to consider additional funding for schools so that gains for lower funded schools are not at the expense of those who currently benefit from higher funding. However, the Autumn Statement was a disappointment with no hint about how the government will increase capacity beyond expanding grammar schools, even though the number of secondary school pupils is projected to increase by 20.2% between 2016 and 2025 and by 3.8% in primaries.

The headlines for education were:

  • £50 million of new capital funding each year for the next four years to support the expansion of existing grammar schools
  • tax-free childcare will be introduced gradually from early 2017, with roll out beginning upon completion of a trial
  • support for the RSA to pilot the promotion of cultural education in schools

In the 2016 NGA/TES annual survey, 59.5% of 5000 respondents agreed that financial constraints mean they will need to reduce spending on staff over the next two years. As Emma Knights, NGA chief executive, affirmed in her closing address at last Saturday’s NGA annual conference, “If we are going to have any chance of more funding for schools (or even just fewer real cuts) you need to send your stories to your MPs”. So if your school is under significant budgetary pressure affecting the education of pupils, please write to Mark Gardner (mark.gardner@nga.org.uk).


DfE announce investment in music education hubs

The government has announced investment of over £300 million to enable children to enjoy the benefits of both music and arts. Over a four year period, the government will provide the funding to a nationwide network of 121 music education hubs to try and get more young people to participate in music.

The funding will be administered by Arts Council England to music education hubs made up of local partnerships - including schools, local authorities and arts organisations - to give 5 to18 year olds greater access to musical opportunities. On the announcement, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said “We’re investing more than £300 million over the next 4 years so that those opportunities are open to all, not just the privileged few.”

The NGA recognise that there are numerous challenges facing school leaders to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, including high-quality music education in the current funding regime. We encourage all school governors and trustees to write to their MP to highlight how funding has affected the offer of arts education at their school. Please send copies of your concerns to Shelby Roberts (shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk).

NGA has jointly produced guides for governors on both music education and cultural education with Arts Council England and Music Mark – both are available to download here.


Inspiring Governance: register your vacancies

A new and free governor and trustee recruitment service officially launched in London on Monday 21 November to try and help tackle the significant challenges that many schools face when finding the right people to govern our schools. The annual 2016 NGA/TES annual found that 61% of governors and trustees had difficulty attracting new recruits to their governing board. In 2015 that figure was 56%.

‘Inspiring Governance’ is an online recruitment service, connecting volunteers with governing boards in schools and colleges. It is funded by Government and on Monday was welcomed by business and education leaders.  

NGA will be providing support, guidance and induction materials for newly appointed governors, matched through the service, and will also be offering support to governing boards who are recruiting a chair.

Lord Nash, Under Secretary of State for Schools, said: “As the people who appoint head teachers and chief executives and hold them to account, governors and trustees should be the driving force behind school improvement so it’s essential that we do more to attract talented and committed volunteers to school governance. That’s why we are supporting Education and Employers and the National Governors’ Association to revolutionise the way people can get involved in governance and be supported in the role once they’re in place.”

If you have vacancies on your board, register them here.

For more information, contact Judith Hicks (judith.hicks@nga.org.uk) – Head of Inspiring Governance at NGA.


NAHT: third annual school recruitment survey

This week the NAHT published the findings of its third annual school recruitment survey. The survey records the experiences of school leaders recruiting teachers and senior leaders in 2016 and, for the third consecutive year, school leaders report continuing problems with recruitment across all roles.

The key findings have been summarised on the NGA research page.


Several research reports released

This week, several reports have been released which may be of interest to governors and trustees. These can be found on the NGA research page.

  • A new education charity, Ambition School Leadership, has released a report into the progress made by persistently disadvantaged pupils compared with their peers. Focusing on the ‘opportunity areas’ identified for improvement by the Department for Education, the report assesses the gap in progress between disadvantaged children and non-disadvantaged children in these areas. Click here for more. Ambition School Leadership was formed from a merger of Future Leaders and Teaching Leaders.
  • Academics at the London School of Economics have published a report into the effect of academisation, specifically looking at the first English primary schools that became academies. It found that while academisation did lead to changes in modes of operation, there was no evidence of pupil performance improving in schools that became academies between 2010 and 2012. Click here for more.
  • A new research report by the Education Policy Institute argues that Ofsted’s inspection system does not fairly reflect the levels of challenge faced by schools with high levels of disadvantage. Click here for more.
  • Ofsted has released a report outlining the availability and effectiveness of enterprise education and work-related learning for pupils in secondary schools. Click here for more.
  • A new report by the Family and Childcare Trust identified pragmatic opportunities to ensure all families have access to high quality early years’ education, which can be achieved with steps costing less than 2 per cent of the current government spending on the sector. Click here for more.


Strategy published for improving Education in the north of England

A strategy for improving education in the north of England has been published this week. The former chancellor George Osborne had commissioned a review into education in the North to support his ‘northern powerhouse’ project. The review was led by Sir Nick, Chief Executive of Dixons Academies, a multi academy trust (MAT) based in Yorkshire.

More details about the strategy can be found on NGA’s news page.


Emma Knights’ Annual Address at NGA National Conference, Manchester 2016

The NGA’s Chief Executive, Emma Knights, addressed the 2016 annual conference in Manchester on Saturday, speaking about the issues that she believes matter most for strengthening school governance in England.

Immediately following the conference, the NGA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM). All of the resolutions were passed by those members present and several new trustees were appointed to the board.

The presentation slides for the conference can be found here.


NGA’s clerks’ conference

Following last month’s newsletter announcing the date of NGA’s first conference for clerks, we are pleased to announce that registration is now open.

The conference will be held on Monday 20 February 2017 in Birmingham and will be open to clerks who are individual members of the NGA or whose governing boards are members of NGA.

The day will include an update on the NGA Clerking Matters campaign and workshops on effective clerking. We expect to be discussing the DfE’s plans for supporting clerks’ development.

Bookings will open on Tuesday.

For more information on the NGA Clerking Matters campaign click here.


New Department for Education guidance on the Regional academy growth fund

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) released some new guidance detailing who is eligible for the regional academy growth fund (RAGF), and how trusts should apply for this.

The aim of the RAGF is to “support successful trusts to expand” and “to improve standards in underperforming schools”, with Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) prioritising applications which meet the specific needs of their region and of the six “opportunity areas” identified by the DfE as the most challenged when it comes to social mobility.

The three areas of eligibility are: sponsor capacity; Multi-Academy Trust growth; and new hubs. The sponsor capacity category is for both new and existing sponsors who are looking for extra funding to build their capacity to take on underperforming schools while the MAT growth category is for MATs requiring additional funding in order to expand. Both of these grants are usually between £50-100,000, but can be higher in exceptional circumstances. The ‘Newhub’ funding is specifically aimed at high-performing sponsors looking to establish a new geographical ‘hub’ with the amount of funding decided on a case by case basis.

To find out the eligibility criteria and how applications will be assessed, please see the guidance.

More information on managing finance in academies can be found in NGA’s guidance centre.


BBC investigation finds academies not complying with transparency rules

A BBC investigation has found that a number of academies are continuing to breach rules on transparency and publishing requirements. BBC England's data unit selected 100 academies across England at random and found 19 of them had either not published a current register of interests for governors on their school or trust websites, or had only given the interests of directors and members.

This comes in the same week that NGA released its revised model schemes of delegation – the document outlining the trusts governance structure and remit – another publishing requirement that is still often being overlooked. Part of the role and responsibilities for academy trustees is ensuring full compliance with the academies financial handbook and academy trust boards should reassure themselves they are aware of its requirements and seek assurances that they are meeting them.

NGA has published guidance and a helpful checklist to remind all schools - both maintained and academies - that certain information about the school’s governance must be published on the school’s website, which will in turn contribute to developing a commitment to a culture of openness, transparency and accountability. NGA’s guidance can be used to ensure they comply with the publication requirements.


Young Governors’ Network is off the ground

The first meetings of the Young Governors’ Network (YGN) took place this week in Birmingham and London. Over 77 people registered to attend the events, which were designed to find out how young governors and trustees felt this network could support them.

YGN has been set up in response to our 2016 annual governance survey data, which suggests that only 11% of those governing in schools are under 40. Our mission is to support younger governors by addressing the challenges they face when governing schools today.

Thank you to everyone who attended the events and if you want to be part of the network or find more information, click here


Community MATs

On Friday 18 November the inaugural meeting of the NGA Community MAT network took place in Manchester. This was the first of our termly meetings, which will be held in different parts of the country in response to demand from both members, aimed specifically at MAT trustees and governance professionals working within or with MATs. The intention of the network is not to operate as a formal conference but instead provide an opportunity for attendees to swap experiences and learn from each other in a relaxed and informal setting.

The first meeting saw 50 attendees gather to specifically share understanding and experiences on identifying the right governance and executive structures for the trust, implementing trust wide systems for ensuring financial oversight, how to ensure trusts know their schools educational performance and considerations for expanding a MAT. The network generated a lot of helpful discussion and informative anecdotes that will aid the spreading of effective practice and give those governing in MATs the confidence to be innovative and look beyond the standard practice. More details on the topics on conversations and practice shared will feature in the January 2017 edition of Governing Matters.

This was the first of hopefully many community MAT events and delegates valued greatly the opportunity to share experiences with each other. Our next events take place on 17 February 2017 in Birmingham and 16 June 2017 in London. If you are a trustee of a MAT or a governance professional working with a MAT and want to join in the debate, go to our Community MAT page on the NGA website for more information.

Bookings for the next community MAT sessions will open shortly. 


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 18/11/2016

A new NGA guide for newly appointed trustees

Our new guide Welcome to a Multi Academy Trust is out now and available to buy.

Welcome to a Multi Academy Trust provides high-quality practical information on MAT governance structures and practice for new trustees and senior leaders.

The guide costs £6 for members and £12 for non-members. Click here for more information.


NGA write to Chancellor over fair funding in schools

This week, the NGA has written to Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, expressing concern over delays to fairer funding reform in schools. The aim of the reform is to make school funding more transparent and ensure that all local authorities get a fair and representative amount of money based on pupils’ needs and characteristics.

 The issue of fairer funding has recently been raised by headteachers in West Sussex. As outlined in the 21/10/2016 Newsletter, “funding per pupil in West Sussex lags behind the national average by £402 – and behind the London average by £1800”. Writing to Prime Minister Theresa May, the headteachers’ called for an addition £20 million of emergency, transitional funding.

Between 7 March 2016 and 17 April 2016 the government ran a consultation on implementing fairer funding. One of the proposals was to implement the new formula by 2017/18. In the letter to the Chancellor, Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, warns that the delay in publishing the outcome of the consultation will push back the implementation date. The NGA is also asking for additional funding for schools so that gains for lower funded schools are not at the expense of those who currently benefit from higher funding. In this week’s Education Questions, the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, stated that the national funding formula will now be introduced in 2018.

In order to raise this issue further, the NGA is urging all members whose schools have funding issues to contact their MP. This is so they can be briefed on the issue before Parliament debates the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement next week.

For more information on the fairer funding formula, read Gillian Allcroft’s article in Governing Matters.


Social Mobility State of the Nation report published

This week, the State of the Nation report on social mobility in Great Britain has been published by the Social Mobility Commission. This document looks to assess ‘progress towards improving social mobility and what could be done to accelerate [this] process’. Although this document talks about skills and career prospects, it also provides valuable insight into what more can be done in schools, sixth forms and early years settings to increase social mobility.

A summary of the key findings from this report is provided on the NGA research page.


Anti-bullying week: Childline bullying report 2015/16

This week (14 – 18 November) is the 2016 anti-bullying week. Childline has published its report to coincide with this which highlights the continued prevalence and changing nature of bullying.

The report offers ‘Strategies that schools can use to tackle bullying’; particularly relevant for governing boards which are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of pupils in their schools. Much of what the report suggests will not be new to schools or governors, but it is worth just having a sense check that the policies and processes the school has in place are fit for purpose:

Does your anti-bullying policy have clear procedures about how to report bullying; what action the school will take; and what it does to prevent bullying?

  • Does the school ensure students know how to report bullying behaviour by actively promoting anti-bullying messages around the school and utilising PSHE lessons?
  • How does the school ensure children are confident that reports of bullying will be dealt with seriously?
  • Does the school keep comprehensive records of bullying incidents including action taken by the school? This is also valuable for monitoring bullying.
  • Does the school include the children experiencing bullying in decision-making so that they are prepared and aware of next steps?
  • Has the school identified any hot spot areas in school i.e. if there are particular areas where bullying is known to happen?
  • Do pupils know how to report offensive or inappropriate online content to social networks?
  • Having IT acceptable use policies.

These are questions governing boards can and should be asking in meetings. They should be asked as part of a broader conversation about how the school staff know that pupils feel safe and understand how to report any incidents.


“Time to deliver”: recommendations on mental health in schools

A new report by the Education Policy Institute calls for a “high profile, national government programme to ensure a stronger focus on mental health and wellbeing within schools”, including:

  • evidence-based training for teachers
  • a trained lead for mental health and wellbeing in every school
  • adoption of the Whole School Approach model
  • Ofsted having regard to wellbeing in school inspection
  • mandatory updated high quality, statutory PSHE in all schools, with dedicated time for mental health

It also makes recommendations for government and local health and care leaders, aimed at improving service provision.

The report follows prior research by the organisation, which found that specialist child and adolescent mental health services are turning away 23% of young people referred to them for help. High thresholds for eligibility for help were identified as a barrier to early intervention, as were long waiting times for treatment where referrals were accepted.

Many schools are experiencing a reduction in external support available from local authorities and other providers; addressing funding shortfalls in these services should be a priority for government.

NGA and many others in the school sector have been calling for PSHE to be made statutory for some time. Governing boards should consider how PSHE is taught in their school, whether time is dedicated to talking about mental health, and the training teachers receive.

Full report – Children and young people’s mental health: time to deliver.

Click here to read more about mental health in the November edition of Governing Matters.


New report uncovers widespread teacher concern on impact of curriculum, assessment and accountability reform

A new report by King’s College London, commissioned by the NUT teaching union, highlights widespread concern among teachers about key stage 4 curriculum, assessment and accountability reforms. Drawing on a survey of 1,800 teachers plus in-depth case studies from a range of schools, the report looks at the impact of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), Progress 8 and Attainment 8 policy measures.

The key findings of the report are:

  • 84% of teachers worry that the reforms entrench an “exam culture” which undermines students’ mental health and wellbeing
  • 74% identify that the EBacc has narrowed the Key Stage 4 curriculum offer in their schools
  • 77% believe the new GCSE curriculum will be less suitable for low attaining students and is criticised by respondents for being “uninspiring and anachronistic”
  • 92% of teachers report that their workload has increased as a result of data collection for Progress 8
  • 72% of respondents feel that meeting the demands of Progress 8 takes time away from teaching young people

In response to the report, Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT said: “The Government could and should learn important and constructive lessons from the thousands of secondary teachers speaking up in this report”.

Governing boards have a critical role to play in setting the ethos and strategic direction of the school, which includes the breadth and scope of the curriculum. Boards should ensure that they ask questions about any change to the curriculum offer. The Department for Education has yet to publish its response to the Ebacc consultation which proposed increasing the number of students undertaking the Ebacc which closed in January 2016. NGA’s response to that consultation can be viewed here.

Secondary curriculum will be the subject of one of the workshops at the Annual Conference on Saturday.


Leadership pay - “Some school leaders are taking us for fools – we need to stand up for them”

Following on from NGA’s blog and Governing Matters article on the spiralling levels of senior leaders pay in some schools, Emma Knights (NGA’s chief executive) provided comments to Schools week.

Emma welcomed Lord Nash’s letter to academy trustees pointing out that salary levels needed to be justified, but also commented on the research by the Centre for High Performance which suggests that the most effective heads are paid the least.

See NGA’s blog on pay by Deputy Chief Executive, Gillian Allcroft, and her article in the November edition of Governing Matters.


Information Commissioner rules against Department for Education

The Department for Education (DfE) has this week been told that it must re-think its decision not to publish the research it used to set new funding levels for free nursery places. The Pre-School Learning Alliance filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in March to see the unpublished research cited throughout the DfE’s Review of childcare costs: the analytical report.

The Pre-School Alliance argues that the unpublished research, by accountants Deloitte, provides the basis for the DfE’s average hourly rates for its free childcare scheme. The Pre-School Alliance argue that these rates - £4.88 per hour for four-year-olds and £5.39 for two-year-olds - are too low and would make the early years unsustainable. Therefore, it says that it is important that the Deloitte research is published. The DfE has previously argued that they do not hold the research and so cannot publish it. However, the Information Commissioners’ Office have found this claim to be “not plausible” and so has given the DfE 35 days to issue a fresh response to this FOI request.

A Governing Matters article by NAHT looking at the government’s free childcare pledge can be found here.


The Academies Show, Wednesday 23 November 2016: Birmingham, NEC

The NGA is once again going to be attending the Academies Show. This is a free event attracting delegates from all types of schools, including LA maintained schools. The Show therefore provides an unrivalled platform to address the major challenges facing the sector.

Come and visit us at NGA’s Information Hub at stand A12!

Find out more about the sessions NGA will be running on the day.

  1. Hot Seat – 11:00 – 11:30
  2. Seminar Theatre 1 – 12:30 – 13:15 (NGA spotlight on: Governance decisions in MATs)
  3. Recruitment & Skills Open Theatre 13:00 – 13:30 (The right people around the table: How to build a board)
  4. Plenary panel discussion & Q & A 14:15 – 15:00 (Panel discussion: Accountable and professional school governance – What’s next?)
  5. Seminar Theatre 2 – 14:45 – 15:30 (NGA spotlight on: Forming or Joining a MAT: Making the right decision)
  6. Seminar Theatre 1 – 15:45 – 16:30 (Repeat seminar NGA spotlight on: Governance decisions in MATs)

We highly recommend that you book your place and attend our sessions. Feel free to invite your colleagues - all are welcome. 

See the full show agenda here.


Seeking your views: NASBM School Business Director Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards Survey

Do you think that there should be an apprenticeship for school business directors and school business managers?

If so, click here to take the NASBM school business director trailblazer apprenticeship standards survey!

The results of the survey will be shared with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to evidence sector support for the proposed apprenticeship programme.

The deadline for all responses is Wednesday 30 November 2016.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 11/11/2016

Education Select Committee challenges the DfE on academies financial transparency

Following the Education Committee’s evidence session on 25 October 2015, Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the committee, has written to Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education (DfE), providing a response on the DfE’s 'dry run' of the Sector Annual Report and Accounts. Their main comments include:

  • the Select Committee “remains to be convinced” that the revised arrangements will give adequate levels of transparency and accountability of the DfE’s expenditure on academies
  • the unexplained delay in the publication of the Academies Annual Report for 2014-15 limits the usefulness of the dry run document
  • the Committee are concerned about the DfE’s ability to stick to its timetable
  • the DfE must do more to show its commitment to accountability of around £18 billion of public money

Under the headline of governance, the letter asserts that lines of accountability, especially in terms of the role of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs), need to be sharper, as well as identifying the need for increasing the level of information on any issued notices to improve.   

A further public session of the committee will be held in 2017. Governors at academies can find guidance on finance, governance and more in the academies section of our guidance centre.


Government’s proposals for grammar and schools with a religious character scrutinised by MPs

In two separate events on Tuesday, MPs scrutinised the government’s proposals on grammar schools and schools with a religious character set out in the ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation paper.

The House of Commons Education Select Committee held an ‘evidence’ check on selective schools, questioning first a panel of experts and then the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, and senior civil servants. The experts raised concerns about the underrepresentation of disadvantaged pupils in selective (grammar) schools, the negative impact on those who are not admitted, “resource sorting” of experienced teachers into grammar schools, and difficulty implementing the government’s proposed changes. Nick Gibb acknowledged that there are some pitfalls in the selective schooling system but stated the government is determined to put in place measures to address these, such as requiring selective schools to take a specified proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

A debate on the proposals relating to both grammar and schools with a religious character also took place in the House of Commons. Labour MP Lisa Nandy brought the debate, arguing that the answer to the problem of educational underachievement is not selective schools but “to make every school a good school”.

For more on the discussion, see the parliamentary business page.

See NGA’s comments on the proposals for selective education.


Number of "coasting" schools revealed

The Department for Education (DfE) have released provisional figures on the number of schools whose performance falls within the “coasting” definition which is being introduced for the first time this year. The DfE estimates that 804 schools will be designated “coasting”, including 479 primary schools (3.5% of the total) and 327 secondary schools (10.7% of the total).

No school can officially be designated “coasting” until validated data is published in December. Where schools do fall into the “coasting” definition, the regional schools commissioner (RSC) will make an assessment of what intervention, if any, is required. Governing boards should be prepared to demonstrate their strategy and how any identified issues will be addressed.

NGA guidance: Coasting schools includes all the details you need about the “coasting” definition and what happens when your school’s performance falls within it.


New report about school leadership recruitment

A report published today by three education charities suggests that schools across England will be confronted with a shortage of up to 19,000 school leaders (heads, deputy heads and assistant heads) by 2022, unless more is done to support teachers and senior leaders to take on these roles instead.

The report called The School Leadership Challenge: 2022 was produced by the Future Leaders Trust, Teaching Leaders and Teach First takes data from the Department for Education’s Workforce Census and Edubase system and also involved interviews and survey responses from practitioners.

The report predicts that the need for more school leaders may be caused by a number of factors, including: the growth of multi academy trusts, an increase in pupil numbers, the “high-stakes” accountability of headship putting off some from applying and school leaders retiring or leaving early.

The report also suggests that pay may be an issue and that the current remuneration system is weighted by “number of students in the school and geography, rather than the scale of the challenge”. NGA has covered pay of senior leaders in both a recent blog and Governing Matters article – the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) does allow governing boards to take account of the challenge of the role in setting the salary range for a headteacher.

Of course, there are over 20,000 schools in the country and the shortage figure includes all roles from Chief executive to assistant heads – it is a worst case scenario figure. We do know that recruitment of high quality leaders is an issue, with NGA’s own survey data (NGA/TES survey) shows that 53% of those who have had recent experience of recruiting senior leaders found it difficult.

The report proposes four interventions to help develop leaders from within the classroom and bring leaders into the education system in the first place:

  • develop a new generation of school leaders
  • expand the pool of candidates for executive roles
  • drive system change to support leaders more effectively and provide clear career pathways
  • build the brand of school leadership

To read the press release click here.


Government publishes response to 30-hour free childcare entitlement consultation 

On 5 November the Government published its response to the consultation on the implementation of the 30 hour free childcare entitlement consultation.

The document highlights responses and sets out the Government’s planned course of action:

  • A national fixed ‘grace’ period for parents who move in and out of eligibility will be established – the length to be determined following further “informal consultation” and the national Eligibility Checking Service will be developed to ease concerns about the administrative burden voiced by local authorities and other providers.
  • In response to comments about the flexibility of provision, guidance will make clear that while provision must be offered for no fewer than 38 weeks – LAs should work with providers to enable where possible parents to ‘stretch’ the free child-care over a full year. The minimum session length will be abolished to enable parents and providers to determine the most appropriate provision.
  • In response to concerns about how children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) would be affected the Government will (subject to the early years funding consultation) introduce a targeted Disability Access Fund and SEN inclusion fund model. Along with improving guidance and issuing best practice guidelines.
  • Government guidance will make clear that by September 2018 the expectation is that all childminders will be paid monthly. It will produce model template agreements for use by LAs and providers. Guidance will also make clear that the funding for the ‘free’ entitlement is for early education and childcare not consumables (such as food, drink or nappies).
  • Guidance will make clear that LAs are required to issue termly information about childcare.

Many respondents also raised issues about the level of funding for the extended entitlement and concerns about the impact on provider sustainability. The DfE consulted separately about Early Years funding and has not yet published its response.

Early years minister, Caroline Dinenage, briefly addressed the release of the document during the nursery world’s business summit. She stated that while she wanted to help working parents with more affordable childcare she did not want to do that “off the backs of breaking the childcare sector”.

NGA welcomes the government’s commitment to increase the amount of free hours of child care available to parents, but is concerned that the funding provided does not cover the actual cost of provision. For provision to be sustainable and high quality the funding must be adequate.


How does the attainment of disadvantage pupils vary between ethnic groups?

A new report by the Sutton Trust, highlights how the academic attainment of disadvantaged pupils at 16 varies dramatically between different ethnic groups.

The report titled Class differences: Ethnicity and disadvantage, looks at the outcomes for pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) at GCSE, with researchers finding that:

  • white British FSM boys achieve the lowest grades of any ethnic group, while white British FSM girls are the lowest performing of any main female ethnic group
  • the proportion of Bangladeshi, black African and Chinese FSM pupils achieving five GCSEs at A*-C including English and maths has improved substantially to more than the national average over the last ten years
  • certain ethnic minority FSM pupils perform better on attainment than the national average at GCSE (including Chinese, Bangladeshi and Indian) while others perform below the national average (such as black Caribbean and Irish)
  • travellers of Irish heritage and Gypsy Roma communities perform the lowest on all main attainment measures

The study also looked at rates of entry to university. It found that while white British pupils were the least likely to attend university, those who did were disproportionately likely to attend an ‘elite’ Russell Group institution compared to other ethnic groups.

The research underlines the need for governors and trustees to understand the characteristics of the disadvantaged pupils in their school and consider how the school is addressing the specific challenges that they face.

Read the report on the Sutton Trust website here.


EEF funded study found positive impact from primary school breakfast clubs

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published the results of a randomised controlled trial which found that pupils in primary schools who attend breakfast clubs before school benefit from an improvement in their reading, writing and maths. The results are based on the Magic Breakfast project jointly funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and the EEF.

The charity Magic Breakfast delivered breakfast clubs to 106 primary schools who have a higher than average proportion of disadvantaged pupils. An independent evaluation by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that:

  • year 2 pupils attending breakfast clubs experienced an improvement in reading, writing and maths equivalent of two months’ progress over the course of a year
  • year 6 pupils experienced a slightly smaller positive impact from attending breakfast clubs
  • teachers recognised an improvement in pupil behaviour and concentration and this may indirectly improve the outcomes for children who do not attend breakfast clubs

Offering breakfast clubs is seen as a cost-effective way to raise pupil attainment. Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF commenting on the provision of breakfast clubs stated that “offering free breakfasts at school is a relatively cheap and straightforward way of alleviating this symptom of disadvantage’’.

It is hoped that schools who wish to achieve a similar 2 months’ additional progress in pupils should endeavour to deliver breakfast clubs before school.

Click here for the Education Endowment Foundation press release.


New report on oracy in schools

new study published by the LKMCo education and youth “think and action tank”, exploring “The State of Speaking in Our Schools” looks at how oracy (“learning to talk well, and learning well through talk”), is “an essential foundation for pupils” academic and personal development. The report also finds that oracy is not being used by teachers to its full potential, often as a result of other key tasks including writing being prioritised.

The report utilises survey data from over 900 teachers, 26 interviews, 13 school focus groups and academic research. It finds that provision in classrooms is “patchy” with 57% of teachers reporting they have not received training in oracy in the past three years, despite the majority of teachers sampled believing that oracy is “very important”.

Time pressures, a lack of training, and “anxiety that shy and under-confident pupils might struggle, or that pupils’ behaviour will get worse” are listed as perceived barriers to delivering a comprehensive approach to oracy in schools.


Join the Community MATs network!

Community MATs is a brand new network developed by NGA to give those involved with governing smaller multi academy trusts (MATs) the opportunity to share their experiences and practice with others. Find out more about the campaign or join the network on LinkedIn.
 
The first network meeting will take place on Friday 18 November in Manchester. The topics of discussion will include:

  • Governance models – what works?
  • Knowing your schools – education performance
  • Financial effectiveness and controls – do you know what you are spending?
  • Staffing – including executive leadership

This event is open to trustees and clerks of established MAT boards. The event is free to NGA members. For non-members it is £50 per person. To book your place click here.


Ask your MP to join us for a debate

Once again NGA is organising a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on education governance and leadership. We would like as many MPs as possible to join us for what promises to be a vigorous debate on the content of the consultation paper, Schools that work for everyone.

These meetings are a good opportunity for us to take your views to members of parliament, especially following our autumn volley of regional meetings, where many of you shared concerns about the proposals in the consultation.

If you have a good relationship with your MP or a Peer, please do encourage them to attend on Tuesday 29 November at 17.30. If you don’t, this could be a very good way to make an introduction. Either way, copy us in: education.governance.appg@nga.org.uk and we’ll provide them with more information. If you want to attend yourself, just drop us an email – though spaces are limited. 


Trustees Week

To celebrate Trustees Week 2016 we’ve put together some tips and tricks that schools can learn from the charity sector. You can read more in our blog here.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 04/11/2016

Government drops Education for All Bill

The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, has announced that the government will not be bringing forward the planned Education for All bill in this parliament (see our news page for more on this announcement). The bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, was expected to include provisions to convert schools to academy status in “underperforming” or “unviable” local authorities (LAs) and to set out a “new role” for LAs. It was also initially expected to include provisions relating to the national funding formula but it was announced in July that this would be delayed until 2018-19.

Announcing the Technical and Further Education bill, Ms Greening said: “Our ambition remains that all schools should benefit from the freedom and autonomy that academy status brings. Our focus, however, is on building capacity in the system and encouraging schools to convert voluntarily. No changes to legislation are required for these purposes and therefore we do not require wider education legislation in this session to make progress on our ambitious education agenda”.

Although no new legislation will be brought forward in this session (until May 2017), the minister’s statement makes clear the “ambition” that all schools should convert voluntarily. Therefore, it is possible that further legislation to facilitate a fully academised system will be presented in the medium term.

Further reading: Viewpoint: Untangling the next steps in DfE education legislation by John Fowler, Local Government Information Unit (LGiU).

At present, schools can be forced to convert to academy status in particular circumstances under existing powers of intervention. For more information on academy status, see the school structures section of the Guidance Centre.


Governing Matters: November/December edition out this week!

A new Governing Matters, NGA’s bi-monthly magazine, is out this week.

Cover stories include:

  • Governors’ role in promoting positive mental health- Pooky Knightsmith, director of the Children, Young People and Schools Programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, explains the vital role governors play when it comes to pupil and staff mental health.
  • Keeping our teachers- Karen Wespieser, senior research manager, examines the key role of governors and trustees in engaging teachers.
  • Looking to the long term– the importance of a strategic focus- Nicky Odgers, a national leader of governance, outlines her research on the governing board’s strategic role.
  • New blood– how to attract and retain young governors and trustees- Alain Desmier, chair of governors at Montem Primary School, Islington, explains how an entrepreneurial approach can help to attract younger governors and trustees.
  • Community MATs – NGA launches new network for trustees and clerks- Fay Holland, NGA’s policy and information officer, introduces the new network.

The magazine is available as a pdf for standard governing board members who do not get a printed copy. Alternatively if the membership is upgraded to GOLD, all members of the board will be posted a copy to their home address. Please make sure we have your home addresses: email membership (membership@nga.org.uk).


More information on “coasting” schools definition published

The Department for Education (DfE) has published more information regarding the definition of “coasting” schools. This year, the Education & Adoption Act introduced new provisions to define schools that are “coasting”. In March 2016, the government published its response to the consultation on coasting schools. This confirmed that a “coasting” school was one where data showed that over a three-year period, the school had failed to ensure that pupils reached their potential.

A technical guide for primary schools published this week defines the “coasting” progress threshold as below -2.5 in reading, -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in writing. Schools have to be below at least one of these thresholds and have fewer than 85% of children making the expected progress to meet the definition in 2016. To be defined as “coasting”, they have to meet the definitions for three consecutive years.

Guidance published this week for secondary schools places the Progress 8 threshold for “coasting” in 2016 below -0.25. Again, secondary schools are only “coasting” if their performance is under the progress thresholds for 2014 and 2015, which do not refer to Progress 8. 


Government failure to produce careers strategy strongly criticised by Select Committee

The government has been strongly criticised by MPs over its failure to produce a long-promised strategy to address the inadequate provision of careers guidance in schools. In a statement released this week, co-chairs of the Education, Skills and the Economy Select Committee Neil Carmichael MP and Iain Wright MP called the government’s lack of strategy “unacceptable”.

In June 2016, the select committee published a report highlighting a lack of high quality, impartial information available to young people in schools in England. The report concluded that the current offer failed to prepare young people for the modern economy and exacerbated the skills gap, a matter made more urgent in the wake of Brexit. 

In the statement, Carmichael and Wright lay blame on ministers “who appear to be burying their heads in the sand while careers guidance fails young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds”. They add that the government’s response to the findings of the report “smacks of complacency” and urge them to produce a cohesive strategy that reflects the formal recommendations made by the select committee. These recommendations include “untangling the web” of careers information offered by organisations, service providers and websites. The select committee also recommends introducing a specific Ofsted judgment on careers guidance to raise standards in schools.  

For more on careers education see the NGA guidance centre.


Schools facing deficit and warnings over the viability of small schools

Close to 1,000 maintained schools and over 100 academy trusts across England have been operating with a deficit, according to the minster for school standards, Nick Gibb. In response to a parliamentary question asking “how many and what proportion of schools are currently in debt; and to whom such schools are in debt”, the minister conceded that in 2014/15, 4% of academy trusts and 5.3% of maintained schools were in deficit. 

This comes in the same week the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) warned that one-form entry primary schools and secondary schools with 600 pupils or fewer “will not be financially viable in a few years’ time". Speaking to the BBC, Malcolm Trobe said “They are going to find it extremely difficult to provide a full curriculum and maintain the support staff infrastructure needed to run the school”.

Of the 5,000 governors and trustees who responded to the 2016 NGA/TES survey, 59.5% agreed that financial constraints mean they will need to reduce spending on staff over the next two years.

NGA has previously reported on the issues caused by the delay to funding reform until 2018-19, and has actively campaigned for a number of years for a change to the distribution mechanism to ensure that pupils in all schools have access to equality of opportunity.

Governors and trustees of schools in those areas which currently receive the lowest funding are already struggling to make ends meet. While schools may not have been hit with cuts in the same way as some other public services, a flat cash settlement and unrelenting rising cost pressures mean that an increasing number of schools are unable to balance budgets without significant cuts which would affect the quality of education provided to pupils.

The response to the first stage of the consultation on the schools National Funding Formula is due to be published later this year. NGA has also produced a suite of guidance on financial efficiency and effectiveness which can be found here.


New Department for Education guidance: what maintained schools must publish online

This week the Department for Education (DfE) has edited its guidance on what maintained schools must publish on their websites. The update clarifies what voluntary aided schools must publish in terms of their admissions criteria.

Governing boards are reminded that the DfE amended the School Information (England) Regulations 2006 in September 2016. This introduced a number of changes to what schools need to publish on their website, including additional information on the pupil premium and changes to assessment information. 

In order to help schools publish the relevant information, NGA has a comprehensive guide to what schools must published on their website. As well as statutory requirements, this guidance also includes a list of items schools may wish to publish in line with good practice. These are available for both maintained schools and academies.


DfE report on SEND: the schools and colleges experience

A report looking at how the parents of children and young people with special needs and disabilities, and the children and young people themselves, feel about the process of dealing with schools and colleges has been released by the Department for Education (DfE). Lee Scott, former MP, was invited to undertake the project in March 2016 by the then Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan.

The project consisted of:

  • face-to-face meetings with parents and young people from all the regions of England
  • visiting schools and colleges in different parts of the country (both special and mainstream)
  • speaking to and having written feedback from people who have expertise and experience in this area
  • meeting individuals who provide services and support directly to families

Although the report did not seek to make any formal recommendations, there were some points that the author hoped would be considered. This included improving communication across all agencies and in every area, more training for all staff working with children and young people and encouraging staff in schools and colleges to do more to support children and young people with medical needs.


Sixth Form Colleges Association: funding impact survey 2016

The Sixth Form College Association (SFCA) has published its funding impact survey report, which collates the responses of 80 sixth form college leaders in England. The report claims that there has been a three-fold impact on the provision of education in these institution as a result of funding cuts:

  • an overall reduction in the number of subjects being offered (66%) with many sixth from colleges planning to offer just three subjects (rather than four at AS Level and three at A2 Level)
  • a narrower range of subjects being offered, with Modern Foreign Languages being the main affected subject (39% reported this)
  • the reduction or removal of non-qualification, extra-curricular activities such as educational visits, sport and Duke of Edinburgh award (58%).

Bill Watkin, chief executive of the SFCA, commented that the report should be “a wake-up call to the government” and failure to carry out a sixth form funding review … “risks turning sixth form education into a narrow and part time experience. That would be bad for students, bad for society and bad for the economy”.

The results of the survey can be read in full here.


New further education and technical education bill

On 27 October, the government released plans for a new further education and technical education bill. The bill, which is due for its second reading in the House of Commons on 14 November, has three core aims:

  • To protect students in sixth form colleges at risk of insolvency. A new ‘regime’ will be set up to ensure that learners are protected and give creditors “certainty...about how their claims will be dealt with”.
  • To extend the role of the Institute of Apprenticeships to cover technical education. This means that the Institution of Apprenticeships will also make sure that technical education is fit for purpose.
  • To require local authorities and colleges to share data and results. 

For schools, understanding trends in the FE sector is important for providing impartial, high quality careers advice. Students leaving secondary school should be aware of their options and the overhaul to the apprenticeship and technical education system in recent years. For more on careers, visit the NGA guidance centre.


Severe nursery staff shortages place 250,000 children at risk of falling behind

A new report produced by the charity Save the Children warns that more than 250,000 pre-school children will be at greater risk of being unable to meet the expected levels of development once they reach school age due to a shortage of qualified early years teachers. The report explains that while there is a surplus of staff who are trained to care for children, there is a severe shortage of qualified early years teachers.

The report found that although the poorest areas were worst affected by the problem, even wealthier areas struggled:

  • in the West Midlands, 58% of children in independent nurseries do not have a qualified early years teacher working with them
  • in the North West, 45% of children in independent nurseries do not have a qualified early years teacher working with them
  • in the South East, 50% of children in independent nurseries do not have a qualified early years teacher working with them

Research commissioned by the charity found that these children are also more likely to stay behind throughout their academic life and through to their working life. These findings raise extreme concerns for early years education and education in general.

Gareth Jenkins, the director of UK poverty at Save the Children, stated that “if the government is serious about creating a country that works for everyone, it’s crucial we urgently invest in a qualified teacher for every nursery across the country”. The charity hopes to urgently reverse the trend, starting in the 20% most deprived areas of the country, including Blackpool, Oldham, Birmingham, and Barking.


DfE are seeking your views on reforming National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)

The Department for Education (DfE) is reforming National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) to prepare leaders more effectively for the range of leadership roles in today’s school system.  

The DfE is seeking views on a range of questions. What changes should be made to a reformed National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)?  Is a new qualification needed for executive leaders? What knowledge and skills are essential to successful executive leadership? If you would like to share your views on these issues, or the future of the NPQs more generally, please email NPQ.REFORM@education.gov.uk.


School attendance guidance updated

This week, the Department for Education has updated its guidance on school attendance to reflect the 2016 amendments to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006.

To access this new guidance, visit the Department for Education website.


Join the Community MATs network!

Community MATs is a brand new network developed by NGA to give those involved with governing smaller multi academy trusts (MATs) the opportunity to share their experiences and practice with others. Find out more about the campaign or join the network on LinkedIn.
 
The first network meeting will take place on Friday 18 November in Manchester. The topics of discussion will include:

  • Governance models – what works?
  • Knowing your schools – education performance
  • Financial effectiveness and controls – do you know what you are spending?
  • Staffing – including executive leadership

This event is open to trustees and clerks of established MAT boards. The event is free to NGA members. For non-members it is £50 per person. To book your place click here.


Young Governors’ Network: Book now for London and Birmingham

The inaugural meetings of the Young Governors’ Network have been set for 22 November in London and Birmingham. Book your free ticket using the links below. 

The Young Governors Network is a pilot, running initially in Birmingham and London. The idea is to support young people in their role as governors and trustees.

The 2016 NGA/TES survey of 5000 school governors and trustees found that only 11% of respondents were under 40 and, according to the Charity Commission, the mean age of a charity trustee is 57.

If you’re a young governor or trustee (under 40), it could really help to speak to others about your experiences, network with other young governors and improve your practice. If you have a young governor on your board please pass the invite on. Find out more at www.nga.org.uk/ygn.

Book here for Birmingham.

Book here for London.


Trustees Week 2016

Trustees Week 2016 kicks off on Monday 7 November. The Week is designed to celebrate the role and impact of charity trustees, which of course includes those who govern in academies. To get involved click here where you’ll find events, and resources.


Attend the Inspiring Governance reception

Inspiring Governance, the new school governor recruitment service, is launching later this month in London. Those of you who attended our autumn regional meetings this year will already be familiar with the service, but if you were not able to come to join us in October and happen to live in striking distance of EC1A 1HQ, you are welcome to join us.

The event will be one of many opportunities to find out more about Inspiring Governance, including:

  • how schools and colleges are now using it to find skilled volunteers quickly and easily
  • the free support and advice available for employers, individuals who are interested in joining governing bodies and governing boards which are seeking members
  • the free support for employers looking to set up governance volunteering programmes
  • expert guidance and support which will be available from the National Governors’ Association free of charge to volunteers appointed to governing bodies through Inspiring Governance

The event will take place on 21 November 2016 at 16:30 - 17:30. Space is limited, however, and will be allocated on a first come basis. Contact Adam Roberts (adam.roberts@educationandemployers.org) for tickets. 


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 21/10/2016

Lord Nash writes to Chairs of academy trust boards

Today, Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, has sent a letter to all Chairs of academy trust boards. The letter draws attention to the importance of good governance to robust financial oversight and management. This includes having:

  • a board that is made up of people with a sufficiently diverse range of perspectives to enable robust decision making
  • trustees with all the right skills and experience to provide effective governance
  • clear governance arrangements that are transparent to everyone, including through a published scheme of delegation

To read the letter click here.


Primary assessment changes announced

In a statement to parliament on Wednesday 19 October, Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening made a number of announcements relating to primary assessment, including:

  • new guidance and mandatory training to improve moderation of writing teacher assessment
  • the key stage 1 Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test will remain non-statutory
  • SATs resits for year 7s will not be introduced
  • schools will not face intervention on the basis of 2016 data alone

A Department for Education (DfE) consultation on primary assessment and the implications for accountability will be launched early next year.

This announcement coincides with the publication of progress thresholds for floor standards and the ‘coasting’ definition. Full details can be found in the DfE’s guide to primary school accountability in 2016.

The National Association of Headteachers, who have led campaigns on many of these issues, broadly welcomed the announcements and set out where changes have been made. They have also produced a table to show where their requests on primary assessment have been met by the government.

NGA would welcome members’ thoughts on these announcements and primary assessment more broadly: email Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


Rochford Review into P scales published

The announcement on primary school assessment (see above) also coincides with the publication of the report of the Rochford Review, an independent group commissioned by the DfE to review statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. Currently, P scales are used to assess and report the attainment of pupils with SEND who are not working at the standard of mainstream statutory assessments. The review recommends that P scales should not continue to be used and that a new approach should be developed. Other recommendations touch on teacher training, sharing of good practice, quality assurance, and the need for further work on the best way to support schools with assessing pupils with English as an additional language (EAL). Read the recommendations in full.


New research from the Centre for High Performance into leadership in schools

This week, new research from the Centre for High Performance examines the impact of different leadership types on school performance. The findings explore the link between leaders and their subject specialism, while suggesting that the leaders who are much better at improving schools in the long-term are often the ones paid the least. 

For governors and trustees looking to recruit new leaders, this report provides interesting food for thought. As Emma Knights, NGA chief executive, outlines in her new blog, it encourages governors and trustees to be “open minded when considering who to employ to lead our schools”. 

Read Emma’s blog here, which considers the new research and the implications for governing boards.


Headteachers warn of funding crisis in letter to Theresa May

Headteachers in West Sussex have this week hand-delivered a letter to the Prime Minister calling for £20 million in emergency, transitional funding. They say that they were relying on the implementation of the National Funding Formula to give them a much-needed increase in funding, but the postponing of this “is having a crippling effect on [their] already dire financial position”.

Quoting the fact that funding per pupil in West Sussex lags behind the national average by £402 – and behind the London average by £1800 – the letter argues that without additional funding they will have to make difficult and ‘unwelcome’ cuts, such as modifying school opening hours, raising class sizes to “unacceptable levels” and making redundancies.

The Department for Education said that it wants all schools to have “access to the resources they need” and that it has “protected the schools budget” which is at its “highest” ever level in 2016-17. However those in West Sussex argued that the DfE are “distracted” by policies such as grammar schools and not focusing on “practical necessities”.

NGA has long campaigned for a fairer funding system which is responsive to the diverse population in schools in England. We were disappointed about the delay to the proposed national funding formula.


New guidance on calculating progress 8 and attainment 8

This week the Department for Education has released information on how progress 8 and attainment 8 measures are calculated. This useful document, which is only five pages long, will help governors and trustees to understand the new measures. New GCSE qualifications will be graded from 1-9, but not all GCSEs are being moved to the new system at the same time. The DfE has, therefore, developed a methodology to compare the two parallel systems from 2017. A useful table to help you benchmark the old A* - G grading system against the new 1 – 9 system is provided in the document and copied below. This table shows how unreformed GCSE’s will be translated into the new grading system:

 

GCSE grade

2016 Points

2017 and 2018 Points

G

1.00

1.00

F

2.00

1.50

E

3.00

2.00

D

4.00

3.00

C

5.00

4.00

B

6.00

5.50

A

7.00

7.00

A*

8.00

8.50


For more information on calculating progress 8 and attainment 8 measures, see the NGA guidance centre.


Early Years foundation stage results for 2015/16 published

On Thursday, the Department for Education released data on the achievement and progress of children at early years stage. The data shows that 69.3% of children are achieving a “good level of development”, an increase of 3% compared to last year. In addition, although it has decreased by 0.9%, the gender gap (with girls outperforming boys) is still significant at 14.7%. The national key measures for early years are as follows:

  • 69.3% achieved a good level of development
  • 67.3% achieved at least expected in 17 early learning goals
  • the average points score was 34.5

Each measure is a marginal improvement on last year and nearly every local authority has seen an improvement in performance. However, the percentage inequality gap (between the top performing and lowest performing children) remains high at 31.4%, despite this being reduced from 36.6% since 2013. As in previous years, girls outperform boys in every measure.


Join the community MATs network!

Community MATs is a network developed by the NGA to give those involved with governing more locally based multi academy trusts (MATs) the opportunity to share their experiences and practice with others. 

We were asked to start the network by our members, who felt there wasn't an easy way to meet and discuss the issues they faced when setting up and governing a MAT. We want to facilitate that learning and collaboration so that our members are better able to govern and improve the education of pupils.

Join the Community MAT network on LinkedIn.

The inaugural network meeting will take place in Manchester on Friday 18 November, the day before our annual conference and AGM. Topics covered will include:

  • governance models – what works?
  • knowing your school – education performance
  • financial effectiveness and controls – do you know what you are spending?
  • staffing – including executive leadership

The event is free to NGA members. For non-members it is £50 per person. To book your place click here.

As part of the campaign, NGA are on the lookout for community MAT champions to share their experiences with governing boards considering forming or joining a MAT. For further information about this, or the wider campaign, see the Community MATs page or contact Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


History of Art and Archaeology to be dropped from A level curriculum

Exam board AQA has announced that History of Art and Archaeology will no longer be available to new students at A level from September 2017. The decision comes amid government changes to A levels in England which require new syllabuses in all subjects. AQA is currently the only examining body to offer History of Art and Archaeology to A level students.

A spokeswoman for AQA stated: "Our number one priority is making sure every student gets the result they deserve - and the complex and specialist nature of the exams in these subjects creates too many risks on that front.” AQA point to the small intake of pupils for each subject and subsequent difficulties in establishing accurate grade boundaries at assessment. This summer saw 839 students sit the History of Art A level exam which is offered in only a handful of state schools. In the same period, 369 students took the Archaeology A level exam. AQA added that the “difficult decision” to remove the subjects from the curriculum “won't stop students going on to do a degree as we're not aware of any universities that require an A level in the subjects."

However, the decision has drawn criticism from a range of commentators. In a statement released by the Association of History of Art Historians (AHAH), Professor Craig Clunas of the University of Oxford states that the move to withdraw Art History “represents a narrowing of opportunities, a limitation of horizons for students, and is a highly regrettable decision.” The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) has called the decision to remove the offer of Archaeology "extremely damaging", citing a noted shortage of archaeologists to meet demand for a growth in infrastructure projects.


Update from the FE sector: area reviews and how they will affect schools

On Wednesday, the Department for Education released further information on 16-19 area reviews across England.

Area reviews primarily concern the 16-19 further education (FE) sector and are led by a local steering group, comprised of FE chairs of governors and other stakeholders. The reviews are designed to streamline FE provision at a time of increasingly austere budgets. The steering group can make broad recommendations, including “rationalisation of estates … rationalisation of curriculum … academisation of sixth form colleges, closure of unviable institutions, full merger between institutions and options for collaboration”.

Schools with sixth-forms have not been part of the formal area review process as it primarily concerns 16-19 institutions (although they should have been consulted). Nevertheless, the review groups will “consider implications for other institutions in the area ... [including] … school sixth form capacity”. Any consideration of schools with sixth forms will be outlined in the steering group’s final report. Whether schools are considered in the final report or not, area reviews have the potential to have a significant impact on the local FE economy.

The information published on Wednesday contained more details on implementing the review recommendations; including guidance on restructuring, transition grants, funding to restructure colleges, a due-diligence framework for colleges and a guide for sixth-form colleges to convert to academy status (see below).

NGA is interested to hear how schools have been affected by these area reviews, either directly or indirectly. If you have any feedback on area reviews in your locality please contact Tom Fellows (tom.fellows@nga.org.uk). For more information on schools with sixth forms, including curriculum offer and funding, please visit the guidance centre.


New guidance on sixth-form colleges converting to academy status

New guidance published this week by the Department for Education details the process in which sixth-form colleges can become an academy. Importantly for schools, this guidance outlines that, in order to convert to an academy trust, sixth form colleges “should include clear evidence that [becoming an academy] will lead to stronger partnership and collaboration between the college and schools”.

The guidance also outlines the criteria in which sixth-form colleges can join or form a multi-academy trust (MAT). The guidance emphasises that sixth-form colleges should “maintain [their] distinct post-16 character in a MAT”.

For more information on joining or forming a MAT, visit the NGA website.


Troubled Families Programme made no significant impact

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has carried out a study that looked into the impact of the Troubled Families Programme. The researchers noted that across a wide range of outcomes, including school attendance and safeguarding and child welfare, they were unable to find consistent evidence that the programme had any significant or systematic impact.

The Troubled Families Programme is a national approach to help families with multiple problems. It was intended to change the outcome for families and change the way in which services worked for them.

However, the study did acknowledge that, as some of the data was of a poor quality, it meant that the findings were limited and so the results in isolation cannot be taken as conclusive evidence of the programme’s impact.


Join the Young Governors’ Network

Young Governors’ Network aims to support young governors and trustee in their role. Regional meetings will take place in London and Birmingham on the 22 November 2015.

For more information and to register your interest click here.


The Foundation for Leadership in Education: Information and Projects Officer Job Opportunity

The Foundation for Leadership in Education (FLE) are seeking an Information and Project Officer.

FLE will be a voluntary professional body serving practising education leaders in schools and colleges across England and Wales. The Foundation seeks to promote, sustain and increase individual and collective knowledge and understanding of leadership in education. The trustees are currently in the process of applying for charitable status through the Charities Commission.

Founded by the principal leadership associations, the Foundation has an exceptionally strong coalition of all the major leadership organisations behind it. These organisations have strong track records and collectively represent the breadth of leadership roles in England and Wales.

The post-holder will join the staff team at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) based in Leicester. The post-holder will be employed by ASCL, on behalf of the Trustees of Foundation.

For further information, download the job specification here.

If you have any queries, please feel free to e-mail jobs@ascl.org.uk with ‘Information and Project Officer’ in the subject line.


New NGA blog on executive pay

In “Onwards and upwards? The rise of executive pay”, NGA’s deputy chief executive, Gillian Allcroft, looks at the state of executive pay in education  and the key considerations this presents for governing boards.  To read the blog click here.


Take the NGA members' survey!

The NGA members' survey is still open.

Please do consider sending in your thoughts. The survey can be found by clicking here.

If you have any problems please contact Tom Fellows (tom.fellows@nga.org.uk).

The closing date is Monday 31 October 2016.


NGA’s Annual Conference and AGM

Don’t forget to book your place at our Annual conference 2016!

Saturday 19 November, Manchester

Keynote speakers will include:

  • Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner
  • Belita Scott, National Lead for Governance at Ofsted

For the first time you will also be able to choose from one of the following workshops:

  • Primary Assessment – what next? 
  • Secondary curriculum – broad and balanced
  • Five years of pupil premium
  • Good leadership recruitment 
  • Safeguarding

Find out more about the conference and book your place here.

The notice for the AGM can be found here.


Leading governance workshops: RAISEonline

We will be holding a number of Leading Governance workshops over the next couple of months, focusing particularly on the reporting and analysis tool RAISEonline. The dates and venues are below – to register click here.  

·         22 November 2016 – Bury (RAISEonline)

·         1 December 2016 – Trafford 1 (RAISEonline)

·         7 December 2016 – Trafford 2 (RAISEonline)

·         9 December 2016 – Blackpool (RAISEonline)


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 14/10/2016

Education Questions to the Secretary of State

The secretary of state for education, Justine Greening, faced questions in the House of Commons this week on a number of important issues. When asked about how she will manage her time between dealing with the new consultation ‘Schools that work for everyone’ and bringing forward a fairer funding formula, Ms Greening replied that work is underway on both and that a government response to the first stage of the fairer funding consultation would be published shortly (the first stage of the funding consultation closed in April). The 'Schools that work for everyone' consultation will be open until 12 December. NGA will be responding and would welcome the views of members – email Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).

Lucy Powell, the former shadow education secretary, quizzed Ms Greening on the funding of nursery schools, arguing that current government policy put their “ongoing viability at risk”. Wouldn’t it be better, she argued, to focus on maintaining nurseries rather than focusing on grammar schools? Ms Greening replied that early years provision was a vital part of the education system, “which is precisely why we have been consulting on how we can have a sensible approach to its funding”. She added that early years funding had not been cut.

The current shadow secretary for education, Angela Rayner, criticised Ms Greening for proposing expansion to selective admissions without first providing the evidence case for it. She said, “spending public money on policy without any evidential basis is simply wasting it.” The minister cited research by the Sutton Trust which found that the minority of children from poor backgrounds who did attend grammar school achieved highly. But more recently, the Sutton Trust has urged the Government to focus on improving teaching rather than structures.

Click here for more on NGA’s response to the government’s plans for increasing selection in the education system: A return to selection puts progress at risk.


NGA’s annual membership survey is now open! 

The NGA annual membership survey 2016 is your chance to tell us specifically how well NGA works for you. We will not be asking you the same questions we asked in the NGA/TES survey, but it will give you an opportunity to explain your views on the government if you want to, and what you want NGA to be saying to the government on your behalf.

As a membership organisation, it is vital that we know whether we are representing your views and providing you with the support you need.

We are committed to giving you the best possible value for your membership fee. Please let us know how we are doing and how we can improve our services by taking part. The survey is available to members only and takes just 15 minutes to complete. It closes on Monday 31 October 2016. 

Click here to take the survey. Thank you.


Key stage 4 and A-level and other level 3 provisional data released

The Department for Education (DfE) has released provisional data for key stage 4 results. This year, the attainment figure for 5 or more A*- C grades (including English and Maths) is 56.8% for state schools, compared to 56.1% last year. However, for the first time this year the figures that will be reported in the performance tables are attainment 8 and progress 8 scores. The headline figures, alongside the national average provisional results, are as follows:

  • the average attainment 8 score is 49.8 per pupil
  • the average percentage of students achieving A*- C in English and Maths is 62.6%
  • the percentage of students entering the Ebacc is 39.6%
  • the percentage of students achieving the Ebacc is 24.5%

For a detailed overview, including information on the new measures, click here.

This week also saw the release of provisional data for 2015/16 A level and other 16 to 18 results. Following government reforms, the 16-18 performance tables are changing this year with a new set of headline measures which now include GCSE and other below level 3 results in English and Maths. This means that the statistical first release (SFR) now reports on three levels: level 3 results, English and maths progress, and A level and below level 3 English and maths examination results.


Academy finances

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has written to all academy accounting officers to set out their key responsibilities relating to financial management and governance. The letter stresses that accounting officers set “the standards of financial management and governance” of the organisation and cites EFA intervention often being the result of misunderstood personal responsibilities. While acknowledging the “majority of trusts are well run financially”, the letter warns about existing serious weaknesses in a number of trusts, and echoes NGA’s repeated calls for executives to adhere to the Nolan principles of public life. In addressing these issues the letter points to the Department for Education’s (DfE) new schools financial health and efficiency tools and guidance and specifically references guidance from the NGA.

The letter coincides with a BBC 5 live Investigation suggesting that debts of 113 academy trusts total nearly £25 million, with the number of financial warnings from the EFA more than doubling in the past three years alone, raising further concerns about the number of trusts struggling to manage their finances. This week also saw the Durand Academy Trust issued with a notice of intention to terminate its funding agreement, with the notice citing “significant breaches” of the terms of funding agreement and the trust failing or refusing to comply with six of the eight requirements set out in an earlier provisional notice.

Governing boards need to ensure they understand their role in relation to school finances and have the confidence to act when necessary. The trust board has collective responsibility for the financial effectiveness of the trust. The Academies Financial Handbook requires the board of trustees to establish internal control procedures in order to monitor financial transactions and ensure openness with the public – if this is being done effectively then issues such as these will simply be avoided. NGA’s guidance centre has a dedicated section on finance which has useful documents for both maintained schools and academies as well as guidance on dealing with conflicts of interest.


Ofsted’s Chief Inspector and RSCs on strong multi academy trusts

In his latest commentary, Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw reflects on the characteristics of high performing MATs. Using focused inspections of seven “stronger performers”. Sir Michael states that successful trusts tend to have the following as key characteristics:

  • ability to recruit and retain high quality executive leaders
  • a well-planned, broad and balanced curriculum
  • commitment to providing high quality education for all pupils
  • investment in professional development of teachers and sharing of expertise
  • high priority given to initial teacher training and leadership development
  • clear frameworks of governance, accountability and delegation
  • effective use of assessment information
  • and a cautious and considered approach to expansion

The last was a prominent topic of discussion when three of the eight regional schools commissioners (RSCs) appeared before the House of Commons Education Select Committee on Wednesday 12 October.

NGA’s view is that MATs should consider expansion carefully, not growing too quickly without due consideration about the capacity within the trust to support this growth, with a clear focus on the number of pupils across a MAT rather than the number of schools. All boards need to have a vision which looks forward three to five years including some consideration of the future size of the organization.

For more on this, see the NGA parliamentary business page.

NGA is establishing a new Community MATs network for trustees and clerks. Join us in Manchester on Friday 18 November for the first event - booking is open now!


Join the community MATs network!

Community MATs is a network developed by the NGA to give those involved with governing more locally based multi academy trusts (MATs) the opportunity to share their experiences and practice with others. 

We were asked to start the network by members who felt there wasn't an easy way to meet and discuss the issues they faced when setting up and governing a MAT. We want to facilitate that learning and collaboration so that you are better able to govern and improve the education of pupils.

Join the Community MAT network on LinkedIn.

The inaugural network meeting will take place in Manchester on Friday 18 November, the day before our annual conference and AGM. Topics covered will include:

  • Governance models – what works?
  • Knowing your school – education performance
  • Financial effectiveness and controls – do you know what you are spending?
  • Staffing – including executive leadership

The event is free to NGA members. For non-members it is £50 per person. To book your place click here.

As part of the campaign, NGA are on the lookout for community MAT champions to share their experiences with governing boards considering forming or joining a MAT. For further information about this or the wider campaign, see the Community MATs page or contact Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


New report into teacher workload and professional development

A new report published this week by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has analysed teacher workload and professional development in secondary schools.

The report is based on data gathered for the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) in 2013, and has enabled EPI to draw on the responses of over 100,000 secondary school teachers to benchmark teaching practices and experiences in England’s secondary schools against 35 other developed countries and jurisdictions.

The report looks at the working hours of England’s teachers’ against international comparisons identifying the tasks contributing to high working hours and addressing the school influences on workload by characteristics and accountability. The findings go on to inspecting the impact of workload on continuing professional development (CPD), the relationship between pay, job satisfaction and teacher retention and reflecting on the association between educational performance, school intake and teacher workload.

Amongst the report’s key findings are:

  • teachers in England are working, on average, longer hours than in most other jurisdictions
  • of the 36 jurisdictions in the dataset, England ranked 30th in terms of the average number of days spent in a year on certain types of (CPD)
  • 60% of teachers in England report workload as a significant barrier to accessing professional development
  • teachers in the most deprived schools work, on average, 3.6 hours less per week than teachers in the most affluent schools
  • teachers who use ICT for class projects in all or nearly all lessons work 4.6 hours less per week
  • teachers in England are spending significantly more time on non-teaching activities which contributes to long working hours
  • teachers in England are younger and less experienced than in other countries

NGA is speaking to the Department for Education regarding teacher workload and we are interested to hear from governors and trustees but, in the meantime, governing boards should be mindful of their duty to promote the wellbeing of their staff.


Delays to policy for summer born children to start school later

Plans to make an amendment to the Admissions Code to ensure that summer-born children could be admitted to reception at the age of five have been delayed. The proposed changes would give parents the option of their child beginning school at the age of five, and remaining with that cohort as they progressed through school.

When the matter was discussed in Parliament, minister for school standards Nick Gibb said that when developing this policy the government “want to make sure that parents have the information that they need to make informed decisions about their child’s education”. The minister also said that the government also need to ensure that parents do not use the flexibilities as a way to gain an unfair advantage in the admissions system by applying for a place in the reception class of their preferred school for when their child is four, and again for when their child is five. There were also concerns that such changes may cause unintended consequences for the early years sector with children staying in early years provision for an extra year.

Nick Gibb stated that the policy was moving forwards and that detailed work is being carried out on the arrangements that may be put in place to support parents of summer-born children.


No improved outcomes for children in need of protection

The National Audit Office (NAO) has this week published its report, examining the progress that the Department for Education (DfE) has made since 2010 to help and protect children. The report is rather damning in that it finds that the DfE’s actions have not yielded better outcomes for such children over the last six years.

The DfE accepted the majority of the recommendations for reform outlined in Professor Munro’s review of the child protection system that it commissioned in 2011. However, according to the NAO its actions to tackle the identified issues have not improved the quality of services to a good enough standard.

Key findings of the NAO’s report include:

  • the quality of help and protection is “unsatisfactory and inconsistent” nationally, suggesting systemic rather than local failure
  • children in different parts of the country do not get the same access to help or protection the demand for help or protections is rising
  • considerable variation in the average spending on each child in need across England
  • caseloads, number of vacancies and use of agency workers impact the quality of services i.e. local authorities who gave their social workers manageable workloads tended to be judged ‘Good’ by Ofsted
  • arrangements for developing, identifying and sharing good practice are piecemeal

There is little information on outcomes for children who are, or have been in need of services, other than educational outcomes. Data shows a significant disparity in educational achievement between children in need and other children.

There are also a number of recommendations for the DfE outlined in the report, in order to improve the quality of services for children in need of protection.


Launch of online toolkit to measure and monitor children and young people’s mental wellbeing

A free, online toolkit to measure and monitor children and young people’s mental wellbeing was launched for schools this week. The development of the toolkit was commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) and led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFNCCF).

According to AFNCCF, half of all diagnosable mental health disorders are established by the age of 14. Figures published last month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the highest number of suicides by 15 to 19 year olds since 1998.

The toolkit aims to support school staff by highlighting a range of validated tools to measure and monitor student mental wellbeing alongside real-life case studies. In turn, school leaders can use the information gathered to assess and develop the personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils, a key judgement area within the Ofsted inspection framework.

The mental health of young people has been raised by a variety of organisations as a matter of increasing concern. Look out of the November edition of Governing Matters (due out in a couple of weeks) which includes an article on the governing board’s role in promoting positive mental health.  


Reviewing performance: it’s that time of year again…

Many governing boards will be in the process of undertaking their headteacher’s performance management review and will be carrying out the annual appraisal meeting. Governing boards in local authority maintained schools are required to commission an external advisor for this process, and many academy boards who recognise the value of the external view also commission such advice. Often boards source this advice from or through the local authority but in some cases the local authority do not offer the service. In others, the governing board opt to look elsewhere. NGA is able to provide external advisors who will guide boards through this sensitive process and ensure that performance management is both robust and developmental. Contact NGA Head of Consultancy Clare Collins (clare.collins@nga.org.uk) for more details.

In the Guidance Centre:

Whilst we’re talking about reviewing performance, many boards are expressing an interest in the chair reviewing the contribution that governors/trustees are making to the work of the board throughout the year. NGA has some guidance on this with a simple template to give ideas of the sorts of questions it may be helpful to ask: Reviewing governor/trustee contribution. Do bear in mind that this is a task that a busy chair could well delegate to the vice chair as mentioned in a recent Governing Matters article


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 07/10/2016

Updates to statutory guidance on the constitution of maintained schools governing bodies

The Department for Education (DfE) has published its updated statutory guidance on the constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools. Key updates include:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service checks
  • supplying information to the secretary of state about those involved in governance
  • clarified information on governors’ access to training
  • clarified information on parent governors

The new version of the guidance references the DfE’s Governance Competency Framework, which is expected to be published this autumn.

The guidance emphasises the role of the governing board in addressing both the training and development needs of individual governors. The NGA’s view is that if governors are going to carry out these serious and demanding responsibilities effectively then they need to be trained. Governing boards should set an expectation that, throughout their term of office, governors must have regard to their own professional development. The guidance also references NGA’s skills audit as a tool that can be used for both recruitment and training.

The DfE also seek to clarify that parent governors have a valuable perspective to offer and are a good source of knowledge about the school. However, parental engagement is a separate activity for which the whole governing board is responsible. Visit the guidance centre for more on NGA’s view on the importance of parent governors.

Statutory guidance: The constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools.

Guidance Centre: Legislation, policies and procedures.


Justine Greening announces plans for £60 million funding for “opportunity areas”

This week, education secretary Justine Greening announced plans for £60 million of funding in six “opportunity areas” in a bid to help local children get the best start in life. Under the proposals, the Department for Education (DfE) will target the six areas identified as “most challenged” in terms of social mobility. These are: Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough and West Somerset. Four additional areas will be announced at a later date.

According to the DfE, opportunity areas will see local partnerships formed with early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and local authorities. The aim of opportunity areas is to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them with the best advice and opportunities. As a result, the DfE hopes to “strengthen technical pathways for young people” and “work with employers to improve young people’s access to the right advice and experiences”.

The programme will work alongside a teaching and leadership innovation fund worth £75 million over 3 years which aims to support teachers and school leaders in challenging areas to develop and improve.


The National Governors' Association’s annual membership survey is now open! 

We recently asked governors and trustees, in association with TES, to complete a survey on the state of governance across England. The 5,000 responses that we received were emphatic in their collective convictions about government policy, with 78% negative about this government's record. The NGA annual membership survey 2016 is your chance to tell us specifically how well NGA works for you. We will not be asking you the same questions again, but the survey will give you an opportunity to explain your views on the government if you want to, and what you want NGA to be saying to the government on your behalf.

As a membership organisation, it is vital that we know whether we are representing your views and providing you with the support you need.

We are committed to giving you the best possible value for your membership fee. Please let us know how we are doing and how we can improve our services by taking part. The survey is available to members only and takes just 15 minutes to complete. It closes on Monday 31 October 2016. 

Click here to take the survey. Thank you.


NGA Board of Trustees

Nominations for the NGA Board of Trustees closed on Friday 30 September. Nominations were open in three regions: East Midlands, the North East and West Midlands. For each region we received one nomination. The following people will, therefore, take up their place as NGA Trustees following the AGM in November:

  • East Midlands – Gordon Anderson
  • North East – Mark White
  • West Midlands – Ian Preston


Multi academy trust growth checks to be rolled out

National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, has told schools that the programme of multi academy trust (MAT) “growth readiness audits” will continue to be piloted. At his roadshows in June and July, he had explained that their purpose is to assess the capacity of any MAT to grow over the next few years.

The five components in the audit are:

  • standards and track record of improving schools
  • people and leadership
  • governance
  • financial sustainability
  • risk management

Writing in a newsletter for academies in Lancashire and West Yorkshire, Sir David Carter said: “The first pilots of the audit took place in July, and between now and Christmas my aim is to complete a further 30-40. The learning and feedback from these will inform the final development of the programme, which we will roll out from January 2017”.

NGA is concerned that some MATs continue to grow too quickly without due consideration about the capacity within the trust to support this growth.  At NGA, we like to talk about growth in terms of number of pupils across a MAT rather than the number of schools in a MAT. All boards need to have a vision which looks forward three to five years. For MATs their vision should include some consideration of the future size of the organization. However, expansion is not an end in itself. Three key considerations come into play:

  • What will the benefits be to the pupils already in the group?
  • Can we improve outcomes for the pupils in a school seeking to join our MAT?  
  • Do we have the capacity in the staff team to make this successful?

In response to the number of smaller, more localized schools-led MATs being set up across the country, NGA are in the process of setting up a network for both trustees and clerks of “community MATs”. The network will aim to enable MATs to “draw from the best and learn from the worst”. The first meeting will take place on Friday 18 November in Manchester: book a place now


A return to selection puts progress at risk

This week, NGA has been a co-signatory to separate letters in the Guardian and The Times (paywall), opposing the government’s plans for increasing selection in the education system.

Both letters highlight the potential harmful impact of increasing the number of grammar schools on the education of disadvantaged pupils. They also suggest that there are more pressing priorities for government, such as school funding, attracting high quality teachers and leaders and early-years provision.

You can read the letters in full on our news page.


Improvements in tackling child sexual exploitation

A new report which looks at the multi-agency response to tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) in five areas of England, has found that “good progress” has been made since 2014. Ofsted, Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation, all participated in joint targeted area inspections in their respective sectors between February and August this year, which led to the production of the report. The report found that schools have a critical role in raising awareness of CSE with children and young people themselves. It goes on to outline some case studies where schools had engaged in effective awareness raising which could be used by other schools around the country. Some examples included:

  • in Liverpool, drama productions were used which increased referrals from schools to children’s social care
  • in South Tyneside, all schools incorporate CSE as part of their PSHE curriculum and secondary schools also utilise drama production
  • in some areas, schools also provided sexual health services

The report also identified key areas for improvement, in particular, access to school nurses and training for such front-line professionals in identifying CSE.

The report and details of each inspection can be read in full here.


Ofqual director gives speech on the future of vocational qualifications

This week Phil Beach CBE, Executive Director for Vocational Qualifications at Ofqual, made a speech outlining the future of the vocational sector.

Vocational training in England is broadly split into three areas; functional skills qualifications, apprenticeships and technical qualifications. Focusing on the post-16 skills plan, Mr Beach outlined that the government are committed to simplifying and improving 16-19 vocational education. Summarising the reforms, Mr Beach stated that:

  • Ofqual is involved in the improvement of the “functional skills” qualifications, which are designed to demonstrate competence in English and Maths, and making sure that the qualifications remain relevant to employers and become a “reliable way of signalling achievement in numeracy and literacy”.
  • For technical education reform, Mr Beach specified that there are currently 18,000 qualifications listed on the technical education marketplace. In the short term, Ofqual is moving to regulate these which may see the removal of up to 2,000.
  • For apprenticeships, Ofqual has been involved in regulating and reviewing new “trailblazer” apprenticeship programmes –creating “a reliable method of ensuring an apprentice can demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have developed through their employment and study” and making sure that regulation of apprenticeships is universal across the four different quality assurance agencies.

Governors and trustees need to ensure that their schools are providing independent and impartial careers advice to young people, including information on the new apprenticeship and technical education pathways. For more information on careers advice, click here.


Teach First calls for more male teachers

This week, education charity Teach First marked World Teachers’ Day (Wednesday 5 October) by launching a new recruitment video aiming to appeal to and inspire more males to join their scheme which places top graduates in schools serving low-income communities.

Latest figures show that there is a persistent gender gap in the teaching profession. Just 26% of teachers in England are men – translating as 38% of secondary school teachers and only 15% of primary school teachers. At a time where many schools are facing teacher recruitment shortages, Teach First argues that the lack of male teachers is an “untapped resource”. Brett Wigdortz, CEO of Teach first, stated that “young people need role models from all backgrounds to unlock their potential and aspiration, and to help them understand the world."  

However, these figures contrast with those reflecting gender inequality in leadership – where although 74% of teachers are women, only 65% of headteachers are female, falling to 37% in secondary schools.

Governors have an important role in ensuring proper recruitment procedures are in place, so that schools recruit in an objective and transparent manner. NGA has numerous resources in our guidance centre relating to staffing, including articles from Governing Matters about recruitment and retention.


Join the Inspiring Governance Team: recruiting now

Inspiring Governance is an exciting new free service that connects skilled volunteers interested in serving as governors/trustees with schools and colleges. There is expert help for volunteers and the governing boards they join, as well as dedicated support for employers that want to run programmes for their staff serving as governors.

Inspiring Governance is run by Education and Employers in partnership with the National Governors’ Association. It is funded for the next four years by the Department for Education. Volunteers sign up online and recruiting boards can search quickly for the skills and experience they need.

The charity Education and Employers is looking for six dynamic candidates to join its team.

Four Regional Managers will work in the North, Midlands, South East & East, and South West areas of the country as part of the Inspiring Governance programme.

Education and Employers are also looking for two London-based Project Assistants to support the Inspiring Governance team and the wider work of Education and Employers.

More information about the job roles and details of how to apply are available here.


NGA Clerks’ Conference

NGA is pleased to announce its first conference for clerks. The conference will be held on Monday 20 February 2017 in Birmingham and will be open to clerks who are individual members of the NGA or whose governing boards are members of NGA. More details will follow in the coming months but remember to visit the Clerking Matters section of the NGA website for more information and guidance on our works with clerks.  


Yorkshire and Humber regional conference – PowerPoint slides now available

Thank you to all our members that attended the Yorkshire and Humber regional conference on Saturday 1 October. As promised, the presentation slides are now available on the NGA website.

Please click here to access the PowerPoint slides.


Request for “school life” photos for NGA output

We are looking for some photographs on “school life” for our publication output. We want to feature some of our members’ schools and are looking for photos of pupils doing activities (such as performing, studying, in class etc). We need both boys and girls in primary and secondary schools.

If you have any you are willing to give, please send these to Mark Gardner (mark.gardner@nga.org.uk). You must have the full permission of everyone in the photo. To be featured on the cover, the photo must be high resolution.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 30/09/2016

School governors deliver damning verdict on government policies

The National Governors’ Association and education magazine TES today published findings from a 2016 survey of 5,000 school governors and trustees.

Key findings:

  • more than half of respondents are ‘very negative’ about the direction of government policy, increasing from 31% in 2015
  • headteacher recruitment is challenging, especially in the South East, London and East of England
  • about half of governing boards struggle to recruit new volunteers
  • funding pressure force schools to reduce staff, narrow the curriculum and increase class sizes
  • there is a slowdown in rates of academy conversion

Only 4% of respondents disagree that induction training should be mandatory for new governors.  

For more details, see our news item and the latest blog by Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA.


Education Select Committee launch inquiry into primary assessment

The House of Commons Education Select Committee has launched a new inquiry into primary assessment, following the controversy around this year’s key stage two SATs. The inquiry will seek to understand:

  • the purpose of primary assessment and how well the current system meets this
  • the advantages and disadvantages of assessing pupils at primary school
  • how the most recent reforms have affected teaching and learning
  • logistics and delivery of the SATs
  • training and support needed for teachers and senior leaders to design and implement effective assessment systems
  • next steps following the most recent reforms to primary assessment

Anyone can submit evidence to the committee’s inquiry and you may wish to discuss some of the issues raised with your governing board or senior leadership team. NGA will be giving written evidence to the inquiry and would welcome any feedback from members – contact Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


Parents and guardians: share your views on multi-academy trusts

The Education Select Committee wants to hear directly from parents or guardians of children who attend schools in multi-academy trusts (MATs) as part of their ongoing inquiry.

They are holding a free event on Monday 24 October 7:00pm-9:00pm in central London. Places can be booked through Eventbrite. The aim of the event is to help the committee find out about the role, aims and governance of MATs through the eyes of parents and guardians.

Earlier in the year NGA submitted evidence to the inquiry which can be accessed here. This was followed by NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights being among those giving oral evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee in July.

For more information and guidance on MATs, including our FAQ on academisation and the NGA model schemes of delegation, access our Guidance Centre here.


DfE release data on KS1 assessment

Today the Department for Education (DfE) has released details of how well children are performing at key stage (KS) 1. This is based on two measures, the KS1 centralised phonics screening check and teacher assessment of reading, writing and maths.

The phonics screening check is a centralised test conducted in years 1 and 2 to assess whether children are learning how to decode phonics to expected standards. This year, the data shows that by the end of year 1 81% of pupils met the expected standards for phonics decoding, a 4% increase compared to 2015. By the end of year 2, the number of children meeting the expected standards rose to 91%. Despite this headline data, figure 5 (p.10) shows that there is significant regional variation; with 84-89% of children in many London boroughs achieving the required standard, compared to only 74-79% in other areas, particularly in the South West, East of England and the North.  

The data released by the DfE also shows how well pupils are achieving in other subjects based on teacher assessment. Although roughly three quarters of children are meeting expected standards in maths and reading, only 65% are meeting expected standards in writing. Pupil characteristics also make a difference, with girls out performing boys in writing (73% of girls met the expected standard compared to 59% of boys). Figure 3 (p. 7) shows that some groups, such as Gypsy/Roma and those of traveller heritage, are significantly underperforming compared to their peers.

Governors and trustees can use this information to benchmark their schools’ KS1 data against the national average and the local picture. This can aid in the challenge governors and trustees provide to senior leaders on KS1 performance. For more information on challenge and monitoring performance visit the NGA website.


Talented Leaders programme offers headteachers to schools

Talented Leaders is a government initiative, delivered by The Future Leaders Trust, to match exceptional headteachers with challenging schools in disadvantaged communities. These are the schools which have historically struggled to recruit the talent they need.

Talented Leaders headteachers commit to a new school for at least three years. All heads on the Talented Leaders programme have passed a selection process and they are matched to suitable schools in agreement with governors and appointing bodies.

Once appointed, the school will receive:

  • a £50,000 grant
  • a headteacher with a strong track who will receive ongoing mentoring and coaching
  • membership of a national peer support network

Talented Leaders is free for schools and the programme covers recruitment and relocation fees.

Find out more about Talented Leaders and discuss your headteacher vacancy by emailing headship@future-leaders.org.uk or visit here.  


Labour discuss policies for education

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner, discussed the party’s vision for education.

Rayner announced the launch of a new Childcare Taskforce which will aim to develop a policy “to provide the care and support for every child to fulfil their potential, and to help parents back to work”. She also reaffirmed the party’s opposition to government proposals to expand the number of grammar school places available, saying that while “Tony Blair talked about education, education, education, Theresa May wants segregation, segregation, segregation”. Labour, she said, would instead focus on reducing class sizes, teacher recruitment and retention, cuts in school budgets, and ensuring all schools are fully accountable to local communities.

In his own speech, party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that Labour would increase taxes on business to help pay for a National Education Service. This would include bringing back Education Maintenance Allowance for college students and grants for university students, and £160 million of “arts pupil premium” funding to help schools to invest in cultural activities.


DfE releases analysis and summary of data sources on SEND

The Department for Education (DfE) has released an analysis and summary of data sources on children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND).

The report includes data on the type of need, the characteristics of children and young people with SEN, their progress and attainment and information on absences and exclusions.

The report states that across all schools, the number of pupils with SEND has fallen from 1,301,445 in 2015 to 1,228,785 in 2016. 14.4% of pupils had SEND in 2016, a fall from 15.4% in 2015. This reduction is due to the decline in the number and percentage of pupils with SEND without a statement or EHC plan. This has declined in each of the past six years, falling from 18.3% of pupils in 2010 to 11.6% in 2016.

Children with SEND are amongst the most vulnerable in our schools and it is essential that there is sufficient funding to provide the support they need. NGA awaits the second stage of the National Fair Funding Formula and SEND funding consultation.


Triumph in Adversity - Innovation in the face of financial challenges

The SSAT (Schools Students and Teachers network) and Arcadis have published a report which analyses the responses of over 160 primary and secondary school leaders who responded to a survey about school funding. The key findings from the survey are as follows:

  • 84% of schools responding to the survey plan to run a deficit budget within the next three years
  • 62% of the above are either already running a deficit budget, or are forecasting one this year (32% and 30% respectively)

The report draws on the experiences and expertise of schools and other organisations to provide ideas for how other schools can “do things differently” in order to improve their financial situation. Some suggestions include:

  • collaboration between schools which can provide cost-saving opportunities
  • rather than just considering cuts, consider the possibilities for generating income
  • consider making more effective use of technology as a cost-saving mechanism

The report features a chapter written by, Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s Deputy Chief Executive, on the governing board’s responsibility for monitoring financial performance. NGA has also produced a suite of guidance on financial efficiency and effectiveness which can be found here.


Nick Gibb addresses the Academy Ambassadors conference

Last week, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb spoke at the Academy Ambassadors Board Development Day. Academy Ambassadors aims to recruit high-calibre business leaders onto boards of trustees in both single and multi-academy trusts. Mr Gibb acknowledged that governing boards have a crucial role to play in the success of a school.

Mr Gibb stressed the role that boards have to play in relation to the curriculum and challenging senior leaders about the appropriateness of the curriculum.

The Minister also spoke about the new consultation document, Schools that work for everyone, outlining that trust boards would have a key role in steering trusts through any changes. He summarised his view of the role of the governing board as “promoting conditions that allow teachers to teach and pupils to learn”.

NGA commented on the announcement about selective schools here. We will be responding to the consultation document and if you have any comments you wish to make please email Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).  


Edge Foundation calls for a “New Baccalaureate” to replace current Ebacc

This week, the Edge Foundation, chaired by ex-secretary of state for education Lord Baker, called for a “New Baccalaureate” focusing on creative and technical, as well as academic, qualifications.

As well as English, Maths and two science subjects (the Edge Foundation suggests that one of these could be computer science), other subjects would include a “creative GCSE, a humanities GCSE” and a “design and technology GCSE or an approved technical award”. Another of the Edge Foundations key recommendations is to “remove the artificial divide at 16 between academic and technical education” and calls for young people to enter a new “unified phase” of learning at age 14; completing GCSEs, vocational qualifications and A levels at the same institutions up to the age of 19.

Lord Baker suggests that the current Ebacc, which the government want 90% of young people to complete by age 16, is too narrowly focused on academic subjects. The Ebacc, the Edge Foundation argues, is old fashioned, devalues other subjects and is not preparing young people to compete in a technical world.

A strong supporter of 14-19 education, Lord Baker is a founding member of the Baker Dearing Trust which “develops and promotes the concept of University Technical Colleges (UTCs)”.

NGA thinks that all young people should be offered the opportunity to reach their full potential and the curriculum on offer should be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of every child. This should include the full range of EBacc subjects.

We are concerned that the proposals to make the EBacc compulsory will steer all pupils down one educational pathway when another may be more appropriate to their needs.


Inspiring Governance: New Governor/Trustee Helpline

A helpline and email support opened this week for newly appointed governors and trustees’ recruited through the new Inspiring Governance programme.

The dedicated service, provided by the National Governors’ Association, is designed to support new governors and trustees through their first year in the role.

Our help covers:

  • understanding the role and responsibilities of governors and trustees
  • understanding the core functions of the governing board
  • becoming effective as quickly as possible
  • staying motivated and committed to school governance

Click here for more details.


Leading Governance

NGA is offering the Chair of Governors Leadership (CGLDP) and National Clerks' Development (NCDP) programmes through its Leading Governance partnership.

The cost of both programmes is just £79 to the school as there are NCTL scholarships for the remaining £320 cost of the programmes. Please see the Leading Governance website for information about current cohorts.

We are in the process of confirming dates and venues of more cohorts across the country, so if you find that your local authority area isn’t listed on the website, please do get in touch by emailing leading.governance@nga.org.uk or by calling 0121 237 4600. We will update the Leading Governance website as soon as details of new cohorts are finalised.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 23/09/2016

Snap poll: what do you think about plans for new grammar schools?

As reported last week, the government has unveiled plans to increase the number of grammar schools. It is vital that the voices of governors and trustees are heard on this issue. As a follow up to our annual survey, NGA and TES magazine are asking school governors and trustees what they think – don’t miss the chance to have you say!

Click here to take part in the snap poll

NGA will also be making a detailed response to the consultation, which is open until 12 December, and would welcome the views of members – email Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


Nominations to the NGA Board – one week to go

NGA is a charitable company limited by guarantee, and all members of the NGA board are both charity trustees and company directors. The maximum size of the NGA board is 13 trustees. Nine are elected by the membership and four appointed by the trustees. There are vacancies for three elected trustees. Nominations for election are sought from the East Midlands, North East and West Midlands. Those elected will take office following the AGM on Saturday 19 November 2016. All trustees must be committed to NGA’s aims and charitable purpose and have the generic skills essential to be a trustee.

Before applying, candidates should have regard to the following documents on the elections page of the NGA website:

  • NGA trustee role description
  • trustee person specification
  • trustees’ skills audit
  • declaration of eligibility for trustees
  • declaration of interest form for trustees

Nominations for election should be submitted on the nomination form (available on the NGA website) no later than 5.00pm on Friday 30 September. Along with the nomination form, candidates will need to submit their declaration of eligibility, skills audit, declaration of interest form and a digital high-resolution photograph of themselves.

Nominations should be submitted to Gillian Allcroft (gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk).


Academy Chains Unlocked report

This week, the think-tank Reform has released a report recommending that the Department for Education (DfE) allows remuneration for both maintained school and academy “local governors”. Despite this being one of many recommendations in the report, it made headline news on Radio 4’s Today programme. Given the lack of evidence to support such a recommendation and given that NGA members, when surveyed, have been largely against this idea, we published our rebuttal accordingly.

The report sets out to explain how multi academy trusts (MATs) operate, following a survey of chief executives from over 60 MATs of around 700 academies. Reform identified what it thinks are the ‘problems’ with the Government’s current education policy and practice. This include, not enough financial autonomy for MATs; concern about the transparency and independence of the process of matching schools to MATs; and not enough incentives to run schools in need of support.

Some of Reform’s key recommendations were:

  • the formation of one independent body responsible for commissioning academies - requiring the merger of parts of the Education Funding Agency with the Schools Commissioning Group
  • if all schools become academies, the Government should consider merging the new commissioning body with the schools wing of Ofsted, so that there is one independent regulator of all schools

More on this:


LGA calls for more powers for councils to carry out checks on home-schooled children

There is no requirement in law for children to be educated in schools. The Education Acts place a duty on parents to ensure that, from the age of 5, their children “receive efficient full-time education … either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”. Where parents choose to home-educate their children, there is no requirement for them to be registered with the local authority (LA) in which they live.

LAs have previously raised concerns about this lack of registration. This is generally in relation to the quality of education received by home-educated children and the LAs limited powers to check on the education being delivered. Over the last few years there has been a significant increase in the number of children being home-educated. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector in particular has linked this to a rise in the number of ‘illegal schools’.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the government to provide more powers to councils to enable them to enter homes and other premises in order to see children, ensure they are being provided with suitable education and to compel parents to register home-schooled children.

The LGA has also called on the government to provide a clearer definition of ‘school’ so that Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) can identify illegal schools more easily and take action to shut them down.

Home-education was previously the subject of an Inquiry by the Education Select Committee.


Updated DfE guidance on handling strike action in schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance on handling strike action in schools.

The document, aimed at school leaders and governing boards, emphasises the DfE’s expectation that all reasonable steps will be taken to keep a school open in the event of a strike. This document also provides advice on how to achieve this while explaining the law on trade disputes and picketing.


Trustees Week 2016 announced

A coalition of charities, regulators and professional bodies has announced details of this year’s Trustees’ Week, 7—13 November 2016. A series of events, resources and information will be made available to the public on the theme of good leadership and effective chairing of charity trustee boards. To find out more, click here.

Also In November, NGA will be publishing its new induction guide for trustees of a multi academy trust. Advance orders are now being taken, email admin@nga.org.uk for more details.


77 new free schools to open

The Department for Education (DfE) has approved 77 free school applications. It is anticipated that these new schools will eventually provide places for over 80,000 pupils.

The Conservatives’ 2015 election manifesto made a commitment to opening 500 free schools by 2020 and this announcement marks the largest ‘wave’ of approvals since applications were opened under the coalition government. Free schools are a type of academy and operate under the same legal structure as all other academies, with many being part of a wider group of schools within a multi-academy trust.

The opening of several previously approved free schools has been delayed due to difficulty securing a site for the new schools. To address this problem, the DfE is setting up a new body named LocatED made up of experienced property specialists.


New in the Guidance Centre: Glossary

The NGA glossary has been updated for the new 2016/17 academic year and can be accessed here. This simple yet insightful tool is a must for new governors as part of their induction process and a handy accompaniment for any board member when attending meetings.


Community MAT networking event

On Friday 18 November 2016 NGA is holding its inaugural MAT networking event in Manchester, the event will be from 1.00pm – 4.30pm (lunch, networking and registration from 12.00pm). This is in response to calls from MAT trustees who have told us they do not get the opportunity to meet and share experiences and practice with others.

This event is open to trustees and clerks of established MAT boards. We are especially interested in hearing from and supporting smaller MATs.

At the event topics of discussion will include:

  • MAT governance models
  • knowing your schools - education
  • finance
  • staffing, including executive leadership

The event is free to NGA members. For non-members it is £50 per person. To book your place click here.

This falls the day before the NGA national conference in which the National School Commissioner, Sir David Carter, will be speaking (see below).


NGA’s Annual Conference and AGM

Date: Saturday 19 November 2016
Location: Manchester
 

Don’t forget to book your place at our Annual conference 2016.

Keynote speakers will include:

  • Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner
  • Belita Scott, National Lead for Governance at Ofsted

For the first time you will also be able to choose from one of the following workshops:

  • Primary Assessment – what next? 
  • Secondary curriculum – broad and balanced
  • Five years of pupil premium
  • Good leadership recruitment 
  • Safeguarding

Find out more about the conference and book your place here.


Clerks’ Advisory Group

We are pleased to announce the next meeting of the NGA’s Clerks’ Advisory Group. The meetings give clerks an opportunity to share good practice and highlight issues they have encountered in their role of clerk. The meeting will also help to inform the work of NGA going forwards in relation to our Clerking Matters campaign. The Clerking Matters section of our website can be accessed here.

The meeting will take place at NGA’s offices in Birmingham on Thursday 1 December 2016 beginning at 12 noon. Clerks interested in attending should email Kathryn Dwyer at clerkingmatters@nga.org.uk.


2017 Outstanding Governance Awards – nominations open

Nominations for the 2017 Outstanding Governance Awards are open until 1 December 2016. The awards celebrate the unique and inspiring contribution that school governors, trustees and clerks make every single day in schools around the country.

To find out more, including how to nominate an outstanding governing board or clerk, click here.


Come to the Labour party conference fringe event in Liverpool

In this month’s Governing Matters we reported the findings of the annual TES/NGA survey, in which 5000 school governors and trustees took part. But you also had some clear messages for politicians and policy makers which we will deliver over the course of the year, starting with fringe events at the annual party conferences, this autumn.

If you live in the North West, you may wish to attend our Labour party conference fringe event. Due to a change in the conference programme Angela Rayner MP, shadow secretary of state for education, will no longer be able to attend. In her place, Lucy Powell MP ex-shadow secretary of state for education, will be there. The event will take place on Liverpool’s Albert Dock. You don’t need a conference pass, and NGA members are very welcome to join us on Tuesday 27 September 2016 at 16:00-17:00.

If you would like to join us, email Mark Gardner (mark.gardner@nga.org.uk) for full details.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 16/09/2016

Justine Greening changes policy on parent governors and discusses her role

On Wednesday morning, Justine Greening was questioned by the House of Commons Education Select Committee on her new role as Secretary of State for Education.

NGA was pleased to hear that she does not intend to follow through on her predecessor’s proposal to remove the required places for elected parents on academy trust boards. NGA has stridently opposed this move since March through our campaign to #KeepParentsGoverning.

Emma Knights, NGA’s Chief Executive, welcomed the announcement, saying: “we are extremely pleased that Justine Greening, the new Secretary of State, is not going to remove the requirement for academy boards to have reserved places for elected parents after all.

“The proposal in March’s White Paper was wrong on a number of counts. We need to make sure governing boards have a range of people with diverse backgrounds, skills and knowledge. Parents with pupils in the school bring important knowledge as well as other skills. Almost half of those governing in schools began as elected parent governors and it is incredibly important we continue to value this source of volunteers.”

The new Secretary of State discussed a range of topics, including academisation, school funding, PSHE, careers advice, and the future role of the local authority. For a full write up of the session, see our parliamentary page.

Click here for further coverage in Schools Week.


Government launch ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation

On Monday, the Education Secretary Justine Greening announced a consultation which covered a range of proposals for creating an all-inclusive school system for the 21st century. The most publicised and controversial of these relate to grammar schools:

  • allowing existing grammar schools to expand (dedicated funding of up to £50 million a year would be made available)
  • permitting the establishment of new selective schools
  • allowing existing non-selective schools to become selective
  • require all selective schools to engage in outreach activities and prioritise the admission of pupils from lower income houses

In order to take advantage of these proposed freedoms, schools would have to meet specified conditions: for example, taking a proportion of pupils from lower income households, supporting a local non-selective or primary school, or ensuring that there are opportunities to join the selective school at different points in a pupil’s education.

There are also proposals to require universities and independent schools to provide support to state-funded schools, such as through sponsoring or setting up an academy.

The final section of the consultation relates to faith schools. The government is proposing to remove the restriction that new faith schools can admit a maximum of 50% of pupils on the basis of faith when oversubscribed. A variety of alternative proposals are posited, including placing an independent person who is of “different” or “no faith” on the governing board of new faith free schools.

The proposals relating to grammar schools have provoked a significant amount of commentary in the past week. For example, this week the education director of the OECD has said that “any kind of one-off test is likely to favour social background over true academic potential”. For more on the commentary relating to grammar schools, see our recent news page.

The consultation will be open until 12 December. NGA will be responding and would welcome the views of members – email Mark Gardner (mark.gardner@nga.org.uk).  


Autumn timelines for schools and colleges: mandatory and useful information

The Department for Education publishes a timeline of forthcoming mandatory legal requirements to be implemented. This should help your governing board to plan ahead for the year. They also publish a timetable of other useful information. Both of these are broken down by school type.

The latest timelines were published on 15 September. Click here for more information.


Women and Equalities Committee report on sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools

This week, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee published the report of their inquiry into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools across England.

Some key findings include:

  • 29% of 16-18 year old girls said they had experienced unwanted sexual touching at school
  • 71% of all 16-18 year old boys and girls said they had heard regular use of the words "slut" or "slag" towards girls at schools
  • 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year

The key recommendations of the committee include:

  • the government legislates and produces guidance for schools to ensure every school takes appropriate action to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual violence
  • Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate assess schools on how well they are recording, monitoring, preventing and responding to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence
  • making sex and relationships education (SRE) a statutory subject; investing in teacher training; and investing in local third sector specialist support

The report can be read in full here.

This in the latest in a series of calls for statutory SRE which NGA supports, for example see last week’s newsletter

Click here for more information on the role of the governing board in terms of SRE.


Ofqual outline how progress 8 and attainment 8 will be measured

On 12 September, Ofqual released information on how the Progress 8 performance measure will be calculated and how the 2016 results will be taken forward to 2017 and beyond.  The document reminds governors and trustees that the headline measures for KS4 in DfE performance tables and RAISEonline will be:

  • progress across 8 qualifications
  • attainment across the same 8 qualifications
  • percentage of pupils achieving the threshold in English and mathematics (currently a C grade, grade 5 when new GCSEs in English and mathematics are first reported in performance tables in 2017)
  • percentage of pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate

The 8 qualifications that will count in the measure are mathematics; an English qualification; the three highest scoring EBacc qualifications in science subjects, computer science, history, geography, and languages; and the three highest scores across other subjects, including non-GCSE subjects.

The document gives worked examples of how progress 8 and attainment 8 will be calculated, including information on how the old GCSE scores will correlate with the new number system. For more information on how the new progress 8 and attainment 8 system will work, visit the NGA website


New: 2016 KS2 Self-Evaluation Dashboard from FFT

Fischer Family Trust, the school performance evaluation expert, has released its new 2016 KS2 governor dashboard. As this is a key tool for governors, the National Governors’ Association and the Wellcome Trust were also involved in its development.

The online analysis tool has a number of key features, including:   

  • summary of your 2016 performance including key strengths and weaknesses using new DfE indicators
  • all the latest 2016 DfE measures – scaled scores, expected and higher standards
  • grammar, punctuation and spelling now included in dashboards
  • calculate whether your school is at risk of being below the new DfE floor standards using the latest 2016 attainment and progress data
  • your performance over time compared to the national average for all pupils or any group of pupils
  • comparative analysis of key pupil groups (pupil premium, low/middle/high attainers and SEND)
  • performance analysis and review of each individual KS2 subject, together on a single page
  • compare the context and attendance of your Year 6 cohort against the national picture

The KS2 dashboard can be accessed here. Talk to your senior leadership team to obtain log in details for this useful resource.

The NGA are currently updating the Knowing your school series on data. In the meantime, see NGA’s blog The power of data for more information.


Free webinar: FFT Aspire Overview for School Governors

FFT Aspire (FFT’s reporting and data tool) is available for schools, local authorities and academy trusts and includes the FFT Governor Dashboard.

FFT is inviting school governors to access free webinars (covering all key stages), taking place on:

  • Thursday 29 September at 3pm and 8pm
  • Friday 30 September at 10am
  • Thursday 24 November at 8pm
  • Friday 25 November at 12 noon
  • Thursday 26 January, 2017 at 2pm and 8pm

To book a place, click here.


Mapping the school system – SchoolDash launch Explorer

A new tool from SchoolDash, an independent website exploring education data, allows governors, parents, and other stakeholders to visualise the education provision in a region or local area.

Explorer allows users to sort schools by various characteristics, as well as attainment, progress, inclusiveness and Ofsted rating.

Find out more on the SchoolDash website.


New blog on ResearchED conference

Every year educational researchers, policy makers and practitioners come together at the National ResearchED conference to showcase the latest policy, research and practice in the world of education. These events are often not accessible to governors and trustees despite consisting of topical and interesting debates and research. To share these useful discussions, Fay Holland (NGA’s Policy and Information Officer) and Tom Fellows (NGA’s Research and Information Officer) attended the sessions most useful for governors and trustees.

Click here to read a summary of the conference on the NGA blog page. 


Pupils confused by the term “British values”

A survey of 250 14-18 year old ethnic minority pupils in Peterborough has found that a majority don’t understand the concept of “British values”, and only 13% had heard of the “Prevent” strategy from which it comes. The study also found that nearly one in three reported that they had experienced racial abuse, with this rising to nearly 40% among Muslim pupils. Most of this was described as verbal abuse – such as being called “terrorist” – but 5% said they had experienced physical abuse.

In terms of “British values”, the study found that:

  • When asked for their ideas on “British values”, over half were silent or didn’t know, whilst the remainder suggested things such as “fish and chips” and “drinking tea”. Some responded that British values mean “picking on someone different to you” and “we need to get rid of these immigrants, they’re taking our jobs”.
  • Some expressed concerns that Prevent could alienate young Muslims from their teachers. Pupils did however generally support its aims in reducing radicalisation.
  • Although not well-versed on “British values”, the study found that pupils “understood Islamic values, Christian values, and humanitarian values very well” and that they demonstrated these eloquently in responses to questions such as “how to improve community relations”.

The paper concluded that participants wanted to go beyond just “tolerance” of other faiths and beliefs and, instead, wanted to broaden understanding by engaging in dialogue with those who share different beliefs in their communities.

Beyond Tolerance: Young British Muslims discuss ways to build community cohesion in their city, and the barriers they experience, is being presented to BERA by Dr Alison Davies, of the Open University, on Wednesday 14 September.

Relevant NGA guidance can be found in our Guidance Centre, including a 2015 article from our magazine Governing Matters and Question’s for governing boards to ask themselves.


New report highlights the lasting effects of transition from primary to secondary school

A new study from GL Assessment has assessed how well children cope with transition from primary to secondary school. The report, based on a survey of over 31,000 children across England and Wales, found that there was a decline in attitudes towards “school, teachers and attendance” from year 7 to 9:

  • in year 3, 93% of children were positive about teachers whereas only 84% - 86% were positive in year 9
  • 32% of pupils said that they felt “bored” at school in year 9, compared to only 19% in year 3
  • the amount of children reporting that they would “rather be somewhere else” other than school rose from 25% in year 3 to 33% in year 9
  • overall, the number of respondents who felt “good” about school declined by 10% between years 3 and 9

One of the key messages of the report is that the transition period from primary to secondary “lasts a lot longer than one or two terms in Year 7”. Some of these changes are due to personal development such as “hormones, friendships, growing up and taking control”.  Within the report, Sir John Dunford, Chair of Whole Education and ex-National Pupil Premium Champion, writes: “schools are increasingly using surveys of parents and pupils to obtain feedback on the performance of the school from the consumer viewpoint…to inform the process of school self-review as part of the school’s improvement strategy”. In particular, it is important to understand what “pupils themselves [are] thinking about their progress, their school and themselves”.

It is important for governors and trustees to be aware of the difficulties surrounding transition periods and how to engage with the pupil voice.

For more information on the governing boards responsibilities in terms of pupil wellbeing, see NGA’s Guidance Centre.


Admissions appeals statistical release

The Department for Education has published its report on the number of maintained and academy primary and secondary school admission appeals relating to the start of last academic year (2015/16). These figures are not comparable to previous years due to changes made to the January 2016 census data following concerns that admissions appeals for voluntary aided, foundation and academy schools were being underreported.

Nonetheless, the headline figures for 2015/16 are:

  • there were a total of 1,505,774 admissions (both first entry admissions and in-year admissions)
  • 4.1% (62,301) of admissions were appealed by parents
  • 3.0% (45,784) of admissions were heard by an independent appeals panel
  • 22.3% (10,192) of appeals heard were upheld

A more detailed breakdown of appeal figures is provided by the DfE here. Further information and guidance on Admissions can be found here in the NGA Guidance Centre.


Artsmark: growing young people’s life skills

Creative learning should not be viewed as a soft option. In fact, subjects such as music, art and design, dance and drama inspires free-thinking, curiosity, persistence, imagination, discipline and working well within a team - all vital skills that children and young people need as they prepare for their working-life.

Artsmark supports schools to deliver high quality art and cultural education. Redesigned by schools, for schools, the Award is well-aligned to the Ofsted framework and can provide robust evidence of how they are meeting their spiritual, moral, social and cultural requirements, through a broad and balanced curriculum.

With over 3,000 schools choosing to champion art and cultural education through Artsmark, they now have access to exceptional resources, and networks of the country’s most treasured cultural organisations. In doing so they can also play their part in introducing art and culture into children’s lives.

Overall, Artsmark helps children and young people to engage with the arts from an early age; nurturing talent and developing life-long skills that will be of benefit beyond their academic years.

Watch ‘Bringing art & cultural education to life in your school’ to learn more about Artsmark here or join the Artsmark Community by registering for the Award here. For other enquiries please email Artsmark@artscouncil.org.uk.

NGA in collaboration with Arts Council England and Music Mark have released a number of guides for governors including Music Education and Cultural Education and will shortly be releasing a new guide on Dance Education. These can be accessed in the NGA Guidance Centre.


Community MAT networking event

On Friday 18 November 2016 NGA is holding its inaugural MAT networking event in Manchester, the event will be from 1.00pm – 4.30pm (networking and registration from 12.00pm).  This is in response from MAT trustees who have told us they do not get the opportunity to meet and share experiences and practice with others.

This event is open to trustees and clerks of established MAT boards. We are especially interested in hearing from and supporting smaller MATs.

At the event topics of discussion will include:

  • MAT governance models and schemes of delegation
  • knowing your schools - education
  • finance
  • staffing, including executive leadership

The event is free to NGA members and to non-members it is £50 per person. To book your place click here.

This falls the day before the NGA national conference in which the National School Commissioner, Sir David Carter, will be speaking.

We will be holding networking events termly - the other confirmed dates are:

  • Friday 27 January 2017, Birmingham
  • Friday 16 June 2017, London

Bookings will open shortly.


Free event for NGA members on the link between business and schools

The role of business in education: A distraction or central to its success?

When: 22 September 2016, 5.00pm - 8:00pm

Where: Mott MacDonald, 10 Fleet Place, London, EC4M 7RB

This free panel event looks to explore how business in schools, which can sometimes be seen as a “distraction” from education, can be utilised to be at the heart of a schools’ success. Some of the questions that the event will explore include:

  • Could an emphasis on business practices put headteachers, who are more concerned with education, at odds with their governing boards that are increasingly comprised of professionals with financial, legal and other business expertise?
  • Can governors with business experience add unexpected value to the school through the challenge and support they provide?
  • Can businesses help schools in more diverse ways?
  • With budgets likely to reduce in real terms for most schools, can businesses help through their corporate responsibility strategies - either through direct grants or through support in kind?

Judith Hicks, NGA’s new Head of Inspiring Governance, will take part in the panel discussion alongside Jon Chaloner, CEO of GLF Schools Multi-Academy Trust and Clive Barker, Chairman and founder of CSB Logistics and Vice-Chair of Leigh University Technical College.

For more information, click here. To book your place email networks@london-excellence.org.uk.


Chair of Governors Leadership (CGLDP) and National Clerks' Development (NCDP) programmes – book now!

NGA is offering the following Chair of Governors Leadership (CGLDP) and National Clerks' Development (NCDP) programmes through its Leading Governance partnership.  The chairs’ programme is open to governors who are considering taking on the role of chair in the future, as well as serving chairs of all types of school. NGA has updated and improved the content of the Clerks’ programme over the summer.

The cost of both programmes is just £79 to the school as there are NCTL scholarships for the remaining £320 cost of the programmes.

We currently have upcoming cohorts for the Chair’s programme in:

  • Lewisham
  • Essex
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Manchester
  • Leicestershire
  • Enfield

Current locations for the clerks programme include:

  • North East London
  • Essex
  • Cheshire
  • Leicesteshire

We are in the process of confirming dates and venues of more cohorts across the country, so if you find that your local authority area isn’t listed below, please do get in touch by emailing leading.governance@nga.org.uk or by calling 0121 237 4600. We will be updating the NGA newsletter and the Leading Governance website as soon as details of new cohorts are finalised.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 09/09/2016

Government proposals for new grammar schools announced

The prime minister, Theresa May, today unveiled plans to increase the number of grammar schools eighteen years after Labour imposed a ban on new ones in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. The proposals will form part of a government consultation paper, details of which will be released soon.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: "Governors and trustees are rightly expected to take an evidence-based approach to their work. The Government appears not to have done this when making these proposals in the name of improving social mobility, given that the evidence makes it clear that poorer children are further disadvantaged by selection. Schools are already managing a huge amount of change at the moment and governing boards tell us they need a period of consolidation. More reform could distract us all from the important task of improving teaching and learning for all pupils.”

Read more about this story on our news page.


NGA comment on the cost of school uniform

Following controversy in the press over school uniform this week, the NGA has released a comment calling on all governing boards to implement a sensible uniform policy. In particular, schools should keep costs to a minimum and make sure uniforms are easily accessible to all.

Click here for more information.


MATs inquiry hears from researchers and faith education providers

On Wednesday 7 September, the House of Commons Education Select Committee heard from researchers and representatives of organisations with an interest in faith education. This formed part of the committee’s ongoing inquiry into multi academy trusts (MATs). Key topics of debate included the lack of clarity surrounding governance and management responsibilities, concern in relation to overall MAT capacity, the protection of school character and the benefits of MATs to school staff.

Visit NGAs parliamentary page for more information.


New research sheds light on why teachers are leaving the profession

Today the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) published research focusing on teacher retention. This report addresses the number of teachers thinking of leaving the profession and the reasons why.

Click here to read a summary of the report, including some tips for governors on retaining staff.


Are we doing enough to retain our teachers?

NGA’s chief executive Emma Knights has this week blogged on the role governing boards have in reducing their staff’s excessive workload and ensuing a healthy culture.

Click here to read Emma's blog.


List of resources for multi academy trusts looking to expand

The Department for Education (DfE) has produced a list of resources on expanding multi academy trusts. This consists of a series of links to guidance and sources of practical support.

A number of NGA’s resources are included in the list, including our model schemes of delegation. There is also a wider range of MAT related materials available on our Guidance Centre.


New research into the effect of post-2010 sponsored academies

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) and the London School of Economics (LSE) have this week published analysis into the performance of post-2010 sponsored academies. The research looks at the performance of 205 academies, which were approved to be sponsored after May 2010 and which converted before 2014. These were then compared to a control group of 49 sponsored academies which opened after this period. The research suggests that long-term, academisation does not have an effect on Key Stage 4 results.

Its key findings included:

  • The year before conversion sees Key Stage 4 results improve by the equivalent of 1.2 GCSE grades in one subject. The research could not confirm the cause of such improvement but suggested this could be because of pressure from Ofsted, trying to avoid forced academisation or focusing on key stage 4 pupils before conversion.
  • The year after conversion also sees improvement, with the average being 1.7 GCSE grades higher in one subject.

However, over the next three years this improvement tapers off. The research does not draw conclusions as to whether this is because of a decline in performance, or the control group improving.

EPI and LSE said that they will be undertaking more research to address the questions uncovered by these findings.  

In the July/August 2016 edition of Governing Matters, NGA published an article detailing our own analysis of the available evidence on whether academies are better at improving schools. Access the article here.


Criticism of the government’s apprenticeship strategy and funding plans

This week, the NGA has covered two research pieces on apprenticeships. The first concerns hostility to the government’s new apprenticeship funding formula. The new proposals assign each course an “upper limit” in funding and are designed to simplify and streamline apprenticeship provision for adult learners and 16 to 18 year olds. However, the new proposals mean that some courses will see a significant reduction in funding.

The second covers a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on the impact and value of the DfE’s 2020 apprenticeship strategy. We previously covered the apprenticeship strategy in the 11/12/2015 Newsletter.

As part of the 2020 strategy, the government announced that an apprenticeship levy will be introduced in the upcoming Finance Bill for all employers that have a wage bill of over £3 million, including schools. The levy will by 0.5% of the total wage bill, offset by a £15,000 allowance. Therefore, if a school has a wage bill of exactly £3 million they will not pay any levy (£3,000,000 x 0.5 - £15,000 = £0). Schools with a wage bill of £5 million will pay a £10,000 levy (£5,000,000 x 0.5 – £15,000 = 10,000). The new levy will be introduced on 6 April 2017.

Visit NGA’s research page for a summary of the two research pieces.


Ofqual confirm how they will award grades for the new GCSE programmes

This week, Ofqual has outlined how it will set the grade standards for new GCSEs in England. This concerns how grades 1-9 will be awarded in English language, English Literature and mathematics and, specifically, how grades 8 and 9 will be awarded. Ofqual has decided that:

  • The first award of the new GCSE will be based on a statistical prediction with examiner prediction also playing a role. A modified approach will be adapted where appropriate.
  • For subsequent years, the “grade standard” established in the first year will be taken forward.
  • The same approach for awarding grades 1 to 7 will be used across all new GCSEs, with the new “number grades” broadly aligning with the old “alphabetical grades”. This means that if a cohort has the “same level of prior attainment” as previous years, pupils who would have received a C will receive a grade 4 or above. Those who would have received an A would generally expect to receive a level 7. Those who would have received a G can expect to receive a level 1.
  • Awards for levels 8 and 9 will be based on a formula. Ofqual predict that this will equate to around 20% of those who reach level 7 achieving a level 9. This approach will be used for English language, English literature and mathematics in 2017. Grades 8 and 9 will be introduce for new GCSEs from year 2 onwards.


Children’s packed lunches fall short of meeting nutritional standards

Ten years on from their research into the nutritional standards of children’s packed lunches, the University of London has conducted a follow up study which shows only a 0.5% improvement in standards.

with the exception of some academies opened between September 2011 and May 2014, schools are required to comply with the School Food Standards on school meals. The DfE has just published an update to their departmental advice on School Food Standards here.

However, there is no requirement for packed lunches provided by parents. Nevertheless, schools can develop their policies or provide advice and guidance for parents to encourage healthier, balanced packed lunches The NHS has provided some advice about healthy lunchboxes which might be a useful basis for a school policy on packed lunches.

The organisation behind the School Food Plan, in collaboration with the NGA, has produced a checklist to support governors in championing a whole school approach to food and help create a culture and ethos of heathy eating. Click here to access the guide on the NGA Guidance Centre.


Expressions of interest now accepted for DfE’s Mandarin Excellence Programme

Secondary schools can now express their interest in the Department for Education (DfE)’s Mandarin Excellence Programme. The aim of the programme is to provide a minimum of 5,000 fluent speakers of Mandarin by 2020. UCL IOE Confucius Institute and the British Council will support this by: training new teachers; embedding effective teaching practice; and giving pupils an immersive experience of China through media and visits.

The programme is open to all schools, but funding support will only be available to state schools. It is highly desirable that schools:

  • have an Ofsted rating of Outstanding or Good in their most recent inspection
  • have a good track record of teaching Mandarin Chinese and are able to teach the subject from Year 7
  • have a strong presence of two or more languages on their curriculum
  • are able to provide a programme of at least eight hours a week, including four hours of teacher-taught classroom lessons, along with after-school teaching and self-study
  • are able to act as, or work with, a “hub school” to grow the programme in the local area

The Expression of Interest form and further information can be found here.


Calls for compulsory sex and relationships education

An open letter has been written in The Telegraph on sex and relationships education (SRE) and addressed to the prime minster and education secretary. Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism and Sarah Green, Co-director of End Violence Against Women, call for safety in schools to be prioritised through effective SRE.

The letter cites findings from research and Freedom of Information requests, highlighting the prevalence of sexual offences, including sexual harassment and abuse in schools. To help tackle the issues, the signatories of the letter suggest the following:

  • introducing compulsory SRE in all schools
  • reviewing safeguarding guidance
  • improving teacher training
  • empowering school leaders to eradicate this behaviour

NGA responded to the Education Select Committee’s inquiry in 2014 regarding the overall provision of SRE. NGA’s position is that Personal, Social and Health Education, including age appropriate SRE, should be statutory in all schools.

Governing boards should be actively thinking about SRE in their school. All schools should have an up-to-date SRE policy and this is a statutory obligation for all maintained schools. Click here for more information.


Code of Conduct 2016

The NGA has published an updated Code of Conduct for the 2016/17 academic year.

For a number of years NGA has recommended that governing boards adopt a code of conduct which sets out the purpose of the governing board and describes the appropriate relationship between individual board members, the whole governing board and the leadership team. Our 2016 survey with TES reports that 87% of governing boards now do have a code of conduct.  

This code can be adopted by all governing boards of any school. The updated 2016/17 version can be easily tailored to reflect your specific governing board and school structure, whether that is as a maintained school, academy, a single school or group of schools. We recommend that the code should be discussed so that the whole governing board has ownership of it and that it is given to all new members of the board.


Academies Financial Handbook 2016

In July we reported that the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has published the 2016 Academies Financial Handbook (AFH).

In particular the updated AFH now makes it absolutely clear that trusts must publish their scheme of delegation (NGA models available on the Guidance Centre), and includes further drives to promote increased transparency and openness.

It sets out in writing for the first time that there must be a lead executive in MATs and so-called “flat MATs” or “rotating” senior executive leaders will not be permitted.

We have updated our Academies Financial Handbook page on the Guidance Centre underlining these changes and briefly summarise what these mean.


Persons of significant control

A reminder that a new requirement has come into force for all academy trusts to establish an internal register of Persons of Significant Control (PSC) – this will be in addition to their registers of members, trustees and their interests. The register must identify any person connected with the trust who has significant control over it and include the necessary details about who they are and the nature of their control.

All academy trusts must submit an annual Confirmation Statement (which replaces the Annual Return) to Companies House, along with the necessary details of their PSCs which will be published on a central register.

NGA is publishing the guidance on Persons of significant control which will be available on the Guidance Centre soon.    


National database of governors and trustees

A reminder that details about those governing in maintained schools and academies must be uploaded to Edubase (the DfE’s database of all schools in the country).

Information regarding the exact details that will be collected and published on Edubase is outlined on our national database of governor’s summary page on the Guidance Centre.


Come to the Labour party conference fringe event in Liverpool

In this month’s Governing Matters we reported the findings of the annual TES/NGA survey, in which 5000 school governors and trustees took part. But you also had some clear messages for politicians and policy makers which we will deliver over the course of the year, starting with fringe events at the annual party conferences, this autumn.

If you live in the North West, you may wish to attend our Labour party conference fringe event with Angela Rayner MP, shadow secretary of state for education. The event will take place on Liverpool’s Albert Dock. You don’t need a conference pass, and NGA members are very welcome to join us on Tuesday 27 September 2016 at 16:00-17:00.

If you’d like to join us, email Mark Gardner (mark.gardner@nga.org.uk) for full details.


NGA special schools’ advisory group

NGA’s special schools’ advisory group will be meeting at 1pm on 19 September 2016 at the NGA offices in Birmingham. The group gives governors and trustees an opportunity to discuss issues relating to special educational needs and disabilities in schools and to inform NGA’s work in relation to special schools. It also gives governors and trustees the opportunity to exchange information on practices that they feel are working well in their schools. If you would like to attend please contact Kathryn Dwyer (kathryn.Dwyer@nga.org.uk).


NGA training programmes in Cornwall this autumn – book now!

NGA is pleased to be running a training programme in Cornwall this Autumn. Subjects covered are:

  • governance in academies and multi academy trusts (Saturday 1 October, 10am –1pm)
  • the key principles of effective governance (Wednesday 12 October, 6pm–8pm)
  • being prepared for Ofsted (Thursday 20 October, 6pm–8pm)
  • governor visits with a positive impact (Wednesday 9 November, 6pm-8pm)
  • effective chairing (Thursday 24 November 6pm–8pm)

We are offering a 10% discount for schools that book a place on every course, so this could be a cost effective way of your governing board securing a breadth of training opportunities.

For more information please see the NGA website.


NGA’s Annual Conference and AGM

Date: Saturday 19 November 2016

Location: Manchester

Don’t forget to book your place at our Annual conference 2016.

Keynote speakers will include;

  • Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner
  • Belita Scott, National Lead for Governance at Ofsted

For the first time you will also be able to choose from one of the following workshops;

  1. Primary Assessment – what next? 
  2. Secondary curriculum – broad and balanced
  3. Five years of pupil premium
  4. Good leadership recruitment 
  5. Safeguarding

Find out more about the conference and book your place here.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 02/09/2016

GCSE and A Level results

This year’s GCSE and A level results were released on the 25 and 18 August respectively. NGA released a news story about GCSE results, which highlights the national picture, such as the increase in the gender gap and the decline in pass rates.

Ofqual produced an infographic on AS and A Level results this year. In terms of A levels, overall entries remain stable although there was a significant decline in the number of modern foreign language entries. Mathematics remains the most popular subject. This year also saw a record for the number of university entrants, with 424,000 applicants securing a place. The entries in AS levels dropped this year, reflecting the reforms – which will come into force from next year – which will see the decoupling of AS and A levels.


Updates to Ofsted’s school inspection handbooks

Ofsted has updated their school inspection handbooks to reflect changes in legislation following the Education and Adoption Act 2016. This legislation altered the powers of local authorities and regional schools commissioners (RSCs) to intervene in schools.

There have also been updates to some aspects of the handbook relating to governance. The handbook now states (paragraph 85) that, where a school is in a multi academy trust (MAT), inspectors will ensure they meet with those “directly responsible for exercising governance of the school and for overseeing its performance”. While in some cases significant responsibilities may be delegated to an academy committee, the trust board remains the accountable authority. It is NGA’s view that at least one trustee should meet with the inspector (either in person or over the phone).

The handbook also now states that inspectors will consider governing boards’ commitment to their own development in order to improve their performance. NGA has long been a proponent of mandatory induction training and encourages governing boards to engage in a programme of continuing professional development and review their effectiveness regularly. Support with meeting this criteria can be provided through the consultancy and training service.

For more on the legislative changes, see NGA’s guidance on powers of Intervention and coasting Schools.

To access the updated handbooks, click here.


Update to School Teachers Pay and Conditions document (STPCD)

In August, the Department for Education (DfE) released the latest versions of the STPCD and its related advice – Implementing your school’s approach to pay. The STPCD provides a framework for teachers’ pay and conditions, and is statutory for all maintained schools, although many academies also choose to adhere to it.

The main change this year is that the updated STPCD makes provision for the September 2016 pay award, which gives a 1% uplift to the statutory minima and maxima of all pay ranges, including allowances. This means that where a classroom teacher/leadership group member is paid on the minimum of their pay range, this must be uplifted to the new minimum. Schools themselves must determine how to take account of the uplift for those not currently on the minimum, in line with their own pay policy.


Academies’ financial responsibilities

At the end of the summer term, news regarding academy leaders’ expenses came to a head with Channel 4’s Dispatches programme airing ‘ How School Bosses Spend Your Millions’. NGA previously reported on the financial notice to improve issued to the Perry Beeches Academy Trust which seemingly sparked interest in how other academy trusts spend their money.

The Channel 4 programme looked at the expenses of more than 100 academy trusts which revealed the apparently lavish expenditure of some chief executives and executive principals, on items unrelated to the provision of quality education and experiences for children and young people. This is where effective governance comes into play. One of the core functions of governing boards in both academies and maintained schools is:

“Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.”

  • DfE’s Governance Handbook, 2015.

Academies also have wider financial responsibilities under statute, regulations and their funding agreements – the latter requires academy trusts to comply with the Academies Financial Handbook. In light of this, trust boards should ensure they have clear expenses policies for all staff, trustees and committee members and ensure that the best interests of the pupils in their schools are at the heart of their expenditure decisions.

NGA’s Academies Finance guidance provides further information about expenses and monitoring expenditure in academy trusts.


Calling young governors!

NGA is supporting the Young Governors’ Network (YGN); a new support network for governors, trustees and committee members aged under 40. The 2016 NGA/TES survey of 5000 school governors and trustees found that only 11% of respondents were under 40, but diversity on boards is crucial in order to avoid ‘groupthink’ and we must draw on all sources of volunteers.

The YGN will be launched at the following NGA regional events and we would encourage members to bring along any colleagues who might be interested in joining the network to find support and resources, share any problems and improve their practice.

If you are young governor yourself, then please do register for one of the above events to have your say on what you want from the YGN. Register your interest to join the network here.


2017 Outstanding Governance Awards – nominations open

NGA are pleased to announce that nominations for the 2017 Outstanding Governance Awards are now open. The awards celebrate the unique and inspiring contribution that school governors, trustees and clerks make every single day in schools around the country.

To find out more, including how to nominate an outstanding governing board or clerk, click here.


Pupil premium budget confirmed for 2016/17

The Department for Education has confirmed the allocation of the pupil premium grant for 2016/17.  The rates are as follows:

  • for each pupil eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any time within the last 6 years  -  £1320 for reception to Year 6 pupils and £935 for Years 7 - 11
  • looked after pupils (for 1 day or more)  - £1,900 per pupil
  • for children who are no longer in LA care because of adoption, special guardianship order, a child arrangement order or a residence order - £1,900 per pupil
  • service premium - £300 per pupil

Payment of the grant will be in instalments, details of which can be found here. The final allocations per school can be downloaded here, please be advised that it is a large document.

When deciding how to spend the pupil premium, schools should ensure that they have researched the best methods for raising attainment for disadvantage pupils, tailored this to their school and formed an action plan. NGA have a useful guide to help governors and trustees to do this, please click here.


Obesity strategy published

On 18 August the government issued its obesity strategy. Within this document there are some important initiatives that will affect schools, particularly primary schools.

For details of the obesity strategy and how it will affect schools, please visit the NGA guidance centre.


Fairer early years funding plan launched

The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a consultation on changes to the way the government funds free childcare and early years education for 3 and 4 year olds.

The new funding formula will replace the current system, which is based on how much a council has historically spent rather than how much it actually costs to meet the local need.

The proposals include:

  • introducing a new early years national funding formula for 3 and 4 year olds
  • changing the way local authorities fund the early years providers in their area
  • making sure that children with special educational needs or disabilities attract the extra funding they need

The new formula is based on 3 factors:

  • a ‘universal base rate’ of funding for each child, so that every local area is funded fairly for the core costs of delivering childcare
  • an ‘additional needs factor’, so that funding takes into account the extra costs of supporting children with additional needs to achieve good learning and development outcomes
  • the cost of providing childcare in different parts of the country

The consultation which closes on 22 September 2016 can be found here.


NGA special schools’ advisory group

NGA’s special schools’ advisory group will be meeting at 1pm on 19 September 2016 at the NGA offices in Birmingham. The group gives governors and trustees an opportunity to discuss issues relating to special educational needs and disabilities in schools and to inform NGA’s work in relation to special schools. It also gives governors and trustees the opportunity to exchange information on practices that they feel are working well in their schools. If you would like to attend please contact Kathryn Dwyer.


Increase in school sending on recruitment

A freedom of information request by Labour to a sample group of schools found that the average spend on advertising to fill teaching vacancies in 2014-15 was just under £17,000 – up from £10,000 four years ago. The figures were based on findings from a sample of 120 secondary schools.

The proportion of schools that need to re-advertise when they fail to recruit first time round has also more than doubled over the past five years. Some individual schools also revealed they were spending up to £80,000 a year on advertising.

The NGA/TES survey also found that half of all respondents had experienced difficulties with teacher recruitment.

If your school is looking for teaching staff you may want to consider TeachVac as an alternative means of advertising. Click here for more information.


Summary of key stage two results across the country

The Department for Education (DfE) has published provisional 2016 key stage two results at national, regional and local authority level. These are the first results of tests based on the new curriculum and the first which are not reported as levels. As before, school level data will be published in the primary school performance tables in December.

While it had previously been announced that 53% of pupils had reached the new expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics, this publication provides a more detailed picture of the results and how they were affected by various factors:

  • Gender: 57% of girls achieved the new expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics, compared to 50% of boys
  • School type: 54% of pupils in local authority (LA) maintained schools and 53% of those in academies and free schools reached the new expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics
  • Regions: there is considerable variation in attainment between LAs; the highest performing LAs are concentrated in London and parts of the North East and South East

The significant changes to the curriculum and assessment mean that these results are not directly comparable to figures from previous years.

Read the publication in full.

Joint statement from NGA and NAHT on KS2 SATs in 2016 (July 2016).


Updated guidance: Information that must be published on a school’s website

The school website is a powerful tool for engaging key stakeholders, particularly parents and prospective parents. Did you know, however, there is a requirement to publish certain information on your website to meet Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted expectations?

The Ofsted School Inspection Handbook states that inspectors will use “all available evidence to develop an initial picture of the school’s performance” before an inspection – as such, your school website is their first port of call. If your website is non-compliant, inspectors may question the school’s leadership, including governance. There are different publishing requirements, depending on whether your school is a maintained school or an academy. 

In order to help schools publish the relevant information on their website, NGA has updated its Information that must be published on your website guidance. As well as statutory requirements, this guidance also includes a list of items schools may wish to publish in line with good practice. Accompanying the webpages, governors and trustees may want to download a check list of the requirements. These are available for both maintained schools and academies.

This updated guidance is part one of NGA’s “requirements for the new academic year” guidance series. In part two, which will feature next week, we will recap on some other statutory requirements - including the new academies financial handbook, persons with significant control and updating board details on Edubase. 


Great value development programmes for chairs and clerks

Did you know that the Department for Education is subsidising the cost of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) programmes for chairs and clerks?  Do not let this opportunity pass you. The NCTL scholarships of £320 per participant leaves only £79 to cover.

Leading Governance is offering new and improved Chair of Governors Leadership (CGLDP) and National Clerks' Development (NCDP) programmes for the new academic year.  Please go to the Leading Governance website and click on the appropriate tab to find out more and register.

Hot of the press: our 2016 TES/NGA survey found one third of vice chairs had not heard of the CGLDP which is open to aspiring chairs too. Please make sure your board’s vice chair does.

There are still spaces available for the CGLDP and NCDP in Thurrock (cohort 2). Book now.

If none of the dates and locations suit you, other programmes may be possible: ask more or express your interest leading.governance@nga.org.uk.  


Ofsted resources on social action in schools

Ofsted is working with youth social action charity ‘Step Up To Serve’ and the #iwill campaign to highlight examples of good social action practice in schools. The organisations carried out interviews with a small sample of schools and colleges to find out more about how social action is interpreted and applied. Ofsted has produced a briefing on the key findings which outlines the features and characteristics of successful schools. It found that the better examples of social action were designed with the intention of enabling young people to develop the spiritual, social, moral and cultural aspects of their learning and had a ‘golden thread’ of developing skills, knowledge and understanding. It also identified several benefits of effective social action in schools, including improving academic standards, attendance and pupils’ welfare.

For more on pupil wellbeing see the Guidance Centre.


Questions to consider when joining a MAT

As part of its Zurich Municipal school governor’s series, The Guardian has produced a list of questions that governing boards should ask if they are joining a multi-academy trust (MAT). Although only five questions, they are nonetheless a useful starting point for governing boards to start considering the broader issues around joining a MAT:

  • Are we a good fit?
  • What will it cost?
  • Does the trust have the right resources?
  • Is everything above board?
  • What’s the plan for the future?

Read the article for more context behind each of the questions.

Governors and trustees considering joining or forming a MAT are encouraged to read widely around the issues and to consider all of the options. The guidance document Governing Groups of Schools: staying in control of your schools destiny produced with ASCL is essential reading for governors and trustees considering their options. We will be publishing an updated version of this document later this term.


SchoolsDash analysis of pupil deprivation and access to schools

new analysis by SchoolDash founder Timo Hannay has found that poorer children are less likely to access high-performing schools, even when they live close to them.  See the research page for our summary of the findings.


Bookings are now open for NGA’s Annual Conference and AGM

Date: Saturday 19 November 2016

Location: Manchester

At this year’s conference we are pleased to welcome Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner and Belita Scott, National Lead for Governance at Ofsted as our keynote speakers.

There will also be a choice of workshops available for delegates. Topics will include safeguarding, pupil premium and leadership recruitment.

Find out more about the conference and book your place here.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 22/07/2016

School Funding Reform – delayed until 2018

The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, announced yesterday that the eagerly anticipated second stage of the school funding reform consultation would not now be published until after Parliament’s summer recess, with decisions on the future for school funding published in early 2017.

As a result of the delay, any funding reforms will not now be implemented until 2018-19. For 2017-18 no local authority will receive less funding than it did for schools and high-needs blocks in 2016-17. Schools will also continue to have funding “protected” by the minimum funding guarantee of -1.5%.

For more on this story see our news feed.


Community multi academy trusts

A few weeks ago, newsletter readers took part in our poll to name our new campaign. Its aim is to raise awareness of local, schools-led multi academy trusts (MATs) as an option for schools considering forming or joining a group. The name you chose was “community MATs”, with a narrow lead over “local MATs”.

We would love to hear from any governing boards who have already been down this route who would be willing to act as advocates and share their experience with others – email Fay Holland.


Research suggests EBacc beneficial for many pupils, but not all

Analysis by Education DataLab, the research arm of the Fischer Family Trust, suggests that the introduction of the EBacc has largely benefitted pupils. Researchers compared outcomes at 300 schools which had changed their curriculum between 2010/11 and 2012/13 compared to schools with similar pupil characteristics which had not.

Pupils at schools which had changed their curriculum in line with the EBacc were more likely to achieve well in their English and maths GCSEs; were more likely to be taking an A level or equivalent qualification post-16; and less likely to have dropped out of education entirely. Those eligible for the pupil premium benefitted most. However, disadvantaged pupils still do not have equal access to EBacc subjects compared to their peers with similar prior attainment.

Despite these findings, an accompanying survey of headteachers does not support the government’s aim of 90% of all mainstream pupils taking the EBacc.

The report also notes that the government has not yet published the final outcome of its consultation Implementing the English Baccalaureate, which proposed the 90% target for the EBacc. NGA jointly hosted focus groups with the Department for Education as part this which also informed our consultation response. NGA thinks that all pupils should be given the opportunity to study EBacc subjects, but not all pupils should be required to take it; for more detail see our position statement.

For a more detailed summary of the findings, see the research page.


Amanda Spielman confirmed as next Ofsted Chief Inspector

On Tuesday, it was announced by the Education Secretary that Amanda Spielman has been approved as the next HMCI of Ofsted by the Privy Council and will take over the role from Sir Michael Wilshaw when his term ends. This appointment is in spite of criticism from the Education Select Committee, who said they were concerned that she did not have the sufficient passion and understanding for the role - more details on this can be found in NGA’s report.


Success in supporting disadvantaged pupils varies with pupil characteristics

A new report by the Education Policy Institute - Divergent Pathways: the disadvantage gap, accountability and the pupil premium - focuses on the “progress gap” between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates.

Around 40% of the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is present at age five but this then widens as pupils move through the key stages. The report found considerable variability between schools with differing pupil intake characteristics when it comes to trends in the progress gaps, with schools with the highest concentration of disadvantaged pupils seeing the gap decrease more than those with the fewest disadvantaged pupils.

The authors recommend a number of measures for government and suggest that “school governors should increase their scrutiny of performance for disadvantaged pupils and ensure that peer support is called in where needed, from schools with a strong track record”.

Responding to the report, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has called for pupils to be automatically registered for the pupil premium to ensure funding reaches the 11% of eligible children across England who are currently missing out.

For a more detailed summary of the findings, see the research page.


Early years and life chances: MPs hear from experts and providers

On Tuesday, a joint inquiry by the House of Commons Education select committee and the Work and Pensions select committee into "Foundation years and the UK’s Government’s life chances strategy" heard from a panel of experts and providers. Witnesses included Professor Michael Thomas, Director of the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, and representatives of children’s charities, including several that run children’s centres.

Professor Thomas highlighted the impact of deprivation and the home environment on the development of children’s brains in the early years, saying that evidence supports targeting resources at the less well off before they begin their formal education.

Throughout the session there was an emphasis on the importance of developing a strong workforce of early years teachers to ensure high quality provision is available – the government is expected to say more on this in its forthcoming early years workforce strategy. The challenge of providing places accessible to disadvantaged pupils, especially in rural areas, was also raised.

Engaging with families was also a key theme, with representatives of Barnardos, 4 Children, and Action for Children sharing their charities’ experiences of using their children’s centres to support parents and develop parenting skills. The government’s life chances strategy was identified as an opportunity to bring together services including early years education, assistance with work and benefits, health, and social care.


DfE forecast continued increase in secondary school population

The latest National pupil projections, published by the Department for Education (DfE) on an annual basis, forecast trends in pupil numbers up to 2025. They expect:

  • the number of early years pupils will decrease slightly up to 2020, before increasing to roughly similar numbers as at present
  • the rate of increase of the primary school population, which has been rising since 2009, to slow and to be stable by 2020
  • the secondary school population to continue increasing throughout the period

The overall effect is that the number of children attending all state-funded schools is expected to continue an upward trend, with a projected 10.3% increase on the 2016 actual population by 2025.


Addressing the gender gap in education achievement

Two reports have been published this week which both look at the gender gap in education. One report by Save the Children, looks at the proportion of boys in early education who achieved the expected standard in early language and communication last year. It identifies that, overall, there is a significant disparity between girls and boys achieving the standard: 25% and 14% respectively; even more so between those eligible for free school meals (FSM) and those who are not (88% non-FSM girls, 77% non-FSM boys, 77% FSM girls, 62% FSM boys). Further still, there is disparity between girls and boys who are eligible for FSM (as above, 77% FSM girls and 62% FSM boys).

Another report, by LKMCo, looks at the underrepresentation of white working class boys in higher education. While acknowledging that the attainment of this group is lower than their peers, it notes that this under-representation occurs even where attainment is high. The report suggests that other factors, such as a view that a university degree is a poor form of investment, lack of role models to inform them of the benefits of higher education, and lack of access to “cultural capital” all conspire to reduce the likelihood of this group seeking a university degree. It also notes that the lack of an agreed definition of “white working class” makes it difficult to introduce measures to tackle the deficit.

NGA has published guidance to help governing boards assess the impact of the pupil premium.


Association of Chairs survey

The Association of Chairs has published findings from a 2016 survey of chairs of a variety of charitable and not-for-profit organisations. The survey, undertaken by 360 people in a chairing role across the country and in organisations of various sizes, revealed that 54% were spending 4 days or more per month on their role. Over a third (35%) of chairs was spending 5 days or more per month on their chairing role. Those most likely to spend over 5 days a month were chairs of the very smallest (Under £10k: 41%) and largest organisations (over £5 million: 55%).

Other key findings were:

  • 46% report having no budget for board development.
  • Only 34% of chairs had received an induction.
  • Apart from publications, fewer than 50% of respondents had accessed any kind of development support in the last 12 months. Many restricted themselves to free sources of support. 37% had accessed paid training (two-thirds reported it had been funded by the organisation, a third paid for training themselves).
  • 16% had received mentoring or coaching.  
  • Just 38% of chairs had their expenses reimbursed.

Finally, when asked what additional support they wanted, over 50% wanted help finding good trustees and ensuring their trustees had the necessary knowledge. One third also wanted help in improving the effectiveness of meetings, assessing the board’s effectiveness, and managing the demands of chairing in a limited time.

NGA has been conducting its own research on the time taken to chair. This will be published in September.


The Institute for Fiscal Studies releases report on the costs and benefits of different initial teacher training routes

The research funded by the Nuffield Foundation looks at the costs and benefits to central government and schools involved with the different teacher training routes.  It also identified where further research was necessary.

Key findings from the report included:

  • 40% of those who begin teacher training are not working as teachers in a state school five years later, with variations depending on the training route.
  • The introduction of large tax-free bursaries for trainee teachers in shortage subjects represents a significant cost, but there is little current evidence about the effectiveness of these high-cost bursaries in terms of recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. Such evidence is urgently needed.
  • Retention rates are lower where there is an excess supply of trainees.

The report included recommendations that allocations to Initial Teacher Training providers, and lead schools within the School Direct scheme, take into account regional (and perhaps more local) demand for teachers. Allocations to providers should also be clear and transparent in advance of applications so that the candidates with the best potential to be good teachers are selected.          


Ofqual confirms accreditation is complete for first teaching from September 2016

Ofqual has confirmed that all specifications for GCSE, AS and A level subjects to be taught from September 2016 have now been accredited. Accreditation for qualifications to be taught from September 2017 is in progress, and updates will be published on the Ofqual website.


Clerks News – first edition out now!

This brand new feature to the Clerking Matters section of our website provides a succinct need to know round up of essential news updates every half-term. We direct clerks to the information they really need to know, including legislation updates, changes to education policy and other key stories, linking directly to relevant guidance and further support.

The first edition includes additional statutory requirements for the 2016/17 academic year. This covers the national database of governors, what’s new in the release of the 2016 financial handbook and the updated Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 15/07/2016

Justine Greening announced as new Secretary of State for Education

It was announced on Thursday that Justine Greening will take over from Nicky Morgan as Secretary of State for Education.

Ms Greening has been MP for Putney since 2005 and moves into the role from the Department for International Development. She is the first education secretary to have attended a comprehensive secondary school, Oakwood Comprehensive School in Rotherham, and went on to study economics at the University of Southampton. Prior to becoming an MP, she worked in business.

The role of the Department for Education has also been expanded to include responsibility for higher education and skills.

More details of how the changes to government will affect education policy are likely to emerge over the coming weeks. Last week NGA wrote to Morgan on school funding, urging her not to delay consultation on the national funding formula, and will continue to make this case to the new Secretary of State.


NGA Chief Executive gives evidence to MPs’ inquiry on multi academy trusts

On Wednesday, NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights was among those giving evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee inquiry into multi academy trusts (MATs).

Speaking alongside Russell Hobby, National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), Chris Keates (NASUWT), and Councillor Richard Watts of the Local Government Association (LGA), Emma highlighted lack of clarity around governance structures in many MATs, which has often created confused accountability. This is reinforced by references in Department for Education (DfE) publications to ‘governors’ instead of ‘trustees’ which is the correct term for those accountable for academy governance. Emma also suggested looking beyond the schools sector in relation to governance practice: for example, members could be the parents of all enrolled pupils.

MPs asked about the government’s intention to remove the requirement for reserved places for parent governors and Emma explained why NGA are campaigning against this proposal. This is often muddled with the separate but important goal of improving parental engagement (see our recent guidance).

The committee also heard evidence from the chief executives of three large MATs (Reach2 Academy Trust, E-ACT, and Ark Schools) and a two-school MAT based in Bristol (Little Mead Academy Trust). There were some areas of agreement among these MAT leaders, with all of the opinion that Ofsted should inspect MATs themselves, rather than carrying out focused inspections of schools within MATs as is currently the practice. Interestingly, it was the former Secretary of State who opposed such inspections. All also said that geographical proximity between schools is important to a successful MAT but that this could be achieved through clusters within a national MAT.

While the three large MATs also spoke positively about relationships with the national and regional schools commissioners, the chief executive of Little Mead Academy Trust suggested that smaller MATs – which currently represent the vast majority – can feel isolated and disconnected from the new ‘middle tier’.

NGA submitted written evidence to the enquiry in April, which you can read online.


DfE publishes Standard for teachers’ professional development

In response to recommendations made by the Teachers’ Professional Development Expert Group chaired by David Weston, the new standard for teachers’ development has been released. In a letter to Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools, the group said that a Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development should enable everyone to raise their expectations of professional development and understand what is necessary for teachers’ professional development to be effective.

There are five parts to the standard, which the guidance states need to be acted upon together to ensure effective professional development:

  1. Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
  2. Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.
  3. Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.
  4. Professional development programmes should be sustained over time.

And all this is underpinned by, and requires that:

  1. Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.

NGA has previously published questions for governors to ask about professional development.


MPs debate key stage 2 results

On Tuesday MPs debated the key stage 2 (SATs) results which were published last week. Labour’s new Shadow Secretary for Education, Angela Rayner, opened the debate by expressing disappointment that the government has “pushed ahead with chaotic and confusing reforms which mean that thousands of children will be unnecessarily labelled as failures”. She described the expected standard for the new assessments as being “unrealistic” and argued that teachers and school leaders say that the expected standard was beyond the reach of the majority of children. Rayner also raised concerns that the results are already being used by regional schools commissioners to identify schools to target for academy conversion.

In response Nicky Morgan, in one of her last appearances as Secretary of State for Education, said that Rayner’s speech had “captured everything that is wrong with the Labour Party at the moment: mad conspiracy theories, deferring to the unions and zero answers to the problems facing this country”. Morgan emphasised that the new SATs are intended to hold schools not children to account, and pointed out that progress with also be taken into account when judging whether a school is below the floor standard. She disagreed that last week’s results have led to some children being labelled as “failures” and suggested that they will allow secondary schools to identify children who might need extra support in the core subjects. However, she did acknowledge that “in the first year of these tests being rolled out, the administration was not as smooth as it could have been” and said that the government had already apologised for this.

Full transcript of debate

NGA in conjunction with the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) issued a statement about the Key Stage 2 results last week.


Funding announced for ‘maths mastery’ approach

This week, Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced that 8,000 primary schools will receive £41 million over 4 years to support the south Asian ‘mastery’ approach to teaching maths in primary schools. Thanks to the extra funding, half of the total number of primary schools in England will receive support to implement this approach.

Used in places such as Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong by some of the leading performers in maths in the world, the maths mastery approach is already used in a number of England’s schools because of a teacher exchange programme between England and Shanghai. However, the funding will mean this can be introduced more widely across the country. 700 teachers will be trained to support schools, and funding will also be available for textbooks.

This ‘mastery’ approach involves children being taught as a whole class and building an understanding of the structure of maths. It aims to ensure that no pupil’s understanding is left to chance. International tests have recently shown that the percentage of ‘functionally innumerate’ 15-years-olds in places using this approach is more than 10 percentage points lower than it is in England.

Nick Gibb said that “we are seeing a renaissance in maths teaching in this country” and that he believes this approach will mean that the “too-used phrase ‘can’t do maths’ is consigned to the past”.

Initial findings of the Shanghai exchange scheme by Sheffield Hallam University, based on data collected between February and July 2015, said that “most teachers reported that the changes implemented since the Shanghai teachers' visit had led to positive outcomes for pupils. These outcomes included increased enthusiasm for mathematics, deeper engagement, increased confidence, and higher levels of attainment.” It went on to say that there was as yet no actual attainment data which would be reported on later in the study.

It was also announced that there will be a study into the feasibility of compulsory maths.


New research calls for statutory sex and relationships education

A report published by the Terrence Higgins Trust, a HIV and sexual health charity, sets out the findings of a survey of 914 young people aged 16-25. In total 99% of young people that responded to the survey thought that age-appropriate sex and relationships education (SRE) should be taught in all schools. However one in seven had not received any SRE at school at all, and half rated the SRE they received in school as either ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’. The survey found that only 5% of young people were taught about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) SRE. However, 97% of respondents thought that all SRE should be LGBT-inclusive and 91% thought that trans awareness should be taught in schools. Young people were four times more likely to rate their SRE ‘terrible’ if they were taught it only once in their school life, and most respondents had not received any SRE at primary school.

The report made the following recommendations:

  • The government should make universal, comprehensive SRE a statutory part of the curriculum in all schools – including primary schools – as a matter of urgency. This curriculum should include a broad variety of topics including LGBT issues.
  • The government must ensure that the Education for All Bill requires all academies to teach SRE through a contractual requirement – giving it the same compulsory status as religious education.
  • The government must ensure that the quality of SRE in England is improved by updating its out-of-date guidance on SRE.
  • Sufficient resources must be given to all Local Authorities and academies to ensure that SRE is taught well.
  • Ofsted should launch an inquiry into the effects of sub-standard SRE.

In addition, the chairs of four different parliamentary committees wrote to the then Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan MP in January 2016 urging her to work towards compulsory personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and SRE compulsory. NGA also thinks that age appropriate SRE should be statutory in all schools.


Post-16 skills plan

Following the establishment of the Independent Panel on Technical Education in November 2015, on behalf of the Secretaries of State for Education and for Business, Innovation and skills, the government has now published its post-16 skills plan.

The plan sets out how the Government intends to support young people and adults to secure skilled employment and meet the needs of the economy. It accepts all of the 34 recommendations put forth by the panel in their report, where current budgets allow, and has developed a ‘Road map for reform and next steps’ between now and 2020. Key elements of the plan include:

  • Implementing a common framework of 15 routes across technical education, beginning with a two-year college course aligned to apprenticeships. Each course will have just one approved tech level qualification for each occupation or cluster of occupations;
  • Maintaining a register of technical qualifications at levels 4 and 5 which meet national standards and are therefore eligible to be subsidised through government loans;
  • Ensuring that those who are not ready to access a route at age 16 will be provided with flexible and tailored support in accordance with their prior attainment and career aspirations;
  • Reforming career guidance to inform student choice.

The report of the panel and the full post-16 skills plan can be found here.


Local Education Excellence Everywhere review launched

In one of her last appearances in the role, former Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan launched a review into the role of local authorities (LAs) in education. This review was outlined in March’s White Paper (Educational Excellence Everywhere) and follows on from proposed policy changes which would end LAs’ role in school improvement and focus it on:

  1. Ensuring every child has a school place
  2. Ensuring the needs of vulnerable pupils are met
  3. Acting as champions for all parents and families

Ms Morgan made the announcement while addressing the County Councils Network and used the opportunity to address rumours that LAs may be permitted to set up multi academy trusts in future, reporting that the DfE have no intention to make this possible.

The review will be chaired by Alan Wood, former president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.


Ofsted publish report on disadvantaged pupils and early years education

Ofsted has this week published a new report on the effectiveness of local authorities and early years providers in tackling the issues facing disadvantaged families and young children.

‘Unknown children – destined for disadvantage’ found that:

  • A broader understanding of what it means to be ‘disadvantaged’ is needed, looking beyond financial measures
  • Being disadvantaged continues to have a considerable detrimental impact on children’s educational outcomes and health
  • There is a lack of understanding of what success looks like in tackling disadvantage, particularly around what ‘school readiness’ means and the wider health and social care elements that impact on education
  • Co-ordination of services by local authorities, including data sharing to avoid duplication, is crucial to tackling disadvantage effectively
  • Too many disadvantaged children are missing out on early assessments of health, learning and development
  • Too few early years providers prioritise admission for disadvantaged pupils
  • More needs to be done to increase take-up of free early education (80,000 eligible 2-year-olds did not access funded places last year) and ensure that additional funding, such as the early years pupil premium, reaches and has a positive impact on all eligible children

Ofsted recommend that schools ensure key information is shared promptly when children move between settings and review their use of the early years pupil premium to maximise its impact.

Ofsted’s report: ‘Unknown children – destined for disadvantage’

NGA Guidance Centre: pupil premium


Ofsted concerns about Black Country secondary schools

Ofsted’s Regional Director for the West Midlands, Lorna Fitzjohn, has written to local authorities in the Black Country expressing concerns about low standards in the area’s secondary schools. The letter was sent to leaders at Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton authorities.

She says that in the Black Country:

  • Pupils’ achievement by the age of 16 is poor in comparison with pupils elsewhere in the West Midlands and nationally;
  • Secondary schools are too often failing to build on progress made in primary schools;
  • The gap between GCSE attainment of disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers is wide and is not improving;
  • Local authorities, trusts, the regional schools commissioner, and local politicians have not done enough to hold secondary schools to account for standards.

The concerns relate to both maintained schools and academies.


Government announces 31 new free schools

On his final visit as Prime Minister on Tuesday 12 July, David Cameron announced the planned opening of 31 new free schools which will eventually provide around 20,000 school places. The successful applicants will now begin to confirm sites with many due to open by September 2017.

At the time of the announcement, there were 5,188 academies, 304 free schools, 40 studio schools and 39 university technical colleges more than in May 2010.


Parliamentary debate on term-time holidays

After nearly 200,000 people signed an e-petition calling for penalties for term-time holidays to be scrapped, this week MPs debated the subject in parliament.

Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, spoke out against the fines, saying that parents should not be given the message that the state knows better than them what is right for their own children. He also said that “confusion now reigns” in this area, after the High Court ruled in favour of a parent challenging a fine for taking his daughter on holiday.

The issues discussed are generally familiar: vast differences in holiday prices in term-time and in school holidays, fines disproportionately affect low-income families and parents working in industries which are busiest during school holidays, including tourism and the NHS.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, argued that evidence shows absence has a significant negative impact on pupils’ results and therefore that it is right that children’s attendance is non-negotiable. He said that headteachers do have discretion and that academies can set their own term dates to combat some of the issues raised.


Schools as learning organisations

A new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is recommending that schools be reconceptualised as “learning organisations” in order to react more quickly to changing external environments, embrace innovations in internal organisation, and ultimately improve outcomes. The report states that many schools look much the same today as they did a generation ago, and that “too many teachers are not developing the pedagogies and practices required to meet the diverse needs of 21st-century learners”.

For a school to become a learning organisation, it is essential that people dare to innovate in their daily practice, the report states, adding “schools – that systematically learn from failure are rare. This is not because of a lack of commitment to learning, but rather because mistakes or experiments that fail are viewed in the wrong way, or because accountability systems punish mistakes. In schools as learning organisations, problems and mistakes are seen as opportunities for learning.”

The report makes several recommendations familiar to school governors following NGA’s Growing Governance campaign. “Leadership is the essential ingredient that binds all of the separate parts of the learning organisation together. Learning leadership provides direction for learning, takes responsibility for putting learning at the centre of the school’s mission (and keeping it there), and translates vision into strategy so that the organisation’s actions are consistent with its vision, goals and values.”

Click here to read the OECD report: What makes a school a learning organisation? A guide for policy makers, school leaders and teachers

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 08/07/2016

New NGA, NFER & TFLT research on executive headteachers

This week, the National Governors’ Association, in collaboration with the National Foundation for Educational Research (NfER) and the Future Leaders Trust (TFLT) have published research into the role and responsibilities of executive headteachers. Although the number of executive headteachers has grown, there is no common understanding about the role and responsibilities. This can lead to blurred lines of accountability. Governors and trustees who have appointed, or are looking to appoint an executive headteacher are strongly advised to read the full report. In particular, pages 16-18 outline the governing and accountability structures that the researchers identified from case studies.

Commenting on the report, Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, outlined that: “NGA urges governors and trustees to define the exact role their executive head is required to play before making a decision to recruit to such a post and to ensure that the qualities required are thoroughly tested during the selection process. This needs to be done in the context of the full senior leadership structure. Executive headships are well-paid posts and we must not risk building into staffing structures duplication or other inefficiencies when schools are so short of funds.”

For a more detailed summary of the findings, and links to the report and supporting documentation, please visit the NGA news page.


NGA writes to Nicky Morgan on school funding

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, has written a letter to education secretary Nicky Morgan urging her not to delay the publication of a consultation on fair funding.

The letter comes nearly three months after the first part of the public consultation closed.

The letter states: “As you are aware, NGA has long campaigned for reform to the way in which funding is allocated to schools. We very much welcomed your Government’s decision to tackle the difficult issue of funding reform…We are therefore concerned that the promised consultation has not yet been published as this delay will make it very difficult to implement changes from April 2017”.

“Unless there is reform, there will be an increasing number of schools unable to balance budgets in the coming year without significant cuts which would affect the quality of education provided to pupils”.  

Launching the consultation in March this year, Nicky Morgan said: “We want every school in England to get the funding it deserves, so that all children - whatever their background and wherever they live in the country - get a great education.”

Learn more about school funding in the Guidance Centre.


National database of governors and trustees

As outlined in the government’s White Paper published in March - Educational Excellence Everywhere – the Department for Education (DfE) has announced that from September 2016, details about those governing in maintained schools and academies must be uploaded to Edubase (the DfE’s database of all schools in the country).

For academies, this requirement is stipulated in the updated Academies Financial Handbook 2016 but the DfE has pre-populated Edubase with the current information they hold about those governing in academy trusts. However, trusts will need to check the details held on Edubase for accuracy, make any updates, and complete any empty fields. Going forward, trusts will be required to update Edubase as the vacancies arise and new appointments are made.

For maintained schools, the DfE is using section 538 of the Education Act 1996, which requires governing bodies to submit such information to the Secretary of State as s/he requests. As the DfE does not currently hold information about those governing in maintained schools, this information will need to be filled in from scratch. As with academies, Edubase must be updated regularly where information about those governing changes.

Information regarding the exact details that will be collected and published on Edubase is outlined in the DfE’s press release. Governing boards will still have to publish details on their websites.


Academies Financial Handbook 2016

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has published the 2016 Academies Financial Handbook (AFH). This replaces the 2015 version from 1 September 2016.

A summary of the key changes from the previous version can be found on page 5 of the document. Many of the changes clarify or emphasise existing parts of the academies financial framework, while seeking to align these more firmly with terminology in the Governance Handbook, in particular it now makes absolutely clear that trusts must publish their scheme of delegation for governance functions. The 2016 edition features an enhanced focus on identifying skills needed on the board, both at trust board level, and for local governing committees, and includes further drives to promote increased transparency and openness.

It also for the first time sets out in writing, what Department for Education officials have been saying for some time; that there must be a lead executive in multi-academy trusts (MATs) and so called ‘flat MATs’ will not be permitted. The AFH states “The board of trustees of the academy trust must appoint, in writing, a senior executive leader who may, in accordance with the trust’s articles of association, act as an ex officio trustee. In trusts comprising a single academy this should be the principal. In multi-academy trusts it should be the chief executive or equivalent. The role of senior executive leader must not rotate”.

Our interpretation is that this will apply to all MATs, not just new MATs. We have updated our Academies Financial Handbook page on the Guidance Centre underlining these changes and briefly summarise what these mean.


STRB publishes its 26th Report

On Wednesday the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP, published a response stating her intention to accept “all the key recommendations” of the School Teacher’s Review Body (STRB) report.

The report recommends:

  • a 1% uplift from September 2016 to the minima and maxima of all classroom teacher and leadership pay ranges and allowances in the national pay framework
  • that the school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD) is amended to make clear that schools can use a salary advance scheme for rental deposits as part of the existing recruitment and retention incentives and benefits
  • the Department of Education (DfE) develops good practice guidance to help schools make effective use of the existing flexibility to tailor pay policies

The report raises concerns about the deterioration in the recruitment and retention position, acknowledging the significant shortfalls in recruitment to Initial Teacher Training (ITT) for the secondary sector; the increase in vacancy numbers; the increase in the number of teachers resigning from the profession at a time of increasing pupil numbers; and strong demand in the graduate labour market.

In view of its assessment of the recruitment and retention position, the STRB concludes that there is a case for an uplift higher than the 1%. However, the STRB took into account the “government’s clear position that there will be no additional funding”. The STRB also took into account other considerations, such as schools’ readiness to manage the consequences of a higher uplift. Based on these factors, the STRB judged that this year there would be significant risks associated with a recommendation of a higher than 1% award. Nevertheless, the report cautions that “if current recruitment and retention trends continue, we expect an uplift to the pay framework significantly higher than 1% will be required in the course of this Parliament to ensure an adequate supply of good teachers for schools in England and Wales”.


Parliamentary news: reports, questions and debates

Each week the NGA brings members the latest from Westminster, including reports, debates and questions on education. Click on any of the links below to read a detailed report on NGA’s parliamentary page.

  • The Education Select Committee have rejected Amanda Spielman, the DfE’s preferred candidate for the post of HMCI for Ofsted. Click here for more.
  • The new Shadow Labour Secretary for Education, Angela Rayner, led on education questions to Nicky Morgan in the House of Commons, which covered parents governing, personal, social, health and economic education and teachers’ pay. Click here for more.
  • MPs have debated the impact of the English Baccalaureate on expressive arts teaching. Click here for more.


National key stage 2 results published

This week national key stage 2 test (SATs) results have been published for the new tougher primary school assessment system in maths and English.

Just 53% of pupils were deemed to have met the expected standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Governing boards need to take time to reflect on their school’s results, taking into account the fact that these results are not comparable with previous years. Teachers, parents and pupils may well be feeling demoralised by the fact that 47% of children are not considered to have met the expected standard and that this will be a challenge for governing boards to deal with.

NGA and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) issued a joint statement on Friday urging school leaders and governing boards to take their time to reflect on their school’s results and take into account the fact that the results are not comparable with previous years. Click here to read the full statement.

For more information see the NGA news page.


Two new reports looking at academy performance

This week, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and the Sutton Trust have both released reports looking at different aspects of academy performance in England.

The EPI compare LAs with MATs, using the Department for Education’s own methodology.

The Sutton Trust look at the performance of disadvantaged pupils in sponsored academies that are part of an academy chain.

Click on the links above to read more about these publications on the NGA’s research page.


New Religious Education Commission

A new commission has been established to review the state of religious education in England and make recommendations for its future provision. The independent body has been set up by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales to:

  • consider the nature, purposes, and scope of religious education
  • identify the enabling factors that currently promote high quality RE, and the barriers that currently limit it
  • identify what changes are needed to ensure the highest quality provision of RE
  • ensure that recommendations focus on realistic and specific proposals aimed at both immediate and long-term implementation in the context of continuing educational reform

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, has joined the team of 13 Commissioners from teaching, school leadership, academia, journalism and law.

For more on religious education, Mark Chater, Director of Culham St Gabriel’s, a charitable trust supporting research, development and innovation in religious education, writes in the July/August 2016 edition of Governing Matters on the need to involve governors in a new settlement for religious education in schools.


Careers education branded “patchy and often inadequate” by parliamentary subcommittee

This week, the subcommittee for Education, Skills and the Economy has released a report on careers education in English schools. The subcommittee found that “advice and guidance … is patchy and often inadequate. Too many young people are leaving education without the tools to help them consider their future options or how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the job market. This failure is exacerbating skills shortages and having a negative impact on the country’s productivity”.

The subcommittee called on the government to publish a careers strategy concentrating on bringing careers advice up to standard; “untangling” the complex web of organisations which administer careers education (including having a single Minister for careers provision); bringing together the “marketplace” of careers service providers and websites; grounding careers advice in accurate information about the labour workforce; and giving all young people the chance to understand the world of work.

For a full report from the enquiry please click here.

See the guidance centre for more on careers.


HMCI writes to Nicky Morgan about the latest position in Birmingham

Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, has written a letter to the education secretary Nicky Morgan to update her on the situation in Birmingham, two years since the so-called Trojan horse case.

In the letter he reports that two of the schools at the centre of that case have been upgraded from inadequate to good in their recent re-inspections and the schools placed in special measures as a result of Ofsted’s findings have undergone changes of leadership and governance in the intervening period and are now “generally improving”. However Sir Michael also emphasised that the situation remains fragile. He said: “While the overwhelming majority of parents support the changes that have taken place over the past two years, there are a minority of people in the community who are still intent on destabilising these schools.”

Sir Michael reports concerns by headteachers in East Birmingham that the situation had not gone away but had instead “gone underground”. A number of school leaders had told HMCI that they felt unsupported by the local authority in confronting the challenges they faced.

Sir Michael emphasises in his letter that the situation is not confined to Birmingham and recommends to Nicky Morgan that she supports the idea that Ofsted inspectors should be assigned to local authority areas where the government considers children are at a “greater risk of radicalisation” or their safety is jeopardised by poor safeguarding practices. Such assignments would “enable Ofsted to closely monitor the effectiveness of the local authority in carrying out its statutory safeguarding duties towards all children of school age whether they are attending school, missing from school or being educated at home”.

For more on this story see our blog on lessons from Trojan horse.


DfE releases new financial health check service for schools

All governing boards have a responsibility for overseeing the financial performance of the school and ensuring the money is well spent. In January we reported on the revamp of the Department for Education’s (DfE) Financial Health and Efficiency resources with some guidance aimed specifically at governors.  The DfE continues to add resources to the webpage, the latest of which is an external financial health check service. The DfE has set out three specifications, from a review of the school’s financial systems to full support for a school in financial difficulty.

These are not intended to be free services.

The documentation sets out what should be included in the various checks. Along with guidance on how to choose a supplier and a directory of potential suppliers.

More information can be found at financial health checks for schools: supplier directory.


Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium funding allocations for 2016/17

The Department of Education (DfE) has updated its guidance on the year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium to confirm allocations for 2016 to 2017. Schools will receive the same overall amount of year 7 catch-up premium funding they received in 2015 to 2016, adjusted to reflect the percentage change in the size of their year 7 cohort, based on the October 2016 census.

Details of the allocations can be found here.


PTA launches #BeSchoolReady campaign

PTA UK has launched a campaign aimed at the parents of children starting at primary school. The campaign will demonstrate the different ways that parents can participate in their child’s education and school life – including becoming a school governor or trustee. Visit the #BeSchoolReady campaign page to find out more.

For more on this story, read the new Knowing Your School guidance on parental engagement.


Nationwide savings research into term-time holidays

This week, Nationwide savings revealed the results of their third national survey. Research was carried out among 2000 working adults with school age children and 2000 working adults without children.

The results reveal the struggles many parents face in balancing school and work holidays so that the whole family can have a break together. The main findings were:

  • 73% of British parents will have to split their leave this summer.
  • 9% regularly go away with their children without their partner, due to work pressures. This is more common amongst younger parents (25-34).
  • 25% have said their child was ill in order to have a term-time holiday. Again this is more common for younger parents, with 31% of 25-34 willing to risk a fine, compared to 22% of those aged 45-54.
  • The West Midlands had the highest rate of parents admitting to this, at 29%.
  • 81% of parents have difficulty in booking time off for holidays themselves, with 45% saying this makes them feel guilty.
  • 28% said work-place etiquette dictates that they should not book leave in school holiday periods, and 45% of those without children admitted they felt frustrated that colleagues with families always get Christmas/summer off work.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, Nationwide’s Head of Savings Policy, stressed that holidays are an “essential part” of family life, but that the research shows “planning a family holiday can be a tricky process” and that parents have to contend not only with financial pressures but also with “the impact on family and working relationships”.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 01/07/2016

Governing Matters: July/August edition

A new Governing Matters, NGA’s bi-monthly magazine, is out this week.

Cover stories include:

The magazine is available as a pdf for standard governing board members who do not get a printed copy. Alternatively if the membership is upgraded to GOLD, all members of the board will be posted a copy to their home address. Please make sure we have your home addresses: email membership.


MPs hear from prospective Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman

On Wednesday, the House of Commons Education Select Committee held a pre-appointment hearing for the post of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) with Amanda Spielman, the Department for Education’s preferred candidate for the position. Ms Spielman has been chair of the exams regulator Ofqual for the past five years, prior to which she was involved in the establishment of Ark Schools multi academy trust.

The wide ranging questions covered Ms Spielman’s lack of teaching background, intentions for “building bridges” with the teaching profession, and her vision for her role and the wider role of Ofsted. For a full round-up of the session, see our parliamentary news page.

The committee will publish a short report on their opinion of Ms Spielman’s suitability for the position. The appointment will then be confirmed by the Privy Council and Ms Spielman would take over the role from Sir Michael Wilshaw in December.


New Schools Commissioner for the West Midlands

It was announced this week that Christine Quinn – CEO and Executive Principal of Ninestiles Academy Trust – will take over from Pank Patel as Regional Schools Commissioner for the West Midlands. She will start on 3 October 2016, reporting to Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner. She said that she is “delighted” to be taking up the role, and spoke of her 25 years of experience working in the “richness and diversity” of the West Midlands. Sir David said that the West Midlands will “benefit from her vast knowledge and skills”.

The responsibilities of RSCs include:

  • taking decisions on the creation of new academies
  • monitoring their performance and improving underperforming academies
  • ensuring there is a strong supply of excellent sponsors to work with underperforming schools in the region
  • encouraging and supporting high-quality applications for new free schools


NFER compare the performance of maintained schools and academies

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), has released a report looking at the performance of maintained schools compared to academies. For a breakdown of the findings, visit the NGA research page.

In addition, the latest edition of Governing Matters includes an article exploring the key question: are academies better? NGA’s Policy and Information Officer, Fay Holland, analyses the available, and often contradictory, evidence.


Newly published statistics show characteristics of the school system

New figures published by the Department of Education (DfE) give an overview of the current state of the school system.

The DfE statistics on schools, pupils, and their characteristics are based on census information from January 2016 and show that:

  • There are 121,000 more pupils in the school system than in January 2015.
  • The proportion of pupils eligible for and claiming free school meals is 14.3%, a 16 year low. The DfE attribute this to a decline in the number of parents claiming benefits, but this is not corroborated by figures from the Department of Work and Pensions. A more likely explanation is that universal infant free school meals are causing fewer families to register as eligible.
  • Just over 3 million pupils attend academies and free schools: 65.6% of all secondary school pupils and 19.5% of all primary school pupils.
  • The proportion of pupils from minority ethnic origins continues to rise steadily (31.4% of primary school pupils and 27.9% of secondary school pupils), as does the proportion of pupils with English as an additional language (20.1% in primary schools and 15.7% in secondary schools).
  • 14.4% of pupils have special educational needs (SEN), which breaks down as 2.8% with a statement of SEN or EHC plan and 11.6% with SEN support.


New NGA guidance on school visits

NGA has today published a brand new piece of guidance on school visits. Knowing your school: School visits, offers a comprehensive yet easy to use guide for getting the most out of visits to your school. Visits to schools can be enormously useful in carrying out the strategic role of the governing board. At the heart of that role is one of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance : knowing the school – the data, the staff, the parents, the children and the community. There are numerous ways those governing can know their school but actually visiting the school in person provides a valuable insight into how the school operates as well as an opportunity to put other information in context.

This guidance explores how a well-planned programme of visits can form an important element of the effective workings of the governing board. Split into key sections including setting visit expectations, common pitfalls and frequency of visits, the guidance provides a simple yet effective framework for school visits, including the do’s and don’ts, a model visits protocol and a model visits report. To access this, and for more on knowing your school(s), visit the Guidance Centre today.


New NGA guidance on parental engagement

The NGA has this week released updated guidance on parental engagement. Engaging with parents is an excellent way for governors and trustees to get to know their school’s strengths and weaknesses. A governing board will also want to solicit the views of parents to:

  • inform its strategic planning
  • give parents the opportunity to help shape their child’s education
  • reflect on the school’s performance as well as the board’s own effectiveness

What's inside?

  • why are parents important?
  • it's about ethos: engaging and involving parents
  • what do you want to know from parents?
  • measuring performance
  • ways to survey and inform parents
  • acting on results

This guidance is part of NGA’s popular Knowing Your School series produced with partners such the Fischer Family Trust and GL Assessment. For this updated guide, we teamed up with PTA-UK.

Download the guidance here - Knowing your school: Engaging parents.



Ofsted statistics on school inspections

Ofsted has released official statistics on inspections of maintained schools and academies as at 31 March. These show that:

  • 86% of schools were ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ at their most recent inspection, breaking down as:
    • 87% of primary schools and 76% of secondary schools
    • 87% of LA maintained schools, 88% of converter academies, 59% of sponsored academies, and 80% of free schools
  • there have been 978 short inspections carried out so far this year: 37% of these converted to a full inspection and 52% of those converted inspections resulted in the school retaining or improving their grade
  • 75% of primary schools previously judged ‘requires improvement’ had improved at their next inspection compared to 52% of secondary schools
  • there are still regional variations in school inspection outcomes: 70% of secondary schools in the North and Midlands are ‘good’ or better, compared to 81% in the South and East

These statistics have been welcomed by the DfE as showing record proportions ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools.


Risk management

Sayer Vincent, an accountancy firm which focuses on charities and social enterprises, has published free guidance for charities on risk management. Academies, and even maintained schools, might find this useful when reviewing their own approaches to risk.

Governing boards have overall responsibility for the effective management of risk within their schools. The guidance from Sayer Vincent dedicates a section to ‘Governance on risk’ which outlines the role and responsibilities of boards in this regard; providing advice on the governance of risk; identifying “headline risks”; using risk to inform decision-making; tools for assessing financial risks and making the right decisions.

NGA will be publishing its own guidance on risk management for maintained schools and academies in the near future and will update members through the weekly newsletter.


DfE publishes details of intervention powers for PRUs causing concern

Following changes to intervention powers introduced by the Education and Adoption Act 2016, the Department for Education has released guidance on the powers that can be taken in respect of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU).

From 27 June 2016, the Secretary of State will have a duty to make an academy order in respect of a PRU that has been judged 'inadequate' by Ofsted. This duty will apply to PRUs judged inadequate prior to 27 June 2016, in addition to PRUs that are judged inadequate subsequently.

Once made, the academy order can only be revoked by the Secretary of State in exceptional circumstances such as the PRU no longer being viable and therefore it would be more appropriate for it to close.


SchoolDash analysis sheds light on attainment gap

Analysis by SchoolDash, an independent website set up by a London-based academic, has revealed the effect of different factors on the attainment gap which are reported in a blog post. In the context of this analysis, the attainment gap refers to the gap between the highest and lowest performing pupils, rather than the socioeconomic attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. This is important because the gap is “potentially corrosive, not least because it establishes inequality of opportunity early in young people's lives”. The blog examines the types of schools which tend to cause this gap to shrink and those which allow it to widen, based on GCSE attainment judged against prior attainment. This found that:

  1. Schools that do the most to close the attainment gap in good ways (i.e. raising attainment of all pupils) are:
  • Schools in many London boroughs
  • Ofsted 'Outstanding' schools
  • Boys' schools
  1. Schools that generally perform well but tend to increase the attainment gap include:
  • Schools with small proportions of low-attainers
  • Rural schools
  • Schools in the East of England as well as Herefordshire, Worcestershire and York (among other areas)
  1. Schools that reduce the attainment gap but do so in unhelpful ways (i.e. by holding back high attainers) include:
  • Schools with high levels of deprivation
  • Schools with large proportions of low-attainers
  • Schools in Torbay, Kent, Salford and Blackpool (among other areas)
  1. Schools that combine low attainment with an increase in the attainment gap include:
  • Ofsted 'Inadequate' schools
  • Schools in Yorkshire and The Humber, the East Midlands and the North West
  • Schools in Knowsley, Barnsley, Stoke-on-Trent and Brighton (among other areas)

These findings are of course generalisations, and there will be schools within each group which buck the trend. However, they do raise interesting questions for governing boards and it may be useful to look at where your school’s characteristics fit in the analysis. What does the attainment gap look like in your school? Do you invest time and resources in supporting your high-attainers or are they overlooked?


Ofsted Chief Inspector once again turns spotlight on underachievement of disadvantaged pupils

Addressing the Festival of Education on Thursday, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) Sir Michael Wilshaw praised improvements in the school sector but said that more needs to be done to promote the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

In particular, Wilshaw highlighted the disparity in achievement between pupils eligible for free school meals and those who are not in some of the more affluent parts of the country. He said that the poorest pupils had been let down due to a whole range of factors:

  • The failure of politicians on all sides to address the issue effectively.
  • A group within education who he referred to as “structural vandals, those who argue that children don’t need structure in school”. This, he contends, disproportionately impacts on poorer children as “a rule-based classroom culture helps compensate for a chaotic home life”.
  • Failure to develop pathways for pupils who would benefit from a technical education. He advocates flexibility in the curriculum and proposes that every multi academy trust should include a University Technical College. The latter have not, however, been a universal success with several having to close.
  • Disparity in access to experienced and well-qualified teachers between deprived and more affluent areas; within areas with selective schools, this is compounded by the more experienced and better qualified teachers being more often found in grammar schools (this has also been the subject of a blog by Education Datalab’s Dr Rebecca Allen this week).
  • Similarly, a lack of strong school leaders in schools that serve challenging or deprived communities.

Sir Michael’s tenure as HMCI will come to an end in December. The DfE has recommended Amanda Spielman as his successor and she is due to appear before the Education Select Committee next Wednesday 29 June as the next stage in the appointment process.


School support staff face high levels of abuse, says UNISON

As part of the local government conference, UNISON (one of the main trade unions for support staff in schools) published a press release highlighting the high level of physical abuse experienced by classroom or teaching assistants across the UK. The report, Bad Form: Behaviour in Schools, found that:

  • More than half (53%) of classroom or teaching assistants have experienced physical violence at school in the past year
  • Of the teaching assistants who had faced violence, 98% said this was from pupils
  • 76% of teaching assistants said they had witnessed violence at their school in the past year
  • 19% said they worked in a school with an inadequate behaviour policy

UNISON’s head of education, Jon Richards, attributed this to the ‘cuts and general lack of cash’ facing schools at the moment. He said that ‘a lack of resources means schools are unable to address behavioural issues’. The union called for school governors and headteachers to do more to manage behaviour and provide support for all staff facing violence.

Governing boards should ensure all staff have access to appropriate continuing professional development (CPD) and support. Governors should ask whether all staff are informed about the behaviour policy and given appropriate training to enable them to implement it effectively.

UNISON also pledged to oppose government policies on academisation.

Questions for governing bodies to ask: Behaviour

Questions for governing bodies to ask: Staffing


Results of Clerks’ survey

As you may remember, NGA recently conducted a survey on the pay and employment of clerks. We received over 1,450 responses and have now analysed the results: the full report can be found in the ‘Clerking as a Career’ section of our website.

We will use the findings of the survey to help us develop a recommended rate of pay for clerks. It is hoped that the provision of guidance will mean governing boards will be better informed on what they should be paying their clerks.

If anyone has any questions in regards to the survey, please email clerkingmatters@nga.org.uk


Teacher training and development charities to merge

This week the Future Leaders Trust and Teaching Leaders announced that they intend to join forces and form one organisation.

The Future Leaders Trust was set up in 2006 and offers training and development programmes for heads and aspiring head teachers, with a variety of programmes including the Talented Leader programme for schools in coastal, rural and disadvantaged areas. It has 1700 leaders working in 1500 schools.

Teaching Leaders focuses on developing outstanding middle leaders, with selective programmes for high-potential individuals and non-selective programmes for middle leadership teams within a school. It has trained 1958 teachers in over 950 schools.

The charities say the a merger will enable them to make a greater impact on the children they serve and provide quality leadership development, at all levels, in the most challenging schools in England.

Read more about Future Leaders here: www.future-leaders.org.uk/futureleaders

For further information about Teaching Leaders, visit http://www.teachingleaders.org.uk/


Working group to develop Competency Framework for governors

This week the Department for Education (DfE) has provided further information about the competency framework for governance promised in March’s white paper. The National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, has convened a working group of experienced chairs of governors and one clerk to support the production of the framework, which will set out the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for effective governance.

A first draft will be produced by early July and will be put out to consultation with stakeholders. As part of the Advisory Group on Governance (AGOG), NGA will be providing comment on the framework as it develops. 

NGA does not think it ideal for any consultation to take place over the summer break but we will of course keep members informed. It is our intention to discuss the framework and seek views from members at our autumn regional meetings.

It is the DfE’s intention that the final framework will be published in the Autumn term. The framework will be used as a basis from which to make recommendations about the content of the National College of Teaching and Leadership’s professional development programmes for chairs and clerks from September 2017. It will also be used to produce a national standard for governor induction training.


NUT members vote to strike

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have voted in favour of a day of strikes on 5 July: “91.7% of members in England who voted have voted to support 'discontinuous strike action’ against cuts in funding and for genuine negotiations around our workload, pay and other conditions.”

The Department for Education (DfE) has described the outcome as “disappointing” and said that it has offered to engage in formal talks with the union.
















From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 17/06/2016

Last chance to take part in the NGA/TES survey!

This weekend is your last chance to take part in this year’s NGA/TES survey. This survey is your chance to tell us what you really think about key issues. The findings are invaluable to NGA’s work lobbying the government, and they are also used to inform our guidance and other work to support governing boards across the country.

The survey is aimed at governors and trustees, but clerks please do pass the word on to your governing boards.

The survey takes 20-25 minutes to complete and will close on Monday 20 June.

Take the survey!


Nominations are requested for the NGA Board of Trustees

NGA is a charitable company limited by guarantee, and all members of the NGA board are both charity trustees and company directors.  The maximum size of the NGA board is 13 trustees, of whom nine are elected by the membership and four appointed by the trustees. There are vacancies for three elected trustees. Nominations for election are sought from the East Midlands, North East and West Midlands. Those elected will take office following the AGM on Saturday 19 November 2016.

All trustees must be committed to NGA’s aims and charitable purpose and have the generic skills essential to be a trustee. The board would particularly welcome nominations from individuals with skills/experience in the following areas:

  • national lobbying
  • marketing/PR
  • premises/facilities management

Before applying, candidates should have regard to the following documents on the elections page of the NGA website: NGA trustee role description, trustee person specification, trustees’ skills audit, declaration of eligibility for trustees, declaration of interest form for trustees.

Nominations for election should be submitted on the nomination form available on the NGA website, no later than 5pm on Friday 30 September.  Along with their nomination forms, candidates will need to submit their declaration of eligibility, skills audit, declaration of interest form and a digital high-resolution photograph of themselves.

Nominations should be submitted to Gillian Allcroft.


A new governor and trustee recruitment partnership: NGA recruiting a project leader

NGA is delighted to announce that it will be working in partnership with the charity Education and Employers on the Inspiring Governance programme.  Education and Employers has been chosen as the Department for Education’s preferred bidder for a major four-year programme to support the delivery of targeted governor and academy trustee recruitment across England. NGA will be offering support to new volunteers so that they can engage effectively with governing from the beginning of their term of office and developing the service to support schools to find excellent chairs.

As we announced last week, NGA is looking for a Head of Inspiring Governance Project. Based in Birmingham, this post will take the lead on ensuring that all those recruited to governing boards have the right skills and support to contribute actively, and have an impact on board effectiveness and quality of governance from day one.

For more details on the project please click here.

To learn more about the role of the Head of Inspiring Governance Project, and to apply, please click here.


MPs question Ofsted and National Schools Commissioner about MATs

On Wednesday 15 June, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw and National Schools Commissioner Sir David Carter appeared before the House of Commons Education Select Committee as part of MPs’ inquiry into multi-academy trusts (MATs).

For a full commentary on this story, please visit NGA’s parliamentary page.


Queen's Birthday Honours 2016

Congratulations to everyone working in education who received an honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2016, published 10 June 2015. The list recognised 109 people for their service to education and children’s services. The NGA would particularly like to extend congratulations to the eight governors listed. It was pleasing to see Jane Owens, long-standing and active NGA member receive an MBE for services to education, along with NGA’s federation champion, Ariana Yakas, as the Chair of Governors at Kingsway Community Trust.

Others receiving awards for school governance are:

  • Andrew Child (MBE), Chair of Governors, High Storrs School, Sheffield
  • Matthew Miller (MBE), National Leader of Governance and Chair of Governors, Highlands School, Enfield
  • Robert Palmer (MBE), Chair of Governors, St Mary’s CE Primary School, Manchester
  • Maria Heywood (BEM), Vice Chairman of Governors, Abbey Gate College, Chester
  • John Wallace (BEM), Governor, The Latimer Primary School, Leicestershire
  • Paul Yeates (BEM), Lately Chair of Governors and Volunteer at Lingfield Notre Dame school

We actively encourage honours nominations for those who have made a real difference for pupils in school - even more so to a number of schools - so please consider nominating a governor or trustee for the next round of honours. Either take a look at the guidance or, if you would like to find out more about making a nomination for a governor, email Mark Gardner.


Public Accounts Committee publish report into 30 hours free childcare entitlement

This week, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published a report investigating the government’s offer of 30 hours free childcare to working families. The committee reported that whilst the Department for Education (DfE) has made significant progress in ensuring all three and four year olds benefit from 15 hours free childcare, the uptake among disadvantaged two year olds is significantly lower at 58%. The report draws on written evidence to make several conclusions and recommendations, the main being:

  • The report concludes that there may not be enough providers willing to provide the additional 15 hours from 2017, as private and voluntary providers say that the money they receive will not cover their costs. This would disproportionately affect disadvantaged pupils from receiving this childcare.
  • The report recommends that the DfE uses its pilot scheme to evaluate and implement any changes before the full roll-out.
  • The report states that parents are finding that some providers offer free childcare only on condition that parents also pay for additional hours. The PAC outlines that the DfE should identify and report back on the scale of this problem, and remind LA’s that they have a statutory duty to ensure that this does not happen.
  • The DfE lacks data to measure the impact of free childcare according to the report, which recommends the DfE considers tracking children from pre-school onwards.


Official school admissions statistics published

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) released data on secondary and primary school applications and offers for 2016. The key points were as follows:

  • 84.1% of applicants received an offer for their first choice secondary school, with 95% receiving an offer for one of their top three preferences
  • at primary level, 88.4% received an offer for their first choice school, with 96.3% receiving an offer for one of their top three preferences
  • 2016 saw 548,006 secondary school applications, a 2.8% increase on 2015
  • primary schools saw a 0.8% increase in applications from 2015
  • the percentage of applicants receiving an offer for any of their preferences was 96.5% for secondary schools and 96.9% for primary schools

The DfE said that these figures show that the system is continuing to work, but Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell said too many schools are at or over capacity.


MPs call for action on digital skills crisis

The Commons Science and Technology Committee has published a report setting out the findings of its inquiry into the digital skills crisis. The report found that the UK needs another 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017, with the skills gap costing the economy around £63bn a year in lost income. It identified schools as being a key part of the solution, and commends the ‘world-leading’ new computer science curriculum. However, the report found that many schools do not have the capacity to effectively deliver the new curriculum: 22% of IT equipment in schools is ineffective, and just 35% of computer science teachers had a relevant qualification. Furthermore, the government has only been able to recruit 70% of the required number of computer science teachers. The report’s recommendations for the schools sector include:

  • The government should encourage the uptake of existing available resources by schools, many of which are free.
  • The government should set targets for recruiting computer science teachers.
  • The government should increase its investment in teacher training as a long term commitment.
  • Ofsted should include the computing curriculum in their inspections and require schools to deliver credible, sustainable plans for embedding computing.
  • Employers should engage with schools, acting as role models and mentors. Interest in computer science (and STEM) needs to be captured at primary school level, then maintained until key career defining choices are made in selecting subjects at GCSE and A level.

The report also suggested that ‘schools should look for innovative ways to boost capacity through coding clubs and other informal learning opportunities offered by industry leaders’.

Governing boards may want to consider what computer science provision looks like in their school(s). Are teaching staff suitably trained to deliver the new curriculum? Do you have sufficient IT resources?


New NGA Guidance

NGA has today published a new piece of guidance on assessing the impact of the pupil premium. Pupil premium: assessing the impact of the pupil premium, written with support from the Education and Endowment Foundation (EEF), offers a step-by-step guide to measuring the effectiveness of the pupil premium. It also provides numerous sign-posts to various sources of information and data that governors can use to hold their school to account for pupil premium spending. To access this, and for more on the pupil premium, visit the Guidance Centre.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 10/06/2016

Nicky Morgan replies to NGA’s open letter

Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, has replied to NGA’s open letter outlining NGA’s concerns, and the concerns of NGA members, about the government’s White Paper proposals to force all schools to become academies and to remove the requirement for elected parents on the boards of academy trusts.

Responding to Nicky Morgan’s letter, Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, penned a new blog asking the question: are we concentrating power in the hands of too few? In the blog, Emma argues that Nicky Morgan and her Department are increasing the risk that governing boards will become cliques of like-minded individuals. Emma also discusses the differences in ethos between the business world and the education sector.  

Click here to read Nicky Morgan’s letter in full.

Click here to read Emma Knights’s blog.


NGA is recruiting for a Head of the Inspiring Governance Project

This new role is part of the Inspiring Governance programme led by our partner Education and Employers charity and funded by the Department for Education. The project is likely to begin in September 2016, although the full details of the programme are yet to be finalised. More information about this programme will be available in next week's newsletter, but if you are interested in finding out more about this role in the meantime please follow this link.

Please feel free to share this information with anyone that you think may be interested in applying for the job.


Department for Education recommends Amanda Spielman as new HMCI for Ofsted

On Friday 10 June the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, recommended Amanda Spielman for the post of HMCI of Ofsted. If appointed, she will replace Sir Michael Wilshaw in December. Ms Spielman, co-founder of the academy chain ARK, is no stranger to governance having been Chair of Ofqual since 2011 and a board member of Brunel University, Floreat Education and Stemnet.

At present, this is only a recommendation for appointment and it will have to be confirmed by the Privy Council. The recommendation will now be scrutinised by the Education Select Committee who will present their conclusions to the Privy Council for consideration.

NGA will keep members posted via the e-newsletter as to the appointment of a new Ofsted chief.


Clerking Matters

The new Clerking Matters section of the NGA website has now gone live and can be accessed here.

A brand new feature for Clerking Matters is a free clerks resource section – Clerk to Governors. Some of you may already know that in May Shena Lewington, the person behind the popular school governance blog and website Clerk to Governors, announced that she would be retiring from running C2G on the 10 June 2016. NGA will be looking to build on the great contribution Shena has made in promoting good practice and raising the profile of clerks across the sector. Shena has also previously worked as a consultant for the NGA and NGA would like to say thank you for her expert support and enthusiasm over the years – she will be greatly missed!

NGA is very much looking forward to developing its Clerking Matters service to clerks promoting good practice and, in particular, in raising the profile of clerks. Within the new Clerking Matters section of our website you will find easy access to a wide range of relevant resources and topics including clerking best practice, statutory guidance and legislation, clerks news, information on clerking as a career and regular updates on the NGA Clerks Advisory Group.  

NGA has relaunched Clerking Matters with four main aims:

  • to increase the understanding of the importance of the work of clerks and what can be expected of a well-trained clerk
  • to help governing boards find good clerks where there is difficulty in doing this
  • to help clerks know where continuing professional development can be found
  • to encourage appropriate remuneration of clerks

Explore Clerking Matters today and feel free to contact us directly at clerkingmatters@nga.org.uk.


Public Accounts Committee report highlights the scope of the teacher recruitment problem

On Friday 10 June the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published its report on training new teachers – offering a scathing assessment of the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) handling of the teacher “recruitment crisis”.

The report outlined that although the DfE “is reassured by the national picture that its statistics paint about teacher numbers” this is not reflective of the picture on the ground, and that “these numbers disguise significant local variation and do not reflect the difficulties headteachers experience across the country when they try to recruit teachers. From its national vantage point the Department does not understand, and shows little curiosity about, the size and extent of teacher shortages around the country and assumes headteachers will deal with gaps. Despite repeatedly missing its targets, the Department shows no sense of leadership or urgency in making sure there are sufficient new teachers to meet schools’ future needs”.

The PAC also raised concerns that subjects are being taught by “non-specialists” as a result of recruitment difficulties, citing figures from a recent association of school and college leaders (ASCL) survey from March 2016 which found that 73% of school and college leaders had asked teachers to teach subjects they are not specialists in.

A summary of the conclusions and recommendations of the report can be found here and the full report is available here.

On Friday 10 June, the Education Select Committee also released a statement welcoming the report and stated that they would “consider the findings in their own inquiry into the supply of teachers”.


Minister of Schools issues letter to all headteachers on term-time holidays

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has written to all state schools concerning the recent high court ruling on term-time holidays. He outlined that the ruling should not open the gate for unchallenged term-time absence and that “no child should miss school apart from in exceptional circumstances. Schools should consider each instance on a case-by-case basis”.

As reported in the 20/05/2016 Newsletter, the high court overturned a fine issued by the Isle of Wight Council for a parent who took his child out of school for a family holiday. In his letter, Nick Gibb wrote that:

  1. “The High Court's judgment did not establish a hard and fast rule that a pupil's attendance above 90% is regarded as 'regular' attendance. Instead a decision will have to depend on the individual facts of each case. In the Isle of Wight case, for example, the magistrates thought it was a pertinent fact that the school itself had described 90% attendance as 'satisfactory'”.
  2. “We understand that some parents who have already been given penalty notices and have paid the penalty are asking local authorities to withdraw the notices under regulation 8 of the Education (Penalty notices) (England) Regulations 2007 and refund their payments. However, the view of the Department is that the decision in the Isle of Wight case does not require local authorities to do this, and I would expect applications of this kind to be refused in the ordinary course of events. We will set out any additional steps necessary to secure children's attendance at school in due course”.

Meanwhile, the Isle of Wight Council has released a statement to say that “the minister of state for schools, Nick Gibb, has formally requested that the Isle of Wight council makes an application for permission to appeal against the high court judgment of 13 May, in relation to unauthorised school absence. As a result, the Isle of Wight council has today formally submitted papers applying for permission to appeal”. The statement went on to say that the Department for Education will “meet the council’s costs of applying to the high court (and, if refused, to the Supreme Court) for permission to appeal, and other future costs”.


Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance

The DfE has updated this statutory guidance which will apply from 5 September 2016. Whilst there are no major changes to policy, the guidance does provide further clarity and emphasis in certain areas. The key changes relevant to governing boards include:

  • A clearer expectation for governing boards to have a nominated governor who is responsible for the school’s safeguarding arrangements;
    • This does not absolve the rest of the governing board of responsibility for safeguarding and you should ensure that regular reports are received and discussed by the governing board about safeguarding.
  • Ensuring the safeguarding and child protection policies account for peer-on-peer abuse, additional safeguarding challenges for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and honour-based violence;
  • Providing opportunities for staff to contribute to the development of such policies based on their safeguarding experiences;
  • The fact that the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) must be a member of the senior leadership team and cannot delegate this responsibility;
  • Ensuring (rather than considering how) safeguarding is taught as part of a broad and balanced curriculum;
  • Checking for section 128 directions (these will be flagged in a DBS check) which prohibit or restrict a person from taking part in the management of an independent school (including academies and free schools) including in a management position as an employee, as a trustee, as a member or local governor;
  • Inclusion of the requirement for maintained school governors to provide enhanced DBS certificates.

As a result of the updated guidance governing boards should now review their safeguarding policies and procedures, and the content and policies for staff safeguarding training. NGA is also producing a suite of safeguarding guidance which will be available in the Guidance Centre shortly.


HMCI calls for return of Key Stage 3 tests

In his monthly commentary, Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has called for the return of national testing at Key Stage 3 because too many talented disadvantaged pupils are not achieving their full potential at secondary school.  

He reported that last year, 68% of non-selective secondary school pupils who had achieved a level 5 or above in both English and mathematics at the end of primary school failed to attain A* or A grades in these subjects at GCSE. In addition, 27% of previously high-attaining pupils failed to achieve the minimum expected progress – a grade B in both these key subjects at GCSE.

A “culture of low expectations” meant thousands of pupils who achieved well at primary school, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, were failing to reach their full potential after the age of 11. Other reasons were:

  • poor transition arrangements with feeder primary schools
  • few checks being made on whether the teaching of mixed ability groups was challenging the brightest children sufficiently
  • disproportionate effort being spent in many schools on getting pupils over the GCSE C/D borderline rather than supporting the most able to secure the top A/A* grades

Wilshaw argued that one of the principal reasons for the gap at secondary school is the absence of any formal testing between the ages of 11 and 16 and he urged the government to consider bringing back external national testing at key stage 3, saying he believed it was a mistake to abolish these tests in the first place.

There was of course a concerted campaign which saw the abolition of the tests back in 2008 and of course there continues to be concern about the amount of testing carried out on English pupils. 

Click here to read Sir Michael Wilshaw’s monthly blog in full.

We have extensive guidance for governors and trustees to hold schools to account for the performance of pupils. Visit our Guidance Centre to find out more.   


APPG on Education Governance and Leadership

Thanks to all those governors, trustees and clerks who lobbied their MP to attend the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership. This week’s meeting was held at the House of Commons and was hosted by Neil Carmichael MP and also joined by Nic Dakin MP, the Labour Shadow School’s Minister. The APPG focussed on the forthcoming Education for All bill and the issues raised by it, including: the implications and risks involved in moving schools into the Third sector, accountability in multi academy trusts and the role of parents in school governance.

Keep an eye on our APPG page for a full briefing.    


Women and Equalities Committee holds first public evidence session

In April this year, the Women and Equalities Committee launched the first parliamentary inquiry into sexual violence in schools, alongside research. Last week, the Committee heard from a group of students on their personal experiences of sexual harassment in schools. The roundtable discussion this week was made up of six experts working in schools across the country, including those who run workshops in schools on this topic. The committee aims to address the following questions:

  • What is the scale of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools?
  • How well are schools currently tackling this issue?
  • What are the barriers to action?
  • Which policy recommendations would have the most impact on reducing levels of sexual harassment and violence in schools?

Discussion first centred on the normalisation of sexual harassment in schools; how it is seen as an everyday part of school life. It also discussed the lack of government guidelines; the last guidance was published in 2000 which is clearly out of date for children today. The select committee also called for more of a focus on personal social health and economic education (PSHE) and early intervention, but argued that this topic should be cross-curricular and not just for one lesson a fortnight. It also recommended that all teachers be properly and regularly trained on how to discuss, manage, and monitor this kind of behaviour, and that a whole school approach should be taken and assessed by Ofsted.

NGA’s view is that PSHE and relationships and sex education (RSE) should be compulsory.


Poor standards of education in the East Midlands, warns Ofsted

Sir Michael Wilshaw has expressed his deep concerns about education standards in the East Midlands, which according to Ofsted’s figures is the lowest performing in the country. 

Wilshaw blamed a “culture of complacency and a lack of clear accountability” for poor educational performance in the region, in which:

  • one in three secondary schools was judged less than good at their last inspection; the joint lowest Ofsted inspection outcomes
  • nearly 46% of pupils did not achieve the benchmark five or more GCSE A* to C grades (including English and maths) in 2015
  • nearly 73% of East Midlands pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) failed to achieve this benchmark

Wilshaw said, “…in many ways, the problems in this region symbolise more than anywhere else the growing educational divide between the South and the rest of England” adding: “National politicians and policymakers must start to worry more about what is happening north of the Wash. They should be asking why schools in large parts of the East Midlands aren’t doing better.”

Sir Michael’s comments were made at the same time as Ofsted’s regional director for the East Midlands, Chris Russell, issued an open letter to all those involved in education in Northamptonshire expressing concern about performance across the county.

NGA’s training and consultancy team has a range of training options available for governors and trustees in the East Midlands. Why not get in touch and see how NGA can help your board?


Wraparound Childcare consultation response released

This week, the government responded to a consultation on its Wraparound and holiday childcare guidance.

NGA did respond to this consultation, and the final guidance does take account of some of our suggestions: our main suggestions focused on the need of more practical guidance, for example template processes. The government responded that they are considering this carefully.

  • The initial guidance said that schools should nominate a governor to oversee the process. We argued that this is an operational task and should not involve governors, and the guidance has now taken out this recommendation and says that governing bodies should retain strategic oversight.
  • A definition of the ages covered by the policy, which was one of our suggestions, is now included.


Research identifies factors affecting pupils’ aspirations to attend university

Research published this week explores the factors affecting pupils’ aspirations regarding university.

For a detailed briefing of this paper, please visit NGA’s research page.


KIDS charity releases a guide to personal budgets

KIDS charity has released guidance on personal budgets. Making it personal - A guide to personalisation, personal budgets and Education, Heath and Care plans (EHC plans), includes examples of how personal budgets are being used, and offers advice on how they might be used.

A personal budget is allocated directly to children and young people so they/their parents can themselves arrange the special educational provision specified in their EHC plan.

The guidance can be found here.

KIDS charity are also keen to hear your views on the guidance and so please do complete the short feedback survey. All responses to the survey are anonymous so no individuals will be identified or identifiable in the report.


Find out about the latest "Leading Governance programmes" that are now available for booking

Leading Governance is offering the following new Chair of Governors Leadership and National Clerks' Development programmes. Please go to www.leadinggovernance.org and click on the appropriate tab to find out more and register.

The cost of both programmes is £399 per participant and we are delighted to be able to offer NCTL scholarships of £320 towards this cost.

We are busily planning more groups nationally, so watch this space over the next month for further details of groups happening in your area.

National Clerks' Development Programme

  • Bolton Cohort 1 starts on 17 June

Chair of Governors Leadership Development Programme - for chairs or aspiring chairs

  • Manchester Cohort 2 starts on 22 September
  • Newham Cohort 8 starts on 2 July
  • Enfield Cohort 8 starts on 19 November
  • Bucks Cohort 9 starts on 14 September


Emma Knights speaking at this year’s Telegraph Festival of Education

23-24 June: Wellington College, Berkshire.

We are delighted to announce that NGA is a main partner for this year’s The Telegraph Festival of Education, in association with Microsoft, and that we’re able to offer members 30% off tickets.

Over two days, the Festival of Education, held at Wellington College, brings together the very best of education’s most forward thinking advocates, practitioners of change, policy makers, educators and students in one of the leading forums for thought leadership, CPD, and debate.

Come and join the thousands of other Festival-goers who explore, celebrate, learn, debate, and connect.

Book your tickets now for one of the most enjoyable and rewarding education events of 2016. Use the discount code NGAFOE2016 to receive 30% off and group booking discounts are also available for your schools.

Click here for more information.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 27/05/2016

MPs debate forthcoming Education for All Bill

Following the announcement in the Queen’s Speech last week of a new Education for All Bill, MPs have been debating the plans in the House of Commons.

The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, said “the Bill shifts responsibility for school improvement away from local authorities towards great school leaders who will be able to spread their reach, ensuring more pupils benefit from their proven records of success”. We are not impressed by the fact that she did not mention governors or trustees, but used the phrase: “a school-led system, with heads, teachers and parents in the driving seat.” We have not yet had a response to our letter sent to her on 22 April in which we expressed disappointment that the word trustee was not used in the White Paper and she has not corrected this omission in her speech.

In parliament, Nicky Morgan promised “careful consultation” on criteria for identifying LAs that are underperforming or "unviable"; in which all schools, including those judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, will be converted to academy status. On the measure to make schools accountable for the placement and outcomes of their excluded pupils, she said this would ensure they are not left “out of sight and out of mind”.

In response, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Labour’s Lucy Powell, said: “There is simply no evidence that academisation in itself leads to school improvement … I ask the Secretary of State again to get the independent analysis, take stock, ensure best practice – not worst practice – is being spread, and develop high-quality chains to take on more schools before seeking more powers to accelerate academisation.” She highlighted a shortage of teachers as “the biggest issue facing education today” as well as real term cuts in school budgets and changes in assessment as barriers to improvement.

The chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael, has called on Nicky Morgan to publish the Education for All Bill in draft form in order for the committee to scrutinise and offer recommendations for the Bill’s improvement. This, he says, would help to “avoid the fate of the White Paper”, referring to the widespread opposition to universal academisation which led to a change of policy after the paper was published.


Get your MP involved in school governance: an opportunity on Tuesday 7 June

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Education Governance and Leadership will meet this June in the House of Commons, Committee Room 5 from 17:30-19:00. This is an important forum for parliamentarians to discuss the key issues affecting school governance. If we want more attention to be given to school governance and the issues faced by governing boards, then we need more governors, trustees and clerks to encourage their MPs to get involved in this group.

The meeting will be chaired by Neil Carmichael MP – who is also chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee. The group will discuss the implications of the new Education bill Education for All for governance and leadership.

In the past, this influential group has published:

The APPG also hosted the launch of the publication Governing Groups of Schools: Staying In Control of Your School’s Destiny.

Please ask your MP to attend this APPG and then let us know by emailing us. You can easily find your MP by clicking here.

You can find out more here: APPG on Education Governance and Leadership.


Call for better financial education for young people

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People has published its report on the impact and effectiveness of financial education in schools. The APPG commissioned its fourth inquiry in this area to assess the extent and impact of financial education teaching since its introduction into the English secondary national curriculum at the start of the 2014/15 academic year.

As a result of the inquiry, the APPG have made the following recommendations for policymakers looking to strengthen financial capability across the country:

  1. strengthening school provision - by introducing financial education at primary level rather than teaching it at secondary level only, and ensuring teaching focuses on real-life contexts
  2. improve teacher confidence and skillset – by embedding financial education in the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Framework and schools having a financial education ‘champion’ to coordinate and promote learning
  3. encouraging coordination between financial education providers – by HM Treasury - ensuring that the reformed money guidance body (replacing the Money Advice Service) is able to coordinate, identify and signpost best practice of financial education across the sector
  4. measuring long-term impact – by commissioning a long-term study on the effectives of financial education interventions and the UK to participate in the OECD’s evaluation of financial literacy to enable global benchmarking

The above is a summary of the recommendations but the full report can be read here.


Business leaders call for greater focus on primary science

This week the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has published a report calling for a greater focus on science in primary schools. Tomorrow’s World: Inspiring Primary Scientists highlights that the supply of science skills does not currently meet demand, and that this has the potential to hold back economic growth. Increasing young people’s engagement with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects is an important part of overcoming the problem, but the report argues that too many children are switched off to science by the time they leave primary school. A survey of 260 primary teachers sought to identify the reasons for this. The key challenges include devoting too little curriculum time to science, lack of confidence among primary teachers to teach science, and relatively little professional development being available. The report’s recommendations include:

  • developing a new science education strategy covering all levels of education – primary, secondary and tertiary
  • ensuring professional development for science is of a high standard in primary schools, and that it is undertaken on a regular basis
  • for all primary schools to have a subject leader for science to drive a continual focus on the subject
  • as part of CPD, to develop the opportunity for teachers to spend some time in businesses and universities to enhance their understanding of the theory and application of science – this should be promoted to both professionals and schools

To help governing boards get to grips with STEM provision in their school(s), the Wellcome Trust and NGA have produced questions for governing boards to ask about science and maths. There are separate sets for primary and secondary schools, which include benchmarking data and suggestions for improvement.


NAHT writes to Nicky Morgan about assessment

This week, the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) published an open letter to Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for education, calling for changes to the primary assessment system. The association states that their members’ experience with assessment arrangements in 2016 has, “not been a positive one” and that “serious problems” have emerged in the planning and implementation of tests this year which have had a negative effect on schools.

NAHT writes that teachers and headteachers have agreed that a thorough review of assessment is necessary and they hope Nicky Morgan will commit to a “fundamental review of assessment to avoid further problems next year”.

NAHT is urging Nicky Morgan to settle the “growing disquiet about assessment and demonstrate a clear faith in the profession” by holding off on the publication of any 2016 test data and committing to changing from “secure fit” to “best fit” judgements in the assessment of writing.

Read the full letter here.


New guidance on effective pupil premium reviews

An updated guide to spending the pupil premium has been produced by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and the Teaching School Council (TSC). The guide outlines six stages of a pupil premium review in a school. Although it focuses on what schools can expect from an external review of the pupil premium, it does give some guidance on how schools can conduct a self-evaluation themselves, providing some useful tools and templates for free.

The NGA is currently producing a document specifically for governors on how to measure the impact of the pupil premium in their school(s). In the meantime, visit the Guidance Centre for more information on the pupil premium.


New report seeks to put education at the heart of ‘Northern Powerhouse’

A new report by IPPR North seeks to put education at the heart of the government’s “Northern Powerhouse”, an agenda aimed at promoting investment in the north of England and devolution to its major cities.

For a summary of this report, please visit NGA’s research page.


New data on retention rates for 16-19 subjects

This week, the Department for Education has released data on the retention rates in 16-19 school sixth forms for 2014/15. The retention rate is based on the number of students who started and completed a higher education course post-16. The headline figure is that, of the 1.5 million 16-19 courses started in state funded schools in the academic year 2014/15, 1.4 million were completed; this equates to a retention rate of 91%.

This represents a three percent drop in the retention rate from 2013/14. According to the DfE, this is most likely due to the increase in students taking on four (instead of the traditional three) A levels, and then dropping one of the subjects at a later date. Indeed, there was a rise of 7,900 students taking four A levels from 2013/14 to 2015/16; however, in 2013/14 students that took four A levels completed an average of 3.9 A levels compared to 3.6 A levels in 2014/15.

Overall, students were most likely to complete A level (94% for both male and female) and AS level courses (91% for both male and female) and least likely to complete applied GCE courses (male 89%; female 91%) and other qualifications (87% for both male and female).

For more information, see A Governors' Guide to Sixth Forms in the Guidance Centre.


Free childcare has limited impact on performance, research claims

Research released this week found that universal pre-school education for children aged 3 and 4 – which is aimed at improving child outcomes and narrowing attainment gaps – has had a limited impact on performance. The research investigates effects at ages 5, 7 and 11. Whilst a small improvement in outcomes can be detected at age 5, these initial benefits fade “substantially” and, by ages 7 and 11, the impact of the policy is “zero”. This study, conducted by researchers at Essex and Surrey universities, is the first to assess the effectiveness of the universal education pre-school policy.

The study also found that whilst this policy has increased the participation of children from lower socio-economic backgrounds in formal pre-school education, this has not given them any benefit over their more affluent peers. The report suggests that a reason for this is the way the policy is implemented – i.e. paying private providers a fixed amount rather than providing public childcare. It found that only 10-20% of the private providers have qualified teachers and that there is a lack of regulation; this, the report suggests, is something that needs addressing. Overall, the researchers argue that unless high quality settings expand significantly, the expansion of free childcare to 30 hours is unlikely to generate any substantial positive impact on outcomes.


Ofqual release figures on Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 exam uptake

This week, Ofqual has produced a breakdown of the uptake of GCSE, level 1 and 2 certificates, AS and A level qualifications. The headline figures are:

(GCSE qualifications)

  • There has been a further 13% drop in the number of early entry GCSEs (year 10 entry or below) in summer 2016 compared to summer 2015. This is on top of a 32% drop in early entry between 2014 and 2015. Nevertheless, the amount of early entries has increased in business studies, computing, drama, economics, music, physical education, religious studies and statistics.
  • For EBacc subjects, there has been an 8% decrease in the uptake of English, English language, German and French, with an increase of between 2% and 22% in English literature, biology, chemistry, physics, geography, history, science, additional science and Spanish. Entries for Maths increased by 3% and there has been an increase in the amount of students taking separate science GCSE’s instead of the triple award (a combination of chemistry, biology and physics). Notably, there has been an 87% increase in the uptake of computing.

(AS and A level qualifications)

  • Entries for AS level subjects dropped by 14% between 2015 and 2016. Only mathematics, health and social care, political studies and other modern languages increased. The uptake of reformed AS levels fell by 22%, with entries decreasing by 32% in English language and literature.
  • The uptake of A levels decreased by 2% between 2015 and 2016. The subjects with the biggest decreases were critical thinking (50%), general studies (35%), leisure (15%), performing or expressive arts (15%) and ICT (10%). There were largest increases in computing (15%), religious studies (6%), economics (5%) and health and social care (5%).

Governors may find these figures useful when discussing the curriculum, particularly in academies and sixth forms which have more freedom to choose their own subject offer. For more information on the curriculum, including the governor’s role, please visit the Guidance Centre.  


Ofqual outline impact of AS level exam changes in open letter to schools

Accompanying the statistics outlined above, Ofqual has written an open letter to schools ahead of this summer’s Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 exams. As well as providing advice on securing papers and specific GCSEs, the letter advises on how grades will be awarded and how the introduction of new AS qualifications may affect results.

Ofqual advise that “while nationally results may remain steady, we know that schools and colleges can see variability in their results year to year even when qualifications do not change. But we also know that when qualifications do change, schools and colleges can typically see more variability in their results. As a result, we expect this summer's changes to AS levels will mean that individual school or college results will be more variable than in recent years. We will publish more information on this when results are published”. Ofqual stated that, with any new exam syllabus, the standard is generally lower as pupils and teachers get used to the new system. However, Ofqual did stress that they would minimise any unfair disadvantage for students taking these new exams.

When questioning the headteacher on exam results, particularly AS level performance, governors should take into account how changes to the system may impact their school. For more information, see the NGA Guidance Centre.


Regional Schools Commissioner for the West Midlands steps down

The regional schools commissioner (RSC) for the West Midlands, Pank Patel, is stepping down to return to headship. The post is now being advertised with the hope of making an appointment next month.  Mr Patel will take up the headship of the George Salter Academy in West Bromwich, part of the Ormiston Academy Trust.

RSCs are civil servants who have responsibility for making decisions about academies, free schools and sponsors in their regions. They are also responsible for decisions about intervention in underperforming maintained schools.

The House of Commons Education Select Committee held an inquiry into the role of RSCs and made a number of recommendations, including reform of the regions to ensure they match up to those used by others in the education sector. This has not been implemented and the West Midlands region includes Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester. These areas are, understandably, generally thought of as belonging to the North West.


Reviewing your lead professional’s performance

Book your external advisor now!

Performance management of the headteacher has been established for many years and, since its inception, the practice has been that the governing board utilises the support of a paid professional to ensure the rigour of the process and that outcomes are focused solely on the needs of the school as a whole. Trustees and governors have for some time requested a service that provided them with the independent external support and advice that they require and gives the headteacher the confidence to endorse an NGA consultant in this role. NGA now has a number of consultants who can provide this service. For further information visit the NGA website and contact NGA’s lead consultant Clare Collins.


NGA at ASCL conference for Business Leaders, 9 June

NGA’s Chief Executive Emma Knights is the keynote speaker at the ASCL conference for Business Leaders on 9 June 2016, discussing strong governance – what’s changing and what’s not. If you are planning on attending, do not forget to visit our exhibition stand in the foyer area.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 20/05/2016

Queen’s Speech announces Education Bill

On Wednesday, the Queen’s Speech marked the State Opening of Parliament and the announcement of a new bill, Education for All, which aims to ensure all children get an excellent education regardless of location, prior attainment or background. The provisions of the bill are to:

  • Move towards a system where all schools are academies, albeit with no hard deadline for universal conversion. There will still be forced academisation for schools in “under-performing” local authorities (LAs), or in LAs which can no longer “viably” support their remaining schools.
  • Introduce a national fair funding formula by “redressing historical unfairness” in school funding and by ensuring that schools with the same kinds of pupils get the same funding.
  • Set out a “new role” for LAs by shifting responsibility for school improvement from LAs to school leaders.
  • Reform alternative provision for excluded pupils by making schools responsible for finding the right provider for their excluded pupils, and remaining accountable for their education.
  • Reform technical education with an employer-led system.

Reacting to the Queen’s Speech, Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “NGA welcomes the government’s promise to improve provision around the country and introduce a fair funding formula. Achieving excellence in all schools is what every governor and trustee is motivated to do when they volunteer.”

“We were pleased that the government dropped its idea of compulsory universal academisation but we remain concerned that the government intends to override the long term strategies of good and better schools in LAs it would deem to be underperforming or unviable”.


Evidence submitted to the Education Select Committee on MATs

In April 2016 the National Governors' Association (NGA) submitted evidence to the Education Select Committee enquiry on the performance, accountability, and governance of multi-academy trusts (MATs).

Questions included:

  • the role of MATs in the context of other intermediate structures operating between Whitehall and individual schools, including Regional Schools Commissioners
  • the current MAT landscape, including in terms of the number, size, and geographical coverage of MATs
  • the balance of decision-making at the individual school level and at the chain level, and the appropriateness of formal governance structures employed
  • how the expansion of MATs should be monitored and managed
  • the characteristics of high-performing MATs
  • how the performance of MATs should be assessed

Our submission can now be viewed here and you can view other submissions by accessing the Education Select Committee MAT enquiry publications page.


High Court ruling on term-time holidays

A landmark decision by the High Court saw parent Jon Platt win after challenging the interpretation of the Department for Education’s (DfE's) regulations forbidding term-time absences for state school pupils in “non-exceptional” circumstances.

Mr Platt took his daughter out of school last year for a trip to Disney World, Florida. The Isle of Wight Council fined him the £60, which they upped to £120 after he refused to pay. After Mr Platt also refused to pay the second fine, the Council prosecuted him for failing to ensure his daughter attended school regularly in accordance with the provisions of Sections 444 of the Education Act 1996. Mr Platt successfully argued in the local magistrate court that his daughter’s attendance record of more than 90% met the requirement for regular attendance. The Council appealed the decision to the High Court in a bid to gain clarification.

In effect this is two linked but separate pieces of legislation and policy coming into conflict. The provisions around regular attendance in the 1996 Act are largely aimed at preventing truancy. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended) include provisions for authorising absence from schools. These regulations were amended in 2013 to make clear that leave of absence could only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Previous versions of the regulations had allowed for up to ten days leave of absence for holiday to be granted at the discretion of the headteacher. Any absence for holiday which the headteacher had not granted in exceptional circumstances is deemed unauthorised. Local authorities or Academy Trusts can levy fines for unauthorised absence based on the provisions of the 1996 Act in relation to failure to secure regular attendance.

At the high court, Lord Justice (in this case, Lloyd Jones) agreed with Mr Platt saying he does “not consider it is open to an authority to criminalise every unauthorised holiday by the simple device of alleging that there has been no regular attendance in a period limited to the absence on holiday”.

This judgement could potentially lead to more parents contesting such fines. An Urgent Question was posed in Parliament on 19 May, where the schools minister, Nick Gibb, said that the ruling posed a “significant threat” to the government’s achievements in improving school attendance. Mr Gibb said that all the evidence points to even minimal absence having a detrimental effect on academic achievement. He stated that the “zero tolerance” approach has led to a dramatic fall in overall absence – from 6.5% at the end of 2007 to 4.6% at the end of 2015. In response to some MPs concerns about prices of holidays and the impact on tourist-centred constituencies (such as Cornwall), the Minister said that academies had the freedom to set their own term dates, and that the DfE would actively encourage schools to work together to change holiday dates as a way of addressing such issues.

The government has not yet said if and how it will legislate against this High Court ruling, but Nick Gibb made clear that once the written judgement of the High Court is released, the government will reveal its next steps.


Report recommends that all secondary schools should have on-site mental health support

This week the Institute for Public Policy Research (a left-leaning think tank) has published a report following research into mental health in secondary schools. The report states that there is a “crisis affecting children and young people’s mental health in England”, citing figures that three pupils in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition. Furthermore, in 2016 90% of secondary school headteachers reported an increase in rates of mental health problems - such as anxiety and depression among their pupils - over the previous five years. However, at the same time local mental health services have experienced cuts to their budgets, making it difficult for them to meet demand.

The report argues that secondary schools are well placed to act as “hubs” for early intervention provision, but that this is currently patchy. This is caused by four main barriers:

  • schools being unable to access sufficient funding and resources
  • a lack of established mechanisms by which schools can influence commissioning decisions taken by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)
  • the inconsistent quality of mental health support available to schools to buy in directly
  • a lack of external checks on the appropriateness and quality of the approaches taken by individual schools

The report recommends that by the end of the current parliament, all secondary schools should be guaranteed at least one day per week of onsite support from a child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) professional, rising to two days a week by 2022/23. It suggests that this is funded from within CCG budgets, but delivered in schools. The report also recommends that Ofsted must ensure that inspectors actually assess schools’ mental health provision according to the changes to the framework that were introduced in 2015/16. The Guardian reports that a government spokesman agreed with the principle of on-site support in schools and confirmed that inspection of mental health provision in schools would be discussed with Ofsted.


Last chance to respond - NGA survey on clerks’ pay

This is the final call for clerks to complete the NGA survey on clerks’ pay. It should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete and no individual responses or personal data will be shared with any third parties.

As we want to gather as many responses as possible, please forward the survey on to any clerks you know - they do not need to be members of NGA.

Click here to take the survey.


New research assesses the impact of quality careers advice on future earnings

A new academic study, commissioned by the education and employment taskforce, has found a correlation between good careers advice and later earnings.

For a summary of this report, please visit our research page.


Ofsted publishes its strategic plan

Ofsted has published its strategic plan for 2016 onwards. This is structured around three new overarching strategic priorities:

  1. Improved quality, efficiency, and effectiveness
    • embed the new education inspection arrangements
    • continue to focus on outcomes, not methods
    • consult on removing the ‘teaching, learning and assessment’ judgment
    • review early years inspection
  2. Improved focus
  3. prioritise inspection of underperforming providers
  4. carry out thematic surveys on the key issues leading to underperformance
  5. focus on the performance of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable
  6. report on issues relating to leadership, including succession in secondary schools and the suitability of governance arrangements
  7. ensure that inspection looks at safeguarding issues, including preventing radicalisation
  8. work with the government on the inspection of unregistered schools
  9. work with parents and carers, learners, and employers to ensure that their views inform inspections and that they use and value inspection reports
  10. work with policy makers and influencers to ensure Ofsted’s findings have impact
  11. work with providers (including schools) to ensure that they find Ofsted’s work fair and credible
  12. Improved engagement

With Sir Michael Wilshaw’s tenure as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) approaching its end, the strategy will be reviewed when his successor takes up post at the start of 2017.

Want more information on Ofsted’s inspection of schools? Visit our Guidance Centre.


Pupil premium award winners announced

This years’ pupil premium award winners have been announced. Congratulations to:

  • the joint national champions for schools with published Key Stage 2 results, Northern Saints CofE Primary School, Sunderland and Edward Pauling Primary School, London
  • the national champion for schools with Key Stage 4 results, La Retraite RC Girls’ School, London
  • the special schools and alternative provision national winner, The Link School Pallion, Sunderland
  • the infant, first and key stage 3 schools national winner, Greenfylde CofE First School, Somerset

The pupil premium awards website also provides a list of regional winners and runners up. Schools looking for better ways to spend the pupil premium may want to consider approaching these schools to share best practice.

For more on the pupil premium please visit our Guidance Centre.


Maintained nursery schools call for right to become academies

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Nursery Schools and Nursery Classes has called for local authority (LA) maintained nursery schools to be allowed to convert to academy status. Currently, these are the only type of schools which do not have that option.

The meeting called on the Government to:

  • guarantee maintained nursery schools receive a viable funding rate via a Schools Block lump sum component (comparable to ensuring payment of sparsity funding to rural schools)
  • revive and renew the Presumption Against Closure with a “double lock” requiring agreement from local authority and government before any closures
  • give maintained nursery schools the freedom to convert to academy status either alone or as part of a MAT
  • give maintained nursery schools dedicated professional advice and support through the process of becoming an academy

A significant number of maintained nursery schools have closed over recent years and the government’s proposal that all schools in some LA areas will become academies has led to further uncertainty over their future. Maintained nursery schools are generally recognised as providing some of the highest quality nursery education available. Graham Stuart MP asked a question in the House of Commons on this issue on 25 April and although Sam Gyimah (Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Education) acknowledged the excellence of the provision he simply offered discussions with the MP but not an agreement.

Further reading:

‘Maintained nursery schools; the state of play report’, Early Education, March 2015.

‘Nursery Education’, Governing Matters, November/December 2014.


Supply teacher spend exceeds £800m

This week, BBC News analysis revealed that last year primary and secondary schools in England spent £821m – the equivalent of £168 per child –on hiring in extra staff to cover vacancies and absences.

Schools in London spend the most on supply teachers, £161 per pupil, followed by Yorkshire and Humberside, then the West Midlands. The East of England spend the lowest amount, £137 per pupil.

Teaching unions pointed out that the high-spend reflected the “serious teacher recruitment and retention crisis”, whereas the government maintain that the number of quality teachers is at a record high.

Teacher recruitment and retention is one of NGA’s priority areas for the coming year. NGA has previously covered the teacher recruitment crisis several times this year in the 04/03/16, 11/03/16, 12/02/16 and 26/02/16 newsletters.


Advice on data protection and the “cloud”

As schools introduce new technology, some or all software systems may be moved to an internet-based “cloud” service provision. This is to enable access remotely and from a range of devices. In doing so, schools must ensure that they uphold their data protection duties and the Department for Education has issued advice to help schools to do this.

In particular, the advice makes clear that even where schools store and control data in the cloud which is provided by a particular supplier, the school remains responsible for all aspects of data protection. As such, the advice document aims to provide schools with the necessary information to help ensure that supplier’s meet the relevant UK legal requirements in respect of data protection.

The departmental advice can be read in full here.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 13/05/2016

Further detail on academies policy change

Speaking in parliament this week, ministers have given more detail on the change to policy on academisation which was announced last Friday.

The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, told MPs:

“We still want every school to become an academy by 2022. We always intended this to be a six-year process in which good schools should be able to take their own decisions about their future as academies. However, we understand the concerns that have been raised about a hard deadline and legislating for blanket powers to issue academy orders. That is why I announced on Friday that we have decided it is not necessary to take blanket powers to convert good schools in strong local authorities to academies at this time.”

The government intend to legislate to convert all schools (including those rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’) in a local authority where:

  • A ‘critical mass’ of schools in the LA area have converted, with the result that the LA can no longer viably support its remaining schools.
  • The LA consistently fails to meet a minimum performance threshold across its schools, demonstrating an inability to bring about meaningful school improvement.

There will be consultation on the thresholds for both these measures and therefore it is not yet known how many LA areas will be affected; there has been speculation that a large proportion of schools may be forced to convert through these mechanisms (see below).

While the change of policy has been welcomed by NGA, concerns remain about whether converting all schools in a LA area to academy status, irrespective of the availability of high quality academy sponsors, is the best approach to supporting schools.

There has been no change of policy on reserved places for parents on academy governing boards – the government still intend to remove this requirement. NGA opposes this change and has joined forces with Parent Councils UK and PTA-UK in our campaign to Keep Parents Governing.

NGA Guidance – Academisation and Educational Excellence Everywhere FAQ

Following the release of the White Paper – Educational Excellence Everywhere – NGA has produced an FAQ for school governing boards to help them determine their next steps for considering academy conversion and forming or joining a multi-academy trust (MAT). This FAQ was going to be released and feature in last week’s newsletter on 6 May, before the announcement that very afternoon that the government no longer felt it was necessary to bring in legislation for blanket conversion of all schools. The FAQ has subsequently been updated to reflect these changes and is now available to be downloaded.

The Academies FAQ can be found in the Guidance Centre along with other guidance we have produced relating to school structures.

The FAQ seeks to clarify some common concerns and queries of our members and others we have been speaking to as part of our policy work. We will continue to build on our work regarding the White Paper and will provide regular updates to our members through this weekly newsletter.

New analysis by CentreForum raises doubts over academy “U-turn”

This week the think-tank CentreForum has analysed the governments U-turn on all schools becoming academies by 2022, arguing that most schools may still be forced given that the government proposes to “take powers to direct schools to become academies in underperforming local authority (LA) areas or where the local authority no longer has capacity to maintain its schools”.

Centreforum based its analysis on the assumption that an “underperforming” or “unviable” (LA would be those where:

  • “less than half of pupils in the area attend LA maintained schools”
  • “the performance of its maintained schools at either key stage 2 or key stage 4 is below the (current) national average for state-funded mainstream schools”

These assumptions would mean that 122 LA’s would fall into the above category; and that roughly 12,000 of the 15,000 schools remaining maintained schools could be forced to convert. The report outlined that this number would likely increase as schools voluntarily choose to academise, or are forced because of underperformance, in turn increasing the number of “unviable” LA’s. However at present we have no indication from the DfE of how many LAs might be included, but the maps in the white paper give an indication:


Great disparity in academy standards revealed

Analysis by PWC this week revealed the gulf in standards of academy chains. The research evaluated results of SATs and GCSEs in academy trusts with five or more schools. Amongst its findings were:

  • Only three of the sixteen biggest secondary academy chains had a positive impact on pupil progress.
  • Only one of the 26 biggest primary sponsors – the Harris Federation – produces results above the national average, with 84% of their pupils achieving the expected levels of reading, writing and maths compared to the English average of 80%.
  • In the weakest primary chain – the Education Fellowship Trust - 58% of children achieved this level.         
  • Two secondary school trusts achieved a point score above the national average when calculated from pupils’ best eight GCSEs where 52 points are awarded for an A, 46 for a B and so on. The average in England was 314.5 – Outward Grange had an average of 329, and the Harris Federation had 327.       
  • The report also used a “value added” measure to capture progress. All except three trusts – Outward Grange, Harris and Ark - had negative scores, which means pupils did not make the progress they were expected to.

The Department for Education argued that this data does not show “the full picture of those opening as part of a multi-academy trust” although they did say that they are “absolutely committed to holding trusts to account for their performance”.

This comes in the same week Liam Nolan resigned as executive head of Perry Beaches Multi-Academy Trust. This MAT, once celebrated by the Prime Minister as one of the best in Britain, is now in financial difficulty and changes have been made to the board of trustees. As reported in an earlier NGA newsletter, there had been financial mismanagement of Perry Beaches, and the future of its schools is now uncertain, with its latest two pending free school projects paused.


Have you taken the NGA/TES survey for governors and trustees?

The National Governors' Association has once again joined forces with Times Educational Supplement (TES) to survey the nation’s governors and trustees. Over 5800 governors and trustees told us what they think last year and, with 2000 responses already, we’re hoping to hear from even more of you this year.

Findings from the survey are invaluable to NGA’s work lobbying the government on key governance issues. They’re also used to inform our other work and guidance to support governing boards across the country.

Thank you to all of you who have already completed the survey. There’s still plenty of time to take part before the survey closes on Monday 20 June. The survey is open to all governors and trustees, including headteachers, so please do forward this link to your governing colleagues: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NGATES-2016.

You do not have to be a member of NGA to respond: we have also just published our termly bulletin which is available to non- members. The bulletin contains news of the survey too, so this may be a useful way to forward the request to your networks along with other updates.


Clerk to Governors

Those of you familiar with ClerktoGovernors website and blog will know that Shena Lewington, its author, is hanging up her heels after many years keeping the clerking world informed, educated, and entertained.

As members will know, NGA has always promoted the importance of the professional clerk and it is continuing to increase understanding of the importance of the work of clerks as part of our Clerking Matters campaign. We are pleased to announce that we will be taking over Clerktogovernors and C2G from June 10 and with the help of our new Clerks Advisory Group will be looking at how we can continue to support and promote clerks and their work.


Key Stage 2 test paper leaked

On Monday evening the paper for the key stage 2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test was mistakenly uploaded a day early onto a secure website by Pearson - the external supplier contracted by the Department for Education (DfE) to mark the tests. The website was only accessible to contracted markers, and it has been reported that 93 of these viewed the leaked paper. It appears one of the markers then leaked the test paper to a journalist, who decided not to publish it. This is the second incident concerning primary assessment to happen in a space of three weeks, following the realisation that the key stage 1 test had been mistakenly published as a practice paper.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb confirmed in an oral statement to parliament that the test paper did not enter the public domain, and as such the test went ahead without being compromised. He went on to say that Pearson is fully investigating the leak, in order to identify the marker responsible. He made assurances that “Teachers and schools should have confidence in both the content of the tests and the processes underpinning the administration of the tests in schools, and the subsequent marking”.

Despite this, concerns have been raised by headteachers, with Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), commenting that “This second error in the administration of SATs undermines the hard work of pupils and teachers and calls into question the government's ability to manage an exam system of such scale and such high stakes”. NAHT has called on the government to cancel publication of the test results and cancel any national benchmark.

 In a letter to Nicky Morgan, shadow education secretary Lucy Powell also commented that the incident had dented confidence in this year’s primary assessment. Responding to Nick Gibb’s oral statement to parliament, shadow schools minister Nic Dakin said the government had “taken its eye off the ball” over primary assessments, because it was obsessed with its plan for forced academisation.

There has also been wider debate around the more challenging new Sats exams, with reports that pupils were reduced to tears during the tests. However, a poll by TES, Mumsnet and First News suggests that children are less concerned about the Sats than their teachers or parents. The poll of 987 children, 1583 parents and 1600 teachers/school leaders found than although 89% of teaching professionals and 68% of parents want the Sats to be abolished, 56% of children want to keep the tests. Responding to the survey, a DfE spokesperson said: “These tests should not be stressful and we know that good schools manage them appropriately. This survey shows that 56 per cent of pupils themselves do not mind the tests, which help teachers understand how pupils are doing and identify where additional support is needed.” Governing boards should be confident that Sats are handled appropriately in their school, and that undue pressure is not put upon pupils.


Schools minister on the future of school leadership

Speaking to an audience of headteachers from independent and state schools at the Brighton College Educational Conference, Schools Minister Nick Gibb outlined the government’s approach to school leadership, saying.: “Good government does not improve public services. It sets the conditions in which public services can improve themselves. That is what our reforms are achieving in this country’s state schools.”

Mr. Gibb encouraged independent schools to use their expertise to sponsor academies and free schools. He acknowledged that “having enough school leaders with the right skills and experience” is crucial to the success of a more autonomous, ‘school-led system’. He pointed to plans set out in the recent White Paper to redesign the NPQ for headship, support innovative programmes to train new leaders, and introduce ‘improvement periods’ to give heads taking on challenging schools sufficient time to make impact before the next Ofsted inspection. He acknowledged that changes to assessment and the curriculum are currently creating a challenge for school leaders but said that these changes are necessary to improve education in the long term.

Governors frequently report difficulty recruiting high calibre headteachers as among the greatest obstacles for their schools; NGA is working with ASCL and NAHT to create a new Foundation for Leadership in Education.


Foundation for Leadership in Education

The newly established Foundation for Leadership in Education (FLE) hosted the popular Twitter conversation #SLTchat on Sunday night. The account, which is aimed at senior school leaders, is followed by over 21 thousand people and organisations.

Over 500 tweets were posted during a discussion that considered the questions:

  1. Should the profession oversee its own set of leadership qualifications in the way doctors, lawyers and accountants have for some time?
  2. How clear is the professional development route map for those in the early stages of teaching & who wish to take on leadership roles in the future?

The #SLTchat conversation has been collated using Storify. Click here to view. Thanks to those who contributed to this discussion. Your comments will help shape the future development of this independent and profession-led body, established by ASCL, NGA, NAHT alongside NASBM and the Teaching Schools Council.

If you use Twitter, please follow @FoundLeadEd to keep up to date with this new organisation.

The Foundation is seeking to lead the discussion on leadership, disseminate research and develop new leadership qualifications and standards. It is an independent profession led organisation chaired by Sir Michael Barber Governance comes within the Foundation’s definition of leadership.

Peter Kent, founding trustee of the FLE and immediate past president of ASCL, introduces the new Foundation, and expands in a recent blog: "Three tweets for the Foundation".


RIBA report highlights the impact of poorly designed school buildings

This week, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) released their report ‘Better spaces for learning’ which looks at the state of school buildings. The report criticises the standardisation of the Government’s design specifications for school buildings, which has led to unnecessary service and maintenance costs of up to an estimated £150 million annually.

Not only this, RIBA identified that well designed schools improved pupil wellbeing, behaviour and attainment as reported by teachers who were also surveyed as part of the research.

As result of their findings, RIBA is calling for an urgent review of the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) current school building programme and makes the following key recommendations for Government:

  • Review how information and communication flows between the school, Government, and design and construction teams during a project;
  • Adopt a more flexible approach to the rules governing the design and size of new schools to allow for the best possible use of resources;
  • Take a smarter approach to the use of building management equipment that controls the internal environment of modern school buildings.


Annual report on the perceptions of reading amongst school children

This week, the National Literacy Trust has produced its annual report on the perception of reading amongst primary and secondary school pupils, based on a survey of 32,569 children. The report found that there was a significant “gulf” in reading for enjoyment between secondary and primary school children. Whereas 71% of KS2 pupils aged children said that they enjoyed reading “very much “or “quite a lot”, only 40% of Key Stage (KS) 4 children said the same thing. In addition, children in KS2 were also more likely to associate reading well with future employability (71% of KS2 children compared to 36% of KS4). Nevertheless, there was less of a gap in actual reading outside of school, with 41% of KS4 aged pupils and 46% of KS2 aged pupils doing extracurricular reading.

On a more positive note, the report did find that the levels of reading and enjoyment associated with reading had increased once again this year. The report also found that young people spent over double the amount of time reading online than from books.

Importantly, the “research shows a clear correlation between attainment and reading enjoyment, frequency and attitudes. Children and young people who enjoy reading very much are three times as likely to read above the level expected for their age as young people who do not enjoy reading at all (32.7% versus 10.1%)”. Governors may want to consider asking the headteacher about how the school encourages a positive ethos around reading and whether there is anything the school can do to encourage more children to read for pleasure.


Local Authorities miss deadline for 3,812 special needs children

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by solicitor’s firm, Simpson Millar LLP reveals that 3,812 pupils have not received the Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) they need to help them move from primary to secondary school this September. Local authorities should have produced a final transition EHCP for children with special educational needs who will be moving into secondary school this September by 15 February 2016. However, the information request revealed 111 councils missed the deadline.

Local authorities have a legal duty to carry out a transition review and an education, health and care needs assessment for children with a statement of special educational needs. These plans specify each pupil's needs and how schools are going to meet them. They also include an offer of a school place suitable to meet those needs.

Specialist education solicitor, Thomas Mitchell from Simpson Millar said that “The February deadline was crucial for parents who need time to prepare their children for the transition and for those who wish to appeal the provision or placement set out in the plan”.


New taskforce to help people with learning disabilities enter into apprenticeships

A new task force, set up by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Department for Education, will look at helping more people with learning disabilities enter into apprenticeships. This forms part of the government’s 2020 goal to “create 3 million apprenticeships” and to “halve the disability employment gap”.

The taskforce will meet three times in May and June before forming recommendations for ministers. The NGA will keep members updated on any new developments as they progress.


Local associations – a last chance to answer our survey!

Many thanks to the local associations who have already responded to the survey. If you are on the executive of an association which has not yet taken part, you can do so until Monday 16 May by following this link: NGA Survey of Local Associations 2016. If you are unable to do it this weekend, please do forward it to someone else on your executive

The results of the survey will be discussed at a workshop for local associations at our Summer Conference on Saturday 18 June in Birmingham City Centre. To book a place, visit the NGA events page.


Anniversary Dinner

Join NGA and our brilliant members and partners for a wonderful evening of food, drink and music to help us celebrate our 10-year success story.

Our very special guests will be the year 12 choir from Birmingham Ormiston Academy and their Director of Music and Music Technology, Mr Kieron Howe.

We’ve scheduled the event to take place the evening before our summer conference in Birmingham in June.

To help towards the cost of the evening, which will include a drinks reception and a 3 course dinner, we are asking for a £40 contribution.

We hope to see you there. Places are limited. To book now, click here.


Growing Governance

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In case you missed it, we’ve launched a brand new campaign to celebrate our 10-year anniversary.

We are challenging governors and trustees to host a growing governance day at their school, engaging the whole school community in a debate about the education of their pupils, with the view to creating or refreshing an exciting and ambitious vision and 5-year strategic plan.

To help, we’ve created a resource pack exclusively for NGA members. You can download the pack here.

If you have recently created a vision or strategic plan, or are planning to do, we want to hear from you. Email mark.gardner@nga.org.uk or tweet @NGAMedia.

Read about our campaign in Schools Week!


Are you looking for skilled volunteers to join your governing board in the East of England?

The Inspiring Governors alliance is holding at evening event in Cambridgeshire to bring together prospective governor volunteers with schools looking for governors and trustees.

The event aims to:

  • celebrate the valuable role played by school governors and trustees;
  • explain what is involved and the benefits;
  • outline the process of becoming a governor and trustee;
  • give you the chance to chat informally to potential volunteers;
  • hear about key challenges facing schools and colleges in the area.

You will also have an opportunity to hear from Tim Coulson, the Regional Schools Commissioner, about the academies programme, what recent changes will mean for schools in the area; and the role of trustees of Multi Academy Trusts.

Date: Monday 13th June 2016

Time: Refreshments from 17:30 with a formal start at 18:00.

Location: Graham Storey Room, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, CB2 1TJ

To attend R.S.V.P by no later than 20 May 2016 by emailing: tamanna.ali@educationandemployers.org or call 020 7566 4882.

Click here to find out more about Inspiring the Future, the governor recruitment service run by the charity Education and Employers.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 06/05/2016

U-turn on universal academisation

Just as this newsletter was going to press, Nicky Morgan the Secretary of State for education announced a change of policy on forcing all schools to become academies: for more on this, see our newspage.

We were about to publish an FAQ on universal academisation in the light of the white paper proposals – which is now largely redundant! However, we will of course review what other information members will continue to need.

The change of policy came as purdah for the local elections came to an end and within a week of Nicky Morgan giving a key note speech to the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). In her speech to the NAHT, she acknowledged the recent changes to primary assessment and said that “we appreciate that we have to make primary assessment run more smoothly, with as much support as possible” and emphasised the government’s focus on progress alongside attainment. She also reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring every school is an academy by 2022 and highlighted initiatives to support school leaders, including the new Foundation for Leadership established by NAHT, ASCL and the NGA.  It is fair to say that her speech was not received with universal approval by delegates unhappy at both forced academisation and the testing regime. 

In his own speech at the conference, NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby called for the government to focus on the “basic supply issues” of teacher recruitment and retention, school places, and funding, rather than “the constant upheaval of assessment and top down reorganisation”.

The conference also saw the debut of NAHT’s new National President, Kim Johnson. MrJohnson is the Principal of Bradfields Academy, a special school in Kent. In his speech, he expressed reservations about the government’s drive for universal academisation, called for PSHE to be made statutory, and underlined the challenges posed by funding and changes to assessment.


Keep Parents Governing

Since the release of the White Paper in March, NGA has stridently opposed the government’s intention to remove the current requirement for elected parent places on each academy board.   

Today, NGA with Parent Councils UK and PTA-UK, urge you to lobby your MP before the Queen’s Speech on May 18. We hope that the government will listen to the voice of governors, trustees and parents and drop its proposal.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors' Association, said:

“The government has simply got this one wrong. But we hope that Nicky Morgan and her Department can yet be persuaded by the arguments that we and many others are putting across in defence of elected parents on governing boards. You can help by lobbying your MP and getting them to back our campaign to Keep Parents Governing.”

NGA have provided a template letter for governors, parents, or parent governors to lobby their MP: for this and more details, see our news page.


Parents supporting the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign keep children off school

Across England, a small minority of parents opted to keep their child off school for a day in protest about the testing of young children. In an open letter to Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, campaigners have warned that children’s mental health is at risk because of the increased pressure they face through primary school testing. They also say that a system obsessed with passing tests rather than learning for learning’s sake results in pupils entering the world of work unprepared.

Participation levels varied dramatically, with many schools unaffected while others experienced a number of absences. Overall, a very small proportion of school age children were thought to be affected. Parents also handed in a petition with almost 50,000 signatures to the Department for Education in Sanctuary Buildings, London.

When speaking at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference, the Secretary of State warned that keeping children home - even for a day - is harmful to their education.

The protest focused on the Department for Education’s perceived emphasis on testing but also unrealistic expectations on pupils; Schools Minister Nick Gibb was unable to answer a KS2 SATs question put to him by a journalist.

The culture of a school can also play a role in ensuring that assessment is not a distressing experience for pupils. Governors may wish to include this issue in any upcoming surveys or consultation with staff, parents, and pupils.

NGA is interested in hearing from its members. Please send any comments to ellie.cotgrave@nga.org.uk.


Funding – is your school in the red?

Much of the recent press around school funding has centred on the consultation for a new national funding formula, but this week schools began to raise the question of the parlous state of their existing budgets – and not all of these schools are in ‘low’ funded authorities. 

Headteachers are pointing out that, while the Government has made much of the protection that the school budget has had compared to some other sectors (and notably local authorities) in real terms, budgets have shrunk. At the same time there have been increasing cost pressures, particularly the impact of changes to national insurance and pensions contributions and, more recently, the living wage. These have reduced school budgets significantly. Added to these cost pressures, the recently updated Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), which many local authorities use as a factor in their local formulas, adversely affected a number of school’s budgets. IDACI is only updated every five years and since the last dataset was published there has been a significant shift, which has caused some schools to experience multiple tens of thousands in funding change. As with any change, this is particularly difficult to manage in short-timescales.

Has your school been affected by any of these factors? If so, do send your examples to gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk. These will be useful for our continued lobbying on school funding.


Evidence on the impact of marking

NGA has previously written about teachers’ workload and, following the reports of the review groups looking into the three key areas identified as being burdensome to teachers, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and University of Oxford (UoO) have reviewed the evidence on written marking by teachers.

The review looked at seven different aspects of current marking practices and their impact on staff time, effort and pupil progress. The review grouped its findings into seven areas: grading, corrections, thoroughness, pupil responses, creating a dialogue, targets, frequency and speed.

The review has identified significant gaps in the quality of existing evidence about the value of written marking. The EEF has called for research communities to join forces in order to investigate this further and has earmarked £2 million of funding for this. The review did identify some initial findings:

  • careless mistakes should be marked differently to errors resulting from misunderstanding
  • awarding grades for every piece of work may reduce the impact of marking, particularly if pupils become preoccupied with grades at the expense of a consideration of teachers’ formative comments
  • the use of targets to make marking as specific and actionable as possible is likely to increase pupil progress
  • pupils are unlikely to benefit from marking unless some time is set aside to enable pupils to consider and respond to marking
  • some forms of marking, including acknowledgement marking, are unlikely to enhance pupil progress

As a result EEF/UoO has coined the phrase “schools should mark less in terms of the number of pieces of work marked, but mark better.”

Such policies should be drawn up by school staff, but this review provides a useful basis for consideration when governing boards are reviewing their own school’s marking policies and the impact on pupil progress.


Is your school doing enough for young carers?

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Young Carers in Schools programme, which is run by the Carers Trust and The Children’s Society and aims to enable schools to identify and support young carers more effectively. To mark the one year anniversary, the programme organisers have shared findings from a survey of schools taking part in the programme. More than three quarters of schools surveyed reported a reduction in lateness along with improved attendance. 91% of schools said that the support they now provide has had a positive impact on young carers’ achievements at the school. Student well-being also improved for young carers in 95% of schools that had participated in the programme.

Furthermore, almost 500 carers (including in primary schools) who were previously unknown to school staff were discovered in just 35 of the schools taking part in the programme – an average of 15 per school. If these numbers were reflected nationally, there could be thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of young carers hidden within the school system.

For more information about the programme see the Young Carers in Schools programme website, where you can also access an infographic of the results and read about why NGA supports the programme.


DfE abolish post of Mental Health Champion for Schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has done away with the post of Mental Health Champion for Schools, an unpaid role which was created less than a year ago. The role had been carried out by Natasha Devon, a television pundit and writer who has been active in campaigning on young people’s mental health and founded education programmes.

Since the announcement, there has been speculation that the role was abolished because the incumbent had been too critical of government policy. Writing in the TES, Ms Devon said that the role had always been envisioned as impartial but that divergences between her positions (on whether PSHE should be statutory, the impact of testing on children, and teacher mental health) and those of the DfE had made the relationship “dysfunctional”. She has been invited to continue working with the DfE in a less formalised capacity and also approached to share her expertise with the Labour Party.

A spokesperson for the DfE stated that this was a planned move in response to the Department for Health’s decision to create a contracted, paid role which will work across all government departments.


SchoolDash investigates the performance of primary academies

A new blog by SchoolDash, an independent website set up by a London-based academic, analyses the impact of converting to academy status on primary schools. This is a follow-up to blogs published last month which investigated the impact on secondary schools (see our newsletter piece).

The analysis looked first at converter academies (previously high performing schools who had converted voluntarily), choosing a sample that had converted between 2010 and 2012 so that the impact of their new status would be visible. Their performance was then compared to a subset of maintained schools with similar pupil characteristics. The researcher does make the point that the converter academies had particular characteristics which it was difficult to match to the remaining maintained primary schools. Therefore, the comparator group is the most similar, but not a perfect match.

The analysis shows that the gap in attainment between the academies in the sample and the similar maintained schools was less than half of that between these academies and all maintained schools, suggesting that most of the difference between converter academies and maintained schools is due to differing pupil characteristics. The author notes that one area in which academies seem to be outperforming maintained schools is in relation to the most able pupils (i.e. those achieving level 5 or above). However, for pupils who achieved the national target of level 4, the gap between the converters and the similar LA schools had narrowed considerably.  Overall the analysis indicated that primary converter academies had got neither better nor worse since their conversion.

The analysis then went on to look at sponsor-led academies, which were underperforming prior to becoming academies. Again, a sample of sponsor-led academies created in 2012 and 2013 was identified, as well as a subset of similar maintained schools. These schools still underperform maintained schools, including the similar schools, but have narrowed the gap considerably since conversion. This suggests that underperforming primary schools do in general become noticeably better within a few years of academy conversion.

Overall, a similar picture was found for primary as for secondary schools: when schools which were already good became academies there was little impact on their performance, while schools which had poor performance prior to conversion did see some improvement.  This does not, of course, tell us whether the improvements observed were caused by academy status or another factor. NGA has always been clear in the view that an underperforming school should be subject to intervention and that becoming a sponsor-led academy may be the right solution for some schools. Where a school is ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, we remain of the view that the choice should rest with the governing body, after consultation with stakeholders. There is still no conclusive evidence that conversion to academy status is a guarantor of high-performance, but no doubt there will be continuing stream of analyses looking at comparative performance.


The seven deadly sins of trustee boards

John Williams, chair of the Association of Chairs, has written a blog examining the most common failings of charity boards. He said: “It is clear that in some areas and in some charities, there is a governance gap between current practice and best practice, what we should do and what we actually do, that raises the risk of any of us being the next Kids Company.” 

His seven deadly sins of poor governance are:

  1. No formal board evaluation
  2. Lack of finite terms of office
  3. Not enough attention to sustainability and risk
  4. Skimping on trustee recruitment
  5. Lack of engagement between meetings           
  6. Lack of respect, especially for the senior management team
  7. No investment in induction and training

Of course, if you turn these on their head then many of them chime with NGA’s good practice guidance (see below).

Click here to read the blog.

Further reading:

Find out more about our 8 elements of effective governance.

Find out about out 360 evaluations for chairs.

Download our recruitment guide: The Right People Around the Table.

Visit our training and consultancy page to book training for your board.


Governing Matters: May/June edition

A new Governing Matters, NGA’s bi-monthly magazine, should have reached you this week.

Cover stories include:

The magazine is available as a pdf for those standard governing board members who do not get a printed copy. Alternatively if the membership is upgraded to GOLD, all members of the board will be posted a copy to their home address. Please make sure we have your home addresses: email membership.


NGA Inspiring Governance Seminar

Friday 17 June 2016

We are holding an Inspiring Governance seminar on Friday 17 June 2016. Emma Knights, NGA's Chief Executive, and Clare Collins, NGA's Lead Consultant, will explore the different models of multi academy trusts and what they mean in practice. Lord Nash, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Schools, will be joining us to close the seminar.

To book your place at this event visit our events page here.


NGA Summer Conference 18 June 2016 - new timings

Our Summer Conference will be starting at 9.45 am and closing at 4.00 pm.

We are really pleased that ‘the real’ David Cameron, Education Consultant, well known for his inspiring and motivational style of speaking, will be closing the conference.

The event promises to be jam packed with some workshops already full.

To find out more and book your place visit our events page.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 29/04/2016

Largest governor survey of the year now open!

The National Governors' Association has once again joined forces with Times Educational Supplement (TES) to survey the nation’s governors and trustees. Over 5800 governors and trustees told us what they thought last year, and this year we’re hoping to hear from even more of you.

Take the survey here!


Calling clerks - NGA survey for clerks’ pay

Not content with launching just one survey this week we’ve also launched a survey aimed specifically at governing board clerks. As part of our Clerking Matters campaign NGA will be carrying out some research in the area of pay for clerks. To help with this, we are conducting a survey for clerks to complete. It should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete and no individual responses or personal data from this survey will be shared with any third parties.

As we want to gather as many responses as possible please forward the survey on to any clerks you know - they do not need to be members of NGA. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ClerksPay


NGA celebrates 10-year anniversary with Growing Governance Campaign

Members who received Governing Matters this week or follow us online and on Twitter will know that we are celebrating our 10–year anniversary this year. Officially we came into existence in February 2006, when the National Association of School Governors and the National Governors' Council merged to create NGA. 

To celebrate, we’ve launched a brand new campaign and we want you to take part. Growing Governance is a national campaign challenging school governors and trustees in England to step up and set the educational agenda in 2016 and beyond. We want you to inspire others with your ideas and creativity. The first step is to engage the whole school community in a debate about the vision of your school. To help, we’ve created an exclusive resource setting out:

  • How to create a vision
  • Being strategic (mission, values and aims)
  • Achieving your vision
  • Turning vision into strategy
  • How to evaluate

But don’t stop there. Share your vision with the local community, local councillors, and your MP. Talking about what you’re trying to achieve and the challenges you encounter in the process raises the profile of school governance and has the power to kick-start change. 

To find out more and get involved, visit our Growing Governance campaign page.


Governing Matters: May/June edition

A new Governing Matters, NGA’s bi-monthly magazine, is out this week.

Cover stories include:

The magazine is available as a pdf for those standard governing board members who do not get a printed copy. Alternatively if the membership is upgraded to GOLD, all members of the board will be posted a copy to their home address. Please make sure we have your home addresses: email membership.


MPs question Secretary of State on the White Paper

Secretary of State Nicky Morgan appeared before the House of Commons Education Select Committee on Wednesday to answer questions on the proposals contained in the Educational Excellence Everywhere White Paper.

Ms. Morgan reiterated the comments made by David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier that day, confirming the government’s commitment for all schools to be academies by 2022. She said that the move was in response for the need for a “strong, consistent education system” and that currently expertise and collaboration is not crossing local authority (LA) boundaries. She also raised the complexity of the current dual system, in terms of both funding and accountability.

Asked why so few primary schools had chosen to become academies, Ms. Morgan pointed to “the fear of the unknown” and strong relationships with local authorities. Despite rumours in the press that LAs may be permitted to establish multi academy trusts, Ms. Morgan stated that talented individuals currently working for LAs would be encouraged to move across to the academies sector, either providing traded services or setting up MATs. She did not indicate that a new mechanism for LAs to sponsor MATs is in the pipeline, though the discussion had been raised by several parties.

On the subject of parent governors, Ms. Morgan said that trusts would be free to have parent governors on their boards if they chose and that removing the requirement would allow boards to prioritise skills. NGA does not consider that this addresses the objections raised by governors, parents, and others – click here for more.

Following the recent debate, there have been a number of news reports suggesting Conservative backbenchers are considering rebellion. The County Councils Network have also expressed their concerns about forced academisation.

NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights has written to Nicky Morgan on the proposals in the White Paper: see the letter. We would encourage governors to write to their local MPs with any concerns about the policy proposals, as well as to local councillors and Cabinet Members for Children’s Services.


LGA commissioned study compares maintained schools with academies

New analysis, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA), has compared the success of maintained schools to that of academies. The research, conducted by Angel Solutions, is based on inspection data published this year. It found that 86% of LA maintained schools are considered 'good' or 'outstanding' by Ofsted, compared to 82% of academies (52% of sponsored academies are 'good' or 'outstanding' and 88% of converter academies are 'good' or 'outstanding'). The study has been criticised for not comparing schools which are in similar contexts; sponsored academies were by and large failing maintained schools while converter academies were high performing maintained schools.

The report also highlighted how Ofsted figures work in favour of academies. When a 'good' or 'outstanding' maintained school converts to an academy, it retains its Ofsted grade. This means that 64% of 'outstanding' converter academies obtained that judgement as maintained schools. In contrast, when an 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' (RI) maintained school becomes a sponsored academy, Ofsted discard this judgement and do not include it in official figures.

When excluding the Ofsted grades that academies received before they converted, the number of 'good' or 'outstanding' academies falls dramatically. Using this comparison, 81% of maintained schools are judged 'good' or 'outstanding' compared to 73% of academies. The report did, however, acknowledge that due to the change in the Ofsted framework, it is difficult to compare schools that were inspected prior to 2012 with those inspected after 2012.

The report also measured the impact of conversion on a sponsored academies Ofsted grade. From a sample of 700 sponsored academies the data showed that 61% of sponsored academies have improved their Ofsted judgement since conversion. Breaking this down further, whereas 21% of 'good'/'outstanding' sponsored academies had declined, 95% of 'inadequate' and 55% of RI sponsored academies had improved. Overall, the report concluded that “sponsorship may have contributed toward improvement in the majority of the weakest schools in this sample, but did not benefit the majority of schools previously found to be 'good'. However, it is not clear whether sponsorship provides a more effective path to improvement than remaining LA maintained”. The report also highlighted how some of the leading multi-academy trusts (MATs) have had different levels of success in turning around failing schools.

Other data sources can of course show better results for academies than maintained schools. In essence, it just really goes to show that there is not one solution to school improvement. There are successful academies and successful maintained schools.

Click here to download the research report.


Music Mark produce Guide for Governors – Music Education

In collaboration with the NGA, Music Mark has produced A Guide for Governors – Music Education. This document provides questions around five areas that governors should be considering:

  • Values and Ethos
  • Opportunities
  • Resources
  • Teaching
  • Partnerships

To access the document and to find out more, please click here.


EEF expanding Families of Schools Toolkit to include every primary school in England

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has now extended its families of schools toolkit to include all primary schools in the country. The toolkit groups schools into “families” that share similar characteristics (such as similar prior attainment, eligibility for free school meals and the number of pupils who speak English as an additional language). The aim is to facilitate collaboration between those schools facing similar challenges. Launching the toolkit, the EEF emphasised that there can be big variation in terms of pupil attainment between schools with the same characteristics. For instance, within one “family” of schools, 90% of disadvantaged children achieved a 4B in maths at Key Stage 2; the level in which students are most likely to go on to achieve 5 good A*-C grades at GCSE. In contrast, only 40% of disadvantaged children were receiving a 4B grade at Key Stage 2 maths in the worst performing school within that family.

The families of schools toolkit is free to use and does not require login details. Please click here to access the toolkit.

For more information on using data effectively, please visit the NGA guidance centre. Ellie Cotgrave, NGA’s Research and Projects Manager, has also written a blog on the power of data in helping governors and trustees support and challenge their school.


Reduced ticket price for NGA members to the Festival of Education

We are delighted to announce that NGA is a main partner for this year’s The Telegraph Festival of Education, in association with Microsoft, and that we’re able to offer members 30% off tickets.

Over two days, the Festival of Education, held at Wellington College, brings together the very best of education’s most forward thinking advocates, practitioners of change, policy makers, educators and students in one of the leading forums for thought leadership, CPD, and debate. Over 220 speakers have already been announced.

NGA will be helping to curate the NGA Governance Zone at the Festival, which promises to provide a comprehensive offering for schools governors and leaders.

Come and join the thousands of other Festival-goers who explore, celebrate, learn, debate, and connect.

Book your tickets now for one of the most enjoyable and rewarding education events of 2016. Use the discount code NGAFOE2016 to receive 30% off and group booking discounts are also available for your schools.

Click here for more information.


Pupil Premium Awards finalists announced

Congratulations to the finalists for the Pupil Premium Awards 2016 which were announced this week! The awards are a Department for Education initiative designed to highlight the efforts of schools to tackle disadvantage through effective use of the pupil premium funding.

Finalists are split into four categories according to phase and type. Pupils and teachers at winning schools will be offered opportunities to work with arts and STEM organisations such as the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Science Museum, and more. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in May.

For more on strategies to get the most out of the pupil premium, see NGA’s guidance centre.


DfE publishes research report on EHC plans

The research report presents the findings from a small-scale qualitative study commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE). The research examines user satisfaction with the Education, Health and Care (EHC) process for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

The research involved interviewing 77 parents and 15 young people with SEND and worked with over 120 professionals from four local authority areas in England. The aim was to map children, young people and families’ experience of the EHC process and determine their satisfaction with the service in the local area and explore the extent to which the approaches employed to capture user feedback in the course of the study can help local areas and others to gather user satisfaction and make improvements to their service.

Based on the findings of this research, it was proposed that, local authorities should routinely collect and analyse user feedback in order to improve services and understand how effectively the local area meets the needs and improves the outcomes of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. It was also recommended that when gathering their own feedback from local families, local authorities should be able to evidence that this is more than a ‘tick box exercise’.

Governing boards should ensure that they ask for and receive information about the progress of children with SEND, whether or not they have EHC plans. Governing boards should also ensure that their schools are meeting the requirements for publication of information on SEND provision.


Calls for the DfE to introduce a “quality award” in careers guidance

Graham Stuart, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Careers Information, Advice and Guidance; the Education Employment Taskforce; and the National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan. The letter calls for the statutory guidance on careers advice to be amended and asks the DfE to consider introducing an approved “quality award” for “careers education, information, advice and guidance” that all schools must obtain.

Governors are reminded that all schools should provide quality and impartial careers advice and guidance. For more information on this, including schools’ statutory duty, visit the NGA guidance centre.


New guide on careers guidance

Education and Employers - the charity behind Inspiring the Future has published a new guide designed to help schools and colleges understand how working with volunteers from the world of work can boost their careers information and advice provision in line with Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework.
 
Designed with input from teachers, careers advisors and experts on the Ofsted inspection framework, this free resource helps benchmark careers guidance provision against the Ofsted framework.
 
The resource is available here.


DfE is seeking nominations for a representative of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme Pension Board (TPSPB)

The Department for Education (DfE) is seeking a replacement for a resigning employer representative on the Teachers’ Pension Scheme Pensions Board. The successful candidate does not need to be a pension professional, but must be able to demonstrate the required skills and experience detailed in the role and person specification. While the DfE is happy to receive any nominations it would particularly welcome nominations from academy trust boards as this sector is currently under-represented on the TPSPB. This nomination process is specifically aimed at those governing boards acting as direct employers.

Nominations need to be submitted by Friday 13 May to: TPS.PENSIONBOARDSECRETARIAT@education.gsi.gov.uk


NGA Summer Conference 18 June 2016

Don’t forget to book your place at our Summer Conference in Birmingham on Saturday 18 June. For details of the workshops and to book your place visit our events page.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 22/04/2016

NGA publishes models for multi-academy trust governance

A multi-academy trust (MAT) is a single organisation where one board of trustees is a responsible for the education of the pupils in a number of schools. NGA is pleased to launch its model schemes of delegation at this weeks’ academies show. These documents are essential for effective running of a MAT and set out the remit of the executive and non-executive roles.

For more or to download the model schemes of delegation, visit our news page.

Prime Minister questioned on compulsory academisation

 

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition, has attacked the government’s plans for whole-scale compulsory academisation, as announced in the Chancellor’s Budget in March. The Labour leader used all six of his allocated questions at PMQs this Wednesday to press David Cameron MP to explain: “why he is intent on forcing good and outstanding schools to become academies against the wishes of teachers, parents, school governors and local councillors?” Cameron replied that the government wanted schools to be “run by headteachers and teachers, not by bureaucrats.”  He said that outstanding or good schools have nothing to fear from becoming academies, but “a huge amount to gain, and we want even outstanding or good schools to be even better.”  

The PM argued that “Creating academies is true devolution because we are putting power in the hands of headteachers and teachers”. Once again he is failing to mention that the responsibility for academies lies with the board of trustees. We have been in touch with No 10 when he last spoke on this issue but we clearly need to try again.

The PM also said: “If we look at converter academies, we will see that 88% of them are either good or outstanding”. As a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating has been used as a criteria for schools applying to become converter academies (as opposed to sponsor led academies), this is not much of a boast and indicates that 12% have declined in effectiveness as judged by Ofsted. As of 31 March 2016, there are 369 converter academies whose Ofsted grade has declined to ‘requires improvement’ since conversion and 51 that are now ‘inadequate’: 10% of primary academy converters and 15% of secondary academy converters.

Corbyn asked whether the Prime Minister understood the anger that so many people feel because: “a system that they do not want is being imposed on them” and said: “Teachers do not want it, parents do not want it, governors do not want it, headteachers do not want it and even his own MPs and councillors do not want it.” Cameron said that one of the reasons he strongly support academies was because intervention happened more quickly than in local authority (LA) maintained schools, saying LA schools are “often left to fail year after year after year.”

Corbyn pointed out that “The Institute for Fiscal Studies states that school spending “is expected to fall by at least 7% in real terms” in the next four years—the biggest cut since the 1970s. So why on earth is the Prime Minister proposing to spend £1.3 billion on a top-down reorganisation that was not in his manifesto?” The PM responded:  “We protected spending per pupil all the way through the last Parliament and all the way through this Parliament. We are spending £7 billion on more school places to make up for the woeful lack of action under the last Labour Government.” Pupil numbers are projected to rise by over 600,000 across primary and secondary schools during this parliament. 

In an interview with BBC Radio 5Live this week, Nicky Morgan, admitted that some Conservative MPs had concerns about the plans. She said: “Colleagues have raised some important issues. They want more clarification about things like the conversion and particularly things like small, rural primary schools and how this ties in with our wider reforms on the national funding formula.”

The National Governors’ Association is against the measure to force all schools to become academies because we think that in good schools the decision about whether to convert to academy status should rest with the governing board. We have this week written to the Secretary of State for Education outlining our concerns.  


NGA writes to Nicky Morgan on compulsory academisation and parent governors

The National Governors' Association has written a letter to Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, outlining concerns about compulsory academisation and the removal of the requirement for elected parent governors on the boards of academies.

In the month since the White Paper, Education Excellence Everywhere, was published alongside our immediate response, we have been listening to our members: governors and trustees, across England, and have today written to the Secretary of State to convey their dismay to her.

Read NGA's letter in full here.

See our Parliamentary Business page for more on recent discussion of compulsory academisation, which featured in this week's Prime Minister's Questions


National offer day for primary schools

On Monday, primary school places were allocated across England. National press coverage has suggested a rise in the number of pupils missing out on their top choices. For instance, the Telegraph highlighted that, in some areas, nearly one third of students did not get their first choice of primary school. The Guardian took the opportunity to comment on a 10,000 shortfall in school places within four years.

As always, official data will not be available for a number of weeks, making these claims broadly speculative. London Councils have nevertheless published data on the pan-London admissions scheme, highlighting how 84% of pupils received their first choice preference in London, with 94% getting one of their top three choices.

Coinciding with national offer day, last week’s Sutton Trust report, Caught Out, explored admissions in primary schools. The report found that, in large numbers of primary schools, there was a significant difference between the yearly intake and the social demographic of the school’s neighbourhood. The research examines whether this divergence may be because local families are choosing to attend a different school or because the school is using oversubscription criteria that do not strictly prioritise those who live closest to the school. Specifically, in over 1,000 primary schools, the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals was ten percentage points lower than in the surrounding primary schools. The report found that these schools were usually based in urban areas, with a high proportion in London. They were more likely to be schools with a religious character where governing bodies had chosen to apply a “religious oversubscription criteria”. These schools, the report argued, tended to use complex oversubscription criteria, making it very difficult for parents. In their close examination of the 100 most socially selective primary schools researchers found as many as 18 oversubscription criteria used in one school and several instances where the school appears to contravene the Admissions Code.

The Sutton Trust recommended:

  1. Schools should consider the impact of their oversubscription criteria on pupil-premium children, and prioritise them in admissions.
  2. The School Admissions Code should be properly enforced, with clearer permissible criteria and open complaints procedures.
  3. All religious schools should make places open to the local community with simple and consistent religious admissions criteria.

Governing boards can ask their senior leaders to check their pupils’ background against that of its neighbourhood.

For more on admissions, including correct procedure, please see the NGA guidance centre.


Poorer children more likely to go to a weaker school

This week, on National Primary Offer Day, Teach First released some new analysis of Ofsted data revealing that:

  • the poorest families have less than half the chance of sending their child to an ‘outstanding’ primary school compared to the wealthiest of families
  • the poorest families are four times more likely to send their child to a primary school which ‘requires improvement’ or is ‘inadequate’, compared to the wealthiest families
  • in areas that have the highest proportion of schools rated ‘outstanding’, average monthly rent for a two-bedroom property is more than double rent in areas with the lowest proportion of these schools
  • in areas such as Bradford and Kent, one in three schools serving the poorest 20% of postcodes is requires improvement by Ofsted

The report recognises the improvement of schools generally - with 1.4 million more children attending ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools compared to five years ago - the progress in places such as Manchester, where 70% of outstanding primaries serve the poorest communities. Teach First acknowledges that in disadvantaged areas, schools have to overcome significant challenges which are not faced by schools serving wealthier communities, and can make it harder for them to achieve 'good' or 'outstanding' Ofsted ratings. For example, Blackpool, the Isle of Wight, and Thurrock each only have one ‘outstanding’ primary school.


Mistake means key stage one grammar, punctuation and spelling tests cancelled for 2016

Key stage one pupils will not sit the grammar, punctuation and spelling test this year after a teacher trialling the test spotted that the questions had already been published online as part of a practice paper.

In a statement, schools minister Nick Gibb said: “To remove any uncertainty and clarify the situation for schools, I have decided that we will remove the requirement on them to administer the key stage 1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test for this year only. Schools will still need to submit a teacher assessment judgement based on pupils’ work in the classroom as has always been the case.”

The paper had been posted on the Standards and Testing Agency website in January. The Agency said that the mistake appears to be a result of “a failure to follow appropriate clearance processes” and that a review is now under way.


DfE release memoranda of understanding for church schools and academies

Earlier this week, the Department for Education (DfE) published their memoranda of understanding between it and the Church of England and Catholic Church. At the heart of the memoranda, is the commitment of the DfE to ensure that the religious character and ethos of such faith schools are secured in relation to intervention, academy conversion and sponsorship.

All Church of England and Catholic Church schools should familiarise themselves with the relevant memoranda, particularly with respect to making any decisions regarding academy conversion, forming or joining a multi-academy trust (MAT), or becoming a sponsor. However, such documents should not be solely relied on and any such schools will need to consult with their own dioceses.


DfE publishes information about Regional Schools Commissioners

In response to calls for greater transparency, the Department for Education (DfE) has increased the amount of published information about the role of Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs). This includes an “RSC decision making framework” which describes the role of RSCs, terms of reference for the Headteacher Boards which advise and challenge RSCs, and regional vision statements.

The new publications come in the same week as the government response to the House of Commons’ Education Select Committee’s report on RSCs was published. The response broadly restates the positions put forth by the DfE during the inquiry and there is no intention to make substantive policy changes based on the committee’s recommendations. It does reveal that, although responsibility for London will remain divided between three RSCs, the national schools commissioner Sir David Carter intends to convene a ‘pan-London’ group of education leaders to ensure sufficient capacity in the capital.


MPs holding inquiry into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee have launched an inquiry into sexual harassment and sexual violence in school. The inquiry will aim to:

  • establish the scale of the problem
  • understand the impact of sexual harassment in schools
  • make practical recommendations on what can be done to reduce incidence of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools
  • and make recommendations on what can be done to deal with the online elements of sexual harassment

This follows a Fixers report drawing on the experiences of young people currently aged 16-25 which found that “sexual behaviour is the new social norm in young people’s daily lives”. There was widespread support among participants for improving relationships and sex education, with many saying that more time should be spent discussing consent, peer pressure, online safety and sexting, and what constitutes a healthy relationship.

The inquiry is accepting written submissions until Sunday 22 May: further details.


The National Audit Office is critical of the DfE’s financial statements

This week, the National Audit Office (NAO) has written a report into the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) and groups financial statements 2014-15; including the statements of 2,824 academy trusts (which operated 4,900 academies). The Comptroller and Auditor has concluded that “providing Parliament with a clear view of academy trusts’ spending is a vital part of the Department for Education’s work – yet it is failing to do this. As a result, I have today provided an adverse opinion on the truth and fairness of its financial statements”.

Academy trusts produce financial statements by 31 August (end of the school year). However, the DfE must produce its financial statements, including information on all of the academy trusts and affiliated groups under its remit, by 31 March (end of its financial year). Therefore, in order to match the financial statements produced by academies in August, with the financial statements submitted to the treasury by the DfE in March, the DfE is supplementing academies’ financial statements with centrally collated information. The DfE take the view that, with these adjustments, this would be broadly similar to if academies produced their financial statements in March. However, the Comptroller found that this poses a challenge in providing a “true and fair view of the financial activity for the period in question and the financial position at the end of that period”.

The DfE also failed to meet its deadline for the 2014-15 financial statements due to the difficulty in compiling and adjusting the 2,824 academy trusts’ financial statements to align with the March data.

The DfE are currently in the process of establishing ways to make academy finances more accountable to parliament in the future.


Webinar on the challenge of dealing with procurement in schools

Browne Jacobson (NGA’s legal advice partner) is offering a free webinar on the challenge of dealing with procurement under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 in the education sector. The webinar will cover issues schools might face, including:

  • Public Contract Regulations and the ‘light touch regime’
  • processes for procurement and the Department for Education Guidance
  • ending and extending contracts

The webinar will take place on: Tuesday 26 April 2016, 4.00pm - 4.30pm

The webinar is particularly aimed at those directly managing contracts i.e. business managers/headteachers so please forward to the relevant member of staff, but it may also be of interest to governors and trustees who have responsibility for signing off contract decisions.

Click here to register for this free webinar.


Youth-led campaign for health eating and lifestyles

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) have launched a youth-led social media campaign to raise awareness of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. RSPH are looking for young volunteers to help with this campaign as well as giving them the “opportunity to conduct interviews and research young role models”.

Please consider passing this flyer onto your headteacher to get young people in your school involved.


NGA at the Academies Show

NGA staff were pleased to deliver three sessions at this week's Academies Show:

  • 'Addressing school governance and delivering strong leadership' - a keynote from Emma Knights, NGA Chief Executive
  • 'Governance decisions in MATs' - Clare Collins, NGA Head of Consultancy, and Sam Henson, NGA Head of Information
  • 'Right people around the table' - Katie Everett, NGA Advice Officer, and Sam Henson, NGA Head of Information

Click here to access the presentations from all three sessions.


NGA Summer Conference 18 June 2016

Don’t forget to book your place at our Summer Conference in Birmingham on Saturday 18 July. For details of the workshops and to book your place visit our events page.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 15/04/2016

“Every school an academy” policy discussed in Parliament

Wednesday saw MPs debate the proposals in the recent “Educational Excellence Everywhere” White Paper, focusing on two key issues: the requirement that all schools will be academies by 2022 and the removal of the current requirement for places for parents on academy governing boards. Labour brought a motion opposing both policies. While recognising that there are many excellent academies across the country, concerns were raised by both Labour and Conservative MPs about the removal of governors’ right to choose the school structure which best supports the interests of their pupils. For more on the debate, see below MPs debate the Education White Paper.

The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing on the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) proposal that every school will be required to convert to academy status by 2022. Intended to inform MPs, the document explains the policy and reviews the background of the academies programme, key issues, evidence available on academies’ effectiveness, and the reaction across the education sector. The briefing is intended as an unbiased overview and does not draw any conclusions about the policy or any advantages of academisation. This is a useful resource for governors seeking further information about one of the White Paper’s most controversial proposals.


MPs debate the Education White Paper

On Wednesday 13 April, Labour brought a motion setting out  its opposition to measures in the Education White Paper – particularly on the matters of forced academisation and the removal of the requirement for reserved places for parents on academy boards – and asking the government to put them on hold due to lack of evidence.

Opening the debate, Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell said that although there were elements of the White Paper which Labour could support, such as the establishment of an independent college of teaching, it did not support all schools being forced to convert to become academies. Powell described the plans as a “top-down reorganisation of our schools system [which] is, at best, a distraction and, at worst, will have a very damaging impact on school standards”. 

Several backbench Conservative MPs also spoke of their reservations about universal academisation. The main arguments were that:

  • Although academies can be great success stories, schools that are performing well should not be forced to convert if the governing bodies do not believe that it would be in the interest of their pupils to do so. Several MPs gave examples of schools in their constituency which had considered academisation carefully and decided against. Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley in West Yorkshire, stated that “I am a Conservative because I believe in choice. Does the Secretary of State agree that we should put our trust in parents and governing bodies, and will she please look again at the word “forced”?”
  • Small rural primary schools may be at risk of closure as they are less likely to be sustainable as academies. This is an issue which was highlighted in the Guardian before the debate and the Secretary of State sought to assure members that ministers do not envisage the closure of small schools. There is a range of schools which are described as ‘small’. Labour MP Cat Smith raised concern that schools in her constituency, which have as few as 13 pupils, would neither be able to survive as stand-alone academies or be an attractive proposition for MATs to take on. Very small schools of this size do of course face sustainability issues even if they remain as LA maintained schools. According to the DfE performance tables, the school in question employs 2.6 full time equivalent teachers and their grant per pupil is £18,000 compared with a local authority average of £4000. There are ten other primaries within a five mile radius.

Parent governors were a contentious issue in the debate, with the government arguing that Labour’s motion misrepresented their policy by stating that the White Paper “proposes the removal of parent governors”. Indeed the wording of the motion was sloppy given that it was clear from Lucy Powell’s speech in the debate that she, at least, had grasped the nuances of the sentence in the White Paper. The Prime Minister had denied that this was the case during Prime Minister’s Questions, stating that although the plans would mean removing the requirement for academies to have parent governors, parents “will always be encouraged to serve on governing boards”. During the debate, Nicky Morgan emphasised that the government intends to ensure parental engagement through a range of other measures. As set out in an essay by Chief Executive Emma Knights, neither of these arguments address the concerns raised by NGA and many others. 

The Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, stated that the DfE “will never make any successful school, large or small, that is capable of operating alone, join a trust”. This appears to be a dilution of the position stated in the White Paper that “other than in exceptional circumstances [small schools] will be part of a MAT helping to secure their long term success”.  Although she did not define ‘capable of operating alone’, it is not too much of stretch to imagine that all but the very largest primary schools could be deemed to be ‘incapable of operating alone’.

Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, who chairs both the All Party Parliamentary Group on Governance and the Education Select Committee, drew attention to NGA’s joint publication with ASCL and Browne Jacobson Forming or Joining a Group of Schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny as a key resource for schools looking to establish a strong group of schools. He also highlighted variability in the effectiveness of MATs, which are the subject of a current Education Select Committee inquiry.

The cost of converting all schools to academies was also a topic of some controversy. Labour has contended that the likely cost is around £1.3 billion and this figure has been widely reported in the press. Describing this figure as “grossly inaccurate”, Nicky Morgan said that the costs of converting to academy status had fallen significantly since 2010 and would continue to do so (although she provided no evidence for this last assertion). An exact figure for the anticipated cost was not given.  She did state that the current average cost was £32,000 which, given the 17,000 schools still to convert, would add up to over £500m.

With schools already feeling pressure on their budgets, MPs across the house questioned whether the universal academisation policy was the right use of schools’ resources: both financial and in terms of the shifting the time and attention of school leaders away from their school improvement priorities. 

MPs voted in favour of the Conservatives’ counter-motion, in support of universal academisation, with a majority of 302 to 204. Despite the concerns expressed, Conservative MPs supported their party’s motion. This represents a statement of the House’s opinion rather than a change in law. No legislation has yet been brought in to facilitate the White Paper’s proposals and debate over the two most prominent topics – forced academisation and the removal of requirement for parents on academy trust boards – is likely to continue. For more information on different school structures, including academies and MATs, see NGA’s guidance centre.


DfE Academies Myths and Facts document

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has also released a myths and facts document on academies in an attempt to counteract some of the criticism levelled against the programme over recent weeks. This could have been an excellent opportunity to set out the actual facts, but unfortunately not all of the arguments are well made and therefore this tactic may give more ammunition to those who are anti-academy. As we hope our members are aware, NGA does not think that any one school structure is better than another in bringing about school improvement and we are of the firm view that it is right that the decision to convert to academy status should rest solely with the governing body.

Some of the facts are absolutely correct – e.g. academies are not private profit making businesses but charitable companies. However, it is unfortunate that yet again the document repeats the inaccuracies about parent governors being on boards for representative purposes – a direct contradiction of the actual position and indeed the DfE’s own Governance Handbook. See Emma Knights’ essay on parent governors for more on this subject.

The DfE also somewhat bizarrely attempts to refute some commentator’s suggestions that multi-academy trusts are anonymous monoliths with no connection to their communities by saying that the current system of “one-size fits all dictated by County Hall” is less responsive. The DfE appears to have missed the last twenty five years of local management of school in which governing bodies and headteachers have largely managed their own affairs.

It is also slightly disingenuous on whether primary schools will have to join MATs. It is absolutely true that the White Paper does not say all schools must join a MAT but instead the phrases ‘successful and sustainable’ is used. As yet, there is no definition of ‘sustainable’, but it is a moot point as to whether it will apply to any but the largest primary schools. The National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, in a recent presentation, suggested that 1200 students may be the smallest viable number for a MAT; NGA will keep members updated on the thinking around these developments.


SchoolDash study into the performance of academies compared to maintained schools

Two new blogs by SchoolDash, an independent website set up by a London-based academic, have analysed whether converting to academy status has had any impact on schools that have already been through the process. Focusing only on mainstream secondary schools, blog one looks at converter academies and blog two looks at sponsor led academies.

In blog one, SchoolDash matched the 792 converter academies from 2010/11 with similar maintained secondary schools, basing the matching criteria on pupil profile information (e.g. the number of pupils eligible for free school meals or that have special educational needs statements etc). The study did not match schools together based on outcomes (i.e. GCSE results) as the object of the study was to see if similar maintained schools or academies have historically performed better. The overall findings were that, of those schools that converted voluntarily (which were generally good or outstanding in the first place) “the shift to academy status doesn't seem to have made much difference to the academic performance of those schools, either positively or negatively”.

In blog two, the report matched 188 sponsor-led academies (which are generally underperforming or failing) with similar LA maintained schools also based on pupil profile information. The study concluded that, for sponsor led schools, “academy conversion does appear to result in improved performance, at least on average”. This is because, since 2010/12, the “amount of improvement shown by these schools is always better than that of similar LA schools and often better than that of all other schools … whether for overall GCSE performance or for progress in English or Maths”.

The blogs look purely at the end result (i.e. did performance improve) and not at all at the reason for improvement – i.e. was improvement only achieved because a school was converted to academy status. It does not look at whether other factors (e.g. leadership/quality of teaching) were more important. SchoolDash’s conclusion is that while this does not lead to a conclusion that academy status is a panacea for school improvement, conversion would not necessarily do any harm to pupil outcomes.

NGA has always been clear that where a school has seriously underperformed the governing body and school leadership should be subject to intervention and that the right solution for the school may be for it to be placed in a multi-academy trust which has a strong track record of school improvement. Where a school is good or outstanding, we remain of the view that the choice about whether to become an academy should rest with the governing body, after consultation with all the school’s stakeholders. There is still no clear evidence that conversion to academy status is a guarantor of high-performance.


Latest Ofsted school inspection statistics

Ofsted has released its latest school inspection statistics, relating to inspection outcomes as at 31 December 2015. This is the first official statistics release since the changes to the inspection framework introduced last September.

There were 562 full inspections between 1 September and 31 December 2015. This is far fewer than previous years: there were 1,491 full inspections between 1 October and 31 December 2014 and 5,042 in the whole 2014/15 school year. This is because of the introduction of short inspections, changes to the timing of first inspections of new schools, and a planned slower start to the new inspection framework.

The statistics show that:

  • 85% of schools were judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ overall at their most recent inspection; this broke down as 86% of primary schools and 75% of secondary schools.
  • There were 333 short inspections (of good schools) of which 47% converted to a full inspection. Of those, 18% improved to ‘outstanding’, 24% remained ‘good’, 50% ‘requires improvement’ and 8% ‘inadequate’. In total, 64% remained ‘good’, 8% improved and 28% moved down.
  • In both primary and secondary schools, academy converters were most likely to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, followed by maintained schools, and then sponsor-led academies; this is the pattern that would be expected due to the profile of the different types of academy before they converted.
  • 83% of pupils in secondary schools in the south are in ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools, compared to 73% in the north and midlands. There is, however, substantial variation within these areas.


Understanding School Governance across the system

As we previously reported, NGA is currently working with the National Foundation of Educational Research (NFER) on a feasibility study to identify whether it is possible to measure quality of governance across the school system. This research has been commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) and as part of the study we have been inviting headteachers and chairs of governors to complete an online survey.

A random sample of schools has been selected to take part, and if your school is included in this sample you should have received a letter and email from NFER inviting you to participate. The survey will close on 13 May 2016, so if your school has been selected to take part please do complete the survey by this date, and encourage your headteacher to do so too.

For further information about the project please contact Ellie Cotgrave.


Updated mandatory and useful timelines for schools

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has updated the mandatory and useful timelines for all schools.

Stay up to date with the latest DfE news here and don’t forget to check out NGA’s newsfeed. You can also access the NGA Guidance Centre to find out more information on many of the topics covered.


Reconstitution of Federations

Governors of federations should note that the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed in the timelines for schools (see above) that all federations will need to reconstitute to have two (and only two) parent governors from 1 September 2016. This follows an update to the Regulations  in late February.


New report on the difficulties facing young people from low income families  

The Fair Education Alliance (FEA), which consists of 55 members and supporters from a wide range of organizations who want to make the UK education system fairer, have released its 2015 Report Card. The report card outlines five impact goals (four for young people under the age of 18) the FEA want to achieve in order to narrow the gap between young people from the richest and the poorest families.

For a more detailed overview of the report, please visit the NGA’s research page.


Need a headteacher?

The Future Leaders Trust (FLT) has recruited a pool of over 40 exceptional leaders across the country, ready to take on headships in challenging schools by September 2016 as part of a government-funded programme.

Key benefits of using FLT:

  • recruit a head with a strong track record in transformational leadership
  • no recruitment costs – all candidates have been through a DfE-approved selection process
  • talented leaders heads commit to their school for a minimum of three years
  • schools receive a £50,000 Leadership Sustainability Fund to build further leadership capacity
  • talented leaders heads receive mentorship and ongoing training and support from FLT, helping them to deliver improvements for your school

Get in touch with FLT and receive tailored support to help you find the right head for your school.


DfE facilitates procurement to allow schools to buy tablets using ‘collective buying power’

The DfE has released details on how schools can register their interest to buy tablet devices whilst benefitting from ‘collective buying power’. The procurement framework will offer four tablet options: Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro, LearnPad and a generic tablet. There will also be a number of associated items to choose from, e.g. security marking, covers and charging stations.

The aim is to negotiate better prices through the power of collective bargaining.

Schools should register their initial interest by 6 May 2016 and so if your school is looking to purchase any of the above tablets, pass on the details to your headteacher and/or business manager.


Another glowing review of Welcome to Governance

Last month the 2016 editions of The Chair’s Handbook and Welcome to Governance got a 4/5 star review in Schools Week and a quote penned as if to warm our hearts: “wherever you are on the path between aspiring governor and experienced chair, or in any way involved with school leadership and management, then these offerings from the NGA are a must read”.

This week, Welcome got another review - this time by one of the most widely read education blogs in the world: Te@cher Toolkit. The reviewer said: “This is an ideal book, which schools...could buy for their governing bodies either to help new governors or to update governors on the current expectations upon them.” While we obviously agree with the sentiment, please do not wait for Welcome to be bought for you. If your school is a GOLD member, you are entitled to a free copy for each new governor when you notify us of the change: email membership. If you are not, take advantage of a 50% members’ discount and buy a copy today!


DfE launch Character Awards 2016

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has launched the Character Awards 2016 to “identify, recognise and celebrate” character education in schools. All schools, colleges and learning providers are invited to apply for the awards with the closing date for entries being 23 May 2016.

For more information see the DfE press release for the awards or visit the DfE Character Awards 2016 webpage.


The Academies Show and Schemes of Delegations

The NGA will be attending the Academies Show in London on Wednesday 20 April. Come along and visit us on stand 737 or join our Chief Executive Emma Knights for her session at 12:10 on “Addressing school governance and delivering strong leadership”. To find out more visit NGA's events page.

Clare Collins, Head of Consultancy at the NGA and Sam Henson, Head of Information at the NGA will be leading a session looking at who makes governance decisions in MATs and how this is communicated. The sessions will specifically focus on how and who is held to account and for what.

The session is well timed and coincides with the special release of our model schemes of delegation (also to be published on Wednesday 20 April) – the key document for defining lines of responsibility and accountability. Clare and Sam will be discussing the format and purpose behind these key documents as well as drawing upon lessons learnt in putting these together.

The right people around the table:-

Having the right people round the table is the first of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance. Governor recruitment continues to be a major issue. The TES/NGA 2015 annual survey of nearly 6,000 governors revealed half of all respondents reported they were finding it difficult to recruit governors. NGA’s updated guide aims to assist boards, pinpointing five key areas for building the best team. Sam Henson, Head of Information and Katie Everett, Business Development Assistant will lead an open theatre session looking at how to recruit new governors and trustees to the board.


NGA Summer Conference 18 June 2016

Further details about our summer conference workshops are now available. Morning sessions will include:

  • Clerking matters
  • Making the best use of teaching assistants
  • Curriculum reform: GCSE & A level
  • Valuing and retaining staff
  • The role of Local Governor Associations in a changing world

Afternoon sessions will include:

  • Special School Governance
  • Outstanding careers education
  • Assessment: Life without levels
  • Keeping our heads
  • Parental engagement and governance

For the overview of each workshop and to book your place visit our events page.

Thinking of travelling to Birmingham the night before, why don’t you join us to celebrate NGA’s 10 year anniversary? See below for more details.


10 year anniversary dinner

Come along and celebrate NGA's 10 year anniversary with a dinner celebration at the ICC in Birmingham. We will start with a drinks reception and then enjoy a three course dinner with entertainment. This will be a great opportunity to get together with colleagues across the sector the evening before our Summer Conference on 18 June. The price to attend this event is £40 per person for members. Places will go quickly so if you’d like to join us please book your place by visiting our events page.



From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 08/04/2016

Revised schools causing concern statutory guidance issued by the DfE

In March, the Department for Education (DfE) issued new schools causing concern guidance for local authorities (LAs) and, for the first time, Regional Schools Commissioners (RSC). The guidance applies to both maintained schools and academies.

This document sets out how intervention will be carried out in schools which are underperforming in the light of the recent Education and Adoption Act 2016, including schools which fall under the new ‘coasting’ definition. More on this new legislation.

Previous versions of the guidance referred primarily to intervention by LAs. As RSCs have now been delegated responsibility for intervening in maintained schools, the new guidance sets out how they will carry this out and how the powers of LAs and RSCs interact.

The majority of the measures in the Education and Adoption Act will come into force on 18 April – this is of particular relevance to schools currently graded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted as from this date the Secretary of State (or the RSC on her behalf) will be required to issue an academy order to these schools. If an academy is ‘inadequate’ the RSC has discretion to decide whether it should be moved to a different multi academy trust. The LA and RSC will consider the most appropriate form of intervention for schools which are ‘eligible for intervention’ for other reasons, though the RSC has new powers to issue a warning notice, academy order, or institute an IEB if considered appropriate.

The Act also introduced the definition of ‘coasting’ as a category of school which can be eligible for intervention. No school can be formally designated ‘coasting’ until validated performance data is available in Dec 2016/Jan 2017. NGA will be producing a detailed briefing this summer, but in the meantime, click here for the definition of coasting in the regulations.


Opposition to universal academisation plans

Since the publication of the Department for Education’s Educational Excellence Everywhere White Paper last month (see our briefing and comments), the intention to force all schools to become academies has been opposed by many stakeholders.

As well as teaching unions (NUT, NASUWT, ATL, NAHT), almost 300,000 people have signed petitions against the policy (petition one and petition two). Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Lucy Powell, has described the plan as “an unnecessary and unfounded distraction” and warned of a potential funding shortfall of more than £1.1 billion. Universal academisation is also unpopular with some in the Conservative party, with some backbench MPs and local government councillors voicing significant concerns.

NGA is disappointed at the removal of governing bodies’ freedom to decide whether conversion to academy status is the right step for pupils in their schools and we are not convinced that there is enough capacity in the system to ensure that these changes are done well. We look forward to working with other groups to represent these views to the government.

Another proposal made in the White Paper is for the removal of the current requirement for elected parents to sit on the governing boards of academies. Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, has written on Conservative Home defending the plans: “Many parents have skills that make them very effective governors. All boards are and will continue to be free to appoint them as they see fit. But we want to enable academies to move from a model where parents are elected or appointed to governing boards for means of representation to one where they are chosen for their expertise”. NGA have already written a joint letter in the Telegraph on our lack of support for the removal of requirement for parent trustees.

NGA agree that skills are vital to the make-up of a governing board but does not believe that this precludes recruiting a small number of board members from certain stakeholder groups who bring useful knowledge. Elections can be a valuable way of ensuring those with different views and experiences are able to join boards.

Emma Knights has written in detail here on why the DfE has got it wrong on parents and school governance. Ms Knights has also commented here on how this will add to the risks of poor governance.


We want to hear governors’ stories

As well as needing members’ writing for Governing Matters, we have had a number of requests from journalists who want to know more about the business of school governing. If you are interested in being interviewed by a journalist for an article, or to put your name on a list we could use when radio journalists want to hear from school governors, please contact Mark Gardner.  Although everyone is particularly interested in hearing from parent governors at present, we would like all governors and trustees to come forward who have something to say, no matter their route onto the governing board.


New Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West

The Department for Education have today announced that the new Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for the South West will be Rebecca Clark. Having previously served as a headteacher in two schools, her most recent role was as National Education Director for the Oasis Community Learning multi academy trust. She will take up the post (which was vacated in February by the new National Schools Commissioner Sir David Carter) on 1 May.

RSCs are responsible for overseeing the growth of the academies programme in their regions as well as for intervention in underperforming schools (both academies and maintained schools). For more on the role, see our summary of a recent Education Select Committee report.


Reception baseline assessments will not be used as an accountability measure in primary schools 

On Thursday 7 April, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that it would not use the results from the reception baseline assessments as the progress measure in primary schools.

Introduced in March 2014, the reception baseline assessment was designed to track the progress of children through primary school. By allocating each child a score in reception, the aim was that primary schools could track how much progress each child had made by the time they reach Key Stage 2. This was to become the official measure of primary school progress by 2022.

A new compatibility study has found, however, that the three providers schools can use for baseline assessments are incompatible, making it difficult to compare schools that use separate providers.

As a result, Key Stage 1 will continue to be used as the starting point to measure pupils' progress to KS2, rather than reception. The DfE outlined that schools can choose to continue using baseline assessments in 2016 and 2017 but the “outcomes from the assessments will not be used for accountability”.

The DfE stated that “over the coming months we will be considering options for improving assessment arrangements in reception beyond 2016 to 2017 and will make an announcement in due course”. The NGA will keep members updated as this develops through the weekly newsletter.

Updated School Organisation guidance for maintained schools

The Department for Education (DfE) have issued new school organisation guidance for maintained schools. This guidance describes the process for:

  • Increasing the intake of a maintained school;
  • Expansion to an additional site, closure of an additional site, or transfer to a new site;
  • Changing the age range of a school’s intake;
  • Changes of category;
  • Changes in the type of provision, including provision for pupils with special education needs;
  • Opening or closing a maintained school (under the free school presumption, local authorities are under a duty to seek proposal for a free school where they identify need for a new school).

Any governing bodies considering making changes of these types to their school should seek advice from their clerks and should have considered these documents carefully. Any NGA GOLD members can telephone GOLDline for advice on 0121 237 3782.


EFA and financial notices to improve

Where the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has serious concerns, it will conduct an investigation into the financial operation of the academy trust. It will make recommendations for improvement and, where it is deemed necessary, issue what is termed a financial notice to improve (FNTI) that will outline the EFA’s concerns and provide a deadline for the academy to tackle these issues. The EFA currently has 24 open FNTIs and 11 closed FNTI.

The EFA has issued a financial notice to improve to Perry Beeches Academy Trust, a multi academy trust with five open schools in Birmingham, following an investigation into financial mismanagement. The EFA financial management and governance review, conducted in October 2015, but only published in March, found that the trust failed to comply with “HM Treasury’s guidance about the employment and contract arrangements of individuals on the avoidance of tax” and violated the Financial Academies Handbook, the Charities Commission Statement of Recommended Practice, the Academies Accounts Direction 2014 to 2015 and, potentially, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014.

Click here, for more details of this case which illustrates a clear failure of corporate governance, and here for NGA’s guidance for effective financial management and oversight in academy trusts.


Local Associations survey

NGA is currently carrying out a survey of local governors’ associations. Our aim is to find out how things have changed for associations since our last survey two years ago, whether NGA support is meeting their needs, and what the key issues are moving forward. Local associations are an important way for governors to share experiences and practice, especially in a self-improving system: click here for a list of active local governors associations. 

Many thanks to the local associations who have already responded to the survey. If you are the chair of an association which has not yet taken part, you can do so until Monday 16 May by following this link: NGA Survey of Local Associations 2016.

The results of the survey will be discussed at a workshop for local associations at our Summer Conference on Saturday 18 June in Birmingham City Centre. To book a place, visit the NGA events page.  


Reducing teacher workload reports

The teacher workload review groups, set up by the Department for Education, looked at three key issues identified as contributing to the burden placed on teachers – marking, planning and resources, and data management. They have now published their reports and recommendations for reducing teachers’ workloads with respect to each of these areas. Rather ironically the reports were published on the Easter weekend when we would have hoped teachers were taking a break from work.

The review groups make the following recommendations for governors:

Marking:-

  • use the three principles set out in this report (that marking should be meaningful, manageable and motivating) to review the school’s marking practice in partnership with teachers
  • evaluate the time implications of whole school marking and assessment policies to ensure that the they do not make unreasonable demands of staff
  • in partnership with teachers, monitor marking practices as part of a regular monitoring cycle and evaluate its effectiveness on pupil progress
  • challenge emerging fads that indirectly impose excessive marking practices on schools

Planning and resources:-

  • discuss quality assurance with senior leaders, subject and phase leaders to help understand where a subject-specific or phase-specific approach may be most appropriate – and why the volume of paper plans may be an inadequate proxy

Data management:-

  • do not request data in any other format than that which the school regularly and routinely presents (see below)
  • keep data requirements under review and challenge themselves and leaders to collect the least amount of data possible

While NGA completely concurs with the need to reduce unnecessary workload, unfortunately the data management report does not account for the fact that data needs to be collected and collated in a format which is useful for governance purposes. NGA is speaking to the DfE regarding this and we are interested to hear from governors and trustees but, in the meantime, governing boards should be mindful of their duty to promote the wellbeing of their staff. As such, they should ensure that a collaborative approach with senior leaders and teaching staff is used to determine, at the outset, exactly what data is important, how it is collected, how frequently it is collected and how the data will inform the strategic priorities and reduce the burden on staff.


Guardian survey highlights concerns over teacher workload

The Guardian teacher network and Guardian jobs have conducted a survey of teachers which suggests that the issues with teacher recruitment are set to continue. Of the 4,450 responses received, 43% of state school teachers said they were planning to leave the profession in the next five years.

Issues with workload featured heavily in the survey with 82% describing their workload as ‘unmanageable’ and more than three-quarters working between 49 and 65 hours a week. Worryingly, 73% said their workload was having a serious impact on their physical health and 75% on their mental health. Only 12% said they had a good work-life balance and only a third feel their employers consider their wellbeing.

The survey also highlighted the difference between teacher morale in the state and independent sector, with teachers in independent schools much more likely to say they are happy in their work and much less likely to complain of unmanageable workloads.

Teacher recruitment and retention also featured highly in this years’ teaching and union conferences with Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), stating that ‘teaching recruitment and retention are both at dangerously low levels’.  Similar concerns were also raised by ASCL, ATL and NASUWT.

The government have taken steps to tackle teacher workload. The Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan set up three working groups on marking, lesson planning and pupil data. The report and recommendations from those groups have now been released (see article above).


House of Lords Select Committee call for greater emphasis on transition to work in education

The House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility has released a report which, in their view, shows that the “majority of young people are significantly overlooked in their transition for work by the education system”.

A full summary of this report can be found on the NGA website.


Two new research reports issued

Over the Easter holiday, two useful pieces of research have been released.

Firstly, new research from the Centre for High performance identifies approaches that should and should not be used when attempting to turn around an underperforming school.

Secondly, research conducted on behalf of the National Citizen Service (NCS) looks at the importance of social intelligence in education and the workplace.

Both of these reports are summarised on the NGA website.

Regional meeting notes now online

The lively debates from the six spring regional meetings have been captured by the NGA team. Full notes from the proceedings are now available online, click here for more information.

The outcomes of all nine regional discussions on local governance have been written up for the next issue of Governing Matters which will be arriving through your letter box in the last week of April.


Consultation launched on 30-hour free childcare

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has opened a consultation on the how the 30-hour free childcare entitlement - for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds - should be delivered. Views are being sought on how this will respond to, and meet, the needs of working parents. The DfE are especially interested in views on:

  • how places might be delivered more flexibly
  • provision for children special education needs and disabilities
  • the role and responsibilities of local authorities in securing places
  • information about childcare for parents
  • the ‘grace period’ for parents

The online survey is open until the 6 June 2016.


Clerking Matters 2016: NGA’s Clerks’ Advisory Group

As part of the NGA Clerking Matters Campaign, we hosted a meeting specifically for clerks. The meeting was attended by over 40 clerks and was an opportunity for clerks to tell us what issues were affecting them and let us know what we could do to help.

The topic of clerks’ pay was raised with concerns about both the rate of pay and the lack of consistency. In response to this, NGA will be shortly conducting a survey on the remuneration of clerks.

The meeting was a success and we will be making this a termly event. This term’s meeting with be at our summer conference: for more information on the conference, the clerks’ workshop and booking information, please click here.

The notes from the meeting are also now available on our Clerking Matters Campaign page.

Are you looking for a new governor?

Inspiring Governors London Event: The Inspiring Governors Alliance is hosting an event in London on Wednesday 20 April at 18.30 to demonstrate how to get the most out of the free governor recruitment service. The event will also be a chance for chairs to meet with 40 prospective volunteers. If you have a vacancy which needs filling, this is an excellent opportunity to find candidates to interview. NGA’s Chief executive, Emma Knights, will be attending to speak to delegates and answer any questions. To find out how to attend, visit our events page.

Whatever region of the country you come from: if you have vacancy, have you registered with Inspiring the Future? There are several thousand volunteers registered who are waiting to be contacted by a school. View the video which explains the service.


NGA Summer Conference 18 June 2016

Further details about our summer conference workshops are now available. Morning sessions will include:

  • Clerking matters
  • Making the best use of teaching assistants
  • Curriculum reform: GCSE & A level
  • Valuing and retaining staff
  • Chairs of Local Associations

Afternoon sessions will include:

  • Special School Governance
  • Careers: Education responsibilities
  • Assessment: Life without levels
  • Keeping our heads
  • Parental engagement and governance

For the overview of each workshop and to book your place visit our events page.

Thinking of travelling to Birmingham the night before, why don’t you join us to celebrate NGA’s 10 year anniversary? See below for more details.


10 year anniversary dinner

Come along and celebrate NGA's 10 year anniversary with a dinner celebration at the ICC in Birmingham. We will start with a drinks reception and then enjoy a three course dinner with entertainment. This will be a great opportunity to get together with colleagues across the sector the evening before our Summer Conference on 18 June. The price to attend this event is £40 per person for members. Places will go quickly so if you’d like to join us please book your place by visiting our events page.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 18/03/2016

Department for Education sets out vision for the future of the school system

The Department for Education (DfE) published its White Paper – Educational Excellence Everywhere – on Thursday, setting out the future direction of the school system.

The headline policy is that all schools will be required to convert to academy status, or be in the process of converting, by 2020. Legislation introducing new mechanisms for converting and reforming the role of local authorities (LAs) with respect to schools is proposed. There will be a strong expectation that schools will be part of multi academy trusts (MATs). Responsibility for school improvement will pass from LAs to MATs, teaching school alliances, and other school-led networks. The NGA consultancy service offers sessions for governing boards considering setting up MATs.

Much of the press around the White Paper concentrated on the ‘abolition’ of the role of parent governor. What the White Paper actually states is that there will not be a requirement for academy trusts to have elected parents on the board, but academy governing boards will still be free to appoint or elect parents.

Measures to improve teacher recruitment and training are among the other measures included. Schools will also benefit from the widely publicised “sugar levy” announced in the Budget as the funding will be directed to school sports and extracurricular activity.

NGA’s comments on the White Paper can be found here, and NGA’s Chief Executive Emma Knights gave her take on mandatory academisation.

For a summary of the White Paper, see our briefing page.


Education and Adoption Act receives Royal Assent

On Wednesday the Education and Adoption Act 2016 received Royal Assent, and will now become law. Among the Act’s provisions are:

  • that all ‘inadequate’ schools will be converted to sponsored academies
  • removal of the requirement for consultation from the academy conversion process in many circumstances
  • introduction of a new category of ‘coasting’ schools which will be ‘eligible for intervention’ from Regional Schools Commissioners

The dates at which these provisions will come into force are yet to be announced and the NGA will provide further guidance for members in due course.

For more on the provisions in the Act, see our news page.


Education Select Committee launches inquiry into MATs

The Education Select Committee has launched a timely inquiry into multi academy trusts (MATs). A summary of the scope of the inquiry is available here.

NGA will be submitting evidence. If you would like to make a comment, please send these directly to sam.henson@nga.org.uk.


NGA guides rated highly in SchoolsWeek

This week’s SchoolsWeek carries a book review of NGA’s two guides Welcome to Governance and The Chair’s Handbook. Collectively receiving four out of five stars, the guides are deemed “a must read for any governing body library”. The reviewer comments that Welcome to Governance “covers all you should, or indeed, need to know about how a governor fits in with others in a school, as well as the specific responsibilities of the governing body and governors”. The Chair’s Handbook is described as being “equally well presented and comprehensive”. The review is featured in the paper and digital copies of today’s SchoolsWeek, but for those of you who do not subscribe it will be available on the SchoolsWeek website from Sunday evening.

All Gold NGA members receive a Chair’s Handbook posted to their chair and complimentary copies of Welcome to Governance for new governors as part of your membership. The latest edition of the Chair’s Handbook will be posted to all chairs next week, so if your chair has changed recently please email membership with their contact details.

All other NGA members receive a discount of 50% on these publications (£5 instead of £10) and additional discounts of up to 25% on bulk orders. If you would like to order either of these sector leading publications you can do so in our online shop.


Data Dashboard Decommissioning

The Ofsted Data Dashboards will not be updated with 2015 data. The current dashboards will be available until 30 September 2016, after which the dashboard website will close down. Users of Ofsted’s School Data Dashboard can download PDF copies of their school’s Dashboard up until this date. Governing boards should request that headteachers provide copies of the Inspection Dashboard which will be still be available and is of use to governing boards (see our blog: The power of data).

The Department for Education (DfE) has recently released a new service which will replace their existing Performance Tables website. The new school comparison tool is open to the public as a Beta, which means that the DfE is seeking feedback on where it could be improved, and links on how to provide feedback are visible in several places on the new website. It can be used to compare performance data across schools, and to check individual schools, using a similar graphical presentation to the Data Dashboard.

Further links to performance data for schools are given below:

Do not forget to read our Knowing Your School briefing notes.


Global Education & Skills Forum 2016

On the 12 and 13 March the Global Education & Skills Forum 2016 took place in Dubai. Throughout this two day conference, there were debates and presentations on topical issues affecting education providers around the world. Of most relevance to governance in England, Professor Alex Hill, Co-Founder and Director of The Centre for High Performance, shares his research on how to turn around a failing school based on a study of academies in England. In addition, Sir Mike Tomlinson, Education Commissioner for Birmingham, talks through his experiences of combatting extremism in Birmingham.

All of the proceedings were recorded and are available on YouTube. Governors may find some debates and discussions interesting.


North West Regional Conference Spring 2016

Thank you to all our members who attended last Saturday’s conference in Liverpool.

The presentations from Vicky Beers CBE, Regional Schools Commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, Paul Aber, NGA’s Head of Training Development, and Emma Knights, NGA Chief Executive, can be downloaded here.


Free Governor Live event: Is it now time to pay school governors?

19:30 on Monday 21 March 2016

Modern Governor is hosting a free online event for governors and school leaders asking the question “is it now time to pay school governors?”

The event will take the form of an online panel discussion between: Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association; Andy Kent, Chair of the National Coordinators of Governor Services; Ruth Agnew, a National Leader of Governance; Nigel Gann, author of Improving School Governance – How better governors make better schools; and Gerard Kelly, former editor of TES and co-author of Building Better Boards. Audience participation is encouraged and panellists will be able to take questions.

For more information and to register please click here.


NGA Summer Conference: Growing Governance

Saturday 18 June 2016

At this year’s summer conference we will be continuing our 10th anniversary celebrations and examining the governor's and trustee’s role as a strategic thinker.

Our workshops will cover a range of topics from clerking matters to life after levels. There will be a special workshop for chairs of local associations and a workshop on valuing and retaining staff. There will also be workshops for Special School governors and a chance to discuss curriculum reform at secondary level.

For the full workshop listings and to book your place click here.


NGA Inspiring Governance Seminar

Friday 17 June 2016

Don’t forget we are also holding an Inspiring Governance seminar on Friday 17 June 2016. Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA and Clare Collins, lead consultant of the NGA, will explore the different models of multi academy trusts and what they mean in practice. Lord Nash will be joining us to close the seminar.

To book your place at this event visit our events page here.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 11/03/2016

National Funding Formula – Consultation issued

On Monday, the Department for Education (DfE) issued the long-awaited consultation into the future of school funding. The DfE is consulting on the funding for schools and also high needs funding (i.e. funding for children and young people with special needs). A further consultation on Early Years funding will follow later.  This phase of the consultation about funding for schools covers the high-level principles of what factors should be taken into account in a new national formula. A second consultation will follow which will include the details of how the various factors will be weighted along with indicative figures.

The DfE’s intention is to distribute funding, as it is now, for the financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19 via local authorities. Local authorities will receive funding for schools and distribute via their local formula. From 2019-20 the DfE will become responsible for calculating and distributing funding for mainstream schools.

Naturally, these are not small documents and will require careful consideration. NGA will of course be responding to the consultation and is interested to hear from any members. Do send your comments to Gillian.


NGA’s Federation First campaign: new blog and Q&A

Last week, the NGA launched its Federation First campaign. This campaign is designed to show governors that there are several options available to them when forming or joining a group of schools. Our Federation First page explains that federations are robust structures that allow schools to remain as maintained but also gain all the benefits that come with being part of a group. However, we understand that it is not enough simply to take our word for it – this is why we have also recruited a growing number of Federation Champions who are passionate enough about federations to talk to other governors considering forming or joining a group. If you would like to talk to a Federation Champion, please click here.

This week Tom Fellows, NGA’s Research and Information Officer, has written a blog on the campaign and why the NGA think that it is important. We also have an updated federation Q&A and, next week, we will be issuing a “myth busting” document around federations.


Nicky Morgan speaks at ASCL conference

In a speech to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference, the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP, commented on “the fantastic work” that is being done “to change young lives in schools across the country”. Taking a positive tone, Ms Morgan said that “the vast majority, more than 8 in 10 schools in this country, do a good or outstanding job … [and] … the vast majority of school leaders are tireless and passionate advocates for the young people they serve”. Ms Morgan also said that she is “genuinely excited” about the work that “you, NAHT and the National Governors’ Association are doing on the Foundation for Leadership, which in time will see ever more leadership development driven directly by those who know what it takes to make a great leader”.

Yet, Ms. Morgan also set out two challenges for the future: funding and teacher recruitment. On funding, Ms. Morgan welcomed the introduction of a national funding formula and, speaking on the use of the term “crisis” when discussing teacher recruitment, Ms. Morgan admitted that, with a recovering graduate recruitment market, “heads … are struggling to attract the brightest and the best”. However, she said that we should not “inadvertently create a vicious cycle where talk of a crisis actively puts people off entering the profession. Let’s focus on communicating to the outside world what a great profession teaching is, how rewarding it can be, and what good teachers have the power to do”.

To read the speech in full, please click here.


Policy Exchange releases collection of essays on teacher recruitment and retention

The Policy Exchange has published a collection of eleven essays on teacher recruitment and retention. The essays are written by various authors within education and cover a number of themes; a general overview of the labour market for teachers; the role played by Initial Teacher Training, an area which has seen significant change in recent years; how to develop and retain the large numbers of teachers we have in the system already; the deployment of teachers across the country.

The essays aim to raise awareness of the difficulties schools are facing when recruiting teaching staff, especially in English, maths, and science.


Ofsted criticises effectiveness of some prominent multi academy trusts

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has written an advice note for the Secretary of State, outlining the findings from eight focused inspections of academies in multi academy trusts (MATs) over the past year. This includes a focused inspection for which the outcome letter was published on 8 March of School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA).

The findings across the eight focused inspections are described as “worrying”, highlighting “serious weaknesses that were contributing to poor progress and outcomes for too many pupils”. Several of these related to failures of governance:

  • Confusion over governance structures and failure to publish schemes of delegation
  • Insufficient challenge from governors and trustees to information presented by senior leaders, leading to inflated views of quality of teaching
  • A lack of strategic oversight
  • A lack of urgency to tackle weak leadership at senior and middle levels

Attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils is highlighted as a major area of concern. The advice note also draws attention to the financial management of the inspected MATs, particularly high salaries paid to chief executives, large cash reserves, and expenditure on consultants “to compensate for deficits in leadership”. The note acknowledges that the MATs chosen for inspection have been those causing Ofsted the most concern and that some other MATs are effectively driving improvement in their schools. Nevertheless, it says that “many of the trusts manifested the same weaknesses as the worst performing local authorities”.

MAT governance is one of the areas of focus for NGA both in terms of guidance and consultancy. For guidance on good practice, see our Introduction to multi academy trusts and recent Governing Matters article: MATs and Schemes of Delegation.


Education Secretary recommends Sally Collier for Ofqual Chief Regulator

The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, has recommended her preferred candidate for the post of Ofqual Chief Regulator. Sally Collier has 20 years’ experience in the civil service, and is currently the CEO of the Crown Commercial Service.

Ofqual (Office of Qualifications and Examinations) is responsible for maintaining standards and confidence in GCSE, A level, and vocational qualifications in England. It is a non-ministerial department, independent of government. You can read a Schools Week interview with the outgoing Chief Regulator, Dame Glenys Stacey, who stepped down at the end of February.

The Education Select Committee will hold a pre-appointment hearing with Sally Collier next Wednesday (16 March), after which it will publish a short report on its opinion of her suitability for the position. The post is a Crown Appointment and therefore will not be confirmed until an order is laid by the Privy Council.

The change of leadership at Ofqual comes at a time when concerns are being raised about the readiness of qualifications due to be taught from September. As of 4 March, only 66 of 156 submitted GCSE, AS and A level specifications had been accredited. Shadow Education Minister, Labour’s Lucy Powell, said in Parliament on Monday that as a result “teachers will have just weeks or no time at all to prepare for these huge changes”, rather than the year’s lead in time promised by the government.

Governing boards should discuss with their headteacher how the changes to qualifications will affect their school and what arrangements have been put in place to ensure teachers have adequate preparation to begin teaching in September.


Survey suggests SRE not taught early enough in some schools

Findings from a survey conducted by the Sex Education Forum suggest that a significant number of children are starting puberty without having been taught about it in school. Of the 2,326 11-15 year olds who completed the survey, nearly a third (30.4%) did not learn all they needed to at school about how their body changes during puberty. Nearly a quarter (24%) of girls reported having periods before the subject is covered in sex and relationships education (SRE) classes at school.

NGA supports the view that SRE should be renamed Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) to recognise that the relationships aspect is vitally important, and that age appropriate RSE should be made compulsory in all schools. RSE is not compulsory in primary schools, and it is for the governing board to determine whether RSE (outside the compulsory elements taught as part of the national curriculum) should be taught. We recently reported that the government does not intend to change this. However, last year Caroline Lucas MP introduced a Bill to make PSHE – including SRE – statutory in all schools. The Bill is scheduled for its second reading today, and we will report on its progress next week.


Nicky Morgan on “unconscious bias” affecting headteacher recruitment

This week, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan spoke about “unconscious bias” affecting governors’ decisions when recruiting headteachers. She labelled the lack of female heads as a ‘crippling waste of talent’, citing the fact that although three-quarters of teachers are women, only 37% are headteachers. Speaking ahead of International Women’s Day, the Education Secretary outlined the government’s plan to ‘revolutionise’ part-time working by setting up a dating-style website for teachers looking for job-share partners. New programmes to tackle this problem will also be set up, one creating “mentors” to help mothers back into schools, and the other launching 1,000 career “coaches” to make teaching a more attractive long-term career for women. Morgan also called for high-flying teachers to sign a pledge offering their time to coach at least one woman to develop their career.


Updated DfE guidance on making significant changes to an open academy

The Department for Education (DfE) has issued updated guidance on what needs to be done to make a significant change to an open academy. The main change to the guidance is that the Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) will take over many of the duties that were previously reserved for the Secretary of State for Education.

Any academy trust which is considering changing the number, type and /or location of school places should consider this document carefully.


Free Governor Live event: Is it now time to pay school governors?

19:30 on Monday 21 March 2016

Modern Governor are hosting a free online event for governors and school leaders asking the question “is it now time to pay school governors?” The event will take the form of an online panel discussion between Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association; Andy Kent, Chair of the National Coordinators of Governor Services; Ruth Agnew, former LA services manager and National Leader of Governance; Nigel Gann, author of Improving School Governance – How better governors make better schools; and Gerard Kelly, former editor of TES and co-author of Building Better Boards. Audience participation is encouraged and panellists will be able to take questions.

 For more information and to register please click here.


NGA Summer Conference: Growing Governance

Saturday 18 June 2016

At this year’s summer conference we will be continuing our 10th anniversary celebrations and examining the governor's role as a strategic thinker.

Our workshops will cover a range of topics from clerking matters to life after levels. There will be a special workshop for chairs of local associations and a workshop on valuing and retaining staff. There will also be workshops for Special School governors and a chance to discuss curriculum reform at secondary level.

For the full workshop listings and to book your place click here.

Don’t forget we are also holding an Inspiring Governors seminar on Friday 17 June 2016. Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA and Clare Collins, lead consultant of the NGA, will explore the different models of federations and multi academy trusts and what they mean in practice. Lord Nash will be joining us to close the seminar.

To book your place at this event visit our events page here.


New NGA Guidance on governors’ role in exclusions

To support governing boards in their statutory duty to consider certain instances of pupil exclusion, NGA have developed this new practical and essential resource.

We explain every level of the process from short fixed-term to permanent exclusions, providing in-depth guidance on how to deal with permanent exclusions as well as giving you access to some handy tools including an exclusions matrix table, a permanent exclusion panel meeting procedure and template decision statements.

Exclusions guidance - a four stage guide for governing boards


Governing Matters: March/April edition

A reminder that a new Governing Matters, NGA’s bi-monthly magazine, is out now.

Cover stories include:

This edition’s features include:

As usual, this edition also gives members a glimpse of the work the NGA is doing. We introduce our latest guidance pieces on exclusion from school, advice on associate members, and the importance of professional development for clerks; Paul Aber , head of training development, highlights some of NGA’s new training initiatives; and Clare Collins, lead consultant, looks at the relationship between the board and the lead professional.

The magazine is available as a pdf for those standard governing board members who do not get a printed copy. Alternatively, if the membership is upgraded to GOLD, all members of the board will be posted a copy to their home address. Please make sure we have your home addresses: email membership.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 04/03/2016

NGA launches Federation First Campaign

Today the NGA is launching its brand new campaign, Federation First. The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness of the benefits of maintained schools forming or joining federations. This campaign comes on the back of concerns that some governors are misinformed about or totally oblivious to federations and do not fully understand the structure and benefits. The campaign has a dedicated webpage which aims to provide as much information as possible, clarifying some of the misconceptions surrounding federations.

But we know briefing notes can be dry – we wanted to put some colour into the campaign, so the NGA has recruited several volunteers to be Federation Champions who can tell their own stories of federation. These champions are current or recent Chairs and vice Chairs of federations who have been through the process of federating their school(s). They are available for telephone or email conversations with governors and can share their experiences of federation, the challenges and the benefits. To speak to a Federation Champion please email federations@nga.org.uk; you can review their biographies on the NGA website.

If you have any other questions about the campaign, or would like to offer to be a Federation Champion, please email federations@nga.org.uk and one of the team will be happy to answer your query.


New amendments to regulations for maintained schools and federations issued

As of 18 March, the School Governance Constitution Regulations 2012 will be amended so that all serving governors in maintained schools will be required to have an enhanced criminal records certificate (ECRC). This means that, by 1 September 2016, all serving governors must have an enhanced CRC and, from April 1 2016, governing bodies must have applied for an ECRC within 21 days of the election or appointment of a new governor.

The government has also amended the School Governance Federation Regulations 2012. From 1 September 2016 federations will no longer be required to have one elected parent governor from each school, instead the federated governing body must include a total of two elected parent governors drawn from all the schools in the federation. NGA welcomes this move as it prevents federations having to have very large governing bodies as the number of schools joining increases and had been lobbying the government to make this change.

The NGA will continue to lobby, as part of its Federation First campaign, to remove the criteria for every school in a federation to have its headteacher on the governing body. However this is more difficult to achieve as it would require primary legislation. For further advice telephone our GOLDline on 0121-237-3780.

Click here to read the School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016.


Updates from the Department for Education: Good news

This week NGA has been informed of several positive announcements by the Department for Education (DfE).

For more information visit our newsfeed.


Governing Matters: March/April edition

A new Governing Matters, NGA’s bi-monthly magazine, is out this week.

Cover stories include:

This edition’s features include:

As usual, this edition also gives members a glimpse of the work the NGA is doing. We introduce our latest guidance pieces on exclusion from school, advice on associate members, and the importance of professional development for clerks; Paul Aber , head of training development, highlights some of NGA’s new training initiatives; and Clare Collins, lead consultant, looks at the relationship between the board and the lead professional.

The magazine is available as a pdf for those standard governing board members who do not get a printed copy. Alternatively if the membership is upgraded to GOLD, all members of the board will be posted a copy to their home address. Please make sure we have your home addresses: email membership.


Top education expert to lead school leadership foundation

Sir Michael Barber, one of England’s most respected and influential education experts, has been appointed as the independent chair of the new Foundation for Leadership in Education. Sir Michael is the Chief Education Adviser of education company Pearson. He previously served as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit from 2001 to 2005, and as Chief Adviser to the Education Secretary on school standards from 1997 to 2001.

His appointment is a major step forward in setting up the Foundation, an independent and profession-led body for the development of the outstanding school leaders and governors of the future. The Foundation has been initiated by the NGA, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Stephen Munday, Executive Principal of Comberton Village College, in Cambridgeshire, and a member of the Teaching Schools Council, has been appointed vice chair of the Foundation.

For more information visit our newsfeed.


Mark of Excellence for NGA

We are delighted to announce that this e-newsletter has won a Mark of Excellence at the Association Excellence Awards 2016. The awards recognise individuals, teams and initiatives and highlight excellence in how associations operate and serve their members.

We know that our members join NGA to keep up to date with changes, have access to independent information and resources and to broaden their awareness of issues and good practice. Our newsletter has been instrumental in helping us to deliver this, which is why year after year it is rated 4/5 for satisfaction in our membership survey, placing it firmly at the top our most regarded resources, along with our GOLDline advice and Guidance Centre.


Ofsted leaders discuss the purpose and quality of education

Giving evidence to the Commons Educations Select Committee’s inquiry into the purpose and quality of education in England on Wednesday were two representatives of Ofsted: Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) Sir Michael Wilshaw and the National Director for Education, Sean Harford.

Ofsted’s written evidence stated the inspectorate’s position that “a good education should play a vital role in preparing young people for the world of work and life in modern Britain”, echoing the inspection framework’s emphasis on a broad and balanced curriculum. The evidence session took up this theme and highlighted the importance of improving the quality of both careers education and PSHE, though he does not support making the latter statutory. In Ofsted’s opinion the government’s push towards the English Baccalaureate is compatible with a well-rounded curriculum (this is not a view held by many school leaders and governors).

Sir Michael emphasised that good leadership is the determining factor in ensuring that schools are delivering a good education. A growing crisis of teacher recruitment, both at headteacher and classroom level, could potentially “undermine” good work being done elsewhere in the system.

To see NGA’s own submission on the purpose and quality of education, see our consultation page.


Governors and inspection: new videos from Ofsted

In a series of short videos, Belita Scott, Ofsted’s National Lead for Governance, talks about governors’ experience of inspection. The videos cover:

Notably, the final video clarifies a common misconception by stating clearly that governors who are unable to attend the final feedback session are entitled to know the provisional outcomes and do not have to wait until the official report is published.

Further information on governors and Ofsted is available in our Guidance Centre.


Schools continuing to struggle with teacher and headteacher recruitment

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has undertaken a survey into the effect the teacher recruitment crisis is having on schools. Nearly 900 school and college leaders responded, the majority of who represent secondary schools, both academy and maintained. Worryingly, 84% of respondents said that teacher shortages are having a detrimental impact on the education they are able to provide.

Nearly 90% of respondents reported difficulties in recruiting teachers; with maths, English and science being the subjects schools are struggling with most. Steps that schools are taking to address this include using supply agency staff (70%) or asking teachers to take subjects in which they are not specialists (73%). Staff wellbeing is also being affected, with 87% of respondents stating that the recruitment situation is creating additional workload and stress among staff.

The Guardian has also reported on the difficulties some schools are facing recruiting leaders. In the NGA membership survey 43% of 4,383 respondents reported it was difficult to find good candidates when recruiting senior staff. Factors contributing to this include a general shortage of willing candidates, and leadership models in academies, creating more senior roles to fill. For more information, see the Future Leaders campaign to find new headteachers.


Entitlement to free early education and childcare

The Department for Education (DfE) has made significant progress in providing 15 hours of free childcare to more parents of 3 and 4 year olds and parents of disadvantaged 2 year-olds, according to a new review by the National Audit Office (NAO). But the DfE has not achieved full value for money because it cannot track the effectiveness of its £2.7 billion investment in the provision.

In 2015, 66% of 5 year olds reached a good level of development compared to 52% in 2013. However, the DfE cannot link this data to the quality of individual childcare settings children have attended.

The NAO also found that childcare settings are concerned about the levels of funding that will be available to implement the doubling of free childcare from 15 to 30 hours per week in 2017, reporting that some providers may choose not to do so if the funding is not right. There is also a risk that childcare settings could choose to offer additional hours to 3 and 4 year-olds by reducing the number of disadvantaged 2 year olds they look after, as 2 year-olds are more expensive to care for.

Take-up of the free care has not been as high among some groups. For example, there is lower levels of awareness among Bangladeshi, Somali and Polish communities. And since funding for free childcare has stayed the same since 2013-14 providers have faced a real-term cut, NAO concluded.

For more information Kathryn James, deputy general secretary of the NAHT, looks at the government's 30 hours free childcare pledge in Governing Matters.


National Schools Commissioner announces new system for overseeing academies

Sir David Carter, the government’s new National Schools Commissioner announced last Friday that he plans to introduce a new hierarchical system of academy chains, and identify the 100 weakest academies. He told the TES that he will organise academy chains and multi-academy trusts (MATs) into four levels, based on the number of schools they control. In order to expand to the next tier, these trusts will have to undertake new assessments. The biggest chains will be known as “system leader trusts” and will be directly accountable to Sir David. He said that he wants to bring more rigour into academy expansion.

This week, Sir David Carter also announced the appointment of eight deputy directors and one national director to assist the regional schools commissioners’ offices. In an advertisement on the civil service jobs website, the DfE wrote that the “Department is seeking to appoint eight Deputy Directors for the Regional Schools Commissioners to support the RSCs in carrying out their role, and one Deputy Director to lead a national team. The roles themselves may vary depending on the priorities set by the RSC for their region or by the Department for the national role”.

Governance in multi-academy trusts is the key topic for discussion at NGA regional meetings this spring, including at the regional conferences.


National Offer Day 2016 - Admission to secondary school

Earlier this week, national offer day saw secondary school places being offered to children across the country. Whilst official figures from the Department for Education (DfE) will not be released until June, some local authorities have released their own figures showing the number of applicants in their areas, who were offered one of their preferred choices. Commentary on these figures seem to suggest that there has been a slight increase in the number of parents receiving a place at one of their preferred schools, in some areas there is still a significant minority of children who are not offered a place at any of their preferred schools.

In any case, whilst an increase in parents receiving preferences is a positive, the true picture about parental choice is unclear. Given the demand in school places, it is possible that parents applying for places rank their preferred schools in terms of the likelihood of actually getting a place rather than where they would actually like their child to be educated.  The widespread use of the word 'choice' by press, ministers and others adds to the problem.  Choice implies a right - i.e. you can have A or B whereas admission legislation allows parents to express a preference - it makes no guarantees that the preference will be met. Indeed, if you live in a more rural area the very concept of choice is probably a novel one.

The Local Government Association (LGA) took the opportunity of national offer day to call for the return of localised powers which will enable councils to open new maintained schools and compel academies to expand in areas where there is a true need for more school places. The LGA claims that without these powers, councils will be unable to fulfil their legal duty to ensure every child has access to a school place. Naturally the government has said that it is providing funding for new places where they are needed - although where an existing school is not expanding the new school must be a free school.

Following national offer day, schools will now inevitably face challenges from those parents who were unsuccessful in obtaining a place at their first preference school. Governing boards which are their own admissions authorities (voluntary aided and foundation schools, and academy trusts) are responsible for making arrangements for admission appeal hearings in accordance with the School Admissions Appeals Code. To help prepare for these NGA’s legal partners, Browne Jacobson, will be holding a free webinar on Thursday 10 March. Register for your free place here.


Ofsted to directly manage early years inspections

It was announced this week that Ofsted will have full control over the selection, training and management of early years inspectors from April 2017 when their current contracts end.  In effect, replicating for early years the system it now has in place for schools.


New project encourages parents to volunteer as STEM ambassadors

School Gate SET is a new project which aims to encourage and support parents to become "embedded STEM ambassadors" in their children's schools. The project has been set up by Kate Bellingham, STEM Ambassador and former Tomorrow's World presenter, and consists of an online community for parents volunteering to help with STEM subjects in their children's primary school during the working day. In particular the project focuses on parents who are taking a break from STEM-related careers to raise their children. As the project is in its early stages, School Gate SET would like schools to encourage parents to become involved, so if this is of interest please do direct your headteacher towards the project website. Also see the Wellcome Trust and NGA’s questions for governors to ask about science and maths.


NGA Summer Conference: Growing Governance

Saturday 18 June 2016

At this year’s summer conference we will be continuing our 10th anniversary celebrations and examining the governors’ role as a strategic thinker.

Our workshops will cover a range of topics from clerking matters to life after levels. There will be a special workshop for Chair’s of local associations and a workshop on valuing and retaining staff. There will also be workshops for Special School governors and a chance to discuss curriculum reform at secondary level.

For the full workshop listings and to book your place click here.

Don’t forget we are also holding an Inspiring Governors seminar on Friday 17 June 2016.  Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA and Clare Collins, lead consultant of the NGA, will explore the different models of federations and multi academy trusts and what they mean in practice. Lord Nash will be joining us to close the seminar.

To book your place at this event visit our events page here.



From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 26/02/2016

Education and Adoption Bill passed

On Tuesday, the Education and Adoption Bill 2015 completed its passage through Parliament and will become law as soon as it receives Royal assent.

 Among the bill’s provisions are:

  • that all ‘inadequate’ schools will be converted to sponsored academies
  • removal of the requirement for consultation from the academy conversion process in many circumstances
  • introduction of a new category of ‘coasting’ schools which will be ‘eligible for intervention’ by Regional Schools Commissioners

For more on the bill, see our news page.


Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium: guide for schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has published allocations for the year 7 catch-up premium. The catch-up premium gives schools additional funding to support year 7 pupils who did not achieve at least level 4 in reading or maths at the end of key stage 2. The DfE has also produced guidance to help schools spend the premium effectively.  


DfE publishes policy paper about EBacc requirements

The Department for Education (DfE) has produced a policy paper setting out the requirements for pupils to qualify for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) performance measure. For more details on which subjects count towards the EBacc see this list.

Between 3 November 2015 and 29 January 2016 the DfE ran a consultation on how to get at least 90% of pupils to take GCSEs in the EBacc subjects. Concerns about the 90% target were also raised by attendees of the two EBacc focus groups NGA held with DfE. NGA shares these concerns, and in our response we said that “expecting schools to enter 90% of pupils for the EBacc will result in them having to decide between being seen as performing well in the performance tables and making a choice in the best interests of pupils”. The DfE is due to publish its response to the consultation by the end of April. We will inform members about the DfE’s response in the newsletter.


Ofsted raises concerns about secondary schools in the North West

Chris Russell, Ofsted’s Regional Director for the North West, has written open letters to those overseeing education provision in Greater Manchester and Knowsley near Liverpool. The letters express concern about underachievement in secondary schools in the areas and call on local politicians and MPs to join with school leaders and local authorities to drive school improvement strategies.

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, expanded on the inspectorate’s concerns in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research. Referring to Ofsted’s Annual Report 2014/15 which posited a “North-South divide” in school performance, Wilshaw said that “Manchester and Liverpool illustrate the scale of the problem” and argued that “political will and vision” is needed to ensure that northern cities “become the economic powerhouses we want them to be”.

Writing in the Guardian shadow education secretary, Lucy Powell, highlights the divergence between this call for dynamism from local politicians and education leaders and the government’s emphasis on academy solutions which, she argues, “splinter the schools system and centralise control in Whitehall”. Labour’s position, she says, is more closely aligned to Ofsted’s.

Doubts have also been raised about the validity of the “North-South divide” described by Ofsted, questioning whether the apparent divide is actually the result of different pupil characteristics rather than geography. An article in TES reviews the evidence.


HMCI monthly commentary puts focus on teacher retention

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, has published his latest commentary, this time focussing on the issue of teacher retention and shortages.  Wilshaw states that there is not enough new entrants to the teaching profession and those that are attracted and trained are not applying to the schools where they are needed most, which is having a detrimental impact on schools located in more “deprived, unfashionable and isolated areas”.

He also says that while some teachers are moving straight into the independent sector, a growing number of recently trained and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are “flocking abroad to work in the rapidly expanding international school sector.” He asks: “are we in danger of overlooking one of the consequences of this expansion – a teacher ‘brain drain’ from this country just when the supply issue is reaching situation critical?”

Wilshaw urges policymakers to consider the idea of “some form of ‘golden handcuffs’” to keep teachers working in the state system in England for a period of time. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme Wilshaw suggested a two or three year period, subject to negotiations with the professional associations.

According to an Ofsted survey last year, nearly three-quarters of heads leading disadvantaged schools said they were struggling to get good staff. In a survey of school governors and headteacher conducted in the same year by NGA and TES magazine, 40% of respondents said they have difficulty recruiting high quality candidates to teaching posts; secondary governors reported greater difficulty at 48% compared with 37% in primary schools.

In November 2015 NGA provided written evidence about teacher supply to the House of Commons Education select committee. You can read our submission here.


DfE releases single departmental plan: 2015 to 2020

This week the Department for Education (DfE) has released its single departmental plan: 2015 to 2020 which outlines its visions and targets for this parliament. The document focuses around three key objectives:

  • “safety and wellbeing: all children and young people are protected from harm and vulnerable children are supported to succeed with opportunities as good as those for any other child
  • educational excellence everywhere: every child and young person can access high-quality provision, achieving to the best of his or her ability regardless of location, prior attainment and background
  • prepared for adult life: all 19-year-olds complete school or college with the skills and character to contribute to the UK’s society and economy and are able to access high-quality work or study options”

The document outlines each of the initiatives the government is using to fulfil these three objectives and gives a breakdown of the performance measures that the DfE is using to assess whether it is reaching its goals.

This document is useful for governors who want to know more about the DfE’s plans, the rationale behind recent education policy initiatives and how the DfE intends to measure success against these objectives over the next few years.


Pressure on early years providers revealed

This week, both the Family and Childcare Trust and the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) released their annual surveys, revealing an increase in the shortage of free early education places for three and four year olds – despite the government’s 30 hour free childcare pledge.

The Family and Childcare Trust found that the number of Local Authorities in England reporting a lack of free places has more than doubled, with 41,300 three year olds already missing out. NDNA established that fewer than half of nurseries are likely to be able to offer places to meet forthcoming demand. They said that tens of thousands of families may struggle to find places and will miss out on the government’s offer unless action is taken.

Both charities call for reform of childcare funding in order to make the 30 hour pledge workable and sustainable for both parents and nurseries. The Family and Childcare Trust’s full report can be found here and the NDNA’s here.

Many governors will be familiar with the opportunities and challenges associated with providing nursery education in a school setting. NAHT deputy general secretary Kathryn James wrote on the topic in a recent issue of Governing Matters.


NGA Clerks’ Advisory Group

The first meeting of the NGA Clerks’ Advisory Group took place on 15 February. The meeting was arranged as part of the relaunch of NGA’s Clerking Matters Campaign.  Over 40 clerks from around the country attended bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. The meeting gave clerks a forum to raise issues they were encountering in their role, giving us the opportunity to take these forward as part of the Clerking Matters Campaign.

The main issues raised were the possibility of a National Association for Clerks; a desire for increased opportunities to obtain relevant qualifications and undergo professional development; and easier access to information. The importance of a clerk’s independence was also discussed with attendees highlighting that it was imperative that irrespective of how clerks are employed, they feel able to step in when necessary and give appropriate advice.

Unsurprisingly, the subject of remuneration was raised, with attendees citing the generally low rates of pay as something that needs to be addressed if clerking is to be regarded as a professional role. NGA will therefore be conducting further work in the area of clerk’s pay.

The next event for clerks will be a workshop at NGA’s summer conference on 18 June. Bookings for the summer conference will open in mid-March.


Advice for counselling in schools

With the increasing focus on improving mental health services for young people, the Department for Education (DfE) has updated its departmental advice for counselling in schools. NGA previously reported on the findings of a report by NAHT and Place2Be (a children’s mental health charity) regarding access to in-school mental health services. This found that 64% of respondents found that pupils did not have access to a school-based counsellor.

Whilst in-school counselling services are not legally required, governing boards are responsible for pupil wellbeing, including their mental wellbeing, and providing such services is one way of fulfilling this responsibility. Further, the advice document makes clear that the government expects to see all schools providing access to counselling services for their pupils and includes a dedicated section on ‘Counselling in practice’. There are also updates to further resources schools can use to improve or establish their services.

Catherine Roche, CEO at Place2Be previously wrote an article in Governing Matters about governing boards’ responsibility for promoting mental health and outlines some of the key benefits felt by schools.


Penguin publisher offers classical books to schools for a minimal price per copy

In the 20/11/2015 Newsletter we reported on an announcement by Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools, challenging publishers to provide cheap classical fiction to secondary schools. Penguin books has announced that, for £3000, schools can get 30 copies of 100 different classical novels and landmark texts (£1 per book).

This offer only runs from March till June 2016 and governors should forward this link to their headteacher to give them an opportunity to purchase copies.

Click here to read the press release.


OFSTED Regional Director confirmed as key note for West Midlands Regional Conference

The NGA are pleased to announce that Lorna Fitzjohn, Ofsted’s Regional Director for the West Midlands, will be a key note speaker at the West Midlands Regional Conference on Saturday 19 March.

At this event there will also be talks on financial efficiency and the future of school governance in England.

This event is filling up fast and members are advised to take advantage of the free places on offer. For more information and bookings please click here.


GOLD members: register your chair for a complimentary Chair’s Handbook

The 5th Edition of The Chair’s Handbook has recently been published. This essential guide is an introduction for aspiring, new and experienced chairs of governors and includes how to develop and lead a team.

If you are a GOLD member, to ensure that it can be delivered directly to the Chair remember to update our membership team by emailing membership@nga.org.uk with your latest governing board details.

The Chair’s Handbook can also be purchased from our online shop here.


Lord Nash to address Inspiring Governance seminar

An extension to the Inspiring Leadership Conference, this afternoon seminar will be a great round off to the week for those that are attending the Inspiring Leadership Conference or an excellent prelude for those joining us for our Summer Conference the following day.

Bringing the focus on good governance and the relationship between school leaders and governing boards, this event will be taking place at the ICC in Birmingham and we are pleased to announce that Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, will be joining us.

For more information and bookings please click here.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 12/02/2016

NAO report on teacher supply

The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a report about the Department for Education’s (DfE's) arrangements for training new teachers. The NAO’s focus is on whether the current arrangements provide value for money, but in doing so it draws attention to the fact that in each of the last four years the DfE has missed its targets for filling training places and highlights the potential knock on effects on future teacher shortages. The report comes on the back of recent calls for the government to take steps to address teacher recruitment in education; with unions criticising the DfE for underplaying the scale of the issue.

To read more about the NAO report please click here.


Sex and relationship education will not be made compulsory

Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, has rejected a recommendation made by the Education Select Committee with the support of three other parliamentary committees, to make sex and relationship education compulsory in schools (previously reported on here).  

In a letter to Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the Education Select Committee, Nicky states that the government will continue to keep the subject's status under review, but said “while the Government agrees that making PSHE statutory would give it equal status with other subjects, the Government is concerned that this would do little to tackle the most pressing problems with the subject, which are to do with the variable quality of its provision”. She said the government will continue to keep the status of PSHE in the curriculum under review, focussing for the immediate time on improving the quality of PSHE teaching in schools.

NGA supported the recommendation for statutory PSHE in schools as well as the call for SRE to be renamed RSE. Click here to find out more.


Teacher workload

NGA previously reported on the launch of the workload challenge by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2014. It has now published its policy paper which sets out the steps taken thus far towards reducing teachers’ workloads. It also established three working review groups to look at the three key issues identified in the 2014 survey. They will publish their recommendations this spring. The groups are:

  • Marking Policy Review Group - to look at marking practices in schools that are raising standards successfully while reducing marking workload;
  • Planning and Resources Review Group - to consider the effect of lesson planning and use of resources in schools;
  • Data Management Review Group - to develop principles for good data management in schools, including how to monitor pupil progress.

Increasing teacher workload has been a long-standing issue in the education sector but governors are reminded of their responsibility to ensure a healthy work/life balance for the staff in their schools. NGA has met with the Department to discuss these issues.


Ofsted releases final report on Alternative Provision

Following its 2011 survey, and the subsequent Taylor review of alternative provision, Ofsted has released a new report commenting on the current picture. Previous reports found many weaknesses in the use and quality of this provision. Ofsted conducted a three-year survey, visiting 165 schools and 448 of the alternative providers they used.

Amongst the key findings were:

  • more schools appear to be refusing provision they see as not good enough, and developing in-house alternatives to ensure safe and suitable provision for their pupils
  • more schools are now working collaboratively to find and commission alternative provision
  • an overwhelming majority of pupils had positive comments to make about the provision

However;

  • some schools still do not check the safety and suitability of the placements
  • a small number of providers contravened regulations about registration and schools did not always check this

The report made a number of recommendations, including that school leaders should:

  • make sure that governors understand the progress made by pupils attending alternative provision so that decisions made about value for money are well informed


Report on lack of primary school counselling services

This week Place2Be and NAHT released a report, the first of its kind, on the current mental health support for pupils in primary schools. This report is based on a survey of 1455 primary headteachers in England carried out between the 8 and 11 January 2016. The key findings include:

  • 64% of respondents reported that their pupils do not currently have access to a school-based counsellor
  • 78% of respondents quoted financial constraints as a barrier for providing mental health services to pupils, while 53% said the lack of qualified professionals or services locally was an issue
  • larger schools, and those with a higher proportion of pupils eligible for Free School Meals, were more likely to have access to a school-based counsellor
  • of those who have access to such a counsellor, 84% said this was fully or partly funded by pupil premium funding

The report calls for schools to become more ‘Mentally Healthy’; with teachers being trained as part of their initial training, schools having more resources to deal with problems and tackle stigma, and the government to invest in school-based support.

The report calls for more recognition of the importance of investing in mental health from a young age, to prevent problems in later life. It also recommends statutory PSHE in all schools but, as members will note, the Secretary of State for Education has this week ruled that out.

 See the section on our guidance centre dedicated to Pupil wellbeing.

Top of page

NGA Special schools’ advisory group

NGA’s special schools’ advisory group will be meeting at 1pm on 23 March at the NGA offices in Birmingham. The group gives governors an opportunity to discuss issues relating to special educational needs and disabilities in schools and to inform NGA’s work in relation to special schools. It also gives governors the opportunity to exchange information on practices that they feel are working well in their schools. If you would like to attend please contact Rani Kaur.


Pupil premium awards 2016

On Friday 5 February, the Department for Education launched the Pupil Premium Awards 2016. These are awards for schools who have done the most to raise the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils (those eligible for the pupil premium).

There are key differences in the application process and prizes compared to previous years. The very generous cash prizes have been scrapped, instead winning schools will be offered opportunities to work with leading arts and STEM organizations, and schools will no longer be automatically nominated and must apply.

Applications need to be made via this online application form. Only schools who are deemed ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted will be eligible, providing they meet the other criteria. Schools should read all of the conditions before applying. Click here for a list of prizes.

The closing date for entries in all categories is March 4 2016. More information on how the awards process works can be found here.

Ofsted publishes outcome of focused inspection of E-ACT academies

Ofsted has this week published the outcome letter from its inspection of the E-ACT multi academy trust. E-ACT has 23 academies, seven of which were inspected in December as part of the focused inspection which also involved meetings with those responsible for the central operation of the trust.

The inspections found that, although progress had been made in the two years since the last focused inspections, “the quality of provision for too many pupils in E-ACT academies is not good enough”.

In particular, Ofsted noted that:

  • pupils achieve better in E-ACT’s primary academies than in the secondary academies
  • disadvantaged pupils in E-ACT academies make less progress than other pupils nationally
  • the Board of Trustees does provide effective support and challenge to E-ACT leaders

The inspections pre-date the news released in January that E-ACT is changing its governance structure to replace its local governing bodies with Academy Ambassadorial Advisory groups as the focused inspection was carried out prior to this announcement. For further discussion of emerging models of governance in multi academy trusts, see the recent blog by NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights: “When it comes to local governance, we want to have our cake and eat it… but perhaps we can”.


Report on low-performing students

This week, a new OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) report was released, focusing on low performing students and why they fall behind.

The report found that no country participating in OECD 2012 (a list of which can be found here) can claim that all of its 15 year old students have achieved a baseline level of proficiency in mathematics, reading and science. It argues that too many students are trapped in a ‘vicious cycle’ of poor performance and demotivation, which leads to further bad marks and disengagement from education. Further, poor proficiency in numeracy and literacy leads to poorer health, limited opportunities for well-paying jobs, and less social and political participation. This in turn effects the long term growth of a country’s economy.

The report makes recommendations on how to tackle low performance including providing additional resources, taking a multi-pronged approach tailored to national and local levels, providing schools with language and psycho-social support, offering more extracurricular activities, and training teachers to work with low-performing students.

The full report can be found here and the main information is digested in this blog post.


Chairs and headteachers - take part in exciting new governance research!
Understanding School Governance across the system

The Department for Education (DfE) has commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in partnership with the NGA to carry out a feasibility study to identify whether it is possible to design metrics which indicate quality of governance.

As part of the feasibility study we will be inviting headteachers and chairs of governors to complete an online survey, which will be available from March 7th and will be sent directly to the selected schools. As a thank you for taking part, we will send feedback to all participating schools in autumn 2016. In addition to this we will also select 30 schools from those who have completed both the headteacher and chair of governor’s surveys to receive a free NGA external review of governance during April or May 2016.

Schools selected to complete the survey will receive a letter from NFER in the next few days informing them about the study, so we’d appreciate it if members could make their headteacher aware that s/he may receive this letter.

How do governing bodies of standalone English schools influence strategy when clarifying vision, ethos and strategic direction?

Governors are meant to be the strategic decision makers and vision setters for their schools. However, there is a lack of clarity around exactly what this means. Nicky Odgers, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, wants to understand the views of chairs of governors and headteachers of standalone schools about two issues:

  • how should governing bodies influence strategy when clarifying vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • how do governing bodies influence strategy when clarifying vision, ethos and strategic direction

If you are a chair of governors of a standalone school in England or a headteacher who sits on the governing body of a standalone school in England, it would be fantastic if you could answer a short questionnaire here. Once you have completed the questionnaire, please do encourage your chair of governors/headteacher to complete it as well. This is an important issue for the NGA, and we are pleased to support Nicky in her research.


Managing Asbestos in schools survey

The Department for Education has sent a survey to all schools (headteachers) concerning asbestos and has asked us if governors could mention it to their heads to encourage a response. Many schools have asbestos in their buildings and this needs to be managed properly. The consequences of mismanagement of asbestos can be fatal. Where the governing board is the direct employer it will be responsible for health and safety.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 05/02/2016

New edition NGA guides for governors

Welcome to Governance, 8th edition
The most popular and widely purchased induction guide for new governors and trustees.

The guide is an introduction to the roles and responsibilities of being a governor, and covers both maintained schools and academies.

The Chair’s Handbook, 5th edition
An essential guide for chairs and aspiring chairs of governing boards. As well as a basic introduction, this guide will help you look at how to develop your team of governors or trustees, how to work effectively with the headteacher and senior management team, lead the school toward improvement and manage the strategic business of the board.

GOLD governing boards receive a free Chair’s Handbook and complimentary copies of Welcome to Governance induction guides for all new governors.

Purchase copies online

50% discount for members – only £5 per copy! If you order more than 15 copies, you can also take advantage of a bulk discount.

Contact the NGA office for more information or to place a bulk order.
T: 0121 237 3780E: admin@nga.org.uk


Become a Federation Champion with the NGA

In the 18.12.2015 newsletter, the NGA invited participants to become Federation Champions. This is part of our Federation First campaign and is an exciting opportunity for a Chair/Vice Chair of a federation to share good practice and experiences with others who are looking to federate. It will be much appreciated – other governors are very keen to hear from those who have already made the move.  So, as we are getting more interest in federation, we are looking for even more Champions.

To find out more please click here.


NGA responds to Ofsted consultation on governance

The National Governors' Association (NGA) has submitted evidence to Ofsted consultation on the subject of school governance. 

Questions included:

  • What are the main challenges of being a governor or trustee in an increasingly diverse education system?
  • What skills and experience do governors and trustees need to perform their increasingly important role?
  • To what extent is regular and relevant training for governors important? What training should be mandatory for governors and trustees?
  • Who should hold governors and trustees to account for the decisions that they make and the actions that they take?
  • Has the time now arrived to make provision for paid governance? If so, why?
  • To what extent are external reviews of governance an effective tool for improving standards?

Click here to download our submission.


Concern registered about the DfE’s EBacc proposals

The Department for Education’s (DfE) consultation on implementing the English Baccalaureate received 1,500 responses before closing on 29 January. Earlier in the month, NGA held two consultation events with the DfE in London and Birmingham, giving governors the opportunity to discuss their concerns.

NGA’s written response to the consultation argues: “The first and foremost consideration when making a decision about entering a pupil for the EBacc must be whether doing so is in his/her best interest.” The subjects included in the EBacc are right for some pupils but are “not the right choice for all”.

Concerns about narrowing of the curriculum are shared by others including the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT), who in a statement criticised the perceived replacement of the Progress 8 performance measure with the EBacc, before Progress 8 has even properly begun.


Buying guidance for schools replaced

The guidance referred to in last week’s newsletter has been replaced by Departmental advice on how to plan and run an efficient procurement process to buy goods, works or services for your school. The advice covers planning a business case and choosing the right procurement process, offers help writing a specification and details the four possible ways to make a procurement. There is also advice on contract management.

The useful resources section also includes a series of training modules about the procurement process for school business managers and staff.

This will be a useful tool for school business manager and/or headteacher.


DfE releases £13 million early to fund 30 hours’ of free childcare

This week Sam Gyimah, Childcare Minister, announced the eight councils chosen following an open competition who will share £13m to allow them to offer the promised 30 hours of free childcare a year ahead of schedule. Working parents of 3 and 4 year olds in Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire will benefit from September this year.

In addition to these eight a further 25 ‘early innovator’ councils which will be looking at ways to ensure that this childcare offer is accessible to as many parents as possible, including those with children who have Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). These experiences will be used to support the full rollout in 2017.


Social mobility index reveals geographical variation in life chances for disadvantaged pupils

Last month the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission published its State of the Nation report, and this week it has published its Social Mobility Index. The Commission is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Education, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Social Mobility Index compares the chances that a child from a disadvantaged background will do well at school and get a good job across local authorities in England. For a summary of the main points of interest for governing boards click here.


Take part in NGA’s research on how chairs spend their time

We are currently undertaking research into how chairs of governing boards manage their time. We have already completed the first stage of this project, which involved carrying out telephone interviews with a sample of 19 chairs of governors. We are now starting the second phase, for which we are asking chairs to keep a diary of their governance activity over 4 consecutive weeks, starting from 15th February.

To thank participants for their contribution to the study we are offering their school six months free standard membership or £60 off Gold membership.

For more information about the project see this information sheet.

If you are interested in taking part please email Ellie by Wednesday 10th February.


Ofsted issues letter followed focussed inspection of the academies within the Academies Enterprise Trust

On Thursday, Ofsted issued a letter to the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) following its second focused inspection of the academies in the trust. AET is the largest multi academy trust in the country, encompassing 67 academies. Ofsted noted that only five of 12 academies previously inspected had improved their ratings.

In particular Ofsted noted that:

  • leaders did not know how the Trust intends to ensure that every academy is good or better.
  • some academy leaders felt isolated from the Trust as a whole. They did not believe the Trust played a significant part in the development of their academies
  • leaders did not have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of governors and the Trust’s board. Some leaders were concerned that governors and the Trust were not rigorous in holding them to account
  • NGA has already done a significant amount of work in relation to governing a Multi Academy Trust and this will be an area of ongoing work.  In setting up or growing a MAT it is absolutely critical that all those within the MAT have a clear understanding of how is responsible for making which decisions and who they need to report to.  All MATs should be publishing a scheme of delegation on their website which makes these issues clear. NGA consultants can provide support for MATs developing their scheme of delegation.
  • Guidance on issues to think about when governing in groups of schools: Forming or joining a group of schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny.


James Cowper Kreston benchmarking report for academies

This week, James Cowper Kreston, a UK based accountancy firm, has produced a benchmarking report from a survey of 500 academies and multi academy trusts (MATs) that make up the client base of the Kreston UK Charities and Education Group. The report gives an insight into how academies are meeting some of the challenges in the education sector today.

Click here to read more.

Note from the NGA: given the problems faced by AET (click here to read more) a MAT of this size may prove to be unnecessarily risky. Board of trustees need to be very careful about carrying out risk assessments when considering growth. This is area NGA will be working on in the future.


Concern about literacy and numeracy skills of England’s young adults

A new report for the OECD has found that there are an estimated 9 million working age adults in England with low literacy or numeracy skills or both (‘low basic skills’): more than a quarter of adults aged 16-65.

‘Low basic skills’ are more common among young people in England than in many other countries, even among the well qualified (one in ten university graduates on the OECD measures are classed as having ‘low basic skills’). The report traces this back to a lower standard of performance at the end of compulsory education and therefore recommends that “the priority of priorities is to improve the standard of basic schooling”, setting more demanding basic skill standards and encouraging all young people to continue to develop their maths and English skills beyond the age of 16. It also suggests reducing the number of students in university programmes in favour of shorter professional programmes, particularly in the Further Education sector, which address skills gaps.

The Government has introduced a requirement that where young people continue in some form of education post-16 they must continue to study maths and/or English if they did not achieve at least a C grade at GCSE.

Governors can play a key role in improving the literacy and numeracy skills of pupils, not only through promoting high standards in these subjects but also through ensuring the provision of high quality careers advice which should include information about the full range of post-16 options.

Guidance: Focus on: Careers Education and Guidance.


Ofsted Chief rejects return to selective education and outlines the importance of values

In a speech to the Catholic Association of Teachers on 29 January , Schools and Colleges (CATCS) Sir Michael Wilshaw (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector) said that in his view a return to selective education through grammar schools would be “economic suicide”. Sir Michael told the CATCS that he was “a big supporter of comprehensive education. It can work, one size does not have to fit all – if schools have great leadership it can work”. , While Sir Michael did not specifically refer to the Secretary of State’s decision to allow a Kent grammar school to open a “satellite” campus in another location it does seem to place him firmly in the let’s not reinvent grammar schools camp.

Speaking on values in education, Wilshaw acknowledged that early on in inspecting how schools were promoting British values some inspectors had ‘failed to display a touch of common sense’, but that schools with religious character did not need to fear Ofsted inspectors.  He is quoted as saying, “It is perfectly legitimate for individuals and faith groups to hold firm to a particular set of values and beliefs, which may run counter to existing social norms. What is not legitimate is to use these beliefs to condone or even encourage intolerance and discrimination”.

For more information on values and ethos in schools, or for information on extremism and British values, please visit the NGA guidance centre.


Creative Schools

The Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has published a summary report on creativity and schools, as part its Power to Creative campaign. The report suggests 12 design principles that aim to support schools in discovering new approaches to learning. These include enabling creative behaviours across the whole school, supporting creative professional development and building creative partnerships.

Click here to take part in the creative schools quiz and download the report.


New NGA Blogs

Update on Kids Company

Members will remember the summer fall-out from the collapse of Kids Company and Emma Knights’ blog on the role of the trustees of the charity, and some of you might have watched Wednesday’s evening’s BBC One’s documentary on the organisation’s demise.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) instituted a Parliamentary inquiry and summoned the former chief executive and chair of Kids Company, Government ministers (past and present) and others Kids Company’s auditors to give evidence.  On Monday it published its report setting out its findings and no organization involved with the trust, Ministers, government departments, auditors, advisers and the Charity Commission were spared criticism, although the former chief executive and board of trustees were held most culpable for the charity’s demise. Click here to read more.

When it comes to local governance, we want to have our cake and eat it …. But perhaps we can

Emma Knights, NGA’s Chief Executive, Blogs about local governance in MATs. Click here to read more. 


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 29/01/2016

HMCI’s monthly commentary and views on the wearing of veils in schools

In his monthly commentary Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, reflects on the implementation of ‘short’ inspections over the last term.

Since September 2015, Ofsted has carried out 300 short inspections of ‘good’ schools (64% of schools remaining good, 8% improving to outstanding and 28% were downgraded). Short inspections are for schools currently designated as good by Ofsted.  Inspectors are on site for a maximum of one day and only make judgements on whether the school or provider remains ‘good’ and whether safeguarding is effective. The one day visit can be turned into a ‘full’ inspection if the inspectors think the school may have become outstanding or alternatively slipped below good.

For those schools remaining good, an inspection letter is issued, rather than a full inspection report. NGA has noted that in a number of these letters there is no reference at all to the governing board. While accepting that this is not a full report, a total lack of reference to a school’s accountable body appears to be at odds with Ofsted’s statements that governance is important.

Sir Michael also said in his commentary that inspectors had said that a one day inspection had not hampered their ability to collect the views of governors.

NGA would be interested to hear from our members who have had short inspections; specifically whether governors found it difficult to arrange to speak with inspectors or even if inspectors did not need to speak to them. Please email Fay Holland.

Ofsted announced it would be carrying out a thematic survey of school governance in November and put out a call for evidence – if you have not already responded you have until Sunday 31 January to do so.

Also this week, Sir Michael announced that he fully supported schools which took a "…stand against the inappropriate wearing of the veil" and, moreover, had instructed inspectors to "mark down" schools where they believe that the "…wearing of a veil hinders communication and social interaction". Governing boards are generally responsible for setting school uniform policy which should make clear what is and is not allowed. Such policies should be adopted and implemented following consultation with both pupils and parents. The Department for Education has issued advice for schools when establishing their school uniform policies which governors may find useful.


New report into the difficulties of headteacher recruitment

This week, the Future Leaders Trust have released a report into headteacher recruitment. The report, entitled Heads up: Meeting the challenges of headteacher recruitment, outlines that not only are schools finding it difficult to recruit headteachers, but that negative attitudes towards the profession have grown since 2009.

To read the full press release, please click here.


New NGA research into the role, responsibilities and deployment of executive headteachers

Today, the NGA has released its interim report into executive headteachers; exploring their role, responsibilities and the structure under an executive headteacher model. The report, which is covered in this week’s Times Educational Supplement, involved a desktop review of 15 executive headteacher recruitment packs. Our research raises concerns about the inconsistencies in the use of executive headteachers.

To read the report, and to find out more, please click here.

The NGA, along with the National Foundation of Educational Research (NFER) and The Future Leaders Trust (FLT), will be exploring the role of executive headteachers in more detail, with a more substantive report due in summer 2016. To read more about this collaborative project, please click here.


DfE publishes new guidance on primary accountability

The Department for Education (DfE) has published new guidance detailing arrangements for primary school accountability in 2016. This is the first year that schools will be assessed against the new national curriculum, and this year’s performance tables will include new headline attainment and progress measures, as well as a new floor standard. The new headline performance measures will be:

  • the percentage of pupils achieving the ‘expected standard’ in English reading, English writing and mathematics at the end of key stage 2
  • pupils’ average scaled score in English reading and maths at the end of key stage 2 
  • the percentage of pupils who achieve at a high standard in English reading, English writing and mathematics
  • pupils’ average progress in English reading, English writing and maths.

Following the removal of national curriculum levels, progress will be a type of value added measure, which means that pupils’ results are compared to the actual achievements of other pupils nationally with similar prior attainment. The guidance provides further detail on how this is calculated, and also how to interpret a school’s progress score.

A school will be above the new floor standard if:

  • at least 65% of pupils meet the expected standard in English reading, English writing and mathematics; or
  • the school achieves sufficient progress scores in all of English reading and English writing and mathematics.

The floor standard will not apply to infant schools, special schools, independent schools, pupil referral units, alternative provision or hospital schools.

Governing boards should be monitoring and challenging the attainment and progress of pupils in their school: see our questions for governors to ask about curriculum and assessment.


New legislation to compel schools to provide impartial careers advice

The government has announced its intention to introduce new legislation which will require schools “to collaborate with colleges, university technical colleges and other training providers to ensure that young people are aware of all the routes to higher skills and the workplace, including higher and degree apprenticeships”.

The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP, said that the new legislation was designed to ensure all young people “are aware of all the options open to them and are able to make the right choice for them”. In particular, she expressed concern that some schools were failing to provide all pupils with information about apprenticeships or technical qualifications.

The issue of poor careers advice in schools has been a constant theme in recent years. It is important that governing boards ask questions about the quality of careers advice in their school and make clear that students should have access to unbiased and impartial careers advice.

For more information please see the careers page in the NGA Guidance Centre. For more general information on post-16 provision, please see our new guidance on sixth forms.


Greater say in the admissions process for parents

Earlier this week, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced the government’s plans to amend the rules relating to consultation about and objections to admission arrangements.

The proposals are that:

  • Only parents in a local area and the local authority would be allowed to submit objections to a school’s admission criteria.
  • Admissions authorities will need to consult on their admission arrangements every four, instead of seven, years

Ms Morgan said that the purpose of the change was to give more power to parents and also stop "vexatious complaints against faith schools from secularist campaign groups".  The latter proposals follows a recommendation in the annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator.

It is not entirely clear at this point whether ‘local parents’ refers only to those residing in the same local authority area as the school, or all those who live within a certain distance of the school and could reasonably consider it local. A number of schools sit near to local authority boundaries and will traditionally take children from more than one authority area. This could also affect schools with religious characters, where particularly at secondary level, school catchment areas may be much wider.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) which has raised a number of objections to the admission arrangements of a number of schools called the announcement an “affront to both democracy and the rule of law”.

The Department for Education will launch a public consultation regarding its proposals in due course and NGA will submit and publish our response on our website.

Governing boards which are their own admission authorities must set their admission arrangements in line with the Admissions Code. We reported two weeks ago on the annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator which reported that “Adjudicators have again been concerned that although the Code is a very concise document some of our findings about the objections suggest that the admission authority had not read the Code and therefore failed to comply with its mandatory terms.” In particular, the Chief Adjudicator noted that some admission authorities in setting their arrangements were failing to test their arrangements against its over-arching principles that the criteria for the allocation of places should be “fair, clear and objective’ and that “parents should be able to look at a set of arrangements and understand easily how places for that school will be”

To read more about admissions, please visit the NGA Guidance Centre. NGA is in the process of developing more extensive guidance on school admissions for governing boards that are their own admission authorities. This will be made available in NGA’s Guidance Centre in the near future.


Over 10,000 challenging pupils moved out of mainstream education before GCSEs

The Guardian newspaper says that its analysis of government figures shows that that 12,193 pupils were moved out of mainstream education between year 9 and year 11, in the two years leading up to summer 2015.  Further analysis suggests that the majority of these pupils were either excluded or moved to pupil referral units (PRUs) and special schools.

The Guardian suggests that the large number of pupils moving out of mainstream schools at this point in their education may be linked to the increased pressure on schools to do well in the performance tables. It draws on research conducted last year by the Education Datalab thinktank which concluded some challenging students were moved to improve a school’s results. In a blog last week the researchers proposed that this could be avoided by holding schools to account for the educational performance of all pupils that had ever been to the school.

Governing boards should be aware of the number of pupils moving into and out of their schools and seek regular reports about the destinations for such pupils.


Report from Family and Childcare Trust emphasises impact of early years education

A new report from the Family and Childcare Trust emphasises the importance of high quality early education as a protective factor for children against the negative effects of poverty; improving their long term development and employment outcomes.

Primary schools can play a significant role in ensuring the availability of early years provision through the establishment or expansion of nursery classes. Research into quality among providers serving disadvantaged children found that one of the key factors in high quality provision was the presence of an early years graduate.

Governors and school leaders report that funding is the main barrier to expanding provision. An early years national funding formula has been announced, which will be consulted upon in 2016. The report recommends a significant increase in investment from the government, including in developing a graduate workforce and increasing the Early Years Pupil Premium.

NGA is producing its own Governors’ Guide to the Early Years which provides guidance to school governing bodies looking to open a new early years provision or expand an existing one, which will be published in our Guidance Centre in 2016.

Click here to read NGA’s Governing Matters article: Early Years Challenges.


Ending Childhood Obesity report

A two year study, commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has made six recommendations for governments to tackle the increasing problem of childhood obesity. One such recommendation is to “Implement comprehensive programmes that promote healthy school environments, health and nutrition literacy and physical activity among school-age children and adolescents”.

Children’s health and in particular school food has once again become a prominent issue. Ofsted has updated its common inspection framework to include inspectors’ evaluations of schools promoting and supporting pupils’ knowledge of keeping themselves healthy, including emotionally and physically, through exercising and healthy eating.

In collaboration with the School Food Plan NGA has produced School Food: Guidance for Governors to help governing boards effectively fulfil their responsibilities in this area.

Governors may also find it useful to read the School Food Plan’s practical guidance for adopting a whole school approach to school food, which Ofsted inspectors have been signposted to when making judgements in this area.


Nick Gibb speaks about school leadership

This week Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, spoke about the importance of strong leadership in schools. The speech largely concentrated on the role of headteachers and certainly in relation to the exercise of academy autonomies failed to note that the decision making power rests with the board not the headteacher.

He went on to say that all organisations supporting schools with information and advice should be "challenging schools to improve by promoting approaches which have been proven to work.”

Two new reports this week have also focused on school leadership, NGA’s Executive Headteacher report and Future Leaders’ Heads Up!


Updated buying guidance for schools

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) released updated guidance on Effective buying for your school. This advice – aimed at school leaders, school staff, and governing bodies – outlines the basic rules of procurement to ensure public funds are spent fairly. The guidance aims to protect schools against legal challenges, financial penalties and reputation damage. It also gives advice on:

  • Areas where schools can achieve value for money
  • Links to finance, procurement and school related information
  • Way to help schools compare spending against other schools
  • Details of organisations that provide contracts, deals and frameworks
  • Green and environmental initiatives

Governors may want to draw their school business manager and/or headteacher’s attention to the guidance.


NASBM Professional Standards Survey

The National Association of School Business Managers (NASBM) is asking school business management professionals, headteachers and governors to complete the NASBM Professional Standards Survey to gauge awareness and utilisation of the Professional Standards since their launch in November 2015.  NGA reported on the launch of the new standards in November.

The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. The deadline for survey submissions is Friday 12 February, 16:00.

The results of the survey will be available from March on the NASBM Professional Standards website.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 22/01/2016

Looking for new governors or trustees?

We often hear how difficult it can be to find new members of governing boards, but not very many clerks or chairs have registered with Inspiring the Future to source potential volunteers: do not miss out on this opportunity.

Inspiring the Future has released two new videos to showcase how its free online matchmaking service works to connect prospective governors with schools and colleges nationwide. Volunteers sign up to become a governor or trustee, giving their location and listing the skills and experience they can bring to a board. Governing boards seeking new governors can view all the volunteers in their area or specify the skills they're looking for, connect with volunteers directly and begin the process of recruiting.

Click here to see the new videos

Secondary school performance tables published

The Department for Education (DfE) has this week finally published secondary school performance tables. This is the validated data from examinations taken last summer. NGA has repeatedly asked for this data to be made available earlier in the academic year!

The national average for the proportion of pupils gaining five ‘good’ GCSES (grades A* to C, including English and maths) was 57.1%, a slight increase on 56.6% in 2014. There was, however, a marked difference in achievement between the genders, with 61.8% of girls achieving this level compared to 52.5% of boys. Of pupils eligible for the pupil premium, just 36.7% reached this benchmark compared to 64.7% of other pupils.

Progress 8, a measure based on progress from end of key stage 2 to end of key stage 4 in a suite of eight subjects, will replace five ‘good’ GCSEs as one of the headline indicators from 2016. Schools had the option to opt-in to the measure in 2015.

At A level, the DfE welcomed figures showing that more than half of A-level entries were in the “facilitating subjects” which it believes best prepare pupils for employment and higher education.

Governing boards can use the performance tables to compare their school’s performance to that of other schools, including ‘similar’ schools (those which have comparable prior pupil attainment). See our blog about data for more suggestions for how to make the most of this data.

Key stage 4 school performance tables

Academy chain to disband local governing bodies

The academy chain E-Act is understood to be replacing its local governing bodies (LGBs) with academy advisory groups. In a letter sent to the chain’s local governors, the trust board is said to have made the decision to change its governance structure after a consultation. There was some press coverage of the changes after local governors strongly objected to the proposal.  NGA has not yet had sight of the new Scheme of Delegation, which would make the details clear, but Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA commented: “It is far better to be honest about what is being delegated down to academy level than to pretend that LGBs have more decision making power than they actually do.” To read more on this story visit the newsfeed

The NGA’s consultancy service can work with your trust board and, if required, local governors to develop, review and/or revise your Scheme of Delegation, and to clarify the relationship between the trust and its schools. Click here to read more or make a booking

If you are considering joining a multi academy trust, your governing board needs to understand the implications of that decision for governance: do look at our resources, ask for the proposed scheme of delegation, and if you are an NGA GOLD member, you can ring our GOLDline on 0121 237 3782.

See also the following guidance:

Introduction to multi academy trusts

Forming or Joining a Group of Schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny

Sir Michael Wilshaw on ambitions for education

This week, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw spoke at the education think tank CentreForum, setting out his ambitions for the future of English education. He outlined the importance of high expectations for all, and the responsibility to provide young people with different pathways to success. Citing his time as a headteacher, he said that a “one size fits all” approach will never deliver for all abilities. He also emphasised the low youth unemployment of countries such as Switzerland (3.7% to the UK’s 12%), saying that we can learn from our international competitors in shaping education for those who may not be able to achieve academic targets.

Sir Michael did emphasise the improvements made in the last 30 years, especially in primary schools. However, he identified three main challenges:

  • the gains made by children in primary schools are often lost in secondaries;
  • a disproportionate amount of that underperformance is in the north and the midlands;
  • educational provision for the many children who do not succeed at 16 or who would prefer an alternative to higher education is inadequate at best and non-existent at worst.

According to Sir Michael, the way to counter these issues is to improve:

  • accountability and oversight
  • the way schools of all types work together
  • leadership, and the leadership of teaching in particular

He stated that good leadership was the most important force in driving up standards, but that we currently do not have enough good leaders or governors. He also gave his support to regional schools commissioners (RSCs), despite saying that their role and accountability is not entirely clear. In terms of governance, he said not a lot had been done in the past three years to improve the professionalism of governing bodies. He argued against specific categories of governor, saying that they should always been chosen for their skills. He also argued that if paying governors was needed to ensure that they were doing a good job, then this is something he feels should be considered.  

At the same event, CentreForum published a document in preparation for its first Annual Report, due out later this spring. The Annual Report will consider the progress of pupils in England against ‘world-class’ standards, and this current document sets out proposals for what those world-class standards should look like.

NGA welcomes MPs’ report on regional schools commissioners

This week saw the publication of the House of Commons Education Select Committee’s first report of this parliament, the product of its inquiry into the role of regional schools commissioners (RSCs).

Introduced in September 2014 to provide oversight of the academy system, RSCs are an increasingly important part of the education system, but MPs raised concerns about a lack of clarity around what they do.

Following the publication, NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights said: "The National Governors' Association strongly supports many of the committee's recommendations: in particular we are pleased about the need for further clarity of roles, more transparency, and the suggestion that Headteacher Boards are renamed as Advisory Boards. We are however disappointed that the Committee was unconvinced by the need for increased capacity within the RSCs' offices. Regional School Commissioners are playing an increasingly significant role in the school system and need to have teams which enable them to do this well, in a timely fashion, and with local knowledge."

For more on the report, see our news page.

Protecting children from extremism and radicalisation

Earlier this week, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, announced the launch of a new website – Educate Against Hate – which provides practical advice for parents, teachers and school leaders that will help to protect children from a “spell of twisted ideologies”. The website was created in response to calls from parents and teachers for more information and advice about spotting signs of radicalisation and where they can turn to for further support.

Making the announcement at Bethnal Green Academy in East London, Nicky Morgan also addressed headteachers and parents about further measures the government will undertake to prevent radicalisation of young people, including:

Preventing extremism and radicalisation in schools is essentially a safeguarding issue which schools should account for in their existing policies. Statutory guidance from the Department for Education – Keeping Children Safe in Education – is a key document for schools when drawing up safeguarding policies and procedures. It is essential for school staff to get to grips with Part One of the document to understand their responsibilities for helping to protect young people.

NGA will also be publishing guidance on the Prevent duty for schools in the near future and will inform members when this becomes available.  If you have any experience you would like to share or any comments on what you would like included, please contact Tom.Fellows@nga.org.uk

Calls for local planning for school places and admissions

With the demand for school places increasing, the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT) has called for integrated local planning of school places and admissions across maintained, academy and free schools. NAHT has said that the current system has led to local authorities, academies and central government taking decisions on school places in isolation and calls for a local agency to be able to commission both new schools and new places in all of these sectors.

NAHT also highlighted that in the absence of comprehensive local planning, new schools are not always being commissioned in the areas with the most need. Schools in areas of high demand are being forced to expand and are having to find new places, classrooms and funding, potentially over-stretching capacity and causing teaching quality to drop. NAHT suggests that someone, although not necessarily the local authority, needs to be able to prioritise school places where they are most needed to ensure the system will work for parents and children.

Shadow minister calls from children to be taught about sexual abuse from age four

Sarah Champion, a shadow home office minister, has called for children to be taught how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse in their first year of primary school. Ms Champion, who is involved in campaigning against child sexual exploitation in her Rotherham constituency, made the proposal as she launched a new website called Dare2Care. She wants children to be taught the “underwear rule”, devised by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and emphasised that she was not calling for children to be taught about sex but rather about “respect and boundaries”. She highlighted that four chairs of select committees have asked the government to make sex and relationships education (SRE) compulsory for all children.

NGA’s position is that PSHE, including age appropriate Relationships and Sex Education, should be statutory in all schools.

Teacher Workload Survey 2016

The government has committed to action to remove unnecessary workload so that teachers can focus on improving outcomes for pupils. One of its commitments is to carry out a large scale survey every two years, starting this spring, to help track teacher workload so that further action can be taken if necessary.

A representative sample of schools has been invited to take part across the country, via an email to the headteacher. If your headteacher has been contacted, the DfE would be grateful if s/he could spare a short amount of time to indicate whether the school is able to participate. This important study will play an important role in helping to build understanding of this area from a national perspective.

If you require any further information please email: TeacherWorkload.SURVEY@education.gsi.gov.uk.

New NGA guidance: A Governors’ Guide to Sixth Forms

Schools with sixth forms are going through a time of transition. Over the next few years governing boards will be faced with difficult decisions around the 16-19 curriculum offer, budgeting, collaborations and, in some cases, the future sustainability of a school’s sixth-form. NGA has responded by producing a new comprehensive guide to assist boards in making these decisions. Although aimed at those governing in schools where a sixth form provision already exists, the guidance will also help boards considering the viability of opening new provision in their school.

This guidance is available in our guidance centre.

The Education Law Conference 2016

Your school, your issues, your future...

Browne Jacobson's education team is delighted to invite you to their annual education law conference 2016. These conferences are free to attend.

  • Exeter, 16 March 2016
  • Manchester, 17 March 2016
  • Midlands, (Stamford, Lincolnshire) 22 March 2016
  • London, 23 March 2016

Browne Jacobson’s specialist education lawyers will provide you with keynote presentations on important issues including the impact of the Education and Adoption Bill and demystifying data protection and freedom of information law followed by a choice of workshops aimed at helping you achieve and maintain excellence in your school.

The interactive workshops will provide practical advice and support on areas including:

  • managing parents
  • social media risks
  • managing academy transfers
  • establishing a successful MAT.

 

Click here for further information on this conference or to sign up for your free place

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 15/01/2016

Governing Matters: January/February edition

A new look Governing Matters, NGA’s bi-monthly magazine, is out this week.

Cover stories include:

  • Creativity counts by Althea Efunshile, deputy chief executive of Arts Council England, encouraging governors to join the cultural education challenge.
  • Steven Higgins, professor of education at Durham University, outlines some tried and tested strategies for supporting disadvantage pupils when spending the pupil premium.
  • Nick Mackenzie, partner at Browne Jacobson LLP looks at what governors need to consider before committing themselves to expanding a trust.
  • Finally, Malcolm Trobe, deputy chief general secretary of ASCL, looks at school funding for sixth forms.

This edition’s features include: Guy Davies, chair of governors at Matravers School, details how his school went from ‘requires improvement’ to the cusp of ‘outstanding’ in just two years and Tracey Booth, chair of governors at Churchill Community College describes what makes winning the NGA outstanding governance awards 2015 so special.

As usual, this edition also gives members a glimpse of the work the NGA is doing. Among articles:

  • Emma Knights talks about NGA’s 10 years at the heart of school governance and the need to look ahead to the next 10 years.
  • Francey Smith, head of marketing and communications, summarises the findings from NGA’s annual membership survey.
  • Gillian Allcroft, deputy chief executive, looks at the outside bodies a school might hear from and why this can happen.
  • Clare Collins, lead consultant, looks at a number of very different approaches to governing in a MAT.

In addition, we introduce our latest guidance pieces, NGA advice on setting up governor panels, the relaunch of Clerking Matters and a report on NGA’s annual conference and autumn regional meetings – sharing experiences and learning from others.  Last but not least Ellie Cotgrave introduces Welcome to Governance, the eighth edition of NGA’s popular induction guide.

The magazine is available as a pdf for those standard governing board members who do not get a printed copy. Alternatively if the membership is upgraded to GOLD, all members of the board will be posted a copy to their home address.


DfE School Financial Health and Efficiency Webpage

This week the Department for Education (DfE) revamped its resources for schools in relation to financial health and efficiency.  As well as pre-existing tools, such as the benchmarking website, the DfE has also launched two new tools, an efficiency metric and Benchmarking Report Card. The former is an online tool which can be viewed on the webpage, but the Benchmarking Report Card has been emailed to every school this week. You should ask that the Report Card is sent to governors.

The report card provides highlights of individual school spending in various categories, compared with similar schools. The tools are meant to provoke questions and discussion – the fact that your school is spending more or less on particular item than other schools does not mean you have got something wrong, but is a reminder to review spending to see if you could do something differently which would improve outcomes.

There is some specific guidance for governors, including a short video on the role of governors by NGA’s Deputy chief executive, Gillian Allcroft.

The DfE is seeking feedback on both the efficiency metric and benchmarking report card you can find short surveys on the relevant sections on the webpages.

The full range of resources can be found on the financial health and efficiency webpage.


Admission Authorities still failing to follow the Admissions Code

In her annual report, Dr Elizabeth Passmore OBE, Chief Schools Adjudicator, says that there are still "too many schools that are their own admission authority [that] do not comply fully with what are relatively modest requirements."

According to the report, some of the most common objections over the reporting period (September 2014 to August 2015) relate to:

  • consultation – either failing to consult, failing to notify all relevant interested parties of the consultation, or failing to consider the responses
  • publishing admissions arrangements – some schools failed to publish their arrangements on the school website, were difficult to locate, or were unclear about which arrangements applied for which year
  • arrangements for deferred entry for four year olds – whether or not a deferral would mean a child is subsequently admitted to year 1 rather than reception (see NGA’s previous news piece on summer born admissions here)
  • admissions of siblings – the fact that such a criterion also has catchment area or distance from school attached to it
  • sixth form admissions – yet again the Adjudicator found that there was a significant failure to publish any admission arrangements to sixth forms

The governing boards of foundation schools, voluntary aided schools and academies are their own admissions authority. They will be responsible for ensuring their admission arrangements are compliant with the School Admissions Code. Governing boards should consider these findings when determining their admission arrangements in order to mitigate the chance of challenge as much as possible.

The full report can be found here and NGA has produced guidance on admissions which is available in the Guidance Centre.


Chairs of four parliamentary committees send Secretary of State joint letter calling for statutory PSHE

The Chairs of the Education, Health, Home Affairs, and Business, Innovation, and Skills Committees have joined forces to call on Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, to move towards PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) becoming statutory in all schools. Each committee has individually recommended that PSHE is made statutory at some point in the past 18 months and last November Neil Carmichael, chair of the Education Select Committee, wrote to Nicky Morgan about this issue. The letter urges Nicky Morgan to accept and act on these recommendations.

Commenting on the joint letter Neil Carmichael said: “The government's strategy for improving PSHE in schools is weak and Ofsted has highlighted that PSHE requires improvement in 40% of schools. The Education Committee in the previous Parliament recommended introducing statutory status for PSHE, a move which could have a significant impact in preparing young people for life, providing them with the knowledge and confidence to make decisions which will affect their wellbeing and relationships, both now and in the future. The Secretary of State promised to report back to my Committee by the end of 2015: it’s now time she responds in full and outlines her strategy for improving the quality of PSHE teaching in the nation’s schools."

NGA’s position is that PSHE, including age appropriate Relationships and Sex Education, should be statutory in all schools.


School teachers and leaders unions put pressure on the STRB over pay erosion

Six teacher unions have submitted joint evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the body tasked with providing recommendations to the government about teachers’ pay and conditions. The joint statement was submitted to emphasise the strength and unanimity of feeling about pay and conditions. In particular, the unions urged the STRB to acknowledge that there is “a national crisis, not a challenge in teacher supply”. The joint response said that if the STRB draw attention to the crisis, this would help open conversations on addressing the issue with the DfE who often “underplay the scale of the crisis”.

The unions also drew attention to the funding challenges facing schools and called for extra funding to be made available, not just a redistribution as a result of the introduction of a national funding formula. The STRB has been consulting on how the government’s 1% public sector pay rise should apply to teachers from September 2016 and the unions urged this to be applied universally, in contrast to the September 2015 pay award. The NGA also supports this view.

You can see the NGA’s evidence to the STRB here.


Education Support Partnership hosts a discussion at Houses of Parliament

NGA was invited by the Education Support Partnership, an organisation that offers support to those working in education, to attend its panel discussion on solving the recruitment and retention crisis in teaching. The panel composed of Neil Carmichael, Chair of the Education Select Committee; Candy Whittome, PhD student; Christine Parker, Headteacher; and Annabeth Orton, former further education teacher.

Central to discussions was the retention of teachers, with suggestions being put forward by the panel and attendees on what could be done to keep teachers in the profession. Unsurprisingly, suggestions from the panel and audience included: teachers being given the time and support to undertake relevant continuing professional development (CPD), spending less time on paperwork, more contact time with pupils and an increase in the support available for teachers to deal with workload stresses.

Governors have an important role to play in setting the culture and ethos of the school, including how well staff our managed. The starting point for this is how the governing board manages the headteacher.

Teacher recruitment and retention will be a key policy issue for NGA over the next 12 months.


Education attainment linked to geographical location

This week, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) launched its new Commission on Inequality in Education. Its initial research shows clear regional disparities in educational outcomes, which become apparent by the end of primary school. It found that:

  • over 70% of pupils in London achieved 5 good GCSEs compared to 63% in Yorkshire and the Humber
  • areas such as the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands and the East Midlands have persistently under-performed over the last 30 years, whilst educational performance in London has improved significantly
  • location is now a more powerful factor in predicting attainment, and regional inequalities are more evident for those born in 2000, than they were for those born in 1970

You can find an interactive map of regional results here.

Income and ethnicity were also underlined as factors. The analysis found that the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest remains significant, with 40% of those receiving Free School Meals (FSM) achieving 5 A* to C grades at GCSEs, compared to 70% of those not receiving FSM. It also states that ethnic inequalities have altered over the last three decades, with white students going from over-performers to under-performers during this time.


Prime minister announces mentor scheme for young people at risk of becoming NEET

A new national mentoring campaign was launched on Monday targeting children at risk of becoming NEET (young people who are not in education or employment). In 2014, the number of young people NEET was 7.3% of 16-18 year olds. David Cameron announced that £70 million will be directed towards careers, most of this to the Careers and Enterprise Company who will lead the mentoring scheme targeted at those who are at most risk. The scheme will aim to encourage mentors from the business, public and charitable sectors to volunteer, link potential volunteers with mentoring organisations and target schools who need help to offer mentors.

Governing boards should ensure that any careers advice provided by the school is unbiased and impartial. NGA has more information about schools careers advice in the Guidance Centre.


What is the purpose of education?

The Education Select committee has opened an inquiry into the purpose of education in England, including what measures should be used to evaluate the quality of education and how well the current system performs against such measures.

You can submit your views to the committee by posting on the dedicated forum until midday on Monday 25 January 2016. A short video has been produced to start the conversation and you can also get involved on Twitter by using #EduPurpose


Timelines for schools have been updated

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) updated its Need to Know timeline document.

Stay up to date with the latest DfE news here and don’t forget to check out NGA’s newsfeed. You can also access the NGA Guidance Centre to find out more information on many of the topics covered.


Creating a Generation of Lifesavers – Free event London

A national conference will take place in London on the 26 February 2016, bringing together all those with an involvement in initiatives to provide training in CPR and AED awareness in schools. The intention is to share best practice and to promote a national conversation about how to emulate the success of other countries in improving cardiac arrest survival outside hospital. The conference is targeted at healthcare professionals, educators, researchers and policy makers so you may want to pass on the information to the relevant member of staff in your school.

Click here to find out more and to register a place.

For more on keeping children safe and healthy, see our questions for governing bodies to ask: Health and safety.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 08/01/2016

New Year Honours

Congratulations to everyone working in education who received an honour in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2016, published 31 December 2015. The list recognised 107 people for their service to education and children’s services including several governors. It was a particular pleasure for NGA to see Judith Bennett and Duncan Haworth (both former chairs of NGA) receive gongs for their services to education. Read more about the governors in the New Year’s list here.

We actively encourage honours nominations for those who have made a real difference for pupils in school - even more so to a number of schools - so please consider nominating a governor or trustee for the next round of honours. Either take a look at the guidance or, if you would like to find out more about making a nomination for a governor, email Mark Gardner.


New departmental advice on parental complaints

On Wednesday the Department for Education (DfE) released new departmental advice in regard to school complaints, entitled Best Practice Advice for School Complaints Procedures 2016

NGA contributed comments to the DfE at the draft stage of this advice and is pleased that some of our key suggestions have been taken on board. In particular, we advocated only three formal stages for dealing with complaints and this has been taken on board. A number of existing procedures have a four stage process in which stage three is a full re-investigation of the complaint by the chair of governors. NGA thinks that this is an unnecessary elongation of the process, not to mention a potentially significant burden on the chair’s time. It is our view that where parents are dissatisfied with how the headteacher has dealt with the complaint the next stage should be a hearing with a panel of governors.

Another key change is that the advice goes into much more detail about how schools can deal with unreasonable (which were previously known as vexatious) complaints.

The advice was released alongside re-issued guidance in relation to parental responsibility. This provides an overview of the legal framework for determining who has parental responsibility for a child. It also outlines how schools can ensure that individuals with parental responsibility have appropriate information and involvement in their child’s school-life, as well as ensuring individuals without parental responsibility are not involved in a way that they are not legally entitled to be.

You can find NGA’s own model complaints procedure and practical guidance in the NGA Guidance Centre.


Sir David Carter to take over as National Schools Commissioner

The Department for Education (DfE) has appointed Sir David Carter as the new National Schools Commissioner (NSC) from 1 February 2016. He takes over in February from Frank Green who has held the post since 2014.

The NSC leads the team of eight Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) to:

  • Support the creation of new academies and free schools and recruiting high quality academy sponsors
  • Improve the performance of underperforming academies and free schools

Should the Education and Adoption Bill (currently before Parliament) pass in its current form, from the 2016-17 academic year RSCs will also be responsible for intervening in failing and ‘coasting’ maintained schools.

Sir David Carter is currently RSC for the South West and previously worked as CEO for the Cabot Learning Federation. Writing in TES News, he said that “the moral purpose of doing my best for children” will be central to his work, and that “my role is to work alongside my fellow RSCs to ensure that the best leaders, schools and sponsors are supported and encouraged to work with us to create an education system where every family has access to a great school delivering a great education”.

With increased emphasis from Regional Schools Commissioners and the DfE on formal collaboration between schools, governing boards from both maintained schools and stand-alone academies should inform themselves of all the options available to them. NGA has produced joint guidance with ASCL and Browne Jacobson on forming or joining groups of schools.


State of the Nation 2015 report published

On 17 December the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission published its State of the Nation Report. The Commission is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Education, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Work and Pensions. Published every year, this report assesses social mobility in the UK and monitors progress towards the government’s 2020 child poverty targets.

For a summary of the main points of interest for governing boards, see the NGA Guidance Centre.


Department for Education clarifies its stance on religious education in schools

On 28 December 2015, the Department for Education (DfE) released a guidance note for schools and awarding organisations. Addressing recent uncertainty about a Judicial Review of the Religious Studies (RS) GCSE syllabus, the government confirmed that “schools should be free to determine their own approach to the teaching of religious education (RE), in line with the statutory requirements” and that “the judgment [of the review] is to have no broader impact on any aspect of [government] policy in relation to the RE curriculum or the RS GCSE subject content for schools with or without a religious character, nor on the current inspection arrangements”. Overall, the guidance outlined that:

  • Schools and Agreed Syllabus Conferences (ASC) should be free to determine their own approach to religious studies. The curriculum should continue to be locally determined and does not need to “mirror the make-up of the national or local population”. In addition, schools and ASCs are free to choose a range of determinants to decide whether their RE syllabus is appropriate, including how intellectually stimulating it is and how it prepares young people for life in modern Britain.
  • Schools do not have to give “equal air time” to non-religious views in their religious education syllabus and, particularly at key stage 4, there is no obligation to teach non-religious world views. This means that schools do not have to cover non-religious views in the RS GCSE. However, in order to maintain a broad and balanced curriculum, the government outlines that non-religious issues should be taught at some stage of young person’s schooling.
  • Schools that do not have a religious character must ensure that the RE curriculum takes into account the traditions of the United Kingdom as a Christian nation. 

Governors have an important role in ensuring that the curriculum in their school is broad and balanced and that it meets the needs of the student body. Although governors should allow the headteacher and school staff to set out curriculum plans, it is the board’s responsibility to gain assurances that any changes are within the best interests of the pupils. Governors should also actively uphold the values and ethos of their school. As well as ensuring any RE is consistent with British values, governors should make sure that the RE syllabus complements the religious denomination and secular values of the school.

For more information on the governors role in the curriculum please see the NGA guidance centre.


Joint inquiry into the relationship between early years education and the government’s life chances strategy

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee and the Education Select Committee announced a joint inquiry covering the government’s life chances strategy, which aims to track child poverty by monitoring educational achievement at 16 compared with a variety of factors, including family breakdown, unemployment and debt.

Specifically, this inquiry will look at the relationship between early years education and the life chances strategy, and also the cross-departmental co-ordination on early years interventions and how these interact with the benefits system and public services.

The deadline for the submission of evidence is 29th February 2016 and can written evidence can be uploaded to the parliament website.

Governors may wish to follow this evidence in order to inform their own strategy, establishing links with local early years settings and perhaps establishing one of their own, where the school does not have one already.


Government announces new end of KS2 multiplication tests

This week the Telegraph reported that the government has announced plans to introduce a new test at the end of key stage 2 (KS2) to assess pupils’ multiplication skills. It is planned that pupils will undertake a timed computerised test, with the score being calculated immediately. The tests will be piloted by 3,000 students in 80 schools this summer with the intention of rolling them out across English primary schools in 2017. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Maths is a non-negotiable part of a good education. Since 2010, we’ve seen record numbers of 11-year-olds start secondary school with a good grasp of the three Rs. But some continue to struggle. That is why we are introducing a new check to ensure all pupils know their times tables by age 11. They will help teachers recognise those pupils at risk of falling behind and allow us to target those areas where children aren't being given a fair shot to succeed.”

The announcement was met with mixed reaction. A number of education professionals commented that the test would not add anything to teachers’ knowledge about the ability of their pupils and would simply add to the test burden.

Free webinar: Reducing staffing levels – tips and knowhow for employers and employees 

Browne Jacobson (NGA’s legal advice partner) is offering a free webinar aimed at those schools who may need to reduce staffing levels. Its recent school leaders survey in conjunction with ASCL showed that over half of schools plan to reduce staffing – this practical session looks from both an employee and employer perspective and offers advice to ensure that any restructure is done in a way that:

  1. Complies with good practice whilst minimising prolonged uncertainty
  2. Is legally compliant and reduces the risk of legal challenge
  3. Considers staff morale and decreases the disruption to teaching and learning.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday 13 January 2016, 4.00pm - 4.30pm.

It will be delivered by Debbie Stanley, Head of HR Services at Browne Jacobson and Richard Tanton, Director of Member Support for ASCL.

Places are limited so early sign up is advised.

Click here to register for this free webinar.


NGA newsletter is finalist in Association Excellence Awards

Our weekly newsletter has become a finalist for ‘Best Association Newsletter’ in the Association Excellence Awards 2016, announced this week.

The awards identify best practice in the work being undertaken by trade and professional associations, recognising excellence and exceptional achievements in how associations operate to serve their members.

The newsletter is designed to contain everything that school governors, trustees, headteachers and clerks need to know about new developments in the Education sector. It’s a collaborative effort - a fusion of expertise across the NGA team - including by our researchers, advice team and events team, serving a large readership of NGA members across England, every Friday, during school term time.

The winner will be announced at a celebratory event in London on the 26th February. Fingers crossed!



Governor training courses are provided by North Lincolnshire Council Governor Training and Development Team on 01724 297284/189.

The current training Programme can found in the navigation menu at the top of this page.




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