National Governance Association (NGA) National News 2017

From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 15/12/2017

Best wishes for the festive season from NGA!

With this being the last newsletter of the year, the staff at NGA extend our best wishes for the festive season to all of our members. The newsletter will return on Friday 5 January 2018.

NGA HQ closes on Friday 22 December 2017. Until then, staff are here to deal with membership enquiries on 0121 237 3780 and with advice queries via our GOLDline on 0121 237 3782. We re-open on Tuesday 2 January 2018.


New headteacher recruitment guidance published

This week has seen the welcome publication of new guidance on the recruitment of a headteacher. The joint Department for Education (DfE) and NGA publication recognises that appointing a high quality leader is something under the direct control of governing boards that positively affects school improvement.

With the recruitment of a school leader being arguably one of the most important tasks a board will undertake, the guidance aims to steer those governing through the legal context and principles of recruitment. The guidance outlines the different stages of the process including:

  • planning and setting up a selection panel
  • preparing the application pack
  • advertising and promotion
  • the interview itself and the actions to be taken once an appointment is made

New to the guidance is information relating to an employer’s responsibilities under the 2010 Equality Act and guidance around flexible working options.

A toolkit was also developed alongside the guidance comprising practical checklists and templates for boards to use to support the recruitment process, including shortlisting templates, suggested interview questions and a checklist of things to consider when using a recruitment agency.

NGA offers a training session on performance management which covers the basic principles of performance management and how the governing board should lead and manage the process. For more details contact training@nga.org.uk. NGA is also able to offer consultants who can act as the external advisor to the governing board. For more information, please contact consultancy@nga.org.uk


Social mobility plan launched by the DfE

On Thursday 14 December, the Department for Education (DfE) released its plan for “improving social mobility through education”. Acknowledging that there is no “silver bullet” to improving social mobility, the purpose of the plan is to “bring together and give coherence to the steps we are taking and … provide a platform for further action”.

The plan looks to achieve four ambitions for “tackling the injustices that hold people back at each life stage”. These are:

  1. “Close the word gap in the early years” (this refers to the difference in the number of words in the vocabulary of disadvantaged pupils compared to others);
  2. “Close the attainment gap in school while raising standards for all” (this refers to the difference in outcomes for disadvantaged pupils compared to others);
  3. “High quality post-16 education choices for all young people” (including high quality technical education, investing in further education, and ensuring higher education);
  4. “Everyone achieving their full potential in rewarding careers” (including opportunities to build a career, retrain or change career and an end to discrimination of all types).

 This plan will sit alongside the “opportunity areas programme” designed to support certain communities with “entrenched challenges”. As a result, the government have also released separate delivery plans for Blackpool, Derby, North Yorkshire, Norwich, Oldham and West Somerset.


DfE analysis of economic value of closing regional attainment gap

The DfE released statistics on Wednesday which estimated the economic benefits of reducing regional attainment gaps (the difference in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and others) to the size of the gap which currently exists in London. The statistics focused on attainment at GCSE, and London was used as the benchmark because it has the smallest attainment gap in England.

The data revealed that 45% of London’s disadvantaged boys, and 52% of the city’s disadvantaged girls, achieved five or more A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and Maths, whereas the figure in all other regions was under 32% for boys and under 42% for girls. This led to an attainment gap in London of 21 percentage points, compared to over 30 percentage points in other regions.

From these figures, the report claimed that closing regional attainment gaps to the level in London would equate to around 125,000 more disadvantaged pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and Maths. The effect would be an economic benefit of around £12 billion across the lifetime of the individuals analysed.

These figures underline the continued challenges faced by disadvantaged pupils but also the benefits of mitigating these challenges in economic terms, and the possibility of doing so. . This is important for governing boards as they have a duty to ensure that their school is using pupil premium funding to raise the educational attainment of certain disadvantaged pupils. Details of eligible pupils, and the role of those governing in monitoring the pupil premium, is available on the NGA Guidance Centre.


Primary school performance

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) published the confirmed performance data from this summer’s key stage 2 assessments.

Nationally, 61% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics: 65% of girls and 57% of boys. Girls made more progress in reading and writing while boys made more progress in mathematics. The attainment gap between pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) and other pupils has widened by 1% compared to 2016, with 43% achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics this year. Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) had the biggest attainment gap, with just 18% reaching the expected standard in all three subjects.

511 primary schools fell below the floor standard and 524 were identified as ‘coasting’. For more information on what this means, see NGA’s guidance on powers of intervention.

Separately, the Education Policy Institute and the UCL Institute of Education have published research comparing the performance of English primary schools in mathematics with top performing nations internationally. It found that “while England compares reasonably well with other nations at primary, this hides a long tail of underperformance amongst low attaining pupils”. To read the report in full, click here.

To access the DfE’s analysis of the 2017 key stage 2 data and primary school performance tables, click here.

Information on monitoring performance and primary assessment is available on NGA’s Guidance Centre.

NGA offers two training sessions on data. The first is an introductory session which will raise governors’ and trustees' awareness of the data sources, the extent to which they can be analysed, and other means by which governors and trustees can get to know their school. The second is a session on using data in your organisation which covers the key data sources and how pupil progress and attainment is measured in your organisation. Contact training@nga.org.uk for more details.


Ofsted’s annual report highlights persistent underperformance

Ofsted’s annual report for 2016/17 was published on Wednesday 13 December. This is the first annual report since Amanda Spielman took the helm as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) in February this year.

The report sets out the key themes that have arisen from inspections over the year. Key findings relating to schools include:

  • the majority of schools are performing well: 89% are currently rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’
  • there is a subsection of schools which have been persistently judged less than ‘good’, with over 700 judged ‘requires improvement’ or ‘satisfactory’ at their last two inspections
  • schools in deprived areas are more likely to be judged ‘requires improvement’ though there are examples of schools in challenging circumstances which have turned their performance around
  • weak governance was among common features of secondary schools which have persistently underperformed
  • too many schools are sacrificing breadth of curriculum in order to prepare pupils for statutory assessments in both primary and secondary phases

The report also highlighted that, despite the government issuing academy orders to every ‘inadequate’ school since April 2016, there are 113 maintained schools that have not converted at least nine months after receiving this judgement.

A summary of common problems in multi-academy trusts (MATs) which have had focused inspections was given. With respect to governance, Ofsted highlighted a lack of clear schemes of delegation, over-dependence on school leaders, a lack of understanding of data, and unclear strategies for use of pupil premium funding.

To read the report in full, click here.

For more on Ofsted inspection, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.

 

NGA makes a pledge to help encourage flexible working

In October 2017, the Department for Education (DfE) held a Flexible Working Summit for stakeholders within the education sector. The summit focused on the obstacles to flexible working in schools and the measures to overcome them. Alongside announcing its commitments on the matter, the DfE invited all attending stakeholders to make a pledge on what they are going to do, to aid the encouragement of flexible working.

NGA pledged to the following:

  • to encourage governing boards to endorse flexible working options to improve wellbeing as well as recruit and retain staff
  • to produce a factsheet on the topic, encourage debate at NGA events and promote case studies of successful flexible working practices

In addition, the DfE has published a policy paper on increasing flexible working opportunities in schools, which can be accessed here.


Review suggests PSHE boosts attainment

A new evidence review by the independent Pro Bono Economics (PBE), on behalf of the PSHE Association, uncovers “very strong evidence that high-quality PSHE learning has a positive impact on academic attainment”. The review draws on over 1200 pieces of national and international evidence with the aim of “determining the degree to which PSHE’s positive impact on physical and mental health could lead to improved attainment and life chances.”

The study investigates the impact of social and emotional learning, bullying interventions, behaviour interventions, physical health and emotional well-being, relationships and sex education and drug and alcohol education on academic and attendance outcomes. The findings from the review suggest that PSHE-style interventions have been shown to have a significant positive effect on academic attainment and, to a lesser extent, attendance. The report finds that PSHE-type interventions have a larger impact on the academic attainment of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In response to the positive findings of the report, the PSHE Association has renewed its calls to make PSHE a statutory subject. NGA support the view that PSHE should be a statutory subject to allow sufficient teaching time within the curriculum.


Parental engagement survey finds benefits are strong but understanding is poor

In its Teacher Survey 2017 report, PTA UK released findings on parental engagement perception and practices amongst teachers.

Reaffirming NGA’s view that parental involvement in schools has a major influence on their children's achievement, the survey found that 98% of teachers believe parents have a positive impact on their school. Respondents said that engagement was particularly useful for building trust (68%), improving achievement (62%) and improving behaviour (59%).

However, the survey suggests that 48% of respondents (that’s 61% of classroom teachers and 17% of senior leadership) say they do not know who within the school is responsible for parental engagement. 30% think the responsibility lies with senior staff whilst others said it lay with other staff or governors (10% respectively). Just 19% say their school has a written parental engagement plan.

The report concludes that whilst teachers recognise the value of parental engagement it does not always form part of a schools strategic plan. PTA UK recommend developing a whole-school parental engagement plan and sharing the school’s vision for parental engagement widely with staff.

As drivers of the school’s vision and strategy, those governing should ensure that their school has a clear plan for engaging with all stakeholder groups, including parents. NGA’s view is that stakeholder engagement is critical to the effectiveness of the governing board’s role and, as such, is calling on the DfE to add a fourth core function: engaging with stakeholders.


Sexism in schools and how to tackle it

This week, the National Education Union (NEU) and UK Feminista, a feminist pressure group, launched their report regarding sexual harassment of girls in schools, in the Houses of Parliament. This follows the debate by MPs in Parliament last month, about sexual harassment and violence in schools.

Many of the findings and recommendations of the report echo those of the Women and Equalities Committee last year, when it published its report on the inquiry into sexual harassment and violence in schools.

For schools in particular, the NEU and UK Feminista recommend the following:

  • “adopt a ‘whole school approach’ to tackling sexism
  • take a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment”

Governing boards are responsible and accountable for safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of pupils. To help fulfil their legal responsibilities in this regard, all governing boards should have a nominated safeguarding governor/trustee who should liaise with the designated safeguarding lead and/or headteacher to consider how existing policies and procedures tackle sexism and sexual harassment in their school/trust. This should be fed back to the full governing board or relevant committee with any recommendations for review, where necessary.

The full report can be read here and an explanation of each recommendation above, is provided on page 26.

To coincide with this report, the DfE has produced advice for schools on “sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges”. It outlines details on what constitutes sexual harassment and violence and what legal responsibilities schools need to follow.


Ofqual publish information on 2017 exam administration

On Thursday 14 December, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) released data on the summer 2017 exam series. The information provides an overview of GCSE, AS and A-level uptake and marking for 2016/17 - including information on maladministration and remarking.

Overall, Ofqual outlined that:

  • Of the number of malpractice instances raised by the exam boards, there were 25 “notifications of alleged malpractice” this year, with a further 10 having “sanctions … imposed” and 6 with “cases ongoing”. Of these, a total of 31 instances were from staff or “serving teachers involved in the setting of examinations”. An additional 47 malpractice incidents were raised directly with Ofqual.
  • There were 6.6 million grades administered in this years’ exams, with “5.6% … [of these being the] … subject of a review”. Of these, 45.1% received a grade change.

Ofqual has produced a useful infographic giving a quick overview of the planning, administration, marking, standards and post-results of this years’ exam series.


Work for us: Training and Consultancy Director

NGA are looking to recruit an experienced Training and Consultancy Director. Based in Birmingham city centre, the post holder will be responsible for overseeing NGA’s Training and Consultancy services.

For more on the role, and to download an application pack, please click here.

The closing date for applications is 9am on Wednesday 17 January 2018.


NGA board of trustees: New officers announced

At the NGA board of trustees meeting on Thursday 14 December 2017, several new NGA officers were announced. We are delighted to confirm that:

  • Maggi Bull has been appointed as chair
  • Niki Lamont and Katie Paxton-Doggett have been appointed as vice-chairs
  • Duncan Haworth MBE has been appointed as treasurer
  • Gordon Anderson has been appointed as Honorary Secretary

NGA would like to congratulate all of the new officers and extend a thank you to those who served previously. We would particularly like to thank Ian Courtney MBE who steps down after completing a highly successful three year term as NGA chair.


NGA Clerks’ Conference

NGA is pleased to announce its second conference for clerks. The conference will be held on Monday 19 February 2018 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 shortly and registration will open early in the New Year, but remember to visit the Clerking Matters section of the NGA website for more information and guidance on our work with clerks.


Learning Link

The Learning Link team want to wish all of our users a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To help you get into the holiday mood we would like to introduce the first of our Learning Link “Study Tips”. These will appear when access your login page for the first time. They are posted and will be stored for future reference in your Messages tile. The first Study Tip lays out how to use your Active Learning. Perhaps, over the holiday, if you need a break from eating and being merry you can start your New Year resolution early - to improve your knowledge of governance using Learning Link. Happy Christmas!


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 08/12/2017

Changes to Ofsted’s short inspection procedure

It has been announced that Ofsted will go ahead with reform of the short inspections system following a recent consultation. Since 2015, schools previously judged ‘good’ have received short one day inspections that do not result in a full set of judgements but are converted to a full inspection if inspectors do not find sufficient evidence that a school remains ‘good’. 
 
From January 2018, there will be four possible outcomes from a short inspection: 
 
  • if inspectors are confident that the school remains ‘good’, the school will receive a letter confirming this;  another short inspection will take place in approximately 3 years (in line with the existing system);
  • if there are “serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education”, the school will receive a full inspection within 48 hours;
  • if inspectors suspect that there has been a decline and the school is no longer ‘good’, the school will receive a letter setting out the findings and a full inspection will take place “typically within one to two years but no later than five years since the previous full section 5 inspection”;
  • if inspectors believe that there has been an improvement towards ‘outstanding’, the school will receive a letter setting out the findings and a full inspection within two years.
To read Ofsted’s full report on the consultation outcome, click here
 
NGA raised concerns about these proposals in our consultation response last month, including concern that they could create the impression that there are different tiers of ‘good’. NGA’s guidance for governing boards on Ofsted will be updated to reflect the changes. 
 

Minister and RSCs questioned on academy oversight

MPs on the Education Select Committee held an oral evidence session with Lord Agnew (the minister with oversight of school governance and the school system), Sir David Carter (National Schools Commissioner), Vicky Beer and John Edwards (two of the eight Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs). 
 
The session focused on the effectiveness of oversight and intervention in the academy system. MPs were particularly keen to hear about the collapse of the Wakefield City Academies Trust and the lessons learned from this and similar cases. Concerns were raised about transparency around the intervention taking place and how this is communicated to parents. 
 
Both Lord Agnew and Sir David Carter were clear that the Department for Education (DfE) has no plans to allow Ofsted to formally inspect multi academy trusts (MATs). They also emphasised that MATs are required to be inclusive of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the same way as all schools, and that the DfE will look to act quickly when this is not happening. 
 
Last week’s Social Mobility Commission report suggested that RSCs should be given responsibility for managing and monitoring teacher supply across their regions. Sir David Carter responded that he does not think this would be a productive move. 
 

 

Levels of executive pay

On 4 December the Education and Skills Funding Agency published a letter written by new Chief Executive, Eileen Milner, addressing excessive executive salaries in trusts with only one academy. The letter specifically targeted trusts that pay their executives an annual salary of more than £150,000, citing the “considerable scrutiny over tax payer-funded salaries in recent months”. Ms Milner reflected on the key role of the governing board in ensuring pay decisions are proportionate and clearly evidence based. 
Each trust that has received the letter has been asked to respond, providing the rationale used to set pay levels of the executive in question, by 15 December.
 
This came as both Sir David Carter and academies minister Lord Agnew responded to a question on executive pay as they faced the education select committee accountability session on Tuesday. Pressed on the subject of excessive pay rises for trust executives, both the National School’s Commissioner and the minister conceded that, although they did not have the full facts of the cases in front of them, the examples of pay rises given sounded “unreasonable”. 
 
You can read more on executive pay here
 

 

Government announces a package of support worth nearly £45 million for young people with SEND

The additional funding confirmed by Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill is to provide additional help for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
 
The package of funding announced today includes:
 
  • £29 million to support councils and their local partners with implementation of the reforms to the SEND system;
  • £9.7 million to establish local supported internship forums; the specific purpose of these is to create work placements for young people with SE ND,  with funding  also on offer  to train job coaches
  • £4.6 million for Parent Carer Forums, to bring parents together with local decision makers.
NGA has produced guidance on SEND and the governing board. 
 
We also offer a training session on the effective governance of SEND.  This session was developed with NASEN and covers both the requirement to comply with guidance and the practicalities of holding the school to account for the performance of pupils with SEND.  For further details or to book a session, contact training@nga.org.uk
 

 

Green paper and consultation on mental health provision in schools 

On 4 December 2017, the government released a green paper and an open consultation around “transforming children and young people’s mental health provision”. The green paper proposes plans which will have implications for how schools challenge poor mental health amongst children and young people. The paper proposes that in every school an individual be appointed as a “designated lead in mental health”, with a national training programme fully in place by 2025. These individuals will take the lead in helping young people in schools with mental health issues, providing support and advice to young people and staff, and teaching students about the warning signs associated with poor mental health.
 
Mental health leads will also have the power to make referrals to “specialist services” concerning poor mental health. The proposals also recommend that each school mental health lead be linked to wider support teams, forming a bridge between schools and the NHS which will “mean that schools and colleges will find it much easier to contact and work with mental health services”. 
 
As part of the initiative, the government are also proposing to carry out further research around: the impact of the internet on mental health, particularly social media; how families can provide support to those suffering with mental health issues; and how mental health problems can be avoided in the future. Further work will also be carried out to see how mental health for 16-25 year olds can be improved. 
 
NGA will be responding to the consultation and welcome members’ thoughts. As this is an open consultation, those governing can also choose to reply to the consultation themselves. 
 

 

Analyse school performance (ASP) update

This week the Department for Education (DfE) announced that Key Stage 4 (KS4) 2017 provisional data and Destinations data for 2015/16 is now available in ASP – the official DfE replacement for RAISEonline. A KS4 tab for disadvantaged pupils will also be added to the service in early 2018, along with the Ofsted Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR) for KS4; EYFS; Absence and Exclusions data.
 
The department is continuing to make improvements to the service following user feedback including: improvements to the content section in the School Performance Summary report; a new KS4 pupil list; and front end improvements to the KS1 and Phonics pupil list.. The department has reported that it is dealing with high volumes of helpdesk queries at the moment, meaning complex queries in relation to the service may take up to 20 working days.
 
More than 50,000 users are now using ASP. You can find out more on the service by accessing the ASP guidance page on the NGA Guidance Centre. Keep an eye out for the release of the Jan/Feb 2018 edition of Governing Matters; our Guidance Centre feature will this time focus on the new service. 
 

Government publishes careers strategy

As reported last month, the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton has set out four themes that will underpin the government’s careers strategy. This week, the government’s long-awaited careers strategy has been published. The plans to improve the provision of careers guidance and advice in schools include: 
 
  • Interactions between schools and businesses - "Secondary schools will be expected to provide pupils with at least one meaningful interaction with businesses every year, with a particular focus on STEM industries.”
  • More time with employers from an early age – The government has pledged £2 million to pilot ways of engaging children in careers from an early age, including in challenging areas. 
  • Dedicated careers leaders - The government aims for every school and college to have a dedicated careers leader, with £4 million to provide training and support for at least 500 schools and colleges (equivalent to £8000 per school) “so they can give the most up-to-date advice and fully prepare young people for the world of work”. The strategy calls for governing boards and head teachers to give ‘explicit backing’ to careers leaders. 
  • Careers hubs – The government has pledged £5 million funding to develop 20 careers hubs, led by the Careers and Enterprise Company to work across the Gatsby Benchmarks for good careers guidance, linking together schools, colleges, universities and local businesses. 
  • Specialist advice for adults who need it most - The National Careers Service will provide access to specialist support for adults with low qualification levels and special education needs. 
You can read the careers strategy in full here. To find out more about what those governing should know about careers advice and guidance in schools, visit the NGA Guidance Centre
 

 

Keys to improving retention? 

Research by NFER has looked at the destinations of teachers leaving the profession in order to shed light on how schools can improve retention. 
The analysis found that, while the majority remain in the education sector, average pay decreased after leaving teaching. However, most were working fewer hours and therefore hourly wages remained fairly constant. A rise in part-time working was entirely driven by those leaving the secondary sector. It also found that job satisfaction, which had been declining in the years before teachers left the profession, improved after leaving.
 
The authors recommend that in order to improve retention governing boards should monitor job satisfaction and engagement, look at ways of accommodating part-time working (particularly in secondary schools) and tackle teacher workload. 
 
To read the research in full, click here. For more guidance on staffing and related issues, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.
 

A generation of young carers are being failed by schools

This week, Barnardo’s published new research looking at the failure of some schools to provide support to children who have assumed a carer role for sick or disabled family members. The children’s charity highlights that teachers have a statutory duty to identify young carers and refer them to the local authority to be assessed for support. However, findings suggest that a proportion of teachers are failing to identify children burdened with caring responsibilities, with around 40% of teachers  doubting  their own ability to identify a young carer in their class. Other key findings of the research suggest that:
 
  • “most or all” of young carers suffer from anxiety, depression and isolation.
  • Approximately 90% of teachers believe that caring responsibilities could adversely affect the school lives of young carers. 
  • 34% of respondents said there were young carers at their school who were not sufficiently supported.

For more help on deciding whether your school is doing enough to support young carers, click here


 

Research raises concerns about setting by ability in early years

New research commissioned by the National Education Union (NEU) considers the impact ability grouping practice has on both children and educational professionals within the early years environment. The key findings from the research, which draws upon the input of more than 1400 individuals taking part through interviews, focus groups and a survey include:
 
  • 45% of respondents said that ability grouping damages the self-esteem of children
  • many teachers use strategies, such as moving pupils between groups, to relieve the damage caused to children’s confidence
  • grouping is often encouraged by senior leadership teams, being viewed as an expected practice to prepare pupil’s for future tests such as the phonics screening check and KSI SATS. 
  • ability grouping practice continues despite research evidence showing that mixed ability teaching produces higher attainment overall. 

Governing boards should ensure they have knowledge of the approach to early years teaching in their school, and the other options available, considering whether any changes are necessary.  


Admission of children previously in care outside of England

This week, Nick Gibb, minister of state for schools, has written to local authorities and other admission authorities, encouraging them to prioritise the admission of previously looked after children, outside of England. The basis for this is that such children are also vulnerable and may have been abused and neglected, so they should also be given the highest priority for admission, alongside other children who have been in care.
 
The minister makes clear that the Department for Education (DfE) intends to make changes to the Schools Admissions Code in the future, to make it mandatory for admission authorities to prioritise admission for these children. He also recognises that the timeframe for consulting on changes to admission arrangements has already come into play but asks admission authorities to change and consult on giving these children second highest priority.
The letter can be read in full here
 
For further information on admissions, see the NGA Guidance Centre
 

 

Joseph Rowntree Foundation delivers report on UK poverty

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation released a report on Monday which looked at poverty rates in the UK and how they have changed in the last twenty years. The report noted worrying trends regarding child poverty; a gradual reduction had occurred between 1995 and 2011 but this is now reversing, with levels increasing from 27% of children living in poverty in 2011/12 to 30% in 2015/16. Poverty among families with three or more children has risen from 32% in 2012/13 to 39% in 2015/16. These trends were argued to have been caused by cuts to the welfare system which often ‘far outweighed’ the effects of tax cuts and minimum wage rises. 
 
The report also assessed future poverty, and argued that its biggest cause was the educational attainment of children when they left full-time education. It was further noted that children growing up in poverty tend to have lower attainment than those who do not, meaning that poverty often reproduces itself. In terms of trends, the report noted that overall attainment was improving across the UK but that the gap between rich and poor pupils remained ‘stubbornly large.’ By the age of five, there is already a twenty percentage point attainment gap between children from richer and poorer backgrounds. 
 
Governing boards have a duty to ensure that their school is using pupil premium funding to raise the educational attainment of certain disadvantaged pupils. Details of eligible pupils, and the role of those governing in monitoring the pupil premium, can be found on the NGA Guidance Centre.  
 

 

#JoinThe250k national governor recruitment campaign launches 

#JoinThe250k, which launched this week, is a national campaign from Inspiring Governance aiming to attract people to volunteer as school governors or trustees. A new film featuring young people explaining the benefits of being a governor/trustee, challenging myths about who can govern and sharing how to get involved is at the core of the campaign. During the first phase of the campaign, Inspiring Governance is sharing the film widely across social media and through partner organisations.

To watch the film click the image below – please share it with your networks to help others learn about the opportunity to be a governor or trustee.

jointhe250k.pngInspiring-Governance-Logo-(Portrait)-(3).png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a national campaign underway, now is a great time to register your school – whether you have current vacancies or want to browse volunteers in your local area – it’s easy to sign up. Click here register – or if you want to recruit on behalf of multiple schools click here. You’ll just need to add a few personal details to get started.

We’d love to hear your feedback on the film and ideas for how we can share it even further – please email Kirstie.Ebbs@nga.org.uk
















From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 01/12/2017

Justine Greening sets out plans for technical education

Speaking at the Department for Education’s (DfE) Skills Summit on Thursday, the Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening outlined the government’s plans for the future of technical education.

The announcements include:

  • the launch of new Institutes of Technology, described as “prestigious and high quality employer-led institution[s] delivering higher level technical education with a clear route to high skilled employment”
  • additional funding for career learning pilots as part of a National Retraining Scheme
  • a consultation on the implementation of the T levels programme and the membership of the panels which will help to create the content (the introduction of T levels was announced by the Chancellor in March)
  • the launch of Skills Advisory Panels, the first of which will be in Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, Greater Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Leeds and Thames Valley.

To read the speech in full, click here.

For governors and trustees, particularly in secondary schools, understanding the options available to school leavers is vital to ensuring that the school offers impartial and informed careers advice. Last week we reported on the requirement from 2 January 2018 for all state funded schools to “ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access registered pupils during the relevant phase of their education for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships.”


ASCL guidance on setting executive pay

This week ASCL published a new guidance paper looking at how to set executive pay; this is now available for NGA members to download on the NGA Guidance Centre. The paper explores a number of key areas that should be addressed before pay is set for chief executive officers and executive heads, including leadership models, the pay setting process and pay setting models. Click here to find out more. Executive pay has been a prominent topic over the last year, with soaring executive pay in some multi academy trusts in particular coming under scrutiny from others in the sector, while also receiving a critical reception from both the media and general public. NGA’s very own deputy CEO, Gillian Allcroft blogged on the topic last year, discussing the role that governance plays and specifically how this fits with the board’s moral purpose.

For more information from NGA on executive pay click here.


ESFA’s annual letter to academy trust accounting officers

This week, Peter Lauener, chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has written his last letter to academy trust accounting officers before his retirement this term. In it, he reflects over the development of the accountability framework across the sector and indeed how the sector has changed over his seven years. He highlighted three key areas.

Firstly, the need for accounting officers (generally the senior executive leader) to be mindful of their responsibilities and ensure that the finances are managed in accordance with the Academies Financial Handbook.

Secondly, the need for those governing to be clear about their responsibilities, have the skills to undertake their role and avoid concentrations of power the need to maintain vigilance over related party transactions is important, which has been a key feature in some high profile dissolutions of academy trusts. The Academies Financial Handbook (section 3.1) requires all academy trusts to keep and maintain a register of interests for all those involved in governance, and to apply an “at cost” policy which is disclosed in financial statements.

Finally, the letter provides reflections from the ESFA’s assurance work over the last year which include. The majority of trusts’ financial statements received an unqualified opinion from their auditors but some concerns over financial viability, disclosure of land and building and staff remuneration were highlighted. With this in mind, the letter also emphasised the need for trustees to ensure strong challenge of the trust’s financial position, particularly with respect to executive pay (see item above) which continues to be a key focus for the media.

In addressing these issues the letter points to the Department for Education’s (DfE) schools financial health and efficiency tools and guidance. Further information about academy finance can be found in the NGA Guidance Centre.


Teacher training target missed for fifth consecutive year

This week, the Department for Education has released figures on new entrants into postgraduate Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses in the academic year 2017 to 2018, which shows that recruitment targets have been missed for a fifth year. Each year, the government must recruit around 30,000 new teachers to maintain staff supply according to the Teacher Supply Model (TSM). In the academic year 2017 to 2018, there were 27,895 new entrants to ITT courses.

The DfE figures are broken down into EBacc and non-EBacc subjects. Overall, secondary EBacc subjects recruited 84 per cent of the TSM target. Recruitment to History exceeded the TSM target, with 102 per cent of the required trainees recruited. Recruitment against the TSM target varied between 93 per cent for Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) and 66 per cent for Computing.

Just 69 per cent of teacher trainees required in non-EBacc secondary subjects were recruited. Within non-EBacc subjects, recruitment varied between 113 per cent for Physical Education and 33 per cent for Design and Technology. Entrants to primary school ITT courses exceeded targets and recruited 106 per cent.

Governors and trustees tell us that teacher recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges they face with 46% respondents to this year's annual survey of school governance saying they have difficulty recruiting to teaching posts. The survey found that teacher recruitment is within the top five issues NGA members would to lobby the government on and we will continue to raise this topic on behalf of members.


Testing the Water: a new report into assessment

The think-tank LKMCo has published a new report entitled ‘Testing the Water: How assessment can underpin, not undermine great teaching’. Earlier in a year, some NGA members took part in focus groups as part of the research for this report and others will have taken part in the accompanying survey. NGA Chief Executive, Emma Knights, contributed a short think-piece to the report.

The report makes recommendations to the Department for Education (DfE) about reform to the accountability system, including ensuring that schools “receive appropriate time and support to implement curriculum and assessment changes, which echoes governors’ and trustees’ call for stability in the recent NGA & TES survey. It also echoed the Education Select Committee’s suggestion that headline data should be published as a three-year rolling average.

There were other recommendations which governing boards may wish to consider for their own schools:

  • ensuring governors have appropriate training in understanding the assessment process and the information it produces;
  • improving communication between schools and parents about assessment, including its reliability;
  • ensuring schools’ assessment practices are efficient and do not create unmanageable workload for teachers; specifically, the report recommends “reduced use of marking”, “keeping the number of mock tests and exams to a minimum” and “using technology effectively”;
  • the use of more low stakes assessments to support learning and fewer summative assessments;
  • ensuring teacher performance management processes do not over-emphasise test results: “results can be a useful starting point for developmental conversations about where teachers need additional support, but are not reliable or fair way to measure one teacher’s performance”.

To read the report in full, click here.

For more information on assessment for governing boards, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


SchoolDash analysis of the impact of sixth forms on secondary schools

This week, School Dash published its results of a recent study which explores whether having an integrated sixth form in a secondary school positively influences GCSE results. The findings showed that whilst secondary schools with integrated sixth forms encourage more academic education routes, they do not necessarily enable greater academic success at GCSE level.

The main findings of the report include:

  • secondary schools with integrated sixth forms obtain better GCSE results and are more likely to be selective than their comparators
  • pupils at secondary schools with integrated sixth forms were more likely to go to a sixth form as opposed to a further education college

Although not relevant to all governors and trustees, it is interesting to see how secondary schools with or without sixth forms compare with one another, particularly after seven organisation (including NGA) wrote to the chancellor to increase further education funding ahead of the November budget.


Social Mobility Commission publish State of the Nation report

The Social Mobility Commission published its annual State of the Nation report on Tuesday. It warned that Britain was divided economically, socially and geographically, and that social mobility was getting worse.

The report identified social mobility ‘hotspots’ and ‘coldspots’, with the highest and lowest opportunities for social mobility. ‘Coldspots’ were generally remote rural or coastal areas, or former industrial towns. One quarter of young people were not in education, employment or training in South Ribble, compared to just 1% in North Hertfordshire. 50% of disadvantaged youngsters from Kensington and Chelsea reached university, compared to just 10% of those from Barnsley and Eastbourne. The report therefore concluded that disadvantaged youngsters’ ability to get on in life was heavily dependent on where they grew up.

In schools specifically, the report identified a number of problems. Secondary school teachers were 70% more likely to leave their job in disadvantaged areas, meaning deprived locations had higher proportions of unqualified teachers. In remote rural and coastal areas, the average attainment eight score among disadvantaged children was just 31.2 compared to 49.4 in London. One explanation was the quality of schools, all free school meals children in Hackney attended a good or outstanding school, while those in Knowsley had “no chance” of attending a school of that standard (Knowsley Council set up the Knowsley Commission in October 2016 to address the underlying causes of education underachievement in Knowsley).

The report made several recommendations, including some focused on education. It called for a fund to be established which would allow schools in rural and coastal areas to partner with others to boost attainment. It also argued Regional School Commissioners should be given responsibility for managing and monitoring teacher supply across their region.

Governing boards have a responsibility to raise educational attainment of disadvantaged children through the use of pupil premium funding, guidance is available on our website.


British Social Attitudes Survey findings on education

The British Social Attitudes Survey, undertaken annually by NatCen Social Research since 1983, looks at the views of a representative sample of adults across Britain. In 2016 the Department for Education (DfE) commissioned a set of questions to measure public attitudes toward education, including the role of schools and post-16 education. The survey data collection was carried out between July and November 2016 and this week, the findings were released in report by the DfE which is available to read here.

On general views toward the role of schools, the key findings include:

  • 80 per cent of respondents reported having “at least some confidence in the British school system” of which, those with “a great deal or complete confidence” increased to 28 per cent from 23 per cent in 2011.
  • 76 per cent said that “it was essential or very important that schools develop personal qualities such as character and resilience in their students” and 61 per cent said this of developing knowledge of key issues about sex and relationships.

Governing boards have a particular responsibility with regard to sex and relationships education (SRE) and schools and academies must have a written policy on SRE. It is therefore good to see that the school’s role in delivering SRE is supported by a majority of respondents. It was announced earlier this year that Relationships Education would become compulsory in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) statutory in all state funded schools.

On post-16 education, one key finding was that:

  • Sixty-nine per cent of respondents thought that “it is more difficult for young people to get a job now, compared to when they completed full-time education.”

It is important to ensure that young people receive good quality careers advice and guidance. For more on what those governing need to know, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


Ofsted blog on local area SEND inspections

This week, Matthew Barnes, HMI Specialist Adviser for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), wrote a useful blog on local area SEND inspections. Last year, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission launched joint local area SEND inspections, followed by the inspection framework and handbook that sets out the process.

The blog offers clarification to questions on how inspections work, who’s involved, what they inspect, report on and further explanation of written statements of action. Barnes reports that “Feedback so far on the joint working has been positive”. 

You can read the blog in full here.

From our membership survey, SEND is one of the top five issues members wanted NGA to raise with Government.


NCVO report delivers overview of volunteering in the UK

In its latest report ‘Getting Involved: How people make a difference’, NCVO draws on different sources to create an overview of those who volunteer across the UK. Amongst its key findings are that 25% adults volunteer once a month and that 700,000 people volunteer as charity trustees, some of whom are doing so in academy trusts.

Around 20% of people are involved in local social action, according to the report, which also highlights that levels of volunteering in public services (including school governance) have remained static. One of the challenges identified in the report is a need to increase the diversity in formal volunteering, namely socio-economic status, and that less people from diverse ethnic backgrounds get involved in formal volunteering, which reflects the conclusions of our own annual survey of school governance. For example, whilst 28% white adults volunteer once a month, only 20% BME adults volunteer once a month; diversity of trustees is also described as particularly poor.

Some trends identified in the report however do not tally with our research – for example, that the 16 to 25 age group are most likely to participate in formal volunteering and half of people living in rural locations volunteer once a year, compared to 40% in urban ones.

School governance is recognised as integral to public service delivery, as the report says “It is hard to imagine what service provision would be like without their contribution.” The report also provides some opportunities for governing boards such as 85% people aged under 35 would consider being a trustees and understanding barriers to volunteering.


Inspiring Governance continues to connect schools with governors

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With hundreds of governing boards now using Inspiring Governance to connect with prospective governors and trustees, some of those who have already benefitted from the service have been sharing their experience.

King’s Norton Boys’ School turned to Inspiring Governance after the Chair of Governors felt they had explored and exhausted all other routes for finding new co-opted governors. Using the platform specifically to increase diversity on their governing board, the school recruited five new governors from the local area with skills that can help to raise specific standards.

For Endeavour Academy Trust, the need to find governors with certain skills to cope with their growth plan lead them to use Inspiring Governance as another avenue to reach potential governors. Searching for volunteers in the local area with the skills, motivations and experience required, the trust recruited three new governors with valuable experience.

All volunteers recruited via Inspiring Governance also receive 12 months free support from NGA including access to our online guidance centre and GOLDline support service, and eight in-depth modules on Learning Link.

To read these case studies in full, and to learn more about Inspiring Governance, visit https://inspiringgovernance.org/governing-boards/


Learning Link update

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Just a quick note for Learning Link users, have you tried out any of the eight new learning modules? These can be identified by the board meeting illustration on the module tile and each has a short description. These can be found on the Active Learning home page.

New to governance? These new rich and immersive modules are ideal for those new governors or trustees who want to be effective from the start.

Experienced but need a reminder as to where effective governance is now? These modules also gives those with more experience the chance to refresh. For each module (apart from “Governance: your role, your responsibilities, your organisation” which all those new to governance should do) there is a very short self-assessment test to see if it would be of benefit to you.

We are receiving marvellous feedback from those governors both new and experienced as to their veracity. If you have any queries about Learning Link, contact Bill.Kiely@nga.org.uk


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 24/11/2017

Chancellor’s budget fails to deliver for schools

On Wednesday, the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the autumn Budget which included pockets of extra funding to boost maths and computer science. Unfortunately, there was no extra core funding for mainstream, high needs and post-16 education budgets.

The Chancellor’s measures for education included:

  • from 2019, a £600 ‘maths premium’ for each pupil taking Maths A-Level above current numbers
  • £42m over three years to provide extra training to "improve the quality of teaching in Maths" in a pilot project in some under-performing schools in England
  • £84m over four years to train 12,000 more staff qualified to teach computer science with the support of a new National Centre for Computing
  • further education colleges to receive £20m to prepare for T-level qualifications with no detail on timeframe announced

Responding to the Budget, Emma Knights, chief executive of National Governance Association, said “The failure to increase the overall funding for schools is a failure to invest in the future of our children and young people. We will continue to campaign on behalf of governors, trustees – and their pupils – for proper funding for the future.”

For more information on our Funding the Future campaign, click here.


‘Flexible’ relationships with MATs advocated

Schools Week reports that the National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, intends to offer schools the option of becoming “associate members” of multi academy trusts (MATs) by buying into resources without legally joining the group. He suggested that the arrangement could be a precursor to schools formally joining a MAT.

The term “associate members” may cause confusion. The ability to buy in support from other schools or groups of schools is not new. When a school joins a MAT, it becomes part of a single organisation and accountability for all schools lies with the trust board. Unless a school becomes part of a MAT, the governing body (in a maintained school) or trust board (in an academy) remains accountable for the school’s performance.

Governing boards are free to broker school improvement support from any organisation, including other schools, MATs, Teaching School Alliances and local authorities. Sir David Carter’s announcement may reflect a move away from an emphasis on schools joining MATs as the preferred route for school improvement. NGA will be keeping an eye on this story and will update our guidance as more information on precisely how it is intended to work is released.


Guidance for schools on meeting their statutory duties in relation to technical and apprenticeship careers advice

This week, the government has released guidance on what schools must do to meet the upcoming requirements of the Technical and Further Education Act 2017. This Act, which will come in to force on 2 January 2018, puts a statutory duty on all maintained schools and academies to “ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access registered pupils during the relevant phase of their education for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships”.

To meet the requirements of the Act, a school must “explain in a policy statement how providers can get involved with your school and the opportunities you have for them to talk to your pupils”. This must be subsequently “published on the school website”. Details of what should be included in this statement can be found here, with more guidance expected in the New Year.

It is important that young people receive good advice about the options open to them so that they choose the right course for them, rather than struggle on the wrong one. For more on what those governing need to know about providing careers advice in schools, visit the NGA guidance centre.


Department for Education consultation on disadvantaged entitlements under Universal Credit

On 16 November, the Department for Education (DfE) launched a consultation on how children’s eligibility for free school meals and pupil premium will work following the roll out of universal credit.

The government’s proposals are to alter eligibility for free school meals from the current system based on income-related benefits, to a new one based on a household’s net earnings. The initial threshold will be set at £7,400. During the rollout period, all pupils who are currently eligible will have their entitlements protected, and these protections will continue until the student has completed their current phase of education. Once the system is fully implemented, the government are estimating that 50,000 more pupils will receive free school meals. The government are also proposing to extend the new eligibility criteria to the early years pupil premium.

One consequence of the changes is that the gradual nature of the rollout and the altered eligibility criteria will limit the ability to compare between different school cohorts. This is because free school meal eligibility has been traditionally used as the main indicator of disadvantage.

NGA will be responding to the consultation and would welcome any views from members – please email Michael.Barton@nga.org.uk


Select Committee hears evidence on Alternative Provision

This week the Education Select Committee took evidence on Alternative Provision (AP) from Professor David Berridge from the University of Bristol, Kiran Gill, from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Founder of The Difference, and Philip Nye from Education Datalab.

The hour long session heard about the complexity of provision: from state maintained Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), AP academies and AP free schools as well as non-maintained alternative provision provided in Independent Schools, Unregistered Schools and Illegal Schools. Some sobering evidence about the numbers of excluded children was presented, with the numbers having increased year on year since 2012/2013, and standing at 6,685 permanently excluded last year.

The Committee heard though, that when you looked at the numbers of children registered with PRU’s, those in offsite provision and in other provision such as elective home education, numbers were equivalent to 1 in 200 pupils in the country being educated outside of mainstream education or in special schools at some point in the academic year.

Evidence included concerns around the use of elective home education, the numbers of children excluded in Key Stage 4, the increasing vulnerability of excluded pupils, often with overlapping needs such as mental health issues, speech and language needs, family and parental problems, and poverty, and the very poor outcomes for students in AP.

Widely used in the evidence, and highly praised by the Committee, was the IPPR publication “Making the Difference: Breaking the link between school exclusion and social exclusion”, published in October.

The Select Committee’s inquiry is ongoing and governors wanting advice on exclusions should look at the Department of Education’s new statutory guidance published in September, and NGA’s exclusions guidance published on our website. See also Tom Bennett’s article in the July edition of Governing Matters

While the decision to exclude is for the headteacher, the school rules under which those decisions are made do flow from the ethos of the school and that is the responsibility of the governing board. In maintained schools, there is still a requirement for governing bodies to set the behaviour principles which flow into the behaviour policy and while not a statutory requirement in academies, it should be still be on the agenda.


Further scrutiny of lead executive pay

An analysis by TES has once again drawn attention significant rises in the salaries of some school leaders and related-party transactions. In a series of articles (available here, here and here), a number of key issues are highlighted:

  • lack of transparency about the rationale for pay awards;
  • no discernible link between the pay of multi academy trust chief executives and the size of the trust;
  • individuals being paid multiple salaries for different roles in the same trust;
  • a rise in the number of high value related-party transactions;
  • and increases in pension contributions for the highest earners in trusts above those of other staff.

The NGA has asked the DfE to publish benchmarking information so that governing boards have reference point for pay decisions. While the Tes stories are about academy trusts, there are examples of significant salaries being paid to maintained school headteachers.

All governing boards should carefully consider decisions about the salaries of their senior executive team. Pay policies should be clear and transparent. The current Tes stories are based on accounts for academies 2015-16 financial years, it will be interesting to see what the 2016-17 accounts reveal.

For further guidance on pay decisions and appeals, visit the NGA guidance centre.

NGA blog: Onwards and upwards? The rise of chief executive pay


NAHT report on teacher recruitment and retention

NAHT have today released a report on teacher recruitment and retention which finds that for a fourth consecutive year, schools are facing difficulties in attracting and retaining staff across all roles. Based on a survey undertaken by 805 school leaders in October and November 2017, 95 per cent of responses were received from NAHT members in England (the majority from primary phase schools). Of those participants, 64 per cent were head teachers or principals.

The main findings of the survey include, on the issue of recruitment:

  • 81 per cent of all posts, from teachers to senior leaders, were “difficult to recruit for.”
  • Of this number, 63 per cent of posts “were a struggle to fill” and 18 per cent “were not recruited for.”

On the reasons why posts were difficult to recruit for:

  • The most commonly cited reason was “a lack of quality applicants in the area” which was reported by 64 per cent of respondents.
  • The proportion of respondents who said “budget pressures were affecting their ability to attract the right candidates for the roles they required” rose from nine per cent in 2014 to 33 per cent in 2017.

On retention:

  • 66 per cent said “they were aware of staff having left the profession for reasons other than retirement in the last year”.
  • The most commonly cited reason was workload pressures reported by 84 per cent of respondents, followed by “wanting a better work-life balance” as reported by 83 per cent.

The report cites a myriad of issues including: a confused teacher supply model, relatively low graduate salaries, stagnant wages, limited continuous professional development opportunities, excessive workload, high-stakes accountability and constant change to curriculum, as key challenges for schools. NAHT make several recommendations to the government to improve recruitment and retention. To read the full findings and recommendations of the report, click here.

The findings bear out the results of NGA’s survey with the Tes, in which 34% of respondents governing in primary schools said they found it difficult to attract good headteacher candidates.


How do students in England compare to other top performers across the word?

This week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released data on its “three yearly Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)”. PISA consists of a standardised test in reading, writing and maths sat by students from different countries at the age of 15. This data is then used to compare young people from different countries who also took the test. Data is then matched up with how young people fared in examinations taken in their home countries (for English students this is GCSEs). The data shows that:

  • English students achieving A* grades at GCSE, on average, performed better in reading, writing and maths compared to the highest performing students in Singapore (the top performing PISA country in 2015). However, the average student in Singapore was on-par with those achieving a B in science, a B in English and an A in maths in the 2016 round of GCSE in England.
  • There was great variation between the PISA scores of pupils in the south east of England compared to other pupils in the north. The report outlines that the gap reached, on average, “the equivalent of one GCSE grade” in science and reading; with the difference most prominent between the South East in comparison to the North East, West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire & Humber.
  • In England, pupil performance in the PISA tests was mainly affected by “social economic status, “free school meal (FSM) eligibility, “gender” and “school type”.

Although governors and trustees are not expected to know how pupils achieve in PISA, it is an interesting insight into how pupils in England compare to others across the world. To find out more about how pupils in England compare to their peers in other countries, read Tom Fellows’ article in the latest Governing Matters.


NGA helps MATs to improve governance practice at Academies Show

Governance plays a crucial role in forming, joining or developing a MAT and, at the Academies Show, NGA staff delivered three sessions to help schools and academies improve their practice. Judith Hicks spoke about the importance of having ‘the right people around the table’; Sam Henson and Clare Collins delivered two lectures on the role of governance in a MAT and on executive and non-executive roles in leadership; whilst Emma Knights took part in a hot seat debate on ‘tensions in governance’. If you missed the sessions or would like a recap, take a look at the blogs the team produced in the run up to the show:

  • Read Judith Hicks’ blog on why getting people with the right skills is so critical to effective governance – and how to do it.
  • Sam Henson tells us how learning and sharing best practice through our Community MATs network can help grow a sustainable MAT.
  • Clare Collins explains the confusion around executive and non-executive roles in her blog.


Thank you to everyone who attended this years’ annual conference and AGM

The annual conference and AGM is an opportunity for NGA members to hear about NGA’s work as well as from prominent speakers in the education sector.

This year’s annual conference was held on 18 November in Birmingham. Members heard from: Professor Julius Weinberg, chair of Ofsted; Julie Swan, executive director for general qualifications at Ofqual; and Geoff Barton, general secretary of ACSL.

NGA’s chief executive Emma Knights also made her annual address, discussing the challenges faced by governors, the work and achievements of the NGA during the past year and setting out some of our priorities for the coming year.

Photographs from the event are available on our Flickr account – reports on the conference will be featured in the January edition of Governing Matters.


Inspiring Governance: Future Chairs

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Future Chairs, part of the Inspiring Governance programme, supports school governing boards with succession planning by linking them with skilled volunteers who have leadership experience in other sectors and are willing to take on a chairing role in the future. Boards retain ownership of the appointment process and we continue to work with our partners until a well-matched candidate is found. But our support does not stop there – once appointed we continue to support future chairs through their first 12 months with mentoring and training.

Since September 2017, we have signed-up almost 30 future chair candidates to the project with 4 successful appointments to boards so far and another ten in various stages of consideration.  We still have volunteers available and waiting to be introduced to school boards, so if you govern in a school in Birmingham, Liverpool, Blackpool, Stoke-on-Trent, Plymouth, Ealing, Brent or Barnet and need to fill a chairing role in the future, please get in touch.

We are also in the initial stages of identifying partners, schools and MATs in our phase 3 areas – South Yorkshire, Bradford, Ipswich, Hastings, Derby & Derbyshire – if you are interested in working with us or just want to find out more, please get in touch.

And finally, if any of our members in these areas are interested in chairing in another school or moving to a different school, we’d love to hear from you.

Contact Simon Richards, Chairs Development Manager at Simon.Richards@nga.org.uk


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A quick update on Learning Link. You may have noticed a new blue button underneath the Login/Logout button on the NGA website home page. Press this “Learning Link Access” button and it will take you into the Learning Link area where you can access your Learning Link subscription and also find out general details about the whole system.

We have had reports that some governors do not realise that they have access to Learning Link we would recommend that you check with your clerk whether you should have access and if they don’t know they can check with your LA, MAT or academy to check if you should have access to this valuable resource.

If you do not have access to Learning Link and think it would be useful contact Bill.Kiely@nga.org.uk to discuss your requirements.

From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 17/11/2017

Second edition of Welcome to a Multi Academy Trust out now!

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A valuable guide for newly appointed trustees of multi academy trusts, Welcome to a MAT, also offers an essential reference point for seasoned trustees, chief executives, senior leaders and clerks. It provides high-quality practical information on MAT governance structures and practice through nine packed chapters. They include: the legal role of trusteeship; what makes governance in a MAT different; and the business of the board.

To understand why it’s an important read and to find out more about what’s inside, read the latest blog by our deputy chief executive Gillian Allcroft, author of Welcome to a MAT.

“Governing at trustee level in a MAT… it’s more complex, governing an entity which covers multiple sites and in some case multiple regions makes life harder. How do trustees of such organisations ensure that they have a sufficient handle on what is going on to assure themselves everything is heading in the right direction?

The guide draws on governance practice from across sectors using the expertise NGA has developed over many years and more recently our extensive work on MAT governance”.

NGA members can purchase their copy here at the discounted price of £6. Click here to buy.

Top of page

Funding the Future: campaign update

Ahead of the budget on 22 November, 5,000 headteachers have endorsed a letter to the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, calling for an increase to school funding. On Tuesday 14 November, 70 head teachers representing over 25 counties went to Downing Street to deliver the letter which warns of the National Funding Formula’s failure to resolve regional disparities in per-pupil funding and the overall lack of investment in education.

The letter was organised by the Worth Less? Campaign and has been reported across several national newspapers; you can read more here.

The action comes amid wider calls for the government to enhance school funding across the education sector. In October, NGA wrote an open letter urging the Chancellor to use the budget to “end uncertainty surrounding education funding” and signed a joint-letter calling for additional funding to address the significant shortfall in post-16 education. Last week, the shadow secretary of state of education Angela Rayner visited NGA HQ to discuss, among other topics, the funding concerns of governors and trustees.

NGA will keep members up to date on the implications of next week’s budget. For further information on how to get involved, visit the Funding the Future campaign page.


2017 accountability measures: is your school “coasting” or below the “floor standard”?

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance on primary and secondary school accountability to include the ‘coasting’ schools definition for 2017. This is a data based accountability measure which sits alongside the floor standard as a way for the DfE to identify schools where pupil outcomes may be a concern.

The floor standard is the minimum standard that the DfE expects schools to meet; the 2017 floor standards are:

  • A primary school will be below the floor standard if less than “65% of pupils meet the expected standard in English reading, English writing and mathematics” or the school does not make the required amount of progress, which is “at least -5 in English reading, -5 in mathematics and -7 in English writing”.
  • A secondary school will be below the floor standard if: “it’s Progress 8 score is below -0.5, and the upper band of the 95% confidence interval is below zero”.

The category of ‘coasting’ school was introduced in 2016 as a way for the DfE to identify schools in which pupils “do not fulfil their potential”. Whether a school is ‘coasting’ is based on three years of data, although some schools with small cohorts/lack of pupil data will be excluded from this measure. The DfE confirmed that a school be considered to be ‘coasting’ if:

  • For secondary schools, in 2015, fewer than 60% of pupils achieved 5 A*-C at GCSE” and, in 2016 and 2017, if “the school’s progress 8 score was below -0.25”.
  • For primary schools, “in 2015, fewer than 85% of pupils achieved level 4 in English reading, English writing and mathematics and below the national median percentage of pupils achieved expected progress in all of English reading, English writing and mathematics” and, in 2016 and 2017 “fewer than 85% of pupils achieved the expected standard at the end of primary schools and average progress made by pupils was less than -2.5 in English reading, -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in English writing”.

If your school is ‘below the floor standard’ or ‘coasting’ it becomes eligible for intervention from the regional schools commissioner (RSC) or local authority; however, the context of the school will be considered before action is taken. NGA has further information on what it might mean for your school on the guidance centre.  


Trustees Week: 13 to 17 November

This week is Trustees Week, providing an opportunity to reflect on the great work that trustees do, while focusing on the importance of understanding what this role involves for those who govern on the trust board in either single academy trusts or multi-academy trusts. To mark the occasion, we have been providing links to resources through our Twitter page @NGAmedia.

There is still a degree of confusion out there on the move to governance by trusteeship, how different layers of governance work together within a trust and how being a trustee is distinct from governing in a maintained school. Our head of information, Sam Henson, has produced this useful blog on why academy trusts, and those governing in them, should be clear about roles and responsibilities in MATs.

You can also find out more on the role of trustees in academy trusts by exploring the suite of guidance on the NGA Guidance Centre on Academies, MATs and free schools.


Trustees week: Taken on Trust research of charity trustees

A new report launched at the start of trustees’ week and commissioned by the Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society, Taken on Trust, looked at the make-up, awareness and effectiveness of trustees in England and Wales.  The report makes a number of recommendations of: trustees, the Charity Commission and those providing advice and guidance to the sector. The report was commissioned in light of reports which indicated that a number of charities were finding it increasingly difficult to recruit new trustees and up to a quarter were considering stepping down.  A key aim of the report was to look at trustees own awareness of their responsibilities and competence. It found that there are approximately 700,000 charity trustees who are predominately male (2/3rds) and white (92%). In its response to the report the Charity Commission said:

“But there is no room for complacency about the state of trusteeship. Trustees do not reflect the communities charities serve. Charities are therefore at risk of missing out on the widest range of skills, experience and perspective at board level – indeed trustees themselves report lacking key skill areas, including digital. Uniformity at board level also puts charities at risk by creating a culture of “group think” where decision making can go unchallenged - something our casework bears out. Diversity of experience, approach and personality helps guard against such problems and enables any organisation to foster a culture that is conducive to good governance.”

This lack of diversity is also reflected in those governing schools and NGA will be setting up a project with the aim of increasing diversity. The vast majority of trustees are unpaid and their contribution is estimated to be worth an enormous sum of £3.5bn. NGA will be looking at the report in more detail and as ever seeing what we can take and adapt for the school governance sector (some of whom are of course already trustees).


Ongoing work to support and develop school teachers

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has announced that department for education (DfE) staff will be combining with National College for Teaching and Leadership staff to form one team designed to support teachers at “every stage of their career”. The new team forms part of ongoing work to support teachers, taking on teacher recruitment functions and support to teachers in classrooms. This announcement follows recent confirmation of other measures to recruit and retain more teachers, including:

Some of these initiatives were highlighted in evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during its session “retaining and developing the teaching workforce” on 15 November. The Committee heard concerns regarding teacher workload, health and wellbeing, the pace of change within the sector, the problems and costs of teacher recruitment and specific geographical problems impacting recruitment, such as housing costs. The Committee also looked at the government’s planned new national recruitment service, as well as considering the opportunities for more flexible working practices, such as part time working, and what these might bring in terms of attracting returner teachers to the profession.

A full transcript of the PAC session can be accessed on the House of Commons website and the Committee is expected to publish its report on retaining and developing the teaching workforce towards the end of the calendar year.


Research shines light on free school programme

A new report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) seeks to provide an assessment of the outcomes of the free schools programme. A free school is simply a brand new academy school. This research evaluates the 347 free schools “in operation” during the 2016/17 school year against some commonly cited aims of the programme:

  • Meeting the need for school places: while the greatest increase in free school places has been in areas where new places were needed, the majority of demand for new places has been met by the expansion of existing schools. Free schools have also created places in areas where there was already sufficient capacity.
  • Addressing areas of underperformance: the new places created by free schools do not appear to be concentrated in areas where there is a lack of high quality provision.
  • Serving disadvantaged pupils: while many free schools are in areas of high disadvantage, they are “not necessarily attracting disadvantaged pupils in the proportions that might be expected given the communities they serve”.
  • Providing choice for parents: free schools do not seem to be particularly popular with parents when the proportion of ‘first preference’ selections is compared with other school types. However, the longer schools have been open the higher proportion of places are allocated to ‘first preference’ applicants.
  • The researchers also looked at the outcomes for pupils at free schools and the schools’ Ofsted grades but found that there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions at this stage.

While governing boards will have their own strategy and associated performance indicators for their schools, these findings provide a useful system level overview of the free schools programme which can place individual experience in a wider perspective. Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has this week written to the department for education’s permanent secretary, Jonathan Slater, raising concerns about the costs of free school sites.

To read the report in full, click here.


Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield gives evidence to the Education Select Committee

On Tuesday, Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, gave evidence to the Education Select Committee on a range of issues, many of which will be of interest to governors.

The commissioner reported that everybody she spoke to agreed that mental health problems were increasing among children, and attributed the rise to a combination of social media, the growing complexity of life, and home problems. She called on social media companies to do more to prevent cyber bullying, while also advocating whole-school approaches to children’s mental health. NGA made similar recommendations in evidence given to the House of Commons Education and Health Select Committees’ joint inquiry into the role of education in children’s mental health in January 2017.

Responding to the issue of school behavior policies that “don’t have regard to children’s own needs”, the commissioner was keen to commit to addressing this matter further and following it up with the DfE. Governing boards, within their role of promoting good behavior to enhance learning, should be asking if the behavior policy contributes to building a happy school with a positive learning culture. The rollout of universal credit was also discussed; those governing need to be aware of the rollout and how this will affect their school and its pupils. The government is planning on releasing guidance aimed at helping schools “simplify the process” of disadvantage entitlements under universal credit.  

Finally, the commissioner expressed concern about the growing number of informal exclusions of vulnerable children, pointing out that there is a significant surge in these cases among children in years ten and eleven who are soon to take exams. Excluding pupils temporarily or permanently for non-disciplinary reasons is unlawful; governing boards need to use their oversight powers to prevent this from happening. You can read more on this topic here: Covert Selection,  


The impact of reduced funding for children and young people’s services

This week, the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) published its report, Turning the Tide highlighting levels of council funding and spending across children and young people's services, and how this is being allocated.

Governing boards have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils in their schools, which includes ensuring effective multi-agency working to address problems which children and young people might be facing.

Local authorities play a large role in this, providing intervention methods to tackle problems as they emerge and to try to prevent them from escalating. The report explores the funding issues faced by local authorities and how these have impacted the services available for children and young people. Key findings include the “growing gap between demand and resource” – analysis suggests an additional £2bn a year is required to get back to 2010 funding levels. The report goes on to state that even with these levels of funding, this does not reflect any further rises in cost of these provisions “by the end of the decade”.

The report can be read in full on the NCB’s website, here.


Amanda Spielman (HMCI) on Ofsted and further education

This week, while delivering a speech to the Association of Colleges’ annual conference, the Chief Inspector for Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, spoke favourably about the “support our sixth-formers” (SoS) campaign, which NGA supports. She stated that “I know that the AoC and other sector bodies have called for an increase in post-16 funding rates; I am sure if that materialises in this month’s budget it will be very welcome news for you all”. To find out more about this campaign, and ways to get involved, click here.


Increase in proportion of children and young people with EHC plans

Earlier this year, NGA published some new guidance on special educational needs and disabilities and the role of the governing board, this includes guidance on the production of education, health and care (EHC) plans. Earlier this month we also reported on the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) investigating complaints concerning Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans not being produced on time.

The Chief Executive of Nasen, Dr Adam Boddison, last week informed the Westminster Education Forum “that the proportion of children and young people with statements or EHCPs [Education, Health and Care plans] that attend maintained and non-maintained special schools has increased from 38% in 2007 to 45% in 2017.” The statement was followed by a disclosure that over the last 7 years, the number of special schools has reduced by 17. In response, Nasen ask the question “what proportion of children and young people with EHCPs should we expect to attend a special school to have their needs met?”

Governing boards should ensure that they monitor the progress of pupils with EHCPs, questioning the interventions that have been put in place and asking their headteacher about how well the processes that are currently in place are working and whether they require any additional support.


NGA staff blog about important issues in the run up to next week’s academies show

In the run up to the Academies Show in Birmingham on 22 November, our team has written blogs to help you learn more about the issues they will be covering, why they are important for MATs and what you can expect to gain from their session. Click here to find out more about the sessions NGA will be running on the day.

  • Recruitment Theatre Seminar: 10:00-10:30 - The right people around the table: How to build a board.

Read Judith Hicks’ blog on why getting people with the right skills is so critical to effective governance – and how to do it.

  • Learning Theatre 3: 11:35-12:20 - Welcome to a Multi Academy Trust: The role of governance in forming, joining or developing a MAT.

Sam Henson tells us how learning and sharing best practice through our Community MATs network can help grow a sustainable MAT.

  • 13.00-13.30, Hot Seat interview - Tensions in Governance: In conversation with Emma Knights, Chief Executive, National Governance Association.
  • Learning Theatre 3: 14.45-15.30 - Leading governance: the executive and non-executive role.

Clare Collins explains the confusion around executive and non-executive roles in her blog.

The NGA team will be at the Academies Show on 22 November at the NEC in Birmingham. This free event attracts delegates from all types of schools, including maintained schools, providing a platform to address the major challenges facing the sector. We highly recommend that you register your place and attend our sessions. Come and visit us at stand D47 to explore NGA’s Information Hub!

Inspiring Governance: NGA’s FREE support service

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As part of the Inspiring Governance service, NGA provide 12 months of FREE support, training and guidance to all governors/trustees appointed through Inspiring Governance.

If you have been recruited to a governing board through Inspiring Governance, you should have received details of the support service, which includes:

  • A welcome email containing a login for the guidance centre and details of the FREE support, which is available for 12 months.
  • A complimentary copy of one of our acclaimed publications; Welcome to Governance or Welcome to a MAT.
  • Access to an experienced adviser either by telephoning 0121 262 3844 or emailing inspiringgovernance@nga.org.uk.

An email from us and our partner Virtual College, providing a login and password for Learning Link to give you access to the 8 induction modules. Click on the link and start using the FREE resources for 12 months.

  • Governance: Roles & Responsibilities
  • Strategy: Vision & values
  • Your organisation: What children should be learning & staff structures
  • Progress & attainment: Understanding school data
  • Working Together: Building the team & improving the organisation
  • Effectiveness: Making an impact & changing lives
  • Compliance: Statutory responsibilities & risk
  • Resources: Finance & staffing

The Learning Link email may be in your junk folder; please check and, if you have not received it, please let us know by emailing matthew.swann@nga.org.uk.

If you are a chair or a clerk who has recruited a governor or trustee through Inspiring Governance, please ask them how they are utilising the support service and how they are progressing with the Learning Link induction modules.

For a downloadable PDF containing full details of the support service, including Learning Link and future chairs, click here.

If you have any feedback on the support service, questions or queries please email Judith Hicks – Head of Inspiring Governance on judith.hicks@nga.or.uk.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 10/11/2017

Call for immediate 5% pay rise for teachers 

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Budget statement on 22 November, Education Unions – the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the National Education Union (NEU), UCAC and Voice have made a call to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, for an immediate and fully funded 5% pay rise for teachers.

In a letter sent to the Secretary of State this week, unions expressed “grave concerns” regarding teacher supply across England and Wales, citing the School Teachers’ Review Body’s warning in its 27th pay report that this “presents a substantial risk to the functioning of an education system.”

The unions are calling on the Government to:

  • restore teachers’ pay levels to at least the levels that existed before the start of pay restraint in 2010
  • give teachers a pay rise of 5% in 2018 as a first step towards this restoration
  • make teachers’ pay a priority in discussions within government
  • provide sufficient additional funding for this increase in teachers’ pay in the Chancellor’s Budget autumn statement

For more on this topic and details of NGA’s Funding the Future campaign, click here.


New impact report reveals the impact of funding cuts on sixth form providers

On Monday 6 November, the sixth form college association (SFCA) released a report in support of the ‘support our sixth formers’ (SoS) campaign. It was based on an online survey of 441 school and college leaders in England and covered “the impact of funding cuts and cost increases on the education of sixth form students”.

The survey found that, due to funding cuts, the number of schools and colleges dropping subjects had increased by 50% (with the biggest drop in modern foreign language subjects). Furthermore, 34% or colleges had reduced the number of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects on offer. A narrowing of the curriculum also coincided with 66% of respondents offering students three instead of four A-levels “as standard”. Funding cuts have also led to cuts in ‘student support services’ (67%), with almost three quarters believing that, if more money is not made available, they will struggle to provide for disadvantaged pupils or those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Responding to the report, Emma Knights, NGA’s Chief Executive, said: “the report reflects similar messages to those conveyed in the 2017 annual NGA/Tes school governance survey, which included 822 governors and trustees of schools with sixth-forms. It provides yet more compelling evidence that current 16-19 funding is inadequate. 57.1% of respondents with sixth forms had reduced the number of subjects on offer due to funding restraints, while a quarter of respondents with sixth forms had also increased class-sizes, reduced the number of sixth-form teaching staff and reduced the number of post-16 qualifications on offer”.

As part of the campaign, seven organisations (including the NGA) wrote to the chancellor to increase FE funding ahead of the November budget. Those governing can get involved with the ‘support our sixth formers campaign’ by writing to their MPs to lobby the chancellor. Click here to read the SoS manifesto.


MPs question ministers on education issues

On Monday, ministers in the Department for Education (DfE) answered questions from MPs on a range of education issues. Topics included school budget pressures and reforms to GCSEs and A levels, with assurances given from ministers that the new harder maths GCSEs had not had a negative impact on the take-up of A level maths.

On the topic of relationships and sex education, Justine Greening stated that the DfE would issue interim guidance on dealing with sexual assault in schools this term and is updating the relationship and sex education guidance.

Concerns were raised about the accessibility of parental engagement meetings when academies are being ‘rebrokered’. Yvette Cooper highlighted the case of parents in her constituency who had been asked to travel to another town to discuss the future of their children’s school following the collapse of Wakefield City Academies Trust. In any school context, parents are key stakeholders and parental voice and involvement has a major influence on their children's achievement.  Governing boards should do everything they can to ensure parents’ views are gathered and acted upon appropriately and that the results are reported. For more information on parental engagement, download the joint NGA and PTA UK Knowing your school briefing: Engaging Parents


Skills minister sets out priorities for long-awaited careers strategy

This week, the minister for apprenticeships and skills, Anne Milton, set out four themes that will underpin the government’s forthcoming careers strategy in a speech at the Careers Education and Guidance Summit in London.

Since 2012, the statutory duty to secure access to independent careers guidance for secondary pupils has been placed on LA maintained schools, with no additional funding. In 2013, a critical report by Ofsted found provision to be patchy and ineffective with only one fifth of schools visited offering adequate careers advice.

Since then, a joint-report by the Business, Innovation and Skills and Education Select Committees published in July 2016 has urgently recommended that the government publish its careers strategy as “the system has failed too many young people for far too long.”

The four themes that will shape the government’s new careers strategy are:

  • “A high-quality careers programme in every school and college” based on the Gatsby Foundation’s benchmarks for good careers guidance.
  • “Encounters with providers and employers” with particular focus on the work of the Careers and Enterprise Company in the DfE’s 12 Opportunity Areas.
  • “Tailored advice, to meet individual needs.” Ms Milton acknowledged that the “careers profession has experienced many shocks in recent years” and that the government will look to support qualified advisers to deliver tailored guidance through the National Careers Service and other organisations.
  • Improving the use of data. Ms Milton said that “more needs to be done to make destination data easier to interpret” and that the government will look to improve this.

A full announcement is expected in the coming weeks and NGA will keep members up to date. For further guidance on the governing board’s role in supporting the quality provision of careers information and advice, visit the guidance centre.


Research on characteristics and performance of MATs

New research produced by the Education Policy Institute for Ambition School Leadership analyses the characteristics and performance of multi-academy trusts (MATs).

The main findings of the research can be briefly summarised as:

  • there are few clear relationships between outcomes and either the geographic spread or the phase mix of schools within a MAT
  • while larger MATs (with 12,000 pupils or more) show more improvements at the end of primary schools than others, this does not hold true at GCSE
  • MATs whose schools are predominantly sponsored academies show more improvements at the end of primary school (compared to those with predominantly converter academies) but are more likely to have schools judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. This is unsurprising given that sponsored academies tend to have had lower performance prior to conversion
  • none of the MATs included in the analysis were ‘high performing’ across each of the five ‘dimensions’ chosen by the researchers (these were current performance, improvement, attainment of disadvantaged pupils, Ofsted categories and expenditure)

The study also proposes a categorisation of five types of MAT based on their characteristics.

Based on the research, Ambition School Leadership has concluded that “there is no consistent combination of characteristics that makes the difference when it comes to running a sustainable MAT… no single characteristic is consistently associated with success”.  It goes on to hypothesise that “it is the coherence of a MAT’s vision, strategy and operations that predicts success”.

Given the quantitative nature of the research, it doesn’t include governance considerations in its analysis. NGA is currently undertaking its own qualitative research into MAT governance which we hope will shed more light on the experiences of and lessons learned by those governing MATs.

To read the research in full, click here.


MPs debate sexual harassment and violence in schools

NGA has previously reported on the launch of the inquiry into sexual harassment and violence in schools as well as the findings and recommendations for improving the situation. A year after the Women and Equalities Committee published its report on this subject, last week MPs debated sexual harassment and violence in schools.

The debate centred on concerns that despite the government’s response to the Committee’s report, and recognition of the scale of peer-on-peer sexual abuse of children and young people in schools, little has been done to improve the situation. MPs welcomed the government’s introduction of compulsory relationships and relationships and sex education (RSE) but were concerned about the delay in legislative force, implementation and providing guidance for schools.

Other key issues raised in the debate included the need for high-quality training for teachers – with which comes a need for further funding and resources - a clear reporting mechanism and process for dealing with sexual harassment, regulation of social media and digital communications.

Soon after this debate, Justine Greening, education secretary, announced the appointment of Ian Bauckham OBE as an adviser to the government on RSE. His role will involve engaging with key stakeholders (parents, pupils and teachers) to inform the government’s plans for RSE and personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education.

The debate can be read in full, here. NGA will also be responding to the proposals outlined in the Internet Strategy green paper and, as always, would appreciate any insight from our members regarding their views and experiences of current practice. Please email niki.gandham@nga.org.uk if you have anything you would like to share.


Data reveals a “gender divide” in terms of attitudes towards physical activity in secondary schools

On Tuesday 7 November, the Youth Sports Trust (YST) and Women in Sport released data which showed a “shocking gender divide” in attitudes towards sports and exercise in secondary schools. The data, which was based on a survey of 26,000 students aged 11-16 across 138 schools, showed that girls were more likely to have a negative perception of physical activity than boys.

The data highlighted that 56% of girls were “happy” with the amount of sport and exercise they did compared to 71% of boys. In addition, 24% of girls avoided engaging in physical activity due to work pressure or confidence issues compared to only 13% of boys. Less than half of the girls surveyed (compared to the majority of boys) believed that physical education had a “value” in terms of providing them with life skills.

Those governing in secondary schools have a responsibility to ensure that pupils are receiving a well-rounded curriculum which includes adequate physical activity provision. Governors and trustees also need to consider the wellbeing of young people in their schools, which includes promoting healthy life choices. Visit the NGA guidance centre for more information on PE and school sport in the curriculum and impacting upon pupil wellbeing.


Last chance to vote in NGA Trustee elections

Time for casting votes in the forthcoming NGA trustee elections is running out, with elections open in two NGA regions, the South East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Three candidates have been nominated in the South East (Maggi Bull, Ian Chappell and Victoria Clifford) and two in Yorkshire and the Humber (Andy Child and Brent Fitzpatrick). Only members in the relevant regions, South East and Yorkshire and the Humber are eligible to vote. NGA’s regions are those of the old government office regions.

Please note that there is only one vote per membership. If you have access to membership benefits through your governing board/local association or you are a corporate member then it is the organisation which is the member for voting purposes. This means that only one ballot form can be returned from the governing board/local association/corporate member. For governing boards/local associations the ballot form should be submitted by the chair (or person with authorisation to vote on behalf of the governing board/local association) for corporate members it should be the most senior person listed on the membership.

The ballot forms can be found here. Ballot forms must be returned to the NGA office (by post or email) by 2.00pm on 16 November 2017.


The Academies Show, Wednesday 22 November 2017: National Exhibitor Centre, Birmingham

The NGA is once again attending the Academies Show on 22 November at the NEC in Birmingham. This free event attracts delegates from all types of schools, including maintained schools, providing a platform to address the major challenges facing the sector.

Come and visit us at NGA’s Information Hub at stand D47!

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

  • Recruitment Theatre Seminar: 10:00-10:30 - The right people around the table: How to build a board
  • Learning Theatre 3: 11:35-12:20 - Welcome to a Multi Academy Trust: The role of governance in forming, joining or developing a MAT
  • 13.00-13.30, Hot Seat interview - Tensions in Governance: In conversation with Emma Knights, Chief Executive, National Governance Association
  • Learning Theatre 3: 14.45-15.30 - Leading governance: the executive and non-executive role

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

See the full show agenda here.


Clerks’ Advisory Group

NGA will be holding two meetings of the Clerks’ Advisory Group in November. While the London meeting is now full, you can still book a place for the Leeds meeting on Wednesday 22 November, 12.00 noon – 3pm. If you wish to attend, please register using the below link: 

Leeds NGA Clerks’ Advisory Group – Wednesday 22 November

The meetings are an opportunity for clerks to share best practice and raise issues they are encountering within their role with other clerks and NGA.


Free FFT webinars for school governors and trustees

School governors and trustees (or senior leaders thinking of sharing the Governor Dashboards with their governing board) are invited to view the FFT (Fischer Family Trust) Governor Dashboards and join a free webinar provided by FFT.

The FFT Aspire Overview Webinar for School Governors lasts twenty five minutes. The dates of the upcoming webinars are as follows:

  • Monday 20 November, 12.00 noon
  • Monday 20 November, 17.00
  • Tuesday 12 December, 12:00 noon
  • Tuesday 12 December, 18:00

The FFT Governor Dashboard, developed in partnership with the National Governance Association and the Wellcome Trust, is available through FFT Aspire, FFT’s reporting and data tool for schools, local authorities and academy trusts.

Through a simple dashboard, those governing can see how their school attainment and pupil progress compares to the national average, how it performs in different subjects, and whether any specific groups of pupils are under-performing.

KS1 and KS2 Governor Dashboards are available, with the latest DfE accountability changes, including FFT’s unique comparative analysis of the new and old measures. KS4 and KS5 Governor Dashboards are available showing the latest Attainment 8, Progress 8 and English Baccalaureate measures.

For more information, see this flyer from FFT. To book a place on the webinar, please click here. You can also download the joint NGA/FFT Knowing your schools briefing: The FFT Governor Data Dashboard for governors and trustees


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 03/11/2017

Governing Matters: November/December edition

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

Cover stories include:

  • A road map to excellence – The new Charity Governance Code

Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s Deputy Chief Executive, introduces the revised and updated Charity Governance Code.

  • NGA Outstanding Governance Awards

Our awards are held every two years to celebrate the very best examples of school governance in England. In previous years we have given one award for outstanding governance and one award for outstanding clerking; this year we added two extra categories.

  • NGA Outstanding Clerk Awards

NGA once again celebrates good clerking at the Oustanding Governance Awards. 

  • Asbestos in schools – Managing the risk

John Mclean introduces the work of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee

  • Data protection – Changes to the law

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply to all those who process personal data from 25 May 2018 and will replace the current Data Protection Act. Daljit Kaur, an associate at Browne Jacobson, outlines governors’ and trustees’ key new responsibilities in this area.

  • Wellbeing – One school’s approach to mental health

Angelina Robin-Jones, headteacher at North Bromsgrove High School, describes her school’s approach to tackling mental health issues.

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. To add home addresses: email membership.

Top of page

NGA Membership Survey closes on Monday 6 November

There are just three days left to share your views! Take the survey here. A big thank you to those of you who have already completed the survey.

If you have not completed the survey please take the time to consider helping us with this important research. NGA is committed to giving you the best possible value for your membership fee, so please let us know how we're doing and how we can improve our services.

This survey takes just 20 minutes to complete.

The NGA membership survey will close at 12.00pm on Monday 6 November 2017.


NGA Trustee elections – reminder to vote

Elections are open in two NGA regions, the South East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Three candidates have been nominated in the South East (Maggi Bull, Ian Chappell and Victoria Clifford) and two in Yorkshire and the Humber (Andy Child and Brent Fitzpatrick). Only members in the relevant regions, South East and Yorkshire and the Humber are eligible to vote. NGA’s regions are those of the old government office regions.

Please note that there is only one vote per membership. If you have access to membership benefits through your governing board/local association or you are a corporate member then it is the organisation which is the member for voting purposes. This means that only one ballot form can be returned from the governing board/local association/corporate member. For governing boards/local associations the ballot form should be submitted by the chair (or person with authorisation to vote on behalf of the governing board/local association) for corporate members it should be the most senior person listed on the membership.

The ballot forms can be found here. Ballot forms must be returned to the NGA office (by post or email) by 2.00pm on 16 November 2017.


Justine Greening faces questions from MPs

On Wednesday 25 October, the new House of Commons Education Select Committee held a scrutiny session with Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening. The session gave MPs the opportunity to ask questions about the full scope of work being undertaken by the Department for Education (DfE).

Key points of interest to those governing included:

  • On the DfE’s Opportunity Areas, the Secretary of State explained that they are part of a general “tilt” which sees initiatives to tackle disadvantage implemented according to local context. The approach is being piloted in a number of areas but not being a designated Opportunity Area will not restrict access to funding/programmes for other disadvantaged areas. The impact of the programme will be judged against the aims set out in each area’s plan, but given that the problems they are designed to tackle are often generations-long, the DfE expect that sustainable change will take time.
  • Following the government’s work on the impact of ethnicity on people’s lives, the DfE is doing a full review of practice on exclusions which will also look at pupils with special educational needs.
  • Justine Greening has asked Sir Theodore Agnew, the new under-secretary of state for education, to look at how MAT boards can be improved.
  • The Secretary of State agreed with MPs on the importance of high quality provision in the early years, particularly for disadvantaged pupils; however, there was disagreement on the effectiveness of the DfE’s policies, including the 30 hours childcare entitlement.
  • Asked about school funding, Justine Greening stated that the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has confirmed that the additional £1.3billion moved into the core schools budget protects per-pupil funding in real terms to the end of the spending review period. She also noted that the revised national funding formula had been broadly welcomed across the sector (see more on NGA’s school funding campaign).
  • Another priority identified during the session was post-16 education, specifically around skills and apprenticeships. The Secretary of State outlined the DfE’s work and said that the impact of changes would be monitored carefully. An updated careers strategy is expected shortly.

Also announced by the DfE on Thursday 30 October was the pledge to support new pilot programmes into flexible working and new coaching schemes to support women working in education.

NGA will continue to update members on these policies and initiatives through the newsletter and guidance.


Ofsted chiefs give evidence to the education select committee

This week, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, and Chair of Ofsted, Julius Weinberg, gave evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee.

Of particular interest, Ms Spielman outlined that she had “some level of discomfort” about Ofsted outstanding “because the noise in the sector is very clear”; a direct reference to those in favour of scrapping the grade. Yet she also conceded that “the noise from parents is in a very different place” and that Ofsted were “looking at how we reconcile” these different views. The future of the Ofsted outstanding grade was the key area of discussion in the latest round of NGA regional meetings held earlier this term. The key points from these discussions will be reported in the 2018 January/February edition of Governing Matters.

On academies, Ms Spielman reasserted her wish for Ofsted to have the power to inspect multi academy trusts (MATs) on a “whole level basis”, noting that, “the view we can get by just looking at a subset of schools in a MAT is more limited” in comparison. Responding to questions of the tension between the relationship of Ofsted and the Regional Schools Commissioners (RSC), Ms Spielman outlined that Ofsted were absolutely clear on their role but suggested that there was some “fuzziness” around the RSC’s remit.

Ms Spielman also raised some concerns around the quality of early years’ providers, despite 93% being rated “good” or “outstanding”. She stated that “the looking after children side is pretty good, the education side is not very strong”. In relation to compliance with the early years’ foundation stage framework, she also suggested that “full compliance with the framework still doesn’t mean that children are well prepared for primary school”. Ofsted will be doing more work around how “improvement on the education side” can be made.

The full evidence session can be found on parliament TV.


Analyse school performance (ASP) update

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that KS1 and Phonics data for 2017 is now available in ASP (the replacement service to RAISEonline).

KS2 Children Looked After data, including disadvantaged breakdowns, has also be added to the service. Please note, users will need to have school named access (through their Secure Access account) in order to view the new pupil list reports.

Access to ASP is via Secure Access; help with logging in is available here.

Provisional KS4 data will be added to ASP at the end of November/first week in December.


EPI and Pearson report into post-16 skills and social mobility

This week, the Education Policy Institute and Pearson have published the report Educating for our Economic Future, which outlines the key findings and wide-ranging recommendations of an Independent Advisory Group made up of business and education leaders, led by academic Professor Sir Roy Anderson.

In light of uncertainty over the supply of skilled workers following the EU referendum, the report urges the Government to equip all young people with the right skills for the future, with focus on “literacy, numeracy, digital capabilities, and employability skills.”

The study finds that there are several risks to social mobility for young people, with low productivity, stagnant wage growth and intergenerational inequality presenting significant economic challenges for the future labour market which the current education system does not address.

The report makes 15 recommendations for the government to improve post-16 education including:

  • “develop a coherent vision for post 16 education that takes into account the full range of pathways sought by young people and avoid undue focus on access to three-year undergraduate degrees at the expense of other qualifications”
  • “review the current approach to supporting low-achieving, disengaged students, and those with special educational needs”

The report finds that the consistent thread that runs through all of the recommendations is “the need for a well-trained education workforce in healthy supply to deliver education outcomes, across all phases of education.” You can read the full findings and recommendations of the report here.


Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report on Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) has investigated complaints concerning Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans. EHC Plans were introduced in 2014 to replace Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN), with local authorities given the mandate to conduct this process. Ensuring the changes imposed by the 2014 SEND Code of Practice are implemented in their school is the collective responsibility of the governing board, so this report will be of interest.

The LGO has seen a rapid increase in complaints and enquiries concerning EHC plans with numbers practically doubling between 2015/16 and 2016/17.These numbers are expected to rise again. The LGO is concerned that councils will miss the April 2018 deadline for transferring pupils from Statements of SEN to EHC plans, with only a third of those who still had statements in January 2016 being transferred by January 2017. The EHC plans which are being completed are often not produced on time, just 58.6% of new EHC plans were completed within the twenty-week timescale in 2016. This has contributed to the LGO upholding 79% of complaints, well above their usual average of 53%.

Of particular note for schools was the report’s criticism of councils for delegating the gathering of evidence on which to base the EHC assessment to schools or even parents, when it is the council’s responsibility. The report also stressed the importance of regular and open communication with both schools and parents. Governors should therefore be asking their headteacher about how well the processes that are currently in place are working and whether they require any additional support.


Funding the Future campaign: an update

NGA’s Funding the Future campaign continued over half term with deputy chief executive Gillian Allcroft writing in Schools Week that “£1.3bn more for school funding is not nearly enough.” Gillian concluded her article by saying, “School governance remains a voluntary role and the vast majority of those volunteers signed up in order to give something back – not make redundancies and cut the curriculum offer. Governors and trustees tend to be a resilient lot, and boy do we need that resilience right now.”

The article coincided with the NAHT’s mass school funding lobby on 24 October, where those with a stake in education made their views known directly to their MP. Teachers, head teachers and parents, along with politicians from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, addressed rallies before the lobby, which some NGA staff attended in their capacity as school governors. NGA also wrote to the Chancellor asking him to “end uncertainty around school funding” in the upcoming autumn budget. In reply, the Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb detailed the national funding formula and the Government’s investment in education. You can read the response here.


Allocation of PE and Sports Premium announced

On 24 October, the government released details of the allocation for the PE and sport premium as well as updated guidance for how schools can spend the funding.

As part of the government’s Childhood Obesity plan, the government are doubling the PE and sport provision in schools, from £160 million to £320 million a year. This year, schools with up to 16 eligible pupils will receive £1,000 per pupil. Those with 17 or more eligible pupils will receive a lump sum of £16,000 and £10 per additional child.

Much like the pupil premium, those governing are responsible for ensuring that the PE and sports premium is spent appropriately in their school. For more on the PE and sport premium click here.


Care Quality Commission review of mental health services

NGA previously reported on the prime minister’s promise to implement a package of measures to improve mental health services for children and young people. Part of that package includes the review of mental health services by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who have now conducted and reported on the first phase.

Specifically relating to schools, the report highlights that:

  • children and young people said their experience of care was negatively impacted by staff in schools and GP practices who were not adequately trained
  • recruitment and retention are significant challenges across the whole system of mental health services
  • staff workload can make it difficult for school staff to provide the support that children and young people need
  • schools-based mental health support is valued but often unavailable. Children and young people reported that they would like schools-based counselling to be more readily available in other ways, such as online

It is expected that the full thematic review will be published in March 2018.

Governing boards have legal duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils at their schools, which includes mental health and wellbeing. Dr Pooky Knightsmith, director of the Children, Young People and Schools Programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, provided some tips for governing boards to promote mental health in their schools in the 2016 Nov/Dec issue of Governing Matters. You can also read NGA’s evidence on the role of education in children and young people’s mental health, submitted to House of Commons Education and Health Select Committees earlier this year.


Looked-after children being deprived of school places

This week, the BBC reported on a group of politicians and officials from Oxfordshire who have highlighted schools that are failing in their responsibility to give looked-after children priority when it comes to school admissions. The group identified instances in Oxfordshire where children have waited up to 77 days for admission to school while also recognising that the issue is not isolated to Oxfordshire.

Those involved have written to the schools minister, Nick Gibbs, calling for an amendment of the law to ensure that the most vulnerable children are admitted into schools more quickly and smoothly. Nick Gibb, responded by noting that the secretary of state can “be asked to intervene to force admissions” and eluded that the issue may be considered when the admissions code is reviewed.

NGA has produced various guidance documents on admissions which can be accessed here.


Support our Sixth Formers: Day of action on Friday 10 November

On Friday 10 November, the Support Our Sixth-Formers (SoS) campaign, supported by the NGA, is organising a “day of action” in which school leaders, including those governing, are being encouraged to meet their local MPs at a single institution. The aim of this is to encourage MPs to support the SoS campaign which calls for £200 uplift per 16-19 student and a review of sixth-form spending to make sure that the provision currently in the system is enough to deliver a “rounded, high quality curriculum”.

Although many MPs diaries may already be fully booked now for 10 November, governing boards are still encouraged to write to their MP to raise the issue in their localities.

For more information on the campaign read the joint-manifesto.


Clerks’ Advisory Group

NGA will be holding two meetings of the Clerks’ Advisory Group in November. While the London meeting is now full, you can still book a place for the Leeds meeting on Wednesday 22 November, 12.00 noon – 3pm. If you wish to attend, please register using the below link: 

Leeds NGA Clerks’ Advisory Group – Wednesday 22 November

The meetings are an opportunity for clerks to share best practice and raise issues they are encountering within their role with other clerks and NGA.


Young Governors’ Network: 29 November, London

NGA is kicking off a new round of YGN meetings this term, starting in London on 29 November.

After a successful year-long pilot, we are pleased to announce that we will continue to run the Young Governors’ Network and are looking at extending the network meetings to other regions in England, as well as providing online opportunities to continue discussions. Further details will be shared via the NGA newsletter, but in the meantime, if you would be interested in hosting a YGN meeting in your region, please get in touch with us at ygn@nga.org.uk.

If you are a young governor or trustee (under 40) and will be in London on 29 November, book a free place for the meeting here. If you have a young governor or trustee on your board please pass the invite on.

Find out more at www.nga.org.uk/ygn.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 20/10/2017

School funding update: mass lobby next week

NGA continues to represent the concerns of governors and trustees on school funding and last week we wrote to the Chancellor asking him to end uncertainty around school funding in the upcoming autumn budget. Those governing can also make their views known directly to their MP as part of mass lobby, organised by the NAHT. On 24 October teachers, parents and school leaders from across the country will come together to meet with their MP and ask them to encourage the Chancellor to provide for sufficient funding for schools. Follow events on the day using the hashtag #TellTheChancellor.


Inspector’s perspective on a short inspection

Those wondering what to expect from one of Ofsted’s short inspections of ‘good’ schools may be interested in recent blogs by the inspectorate (by Dan Owen and Ann Pritchard). These blogs provide an inspector’s perspective of how the days are conducted.

Ofsted are currently consulting on changes to short inspections and NGA is grateful to all those who have shared their views at this autumn’s regional meetings. If you would like to feed in to NGA’s consultation response, get in touch with Fay: fay.holland@nga.org.uk.

NGA Guidance Centre: Ofsted.


MAT Development and Improvement Fund

The Department for Education (DfE) has introduced a new fund to support multi-academy trusts (MATs) improve schools and increase social mobility.

The fund is open to existing trusts that plan to take on and improve at least two additional schools and to those planning on forming a new MAT which takes on and improves two schools or more. 

Examples of activities the funding can be used for include: setting up or expanding organisational structures, providing training for the leadership team, and paying for staff to work across the trust. There are a number of specified priority areas in each region and applications are open until 26 November.


First findings released from SEND Inspections

In May 2016 Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) started to conduct government commissioned inspections looking at the effectiveness of local areas in fulfilling their duties under the special educational needs and disability (SEND) code of practice. A report has now been published detailing the main conclusions from the first year of inspections. The findings so far may give those governing ideas about the issues they need to explore with their senior leadership team in relation to SEND.

Of the thirty local areas inspected so far, nine (nearly one third) have been required to provide a written statement of action (WSOA) to address the concerns of inspectors about the ability of an area to meet its SEND duties. The report concluded that children requiring SEND support had not benefited “well enough” from the new code of practice which came into force in 2014.

Other findings include an “alarming number” of school leaders illegally using unofficial exclusions to cope with SEND pupils. Accessibility to therapy services was a weakness in half of the areas inspected, while access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were poor in over a third of local areas. It was also found that over a third of local areas did not sufficiently involve SEND children and their parents in planning and reviewing their provision, an issue certainly relevant to schools.

The NGA has specific resources for helping governors meet their SEND duties available in the Guidance Centre.


DfE evaluation of teachers’ pay reform

The Department for Education (DfE) has published an Evaluation of Teachers’ Pay Reform – a report looking at the impact of changes to pay policies for teachers’ and school leaders’ which came into effect in LA maintained schools in September 2014. These changes were voluntary in academies and free schools. A key feature of the reforms was the introduction of performance-related pay (PRP).

The report features analysis of a survey of 900 headteachers, a survey of 1020 teachers, case studies across 8 schools and data analysis of the Schools Workforce Census (SWC) over the period 2010 - 2015.

The key findings include:

  • on the adoption of pay reforms: 99% of LA maintained primary and secondary schools and 62% of academies have implemented pay reforms
  • on teachers’ views on pay reforms: 66% of teachers surveyed thought that their school’s current pay policy had added to their workload
  • on impact on recruitment and retention: 33% of headteachers surveyed said that pay reforms had already had a positive impact on their ability to keep their existing teachers; most headteachers interviewed for case-studies said it was too early to tell the impact on recruitment and retention

The report concludes that “the introduction of pay reforms appears to have gone smoothly”. It finds that whilst there is some evidence of increased variance in annual teacher pay awards, the effects of reforms to pay must be considered in the context of the public sector pay freeze.

Within their role, governing boards should question what their pay policy says about performance and progression and look at the correlation between appraisal outcomes, pay, and the quality of teaching and learning in their school.

You can read more about pay on the NGA Guidance Centre.


Secondary school governors and trustees: How does your school spend its catch-up premium?

On 17 October, the Department for Education updated its guidance on strategies schools can employ to spend the year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium effectively. This money is given to schools “to support year 7 pupils who did not achieve the expected standard in reading or maths at the end of key stage 2”.

The guidance, produced by the DfE, covers several “interventions” that can be used to raise year 7 pupils’ attainment. These include: “literacy interventions”, “summer schools and Saturday classes”, “oral language interventions”, “reading comprehension interventions”, “writing interventions”, “blended literacy interventions” and “numeracy interventions”. For each of these strategies, the document outlines what they are, how effective they are (based on academic evidence), how much they cost and any additional considerations. The DfE also outline some strategies schools can use to ensure a smooth transition from primary to secondary schools for young people.

In 2017-18, schools will receive the same amount of year 7 catch-up premium as they received in 2016-17 (with some variation based on difference in cohort size). To check how much your school received, click here. Like the pupil premium, those governing should hold the leadership team to account for how catch-up premium money is spent and ensure that it is being effectively targeted to reach the correct pupils.


Childline annual review published

Childline has published its annual review, detailing the key things learnt by the organisation as it provided more than 295,000 counselling sessions during 2016-17. The report is valuable for governors/trustees as it exposes some of the changing and “unprecedented challenges” being faced by children, while providing details on how to access help.

The most common topic children contacted Childline about was their mental and emotional health. The impact anxiety is having on children is increasing at an alarming rate; there was a 17% increase in counselling sessions about anxiety compared to 2015-16, with a 59% increase compared to 2014-15. Some young people identified events “such as presentations and exams” as triggers, whereas others were confused about the causes. The report noted that many young people found it very difficult to ask for help, while others felt support was lacking.

Other trends highlighted by the report included a 15% rise in counselling about suicidal thoughts and feelings, producing the highest number of sessions on the subject ever. Counselling sessions about suicidal thoughts and feelings are now at over double the levels seen in 2010-11. Sexting was another growing problem, with views to the Childline webpage on the topic increasing by 20%.

The NGA’s guidance centre offers support to governors in addressing the issues highlighted by the report, including online safety and children’s emotional wellbeing.


Pupil absence rates: DfE latest data release

The Department for Education (DfE) has released the latest data on pupil absence rates in England, covering the period between autumn 2016 to autumn 2017.

The key findings from the data release are:

  • overall absence rates are relatively stable, increasing by 0.1% between 2015/16 and 2016/17
  • the number of unauthorised absences has risen by 0.2%, partly “due to increased levels of unauthorised family holiday and other unauthorised absence”
  • the number of persistently absent children has risen by 0.1%
  • as in previous years, the most common reason for absence was illness (60.1% of all absences)

Those governing should be aware of the absence rates in their schools, and question how attendance in each year group compares with national averages, looking specifically at trends over time. . Any concerns, or worrying trends, should be raised with executive leaders at the appropriate governing board meetings. You can find out more about absence rates in schools by going to the DfE school performance tables. Visit the NGA guidance centre for more information on ASP.


Improvement in early years foundation stage development levels

On Thursday the Department for Education published the 2017 Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) profile results. The results show an increase in the percentage of children achieving “a good level of development” and a decreasing gender gap that continues to sees girls outperform boys overall, but with boys improving at a faster rate.

70.7% of pupils met the department’s definition of “good level of development” - based on achieving expected levels within communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy and mathematics. While 69% of pupils, an increase of 1.7% when compared to 2016, achieved “at least expected in all 17 learning goals” – the knowledge, skills and understanding pupils are expected to have by the end of the academic year in which they turn five.


New postgraduate teaching apprenticeship announced

This week, the government announced a new “postgraduate teaching apprenticeship”. This new programme, which will run alongside the existing routes into teaching (including Schools Direct), will be available to university graduates from September 2018. Those on the programme will be offered a wage equivalent to an unqualified teacher.

Schools will be able to use their apprenticeship levy to fund new teaching apprentices in their schools. For more information on the apprenticeship levy, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


Are you a MAT trustee or clerk?

NGA’s Community MATs network is an opportunity for multi-academy trust (MAT) trustees and clerks to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in governing a group of academies.

The first network meeting of this school year will be on Friday 17 November in central Birmingham: click here to book a place. Topics will build on some of the governance and wider MAT issues highlighted at previous network meetings including communication, accountability and being strategic.

Dates will be announced for forthcoming events in Taunton, Sheffield, Liverpool and London shortly. If you have any questions about the network or would like to suggest a topic for the agenda, get in touch by emailing Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


Mentoring Skills Courses for National Leaders of Governance

NGA is pleased to be working with the National College of Teaching & Leadership (NCTL) to offer National Leaders of Governance (NLG’s) the opportunity to attend mentoring skills courses.

This is an element of the inspiring governance project Future Chairs which aims to offer future chairs a mentor for 12 months.

National Leaders of Governance can attend the mentoring skills course and become an inspiring governance mentor and this work will contribute to their deployments.

The courses will be running in the following locations:

  • Stoke on Trent - Thursday 16th November 2017
  • Birmingham - Thursday 23rd November 2017
  • Liverpool - Wednesday 29th November 2017
  • Brent, Ealing & Barnet - Monday 4th December 2017
  • Plymouth - Thursday 18th January 2018
  • Blackpool - Friday 26th January 2018

The final agenda and venue will be circulated nearer the time. Interested in attending? Please get in touch by contacting: 

Simon Richards, Chairs’ Development Manager

M: 07799 908302

E: simon.richards@nga.org.uk

Judith Hicks, Head of Inspiring Governance

M: 07766 491655

E: judith.hicks@nga.org.uk


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 13/10/2017

Amanda Spielman commentary on Ofsted’s curriculum research

This week, the chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, published a commentary on preliminary research findings into the primary and secondary curriculum. Earlier this year, Spielman announced that curriculum design, development and implementation would be among the research priorities for Ofsted. Spielman writes that one motivation for this focus was “to know whether inspection has played a role in bending the curriculum out of shape”.

The first phase of the curriculum review included research visits to 40 schools, reviews of school inspection reports, focus group discussions across five regions with headteachers and parent questionnaires. The emerging findings point to “waning” expertise in curriculum planning in schools which has had three main consequences:

  1. The primary curriculum is narrowing in some schools: Spielman outlines that some primary schools have set aside time for SATs preparation which has reduced overall teaching time. Primary school leaders also highlighted that workload issues related to the pace of change has deprioritised curriculum planning and the time set aside for it.
  2. Some school leaders have “misunderstood the purpose of key stage 3”: The research findings show that some schools have reduced the length of key stage 3 to just two years, with pupils selecting their subject options for GCSE at the end of year 8. It was also found that some schools have restricted pupil’s access to certain subjects to focus on English and Maths, with the rationale of improving performance in the new style GCSEs.
  3. In some secondary schools, the curriculum for lower attaining pupils often reduces their ability to study EBacc subjects: Spielman outlines that some leaders of schools with high levels of disadvantage view the government’s performance measures, EBacc and Progress 8 as a constraint which has allowed for less flexibility and forces pupils on to an academic track. Spielman counters this assumption and suggests that no pupil should be restricted from accessing EBacc subjects, which has been found to happen in some schools.

Spielman notes that “many school leaders are aware of concerns and are working to revitalise curriculum thinking”. She praises the work of the Association of School and College Leaders’ (ASCL) commission into ethical leadership, on which NGA sits. More findings from Ofsted’s curriculum review will be published in late spring 2018. For further guidance on the curriculum, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


NGA writes to Chancellor on school funding

NGA has today sent a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlining the difficulties with school budgets and seeking additional funding for schools. NGA would encourage those of you who share these concerns about the level of funding available to write to your MP. You may wish to forward our letter, but it will carry much more weight if you explain the difficulties your governing board is having in balancing the budget at your school and the effect this is likely to have on the education of the pupils.

NGA has been asked by some members whether we will be coordinating a lobby of Parliament; those of you who wish to be active on this issue are invited to join with other interested parties – parents, teachers and school leaders – at their lobby of Parliament on October 24th. The National Association of Headteachers has produced a briefing which may be useful for you or your headteacher.

There is also a national network of parent activists around the country who are setting up independent parent-led groups attached to schools in their local area, campaigning for more funding for all schools across the country. If there are any parents at your school that may be interested in getting involved, they can find out more by contacting info@fairfundingforallschools.org or visiting the website at www.fairfundingforallschools.org and Twitter at @fairfundschools

NGA’s own funding project Funding the Future is kept up to date with useful information. Please let us know what you are doing about school finances: Shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk

We have also joined with other organisations to raise the inadequacy of sixth form funding with HM Treasury.


Department for Education finances scrutinised

The Public Accounts Committee held an evidence session on the finances of the Department for Education (DfE). During this, the Permanent Secretary to the DfE, Jonathan Slater, was asked about the additional £1.3 billion that has been moved into the core schools budget. He said that this represented a reprioritisation by ministers, who had chosen to move this money from other sources such as the healthy pupils capital funding. Mr Slater said that he was not anticipating changes to the national funding formula following the two year transitional phase and that he expects local authorities to use flexibility to draw on surpluses in their areas. Chief Executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Peter Launer, said that the agency sees issues with related party transactions in a small minority of trusts and that where they emerge they are investigated and dealt with rigorously.

The committee have not yet published the transcript of the session but it is available to watch on the parliament website.

While NGA welcomes the DfE’s recognition of the need for additional funding, we will continue our Funding the Future campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased to improve the provision of education to children and young people.


Department for Education releases provisional data on GCSE (or equivalent) outcomes

On 12 October, the Department for Education (DfE) released provisional data on GCSE (or equivalent) outcomes for 2016 and 17. The provisional data outlines how well secondary schools did against the KS4 headline measures, which are: attainment and progress 8; Ebacc entry and attainment; and the number of students achieving grade 5 or more in English and maths. More details on the KS4 headline measures can be found on the NGA guidance centre.

The key findings are:

  • The average attainment 8 score for each pupil has fallen by 3.8 points in state schools. The (provisional) average attainment 8 score for each pupil is now 46.0.
  • Overall Ebacc entry is down by 1.5% compared to 2016. This year, 38.1% entered for the Ebacc and 21.1% achieved the qualification. The Ebacc is made up of five subjects including a language. Interestingly, the number of pupils entering for four Ebacc subjects rose by 6.2%. The majority (80.4%) of those that took four Ebacc subjects were missing the language element.
  • The percentage of students achieving a level 5 or above in maths and English was 42.2% in state funded schools. As this is a new measure, there is no comparative data.

For those governing, the data gives an early indication of how a school has fared against the national average in terms of headline performance measures. For a more detailed overview, the data is also broken down by individual subject (Ebacc subjects only), gender, school type and local authority area. The data release can be found here.


Headteacher board election outcomes

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced the outcomes of the headteacher board elections, with 32 academy leaders elected to the eight headteacher boards.

The role of headteacher boards is to advise regional schools commissioners (RSCs) on the decisions they make, such as approving a school joining a multi academy trust (MAT) or intervening in an underperforming school. Only leaders of high performing academies are eligible to stand in headteacher board elections.

Since this system was established in 2014, NGA has repeatedly expressed reservations about the name and membership of these advisory boards. Given their remit, such boards require a wider range of skills and experience than headteacher-only boards. Each RSC has the option to appoint two additional members based on skills and NGA hopes to see this used to bring in governance expertise. Additionally, there are significant conflicts of interests where members of the headteacher boards are employed by MATs which may be potential sponsors or other schools which may be affected by decisions. NGA will continue to discuss these issues with the DfE.


Action promised on peer on peer abuse in schools

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, schools minister Nick Gibb was grilled about why no updates to guidance had been made about protecting pupils from peer on peer abuse despite the committee raising this as a serious issue in its report on sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools in October 2016.

The committee were concerned about the lack of clear protocols, noting that current guidance does not specifically state that pupils who have abused other pupils will not be kept in the same class as their victims.

Responding, the Minister said that the Department for Education (DfE) intends to open a consultation on changes to ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ later this term which would then come into force in September 2018. He also said that the DfE would issue interim guidance later this term.

Under the current statutory guidance, governing boards have a duty to ensure that their policy minimises the risk of peer on peer abuse and outlines how allegations will be dealt with. In addition to discussing this with senior leaders, governing boards should engage appropriately with pupils, parents and staff to ensure that policies are having the desired impact day-to-day.

Guidance centre: pupil wellbeing.


Action plan for the delivery of new T-levels starting in 2020

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has published an action plan for post-16 T-level (technical level) qualifications. These will be introduced alongside apprenticeships and A-levels to give students more options upon completing their GCSEs.

The report outlines that T-levels will be level three qualifications. The aim of the qualification will be to give young people the “knowledge, skills and behaviours necessary to start skilled employment in an occupation related to their field of study”. All T-level programmes will be “substantial” and “high quality” courses equivalent to three A-levels in size. Although T-levels will be set to the same standards as apprenticeships, they will be more “classroom based” than apprenticeships. Nevertheless, they will still all include a “substantial work placement with an employer … to help students put into practice the knowledge and skills they have learnt in the classroom”.

The first T-levels will be ready for delivery by 2020, across three ‘pathways’: digital, construction, and education and childcare. Other T-level pathways will follow in 2021 and 2022.

Those governing, particularly in secondary schools, need to ensure that the school provides impartial careers advice to students – which includes information on technical qualifications. New legislation, introduced through the Technical and Further Education Act 2017, will come into force in 2018. This will “require schools to give education and training providers the opportunity to talk directly to pupils in years 8 to 13 about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships that they may offer”.

Click here to find out more about careers advice on the NGA website.


Get prepared for GDPR: DfE issue model privacy notice

Last week, the department for education (DfE) released updated model privacy notices for “schools and local authorities to issue to staff, parents and pupils about the collection of data”. These documents can be used to let relevant stakeholders know how schools process data and how personal data about oneself can be accessed.

To access the model privacy notices, click here.

These model privacy notices were updated to “help schools comply” with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which will come into force on 25 May 2018. These new regulations will introduce stringent new mandatory procedures for data management in the United Kingdom. Schools need to ensure compliance with the GDPR or risk substantial financial penalties from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

For more information on the GDPR, visit the Browne Jacobson website which includes a free video on ‘how to implement GDPR in your school’. GOLD members who want bespoke advice on implementing the GDPR in their school can contact the NGA advice line at gold@nga.org.uk or by calling 0121 237 3782.


Opportunity area plans unveiled

The Department for Education (DfE) has published delivery plans for six of its 12 ‘opportunity areas’.

Governors and trustees in the following areas may be interested in reading the plans:

The NGA is disappointed to see so little reference to improving governance in the plans, particularly given that the DfE has commissioned Inspiring Governance to pilot the Future Chairs recruitment service in several of these areas; to find out more about this initiative, contact Simon Richards (simon.richards@nga.org.uk).


Gap between extra-curricular provision and take-up

A new report by the Sutton Trust highlights “substantial gaps between the provision of clubs and activities reported by teachers, and actual take-up by pupils”. It found that almost two in every five young people aged 11-16 surveyed did not take part in any clubs or activities.

For example, while 78% of teachers report that volunteering programmes are available to pupils in their schools, only 8% of pupils take part. When it comes to debating, the figures were 45% and 2% respectively.

Providing clubs and activities is one way in which schools can enrich pupils’ experiences and help them to develop skills and interests. As well as looking at the range of extra-curricular activities their school provides, governing boards should consider the take-up of these activities, whether this is lower among particular groups of pupils and any potential barriers which the school could address.

NGA’s questions for governing boards to ask: Extra-curricular provision.


Report on careers and enterprise provision in English schools

This week, the Careers and Enterprise Company, a community interest company set up by government in 2015, has published its report State of the Nation 2017: Careers provision in England’s schools. The findings are based on 578 schools completing the Compass self-assessment tool, which offers insights into the quality and delivery of careers provision. The Compass tool was developed jointly by The Careers & Enterprise Company and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and is based on recommendations of the Good Career Guidance Report published by Sir John Holman in 2014.

The Gatsby benchmarks of Good Career Guidance include “a stable careers programme, addressing the needs of each pupil, linking curriculum learning to careers, encounters with employers and employees and personal guidance”.

The report finds that:

  • 79.4% of schools achieved at least one Benchmark
  • 51.0% achieved two or more Benchmarks
  • the average number of Benchmarks achieved was 1.8
  • the most common Benchmark was personal guidance which was offered by 45.9% of schools

The report includes case studies of good practice and several recommendations. For school leaders, the implementation of a “clear strategy and the allocation of appropriate resources to the schools’ career and enterprise programme” is recommended for long-term improvement. You can read the report in full here.

Governing board should be asking questions of their senior leaders about the careers provision in their school. For further guidance on careers, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


IPPR report on the link between school exclusion and social exclusion

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published a research report on breaking the link between exclusion from school and social exclusion. The report examines the impact of school exclusion in later life for young people and the role that the workforce (schools, public services etc.…) can play in addressing this problem. It identifies that excluded children are the most vulnerable in society, with those who are in the care of the state twice as likely, special education needs pupils seven times more likely, and those suffering from a recognised mental health problem ten times more likely, to be excluded.

Key findings of the report include:

  • every cohort of permanently excluded pupils will go on to cost the state an extra £2.1 billion in education, health, benefits and criminal justice costs
  • despite only 6,685 reported permanent exclusions last year, 48,000 of the most vulnerable pupils were education in the alternative provision sector, which caters for excluded students
  • once a child is excluded, they are twice as likely to be taught by an unqualified teacher and twice as likely to have a supply teacher

The report recommends a new programme should be established, which: develops expertise in the profession, connects exceptional teachers to schools for excluded children, and creates a community of leaders to drive increasing inclusion throughout the education system.

Read the report in full here.

Governing boards should ensure they receive timely information about the number of pupils subject to fixed and permanent exclusions. See the recent Governing Matters article on the update to the exclusions guidance.


EEF update early year’s toolkit

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published its latest update to the early year’s toolkit. The toolkit provides an accessible summary of educational research for early years teaching, reflecting the latest evidence from research by the education policy institute.

Some of the main highlights from the update are as follows:

  • play-based learning approaches has helped to increase the average impact on attainment from +3 months additional progress to +5 months
  • the impact on attainment of early numeracy approaches has increased from
    +5 months additional progress to +6 months

Any decision about whether to provide or expand school based early years provisions must be for the governing board to determine. In order to make an educated decision, and where appropriate, governing boards need to have knowledge of early years teaching and the options available.

The EEF’s early year’s toolkit can be accessed here.


Government publish findings of audit into the impact of ethnicity in schools and other public services

On Tuesday, the government published the results of an audit into the impact of ethnicity on people’s lives. Theresa May claimed the study was an “essential resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustice.”

The audit has shed light on the problems facing schools. Ethnicity heavily influences attainment throughout children’s time in education. By the end of key stage two, 84% of Chinese students had achieved the expected standard in writing, compared to 74% of White British students and just 29% of White Gypsy/Roma pupils. At GCSE level, 67% of Asian students attained A* to C in math and English compared to 63% of White students and 59% of Black students. At A-Level, 24% of Chinese students achieved 3 A grades or better compared to 11% of White students and 5% of Black students. The government also publicised the results of older studies, including the troubling fact that Black Caribbean students are permanently excluded at three times the rate of White pupils.

Among the poorest pupils, White students had the weakest attainment at age eleven. 32% of White pupils receiving free school meals reached the expected standard in reading, writing and math at the end of key stage two, compared to 42% of Black students receiving free school meals and 44% of Asian students receiving free school meals.

Schools and governors can find the results of the audit concerning education here. The school’s Analyse School Performance data will also provide a breakdown of the results by ethnicity for your particular school(s). Department of Education advice for schools about their duties under the 2010 Equalities Act is available here.


Schools ‘double enter’ pupils for maths GCSE

An investigation by Tes has revealed that “almost 500 students were entered for maths GCSE with more than one exam board this summer”, a practice it describes as ‘double entering’. 31 schools are believed to be involved. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) is already investigating 15 schools believed to have ‘double entered’ pupils in the 2016 maths GCSEs for potential malpractice.

Tes suggests that pressure from performance tables and accountability measures is leading schools to ‘double enter’ pupils in order to improve their pass rates. While entering pupils in two qualifications in the same subject is not malpractice in itself, altering the GCSE timetable so that pupils can sit more than one exam in the same subject is not permitted. GCSE maths exams are scheduled for the same time irrespective of the exam board, therefore schools would need to alter the timetable in order to ‘double enter’ students in maths.

Asking pupils to sit additional exams in the same subject raises concerns both about teaching of that subject and about pupil wellbeing. Governing boards should ask questions of their senior leaders about exam entries to assure themselves that proper practice is being followed.


Internet safety strategy green paper

This week, the government published its green paper outlining its proposals on internet safety to “make Britain the safest place in the world to be online”. The government’s strategy aims to foster a coordinated, strategic approach to online safety across the country but specifically relating to education, it proposes that the Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS):

  • intends (subject to consultation) to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education compulsory in all schools from September 2019
  • will ensure that new compulsory subjects address the challenges faced by young people who use the internet and that ‘online safety’ is a specific feature of content – again subject to consultation
  • will expect ‘digital literacy’ and ‘digital citizenship’ to form part of compulsory relationships education relationships and sex education and/or compulsory PSHE
  • will continue to ensure schools are well supported by signposting to relevant materials and providing clear guidance about their responsibilities in relation to cyberbullying
  • will revise the statutory guidance, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’, to reinforce schools’ safeguarding duties and responsibilities regarding online safety, which the DfE is expected to consult on this autumn

Governing boards have legal duties to safeguard and promote children’s welfare. As part of their responsibilities, governing boards should establish policies and practices which promote online safety and ask questions of their leaders about how effective these are in their schools. The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has produced guidance about the types of information they should be receiving from school leaders and questions to ask them.

NGA will be responding to the proposals outlined in the green paper and, as always, would appreciate any insight from our members regarding their views and experiences of current practice. Please email niki.gandham@nga.org.uk if you have anything you would like to share.


Head Teacher Performance Management training and consultancy service support

We’re approaching that time of year where many of you will be thinking about headteacher appraisal, so we thought we’d highlight what the NGA can offer to support in this process.

We offer both a training session and consultancy service on headteacher performance management.

The training service aims to increase governor or trustee knowledge and awareness of staff appraisals. How staff are performance managed in schools and academies and how to ensure the governing board is confident to perform its role effectively. We cover the legal position, the principles of appraisal and teacher standards and the setting of objectives, as well as performance related pay. Our workshop explores performance management as a whole, examining the opportunities and pitfalls of the process as well as focusing on the governing board’s role in performance management of the headteacher or other senior executive leaders.

The consultancy service offers governing boards and their panels with support with all aspects of the appraisal itself. This can include initial training, bespoken to use the policies and circumstances of the school and a full external advisor service with attendance at the appraisal meeting and reporting.

HTPM is one of the most important parts of the governance role and getting it right is key to governing board effectiveness. Therefore, if you think you and your governing board need support and want to know more about what we do then please email: consultancy@nga.org.uk


South East Regional Conference: PowerPoints now online

Thank you to everyone who attended the South East Regional meeting on Saturday 7 October 2017.

Emma Knights, NGA’s chief executive, opened proceedings by speaking on the state of school governance in England. NGA was delighted to welcome Heidi Leung, from Fischer Family Trust (FFT), to explore the use of school data. NGA’s Claire Collins also delivered a practical session on headteacher performance management and NGA’s Shelby Roberts ran a focus group on what qualitative key performance indicators are important to governing boards to help governors and trustees measure what they value.

The PowerPoint slides are now available for members on the NGA website and a full roundup of the day will feature in the November/December edition of Governing Matters.


Annual Conference and AGM, 18 November 2017, Birmingham near NEC

FREE to attend for members*

Our national conferences allow members to hear the latest news on a range of issues as well as providing opportunities to network and share best practice.

As volunteers, those governing often do not have the resources to attend education conferences which may cost hundreds of pounds per delegate. As part of your membership with NGA, you are entitled to FREE places at our events.

Join us at our Annual Conference and AGM on Saturday 18 November 2017 in Birmingham. Come and listen to an exciting line up of keynote speakers focusing on current issues affecting school governance at local and national levels, as well as visiting a wide range of exhibitors.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

  • Professor Julius Weinberg, Chair of Ofsted
  • Geoff Barton, General Secretary, ASCL
  • Emma Knights, Chief Executive, NGA
  • Lemn Sissay MBE, Poet and Broadcaster

The conference will be followed by our Annual General Meeting at 3.30pm. The notice for the AGM can be found on the website along with proxy forms, the minutes from the AGM 2016 and the annual accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2017.

Don’t forget to register your place!

Lunch will be provided.

*Please see membership T&Cs for further details on places available to membership categories


Clerks’ Advisory Group

The next meetings of the Clerks’ Advisory Group will be held in Leeds and London.

The meetings are an opportunity for clerks to share best practice and raise issues they are encountering within their role with other clerks and NGA.

If you wish to attend a meeting, please register: 

Leeds – Wednesday 22 November

12.00 noon - 3:00pm

London – Tuesday 28 November

12.00 noon - 3:00pm

For more information please email rani.kaur@nga.org.uk.


Community MATs network: join us in Birmingham!

Following an eventful first year of NGA's Community MAT network, we are delighted to confirm that the network is back, with three events planned for the year ahead. We will be holding the first network meeting for 2017/18 in central Birmingham on Friday 17 November.

This is a chance for trustees and clerks of multi academy trusts (MATs) to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in governing a group of academies. The event is free to members: click here to book a place.

Topics will build on some of the governance and wider MAT issues highlighted at previous network meetings including communication, accountability and being strategic. If you are involved in governing a MAT and would like to suggest a topic for the agenda, get in touch by emailing Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 06/10/2017

Launch of the NGA annual members’ survey

NGA’s Annual Membership Survey is now open!

We won’t be asking you the same questions we asked in the NGA/TES survey; the primary purpose of this survey is to gauge members’ views on the products and services NGA offer. 

As a membership organisation, it is vital that we know whether we are representing your views and providing you with the support you need. NGA is committed to giving you the best possible value for your membership fee, so please let us know how we are doing and how we can improve our services. It would be really helpful if as many members as possible could respond to the survey.

The survey is available to members only and takes just 20 minutes to complete. It closes on Monday 6 November 2017, 12.00 noon.

Take the survey!


New measures announced in Justine Greening speech to Conservative Party Conference

This week, the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, announced a series of new education measures during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

Ms Greening outlined priorities in education inequality, with focus on boosting literacy and numeracy, and targeted support for regions and subject areas that struggle to recruit and retain high quality teachers.

On addressing education inequality, the new measures include:

  • £12 million funding for a network of new English hubs starting in the North of England to improve literacy
  • an extra £6 million into the existing Maths hubs programme
  • a “new focus” for the £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) to boost literacy and numeracy at Reception

On boosting teacher recruitment and retention, the new measures include:

  • £30 million in “tailored support” to get teachers into schools struggling with the recruitment and retention of teachers
  • a student loan “forgiveness” pilot in regions that struggle to recruit high quality teachers, initially targeted to attract 800 modern foreign language and 1700 science teachers
  • new style bursaries for trainee maths teachers with £20000 upfront and further increments in years 3 and 5 of teaching

Both funding and recruitment remain primary concerns of governors and trustees according to the 2017 NGA/TES survey. While those governing want to recruit, retain and develop staff, funding pressures are acting in the opposite direction with a worrying number already having cut resources for professional development and others considering the same over the coming year.  As part our Funding the Future campaign, NGA will write to the Chancellor to outline the immediate priorities for governors and trustees ahead of the autumn budget. 


‘A force for improvement’: Ofsted sets out strategy

Ofsted has set out a new five year strategy based around the principle of being “a force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation”.

The key points for schools are that Ofsted will work to:

  • understand the consequences of inspection, its impact on workload, mitigate against perverse incentives and “not allow leaders to misrepresent Ofsted policy as a way to justify bad practice”
  • ensure that inspection feedback is constructive and create more opportunities for schools to provide feedback and challenge
  • survey and inspect more ‘outstanding’ schools in order to spread good practice (this may mean increasing the interval between inspection of good schools)
  • develop new approaches and expertise to inspect new structures such as multi-academy trusts

NGA members have been discussing Ofsted, particularly the ongoing consultation on short inspections and the ‘outstanding’ grade, at the autumn regional meetings around the country. A full summary of discussion and roundup of the views from across the regions will appear in the Jan/Feb 2018 edition of Governing Matters.

Guidance Centre: Ofsted.


Annual NGA/TES survey: full report of the findings

On Tuesday, the National Governance Association released a report of the main findings from the 2017 annual NGA/TES survey.

The 5,338 governors, trustees and academy committee members who responded to the survey had some stark messages for government:

  • less than 20% of respondents said that they would be able to manage funding restrictions without adversely affecting the educational attainment of students in their school
  • governors and trustees are once again calling on the government to provide stability for the education system and ensure that the expertise of education professionals is valued and listened to
  • 95% of respondents believe that those governing should receive mandatory training
  • there is a significant amount of work to do on improving the diversity of school governing boards – only 4% of respondents gave their ethnicity as non-white and just 10% were under 40

Click here for the full report.


Clerks’ Advisory Group

NGA is pleased to announce the next meeting of the Clerks’ Advisory Group. Due to the popularity of previous meetings, we have decided to hold meetings in Leeds and London.

The meetings are an opportunity for clerks to share best practice and raise issues they are encountering within their role with other clerks and NGA.

If you wish to attend a meeting, please register: 

Leeds – Wednesday 22 November

12.00 noon - 3:00pm

London – Tuesday 28 November

12.00 noon - 3:00pm

For more information please email rani.kaur@nga.org.uk.


Phonic screening check and key stage 1 assessments

The DfE has published a Statistical First Release (SFR) on the 2017 phonics screening check and key stage 1 teacher assessments. The SFR includes information on attainment by different school and pupil characteristics.

The main findings are:

  • 81% of pupils met the standard in the phonics screening check at the end of year 1, an increase of 24% in 2012
  • 68% of pupils eligible for FSM met the standard in phonics, compared with 84% of all other pupils – a widening of the gap by 1% compared to 2016
  • in the key stage 1 assessments, reading results rose to 76%, while maths rose to 75%
  • free schools showed the strongest performance across reading, writing, maths and science, followed by converter academies, then local authority maintained schools, and sponsored academies

Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils is one of the three core function of the governing board. In order to do this effectively, governing boards need to understand how assessment works in their school and how to interpret information about assessment outcomes.

The NGA primary assessment guidance gives an overview of the current assessment arrangements in primary schools and the governing board’s role; access it here.


Review of key stage 2 tests published

Ofqual, the regulator for qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, has published the findings of its research into recent end of key stage 2 (KS2) tests. The first tests assessing the new primary national curriculum in 2016 led to some criticism of the delivery and difficulty.

The first of Ofqual’s reports looks at how the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) develops the tests: “It finds that STA’s approach is robust and compares favourably to approaches taken in similar tests internationally, while acknowledging that there are aspects of maths and reading that cannot straightforwardly be tested”.

The second report looks at the accessibility of the 2016 KS2 reading test. This was prompted by concerns that the test was not suitable for pupils with lower levels of attainment or special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The review concluded that the cumulative effect of many small challenges may have meant that the test did not measure the reading comprehension of particular pupils, or groups of pupils accurately. However, there was not sufficient evidence to identify which pupils, how many, or to what extent.

Following the 2016 tests, the House of Commons Education Select Committee held an inquiry into primary assessment (see NGA’s written evidence). The NGA will continue to represent the views of governors and trustees in discussions with the appropriate bodies.

Guidance centre: primary assessment.


Ministry of Defence approve 31 new cadet units in state-schools

This week, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has approved “31 new cadet units in state schools” following a report from the University of Northampton into the worth of the scheme. The report, which can be found here, outlined the “social impact” of the cadet programme to date. Key findings include:

  • the cadet programme can improve attendance and behaviour for excluded pupils.
  • the programme showed potential to support children receiving free school meals enter into ‘employment, education and training’ after school
  • the programme can help build community cohesion, promoting inclusivity and helping cadets overcome disadvantages

The 31 new cadet units will receive funding from “fines levied on the banking industry for manipulating the LIBOR rate”.

The DfE note that before entering into an agreement for the scheme, there must be “full backing and commitment from the headteacher and governing body to enter into an agreement with MOD”.

For more on the cadet programme, visit their website here.


Community MATs network: join us in Birmingham!

Following an eventful first year of NGA's Comnunity MAT network, we are delighted to confirm that the network is back, with three events planned for the year ahead. We will be holding the first network meeting for 2017/18 in central Birmingham on Friday 17 November.

This is a chance for trustees and clerks of multi academy trusts (MATs) to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in governing a group of academies. The event is free to members: click here to book a place.

Topics will build on some of the governance and wider MAT issues highlighted at previous network meetings including communication, accountability and being strategic. If you are involved in governing a MAT and would like to suggest a topic for the agenda, get in touch by emailing Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).


Annual Conference and AGM, 18 November 2017, Birmingham near NEC

FREE to attend for members*

Our national conferences allow members to hear the latest news on a range of issues as well as providing opportunities to network and share best practice.

As volunteers, those governing often do not have the resources to attend education conferences which may cost hundreds of pounds per delegate. As part of your membership with NGA, you are entitled to FREE places at our events.

Join us at our Annual Conference and AGM on Saturday 18 November 2017 in Birmingham. Come and listen to an exciting line up of keynote speakers focusing on current issues affecting school governance at local and national levels, as well as visiting a wide range of exhibitors.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

  • Professor Julius Weinberg, Chair of Ofsted
  • Geoff Barton, General Secretary, ASCL
  • Emma Knights, Chief Executive, NGA
  • Lemn Sissay MBE, Poet and Broadcaster

The conference will be followed by our Annual General Meeting at 3.30pm.

Don’t forget to register your place!

LUNCH will be provided.

*Please see membership T&Cs for further details on places available to membership categories


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 29/09/2017

Sir Theodore Agnew to replace Lord Nash as parliamentary under-secretary of state for education

On Thursday 28 September, the Department for Education announced that Lord Nash would be stepping down from his role as parliamentary under-secretary of state for education with responsibility for governance. He will be replaced by Sir Theodore Agnew DL who will be given a life peerage.

Sir Theodore has cross sector governance experience and is the founder and chair of trustees for the Inspiration Trust, a Multi-Academy Trust consisting of schools in Norfolk and North Suffolk. Schools Week has outlined that Sir Theodore will leave the trust following his appointment.

NGA would like to thank Lord Nash for taking governance seriously and congratulate him for helping to raise its profile. One of Lord Nash’s last appointments was to present NGA’s Outstanding Governance awards at Westminster on 5 September 2017.  We would also like to extend our congratulations to Sir Theodore on his new role and look forward to working with him in the future.


Labour sets out stall on education

Education was a prominent theme at this week’s Labour Party Conference in Brighton. Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner set out the principles of a National Education Service: “a cradle-to-grave system supporting everyone throughout their lives”. Priorities would include access to high-quality early years provision, an end to the public sector pay cap, investment in school buildings, and investment in further education.

The party also made a promise to “bring existing PFI contracts back in-house”. A significant number of schools are affected by high costs from private finance initiative (PFI) contracts.

NGA and TES hosted a fringe event, drawing on the findings of our joint survey, which gave the governors and trustees present an opportunity to discuss key issues such as funding, teacher recruitment and ensuring that the relationship between the head and chair does not become too ‘cosy’. There was emotive discussion about the rights and wrongs of asking parents for voluntary financial contributions.

Another fringe event will be held at the Conservative Party Conference on Tuesday 3 October in Manchester, where governors and trustees will be able to share their views with Education Select Committee chair, and former skills minister, Robert Halfon.


Increase of the number of schools carrying an in-year deficit

The Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb, has responded to a parliamentary question, clarifying the number of schools carrying in-year deficits in recent years.

It is important to be clear that an in-year deficit isn’t the same as a cumulative deficit. The terminology may be confusing to some – what it means is that schools are using reserves to top-up their annual budget allocations.  This is not sustainable in the long term.

In 2015-16, 7,346 maintained schools carried in year deficits, alongside 2,092 academies (data is collected at trust level rather than by individual academies). In 2011-12, 5,440 maintained schools carried deficits alongside 137 academies. Although figures show that there has been an upward trend, proportional comparisons between maintained schools and academies are difficult to draw given that the total number of maintained schools and academies has changed. 

The number of maintained schools and academies carrying in-year deficits does however emphasise the difficulties schools are facing in relation to funding and difficult decisions that those governing are having to make. NGA’s Funding the Future campaign aims to raise awareness of these issues and encourages school governors/trustees and other stakeholders to get involved. See here for more information.


NGA join six other organisations in writing to the Chancellor for additional 16-19 funding

Seven organisations, including the National Governance Association, have written to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to raise concerns about 16-19 funding in England. The letter, which can be found here, outlines that “sixth formers in England are now only funded to receive half the tuition time as sixth formers in other leading economies”. The letter goes on to state that the lack of sixth form funding is having an adverse effect on social mobility – with only “23% of A level students from state schools and colleges” progressing to the most selective universities in 2014/15, compared to 65% of students from the independent sector.

Since 2013, the national funding rate for 16 and 17 year olds has been fixed at £4,000 per student. The letter appeals to the Chancellor to increase the national funding rate by £200, at an additional cost of £244 million per year. This money would improve the study skills and employability of students as well as providing additional “enrichment activities”, better student mental/physical health provision and careers advice.

This letter forms part of a wider campaign, supported by the NGA, to “support our sixth-formers”. As well as the £200 per student additional funding, the campaign also calls for a review into sixth-form spending to make sure that the provision currently in the system is enough to deliver a “rounded, high quality curriculum”.

For more information, see the support our sixth-formers webpage, which includes the campaign manifesto. In addition, support the campaign by writing to your MP and tweeting using the hashtag #SupportOurSixthFormers.


Emma Knights writes about the latest trends in thinking on school governance

In her latest expert article for Schools Week, NGA’s chief executive, Emma Knights, explores the latest thinking in school governance. In the article, Emma says that “we all want skilled, competent governing boards”, and calls for the debate to move forward in order to consider how we can best achieve this aim. Emma draws on findings from the RSA’s scoping report Who governs our schools: Trends, tensions & opportunities, looking at the theme of ethical guardianship and legitimacy and asking: Who or what gives us the right to govern?

Read the article here.


Gatsby publishes 10 benchmarks for Good Practice Science with recommendations for school governors

This week, the Gatsby Foundation published the Good Practical Science Report by Sir John Holman which aims to transform the delivery of practical science education, helping secondary schools “achieve world class science education”. The report provides a framework for good practical science through a series of ten benchmarks, drawing on the need for adequate funding, a strong supply of expert science teachers and a curriculum, assessment and accountability system that encourages good teaching. The report concedes that the benchmarks are demanding and that “most schools are falling short of achieving world-class practical science measured in this way”.

The report includes wide-ranging recommendations for school leaders and for the wider education system. The recommendations for school governors and trustees include:

  • Recruiting, retaining and deploying specialist teachers – schools should take a strategic approach to get a better proportion of science subject specialists including recruitment, retention measures and CPD.
  • Valuing science technicians - Technicians should be valued as an integral part of the science department

For further guidance on the types of challenging questions to ask senior leaders on the quality and provision of science education at your school, click here


Enter your school for the National Happiness Awards

The National Happiness Awards, run by training and consulting organisation Laughology, is an annual search for people and places “who harness the power of happiness to improve lives”. The awards recognise the vital role happiness plays in boosting pupil confidence and outcomes. Nominations for the 2017 awards are open in the following categories:

  • Happiest School
  • Happiest School Employee
  • Happiest Pupil

The closing date for nominations is Friday 20 October 2017 and full details of the nomination process can be found here.


Annual Conference and AGM, 18 November 2017, Birmingham near NEC

FREE to attend for members*

Our national conferences allow members to hear the latest news on a range of issues as well as providing opportunities to network and share best practice.

As volunteers, those governing often do not have the resources to attend education conferences which may cost hundreds of pounds per delegate. As part of your membership with NGA, you are entitled to FREE places at our events.

Join us at our Annual Conference and AGM on Saturday 18 November 2017 in Birmingham. Come and listen to an exciting line up of keynote speakers focusing on current issues affecting school governance at local and national levels, as well as visiting a wide range of exhibitors.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

  • Professor Julius Weinberg, Chair of Ofsted
  • Geoff Barton, General Secretary, ASCL
  • Emma Knights, Chief Executive, NGA
  • Lemn Sissay MBE, Poet and Broadcaster

The conference will be followed by our Annual General Meeting at 3.30pm.

Don’t forget to register your place!

LUNCH will be provided.

*Please see membership T&Cs for further details on places available to membership categories


Joint Inspiring Governance and Young Governors’ Network event

If you are a school governor or trustee under 40, or a new governor/trustee who has been matched to a governing board using the Inspiring Governance recruitment service, come along to our joint network meeting in London this October!

The event will focus on:

  • why we set up this network and the changes we've made to it
  • the benefits and challenges of being a young and new governor/trustees
  • the challenges facing our schools today and sharing our experiences of being governors/trustees
  • what young and new governors/trustees need from YGN

Click here to book your place.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 22/09/2017

Closing date approaching for NGA Board Elections

Each year a proportion of the NGA board of trustees comes up for election. This year nominations are sought in four regions: East of England, London, South East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The NGA recognises that a diverse board can help to strengthen decision-making by considering issues from more perspectives. We would welcome nominations in particular from candidates from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Nominations for election should be submitted on the nomination form (available on the NGA website), no later than 17:00 on Friday 29 September 2017. Those elected will take office following the AGM on Saturday 18 November 2017.

For more information about standing for the NGA Board – see the information on the website.


2017 NGA/TES survey findings

The key findings of 2017 NGA/TES annual school governance survey have been revealed. More than 5,300 school governors and trustees shared their views and experiences in our annual survey – a huge thank you to all who participated. Funding pressures are the main concern of governors and trustees; 72% do not believe that these challenges can be managed without any adverse impact on the quality of education.

In light of these findings, Emma Knights, chief executive of NGA said: “We will be writing again to the Chancellor with these results. Mr Hammond really does need to increase expenditure on schools if governing boards across England are to be able to safeguard our children’s education.”

More on the key findings of the survey can be found at the NGA News Page.


Further consultation on changes to short inspections

Following a consultation earlier this summer, Ofsted have revised their proposals for changes to short inspections. A number of changes will take place from October half term:

  • some ‘good’ schools will automatically receive a full, two-day inspection instead of a short inspection
  • where a short inspection converts to a full inspection, this will usually continue to be within 48 hours but may take up to 7 days in some cases
  • short inspections of secondary schools with more than 1,100 pupils will be carried out by three inspectors (rather than two as is standard)

The proposals set out in the new consultation are that:

  • where short inspections pick up serious concerns, they will continue to convert to full inspections within 48 hours
  • where, following a short inspection, inspectors are not confident that the school remains ‘good’ but “the standard of education remains acceptable, and there are no concerns about safeguarding or behaviour”, the inspection will not convert. The school will receive a letter setting out the inspection findings and a full inspection will take place within 1 to 2 years. It will remain a ‘good’ school
  • where, following a short inspection, inspectors believe the school may be ‘outstanding’, the inspection will not convert. As above, the inspection findings will be set out in a letter, the school will remain ‘good’, and a full inspection will take place within 1 to 2 years

The NGA will be responding to these proposals in due course and any members who would like to feed into this response should get in touch with Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).

Consultation document: Short inspections of good schools

Catch up on NGA’s response to the first consultation.


PTA UK survey reveals parental concerns about the cost of sending their child to school

New research released by PTA UK shows that more than three quarters (78%) of parents believe the cost of sending their child to state school is increasing with well over half (55%) agreeing this is a concern. The findings were revealed in PTA UK’s annual parent survey about the cost of schooling.

Key findings from the report show that parents are worried about the rising costs of sending their children to school:

  • Overall, half of all respondents were worried about the cost of school trips (50%) 
  • On average nearly half (48%) worry about the cost of uniforms
  • 34% of parents reported donating to the school fund in 2017 compared to 29% in 2016
  • On average £8.90 is donated by parents per month
  • Nearly half (47%) of parents who were asked to donate to the school fund reported they did not know how the money is spent
  • of those who did know how money is spent, nearly one in five (19%) believe the funds are spent on teacher salaries

For more information on parental engagement, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


MPs launch inquiry into alternative provision

The House of Commons Education Select Committee has announced one of the first inquiries of the new parliament will be on Alternative Provision (AP) for pupils who do not attend mainstream schools for reasons such as school exclusion, behaviour issues, or illness.

The inquiry will look at:

  • routes into alternative provision
  • the quality of teaching in alternative provision
  • educational outcomes and destinations of pupils
  • safety, accommodation and provision of resources for pupils
  • in-school alternatives to alternative provision
  • regulation of independent providers

Any individual or organisation is free to submit written evidence to the inquiry and details of how to do so are on the parliament website. The NGA will be providing evidence and anyone wishing to feed into this should contact Claire Keetch (claire.keetch@nga.org.uk).


EPI report addressing the decline in arts entries at Key Stage 4

This week, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) published a new report into arts entries at Key Stage 4 (KS4). The arts subjects specified in the report are: art and design, drama and theatre, media, film, and TV studies, music, dance and performing arts. 

The key findings include:

  • the average number of arts entries per pupil has fallen since 2013; in 2016 this was 0.70, the lowest in a decade
  • the overall proportion of pupils taking at least one arts subject fell to 53.5 per cent in 2016 - the lowest figure in a decade
  • there is a “stark gender gap” in entries to arts subjects – girls being far more likely to opt for arts subjects
  • a “consistent north-south divide, with entry rates in arts being higher in the south 

The report also addresses the factors influencing the take up of arts, including funding pressures, the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and Progress 8.

The EPI report calls on the government to recognise that the EBacc and Progress 8 measures have brought “increased pressure on arts subjects” and to consider the impact that reduced access to the arts will have on pupils and the creative industries.

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. NGA therefore supports the call for the government to look again at the impact of successive policy changes on the provision and access of arts subjects in the KS4 curriculum. For further guidance on providing high quality cultural education in schools produced by the NGA and the Arts Council England, click here.  


New Wellcome report on science teaching in primary schools

A new report by the Wellcome Trust looks at the current state of science teaching in the nation’s primary schools.

Key findings include:

  • just half of science leaders (51%) are receiving specific release time to lead science
  • a far smaller proportion of teachers and science leaders thought science was ‘very important’ to their school’s senior leadership than for English and maths
  • on average, primary school pupils receive 1 hour and 24 minutes of science teaching per week but older year groups tend to receive more than others

Science is part of the national curriculum for primary schools and is an important part of preparing pupils for the next stage of their education. Governing boards have a duty to ensure that the children in their school(s) are receiving a broad and balanced curriculum and it may be useful to consider the time and resource available for science teaching in upcoming meetings.

Read the report in full: ‘State of the nation’ report of UK primary science education


Teachers’ mental health and wellbeing

A YouGov survey of 1,250 school and college staff and leaders was published this week, with 75% of respondents saying they had experienced psychological, physical or behavioural symptoms due to workload and ‘work-life’ balance issues. This is 13% higher than the UK working population as a whole.

Echoing findings from a National Audit Office’s (NAO) report (see the NGA newsletter from last week) which found that nearly 35,000 teachers left the profession last year due to reasons besides retirement, the YouGov survey found that 53% of respondents had considered leaving the education sector in the last two years due to work pressures impacting their health.

In response to these findings, the Education Support Partnership, which commissioned the survey, have made the following recommendations:

  • A health and wellbeing policy to be introduced in all education institutions which is measurable, monitored and reviewed at regular points each year;
  • More focus to be included on initial teacher training (ITT), NQT training and induction to ensure that those who are new to the profession, are properly prepared for handling key teaching challenges and workload;
  • An accountability framework to be implemented which supports and empowers the profession, with Ofsted using health and wellbeing measures to promote a healthier working culture.

Governing boards as employers, or exercising employer responsibility, owe a duty of care to their employees. Governors should ask legitimate questions regarding the implementation and effectiveness of school policies, ask staff for their views and monitor their workloads, in order to retain good teachers.


New service replaces Edubase

On the 18th September, the Department for Education (DfE) launched ‘Get Information About Schools’ (GIAS) - the new register for schools and colleges which replaces the previous Edubase system.  

The new service allows individuals to search, view, and download information on schools via three tabs: ‘find an establishment’; ‘find an establishment group’ and ‘find a governor’.  The latter is used for locating not just governors, but also trustees, accounting officers, chief financial officers and members of an academy trust – NGA have therefore raised this point with the DfE in order to identify a more suitable name.  

Schools, local authorities and academy trusts can update their details by signing into their existing Secure Access Account.


Updates to FFT Aspire system

FFT, a non-profit organisation established as part of the Fischer Family Trust, have updated their Aspire system with the latest 2017 Key Stage 2 results.  Schools will be able to analyse their results and look at how various different pupil groups compare with national trends.  There is also an eight page FFT School Dashboard for those governing and school leaders, including a new report that compares the performance of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupil groups.

Any governor/trustee can access FFT’s free training modules about the FFT Governor Dashboard at http://elearning.fft.org.uk/  Once registered you can work through the two Key Stage 2 modules at your own pace, saving your progress as you go.


New survey reveals that discontent about apprenticeship provision

This week, the National Society of Apprentices (NSoA) and the Times Educational Supplement (TES) released the results from a survey which found one in six apprentices “were not paid for off-the-job training”. The survey also revealed that many apprentices were working “fewer than their contracted hours”, with others complaining about the lack of on the job training. According to a representative of the NSoA, some employers are using apprentices as “cheap, subsidised labour without any obligation to train or deliver the apprentices”.

This follows the latest efforts from the government as it seeks to develop new and more robust apprenticeship programmes – including introducing a levy aimed at employers with a wage bill of over £3 million.

For governors and trustees, particularly in secondary schools, understanding the options available to young people post-sixteen is important. Those governing have a responsibility to ensure that their school is providing impartial careers advice to students, including giving them information about apprenticeships. For more information, see the NGA Guidance Centre.


Local associations networking meeting

Many thanks to the representatives of local associations who joined us at the NGA offices for a networking meeting on Saturday 16 September. The meeting was a huge success with lots of lively discussion around the challenges and opportunities facing groups across the country.

Delegates attended from 20 associations (click here to see a list) and notes from the day will be available in due course. The event will also be covered in the January/February edition of Governing Matters.

Local associations can be hugely valuable resources but rely on volunteers to support them – the NGA would encourage governors and trustees to find out about activities in their area and get involved in their running.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 15/09/2017

School funding: revised national funding formula published

On Thursday 14 September, Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening announced details of the new national funding formula for schools. This is the outcome of the second stage of the consultation, which closed in March (view NGA’s response), and follows July’s announcement of £1.3 billion additional funding for the core schools budget in each of the next two years.

Key points from this week’s announcement include:

  • funding will be distributed via local authorities for both of the next two years
  • the DfE’s formula will provide for secondary schools to receive a minimum of £4,600 per pupil in 2018/19 and £4,800 per pupil in 2019/20, while primary schools will receive £3,300 per pupil in 2018/19 and £3,500 in 2019/20
  • every school will receive a £110,000 lump sum and an additional £26 million will be allocated to rural and isolated schools
  • every school will see a minimum cash increase of 1% by 2019-20 and many schools will see larger increases
  • an increased emphasis in the formula on low prior attainment

More details are available on the Department for Education’s website including tables where you can see how your school’s budget would be calculated under the national funding formula (NFF). Governors and trustees need to remember that as funding for the next two years will be calculated according to the relevant local authority’s formula their actual school budget may not be exactly the same as shown in the tables.

While NGA welcomes the progress towards an NFF and indeed the additional money that has been found, it is, however, disappointing that the total schools budget remains insufficient to protect per pupil funding in real terms. More detailed analysis of the proposal will be provided for governing boards in the coming weeks.


New line up of MPs on Education Select Committee

The membership of the House of Commons Education Select Committee has been announced. The committee will be chaired by Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow who was minister for apprenticeships and skills between July 2016 and June 2017.

The purpose of the committee is to monitor the policy, administration and spending of the Department for Education and associated bodies such as Ofsted. The committee selects topics it wishes to investigate and takes evidence from the public and many high profile individuals within and outside of government. Anyone can submit evidence to its inquiries and the government is required to respond to its reports.

Several MPs who had previously served on the committee will be returning: Conservatives Lucy Allen, Michelle Donelan and William Wragg (a former teacher), Labour’s Ian Mearns and the SNP’s Marion Fellows.

MPs joining the committee include Labour’s Lucy Powell (former shadow education secretary), Emma Hardy and Thelma Walker (both former teachers), and Conservative MP Trudy Harrison.

The committee has announced that it intends to focus on social justice and productivity, and will hold hearings with Secretary of State Justine Greening and the leaders of Ofsted and Ofqual this autumn. 


New Royal Society of Arts report launched at the APPG on Education Governance and Leadership

The need for better public understanding of governance, the importance of local expertise and the value of the participative spirit of governance are amongst the key findings in a new report on the future of school governance. The scoping report ‘Who Governs Our Schools? Trends, Tensions and Opportunities', authored by Dr. Tony Breslin FRSA and published by the RSA, also offers 30 recommendations to policymakers across six themes:

  • Purpose and Participation
  • Induction and Development
  • Landscape and Policy
  • Stakeholders and Experts
  • Leadership and Autonomy
  • Collaboration and Partnership

Launched at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership, of which NGA is the secretariat, the report makes recommendations that include a cross-sector commission on governance; a need for policymakers to acknowledge the current variety of governance arrangements; and asserting the importance of parents and staff to the governance process.

Dr. Breslin also wrote about the report in the July/August edition of Governing Matters.


Primary Assessment: consultation outcomes announced

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed a number of changes to primary assessment. These were initially proposed in a consultation earlier this year (see NGA’s response).

Changes confirmed this week include:

  • a new assessment in reception will be introduced from 2020 to be used as a baseline for measuring progress through primary school
  • key stage 1 assessment will be made non-statutory from 2023
  • the requirement to submit teacher assessment data at the end of key stage 2 will be removed from 2018-19
  • a multiplication tables check will be introduced from 2019-20 at the end of year 4
  • the early years foundation stage profile (EYFS) will be reviewed
  • teacher assessment of writing will be improved, giving more emphasis to teachers’ professional judgement, and this will happen from this academic year

While NGA supported the move to measure progress throughout primary school, it remains concerned about the necessity of a new multiplication test. NGA’s guidance on primary assessment will be updated to reflect these changes in due course.


New NAO report on the DfE’s attempts to improve teacher retention and quality

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), the Department of Education (DfE) cannot demonstrate that its efforts to improve teacher retention and quality are having a positive impact and are value for money.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report Retaining and developing the teaching workforce examines the DfE’s arrangements to develop and retain the existing teaching workforce.  The report recommends that the DfE:

  • should set out, and communicate to schools and other bodies in the sector, its approach to improving teacher retention, deployment and quality
  • should set out clear measures of success and plans for evaluating its various programmes, including impact and outcome indicators
  • should use the information it is developing on local teacher demand and supply to determine how best to support schools or to intervene in the market
  • should work with the schools sector to understand better why more teachers are leaving before retirement and how to attract more former teachers back to the profession
  • should work with, and support, the Chartered College of Teaching, teaching schools and others in the schools sector to develop clearer expectations for teachers’ continuing professional development
  • should, as a matter of routine, explicitly assess the workforce implications for schools of all key policy changes and guidance, in particular the impact on teachers’ workload
  • should undertake the work NAO and the Committee of Public Accounts recommended in 2016 to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of its spending on supporting the serving workforce, set against its investment in training new teachers

Also published this week, was the DfE’s own Analysis of school and teacher level factors relating to teacher supply.  This document is a compendium of teacher supply analysis which looked at entrants to the teaching profession, teacher retention and teacher mobility between jobs. The report aims to generate new insights and stimulate debate and generate ideas for further research.

The report follows on from two previous publications; the Teachers Analysis Compendium: 2017 and Local analysis of teacher workforce: 2010 to 2015.

This week, it has been revealed that the NCTL has lifted its caps on the number of students universities can recruit to postgraduate teacher training courses.


New OECD report touches on pay and workload issues amongst teachers in England

The OECD this week released its 2017 version of Education at a Glance, comparing the education provision, demographics and funding across thirty-five member countries. The report found that, in England, there has been a 10% decrease in real-term earnings for teachers between 2005 and 2015. This is in comparison to other OECD countries where, “over the period 2005 to 2015 … more than half [of those with comparable data] showed an increase in their real-term salaries”.

The report coincided with the Government’s decision to lift the public sector pay cap for prison officers and police with likelihood that this might be the case for other public sector workers in 2018-19. Both the National Association of Headteachers and the Association of College Leaders said that teachers too should be awarded greater than 1% rise.  NGA reported in the 1 September newsletter on the teachers’ pay award for 2017/18. NGA in common with other respondents to the pay consultation has called for fully funded pay awards.

This has led the national association of headteachers (NAHT) to request an end to the 1% cap on teacher pay announced in July. Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, stated that: “all public sector workers need and deserve a pay rise. The electorate supported proper funding for all of the public sector and will no doubt do so again at their next opportunity”.

One issue which is more important for many teachers than pay is their workload. The OECD report also found that teachers in England spend, on average, over 800 hours a year teaching. This is the ninth highest across the OECD countries. Furthermore, the report also found that teachers in England spent over 60 per cent of their “total statutory working time spent teaching”, the second highest across all OECD countries. Governors and trustees are encouraged to ask executive leaders what is being done in schools to alleviate teacher workload, for more information see the NGA Guidance Centre.


Five new e-learning modules available on NGA Learning Link

For schools which purchase NGA Learning Link there are now five new induction modules available on the system for governors to undertake. These are:

  1. Your organisation: understanding school structures and what children should learn.
  2. Strategy: Living your values, reaching your vision, managing the risk.
  3. Progress and attainment: using data to improve educational outcomes.
  4. Working Together: Building the team and improving the organisation.
  5. Effectiveness: Governance making an impact, changing lives.

For those not yet signed up to Learning Link you can use this link to take you to the Learning Link page of our website for further details including discounts for members and groups. Learning Link provides a cost effective method of providing relevant training for governing boards and their clerks. 


DfE to support independent and state school partnerships

The Department for Education (DfE) have set up a new System Partnership Unit to support partnerships between independent and state funded schools. Speaking at an event hosted by the Independent Schools Council, Education Secretary Justine Greening said “We want to continue to harness the resources and expertise of leading independent schools through more partnership activities, sponsorships or setting up new free schools”.

It was suggested in last year’s 'Schools that Work for Everyone’ consultation and this year’s Conservative manifesto that independent schools who do not support state schools may face changes to their charitable status and the associated tax benefits. No further mention was made of this and therefore the indication is that participation will be voluntary.


DfE announces review into statutory guidance on home to school travel and transport for local authorities

Disability charity, Contact, has published its report on an inquiry into school transport for disabled children. Following the inquiry, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced a review of the statutory guidance for local authorities to ensure that it is clear.

Part of the inquiry included conducting an online survey which received 2,568 responses. The findings included:

  • 48% say they agree or strongly agree that travel arrangements for their child to get to school mean that they can’t work, or have to work reduced hours
  • 27% agree or strongly agree that their child’s journey is making it harder for their child to learn at school
  • 17% say their child is late for school once or twice a week due to travel arrangements and 20% are late once a month

The inquiry also found that 51% of local school transport policies include unlawful statements.

DfE also said that “…local authorities must make transport arrangements for all children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their mobility problems or because of associated health and safety issues related to their special educational needs or disability. We expect councils to put appropriate arrangements in place and make decisions that are best suited to local circumstances.”


Inspiring Governance: access to learning link modules

Over the summer break the Inspiring Governance (IG) team have been working to enhance the service to both volunteers and recruiting governing boards.

In particular, the NGA IG team have been ensuring that all governors recruited through IG have access to our new enhanced Learning Link induction modules and respond to any enquires via the IG support line.

If you are a new governor recruited via the Inspiring Governance service, please make use of the Learning Link induction modules and access online training, which will ensure that you are able to feel confident in your role.

If you have questions about any aspect of the support service available to new IG governors, please get in touch; inspiringgovernance@nga.org.uk


New school survey around attitudes and behaviours towards sport and physical activity

A new survey providing a world-leading approach to understanding how children engage with sport and physical activity has been launched by Sport England.

The Active Lives: Children and Young People survey will give anyone working with children aged five to 16, including schools, key insight to help understand children's attitudes and behaviours around sport and physical activity.

Compiled on behalf of the Department for Education, the Department for Health and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the survey will run in a number of randomly selected schools every term.

Robert Goodwill, Minister of State for Children and Families, said: “We want to encourage all pupils, regardless of their background, to develop a healthy and active lifestyle and a real and long-lasting love of sport.

“This new survey offers a fantastic opportunity for schools to better understand how their pupils enjoy sport or physical activity. Teachers and school leaders will also be able to see how their sports provision benefits young people and develop it further so more people have the opportunity to be physically active and enjoy sport.”

To find out more about the survey and what it involves for schools, visit: www.sportengland.org/activelivescyp.


Check air pollution levels near your school

ClientEarth is an environmental law charity which has produced an interactive air pollution map, highlighting the levels of air pollution around schools. The tool requires you to input the school’s postcode and grey dots will appear in the local area, signifying levels of air pollution – the darker the dots, the higher the pollution levels.

Governing boards are responsible for the health and safety of the pupils in their schools and whilst air pollution is clearly an issue which cannot be controlled by schools, schools in certain areas will be affected more than others. ClientEarth are providing an opportunity for schools to join them in lobbying the government to take steps to improve air quality.

Find out more here.


General Data Protection Regulations – what you need to know

From 25th May 2018, the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) will be replaced by the new more stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All governing boards need to be aware of their obligations under the new regulations and will be required to show compliance with the GDPR. The key changes introduced by the GDPR include the following:

  • It will be mandatory for schools to appoint a designated Data Protection Officer
  • Non-compliance will see tough penalties; school will face fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their turnover.
  • It is the schools responsibility to ensure 3rd parties (i.e. catering services, software providers etc.) that process data for you also comply with GDPR

The GDPR is intended to strengthen and unify the safety and security of all data held by all types of organisations. The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a 12-step checklist to help prepare for the changes.

In addition, the November/December edition of Governing Matters will include a two page article on governing board’s responsibilities.


Get Information about Schools

The Department for Education is developing a replacement for EduBase, to be known as Get Information about Schools (GIAS). EduBase will be switched off on Friday 15th September and Get Information about Schools will be switched on and become the source of establishment information on Monday 18th September.


Join us for the NGA Annual Conference & AGM

NGA’s Annual Conference and AGM will be taking place on Saturday 18 November 2018, 10.00 am - 3.00 pm, at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel. Booking is essential.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Lemn Sissay, poet and broadcaster
  • Emma Knights, NGA chief executive
  • Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary

NGA’s Annual General Meeting will follow the event at 3.30pm.

To book your free members’ place at the conference click here.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 08/09/2017

Outstanding Governance Awards 2017

Angie-Marchant,-Colham-Manor-Primary-with-Lord-Nash.jpg Millennium-Primary-School,-Greenwich-(1).jpg

On Tuesday 5 September 2017, the NGA held the Outstanding Governance Awards at the House of Commons. The awards are held every two years to celebrate the unique and inspiring contribution that school governors, trustees and clerks make every day to schools across the country.

Lord Nash, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the School System with ministerial responsibility for school governance presented the awards. Lord Nash commented: 

"I was delighted to be part of the NGA outstanding governance awards event. These awards showcase and remind us of the huge importance of governance – we couldn’t run our school system without the support of hundreds of thousands of governors and trustees who give up their time voluntarily, and along with clerks, make such a difference in what is not an easy job."

Awards were presented in four categories:

  • Outstanding clerk to a governing board

Winner: Angie Marchant from Colham Manor Primary School, Hillingdon (pictured right)

  • Outstanding governance in a single school

This award went to three winners: Fairfield Park Lower School, Central Bedfordshire; Millennium Primary School, Greenwich (pictured left) and Sir John Barrow School, Cumbria

  • Outstanding governance in a multi academy trust or federation

Winner: The Spring Partnership Trust, Bromley, Kent

  • Outstanding vision and strategy

Winner: Nexus Multi Academy Trust, Rotherham

You can read all about the finalists and winners on the NGA News Page. Congratulations to all of our winners, runners up and finalists and a huge thank you to all who entered this year’s awards. Nominations for the Outstanding Governance Awards will open again in 2019 and entries from all schools in England are welcomed.  


School leaders concerned about school readiness

Following a survey of school leaders in June and July 2017, The National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and the Family and Childcare Trust have presented the findings in their School Ready? report. The findings show that children’s school readiness is an area of concern with the majority of respondents believing that school readiness has declined significantly in the last five years.

83% of respondents identified school readiness as being a problem with the following cited as common reasons:

  • Lack of funding (88%)
  • Failure to identify and support additional needs early enough (67%)
  • Lack of resources for parents and pressures on family life (66%)

Respondents also raised particular concerns regarding communication skills and physical development; 97% listed speech, language and communication problems as a major concern.

The NAHT and the Family and Childcare Trust are calling on the government to “prioritise funding for support for families in the early years to help set children up to learn at school and beyond.”

The full report is available here.


Rising pupil numbers hitting secondary schools

With millions of pupils heading back to school this week, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that 49% of councils are “at risk of being unable to meet rising demand for secondary school places within the next five years.” Their analysis is based on current school capacity and forecast pupil numbers. While many primary schools have been seeing rising rolls since 2010, the increase in pupil numbers will hit secondary schools over the next few years.

The LGA want local authorities to be able to force academies and free schools to expand if additional places are needed. Currently, local authorities rely on voluntary agreement where additional places are needed in these schools.

This week has also seen the release of London Councils’ annual report on the pressures on school places in the capital. It claims that the Basic Need funding allocated will only meet 56% of councils’ costs.

School place planning is one of the crucial duties of local authorities. Governing boards of all types of school should seek to work with place planners in their area to ensure that the needs of all the children in their communities are being met in the best way possible.


How Ofsted inspectors will approach data

The new edition of Ofsted’s School Inspection Update provides details of how inspectors are being instructed to approach school performance data. This will be of interest to governors, trustees or academy committee members who wish to know what to expect when inspectors come to call.

Ofsted inspectors have access to a data analysts helpline during inspections and have been reminded:

  • not to compare results from last year to this for the new GCSEs
  • results for GCSEs and A levels have been stable overall and small fluctuations at school level should not be over-interpreted
  • to consider whether decisions made by school leaders are in the best interests of pupils
  • to use assessment data as a starting point for discussion rather than the only piece of evidence
  • not to focus on single measures with small cohorts
  • to treat data from key stage 2 teacher assessments with caution

Inspectors are also reminded to look out for evidence that schools may be trying to ‘game the system’, for example by entering pupils into qualifications with significant subject overlap or moving pupils to other settings.

Ofsted have reformed their inspection dashboard into a new style Inspection Dashboard Summary Report (IDSR) which focuses on trends in school performance over the previous three years.

Governing boards should, of course, already be considering how to use performance data in a meaningful way as part of a broader set of success measures, and ensuring all decisions made by themselves or school staff are in the best interests of their pupils.

Visit the NGA Guidance Centre for more on Ofsted and monitoring performance.


Reducing educational inequality – report card published

The Fair Education Alliance (FEA) is a “coalition of organisations from across education, charities and business … working to tackle educational inequality and build a fairer education system by 2022”. This week saw the publication of the alliance’s third State of the Nation Report Card, detailing the progress towards the following five impact goals which, if achieved, the FEA believes will reduce educational inequality:

  • Narrow the gap in literacy and numeracy at primary school
  • Narrow the gap in GSCE attainment at secondary school
  • Ensure young people develop key strengths, including character, emotional wellbeing and mental health, to support high aspirations
  • Narrow the gap in the proportion of young people taking part in further education or employment based training after finishing their GSCE’s
  • Narrow the gap in university graduation, including from the 25% most selective universities

The report card deduces that “educational inequality remains deeply entrenched in the UK” and the FEA therefore propose five top priorities for government to focus on:

  • School underfunding is addressed with national spending not decreasing in real terms on a per pupil basis
  • Every primary and secondary school in England should have a designated and trained senior leader responsible for developing and delivering a whole school approach to destinations
  • To resist calls to expand selective education in the future
  • Support for the creation of a framework of measures to support knowledge of the social and emotional competencies of students
  • Continued development of the childcare and early year workforce

Governing boards have a responsibility to raise educational attainment of disadvantaged children through the use of pupil premium funding. For more on this visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


Reminder: Analyse School Performance service

In order to hold executive leaders to account for educational school performance, governing boards need to ensure that they have been given the right information. This includes having access to the right data, which can be used to evidence the progress being made against the agreed strategy.

A key source of data is Analyse School Performance (ASP) - the replacement service to RAISEonline. The DfE launched an updated and improved version of ASP in July 2017. More than 27,000 users are already using ASP - help with logging in is available here.

The service now includes 2017 Question Level Analysis (QLA) and named pupil data for those with appropriate access levels. QLA data enables primary schools to assess how well their children performed in different aspects of the curriculum. It also supports secondary schools in identifying strengths and weaknesses for their incoming year 7s.

Additional reports have now been added to the service as well as enhancements made to the usability following user feedback and including improved printing and navigation functions.

At the end of September, Key Stage 2 data will be available in ASP - this is provisional data for 2016/17. Breakdowns of data such as disadvantaged will be added at the end of October along with Key Stage 1 and Phonics data for 2017. Provisional Key Stage 4 data will be available towards the end of November.

For more information on ASP, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


New NGA blog: stand up and be counted in the interests of pupils

Last week, the newsletter included a story on a 16-19 provider refusing to allow pupils to return for year 13 after they had failed to meet the institutions’ grade requirements in their AS levels. Excluding pupils temporarily or permanently for non-disciplinary reasons is unlawful and some parents had initiated legal action.

Media reports this week have said that the London grammar school in question has now reversed the decision, with affected pupils being allowed to return to the school.

NGA Chief Executive, Emma Knights, has written a new blog exploring the wider issue of governing boards standing up and being counted in the interests of pupils.


Join us for the NGA Annual Conference & AGM

NGA’s Annual Conference and AGM will be taking place on Saturday 18 November 2018, 10.00 am - 3.00 pm, near the NEC in Birmingham.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Lemn Sissay, poet and broadcaster
  • Emma Knights, NGA chief executive

NGA’s Annual General Meeting will follow the event at 3.30pm.

To book your free members place click here.


NGA Special schools’ advisory group

The NGA’s special schools’ advisory group will be meeting on Monday 18th September 2017 at 1pm at the NGA offices in Birmingham.

The group provides those governing with an opportunity to discuss issues relating to special educational needs and disabilities in schools and informs NGA’s work in relation to special schools. It also gives governors and trustees the chance to exchange information and practice working well in their schools.

If you would like to attend please contact Rani Kaur (rani.kaur@nga.org.uk) by Wednesday 13th September. The minutes of the last meeting can be found here.



From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 01/09/2017

Governing Matters: September/October edition

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

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Cover stories include:

Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s Deputy Chief Executive, explains why the relationship between chair and head is key to securing good outcomes for children and young people.

NGA’s Summer Conference, held in London in June, was a great success. Keynote speaker, Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, stressed the importance of harnessing evidence to improve children’s educational outcomes.

NGA once again joined forces with TES to survey the nation’s governors, trustees and academy committee members. Fay Holland, NGA’s Policy and Information Officer, looks at what we have learned from this year’s survey.

David Sayers, a governor at Osmani Primary School in Tower Hamlets, East London, and Ian Ferguson, vice chair of governors at Comber Grove Primary School in Camberwell, South London, explain how their employer’s commitment to social engagement with schools has led them both to governance.

Our research looks at current practice and explores what works well in headteacher performance management. Tom Fellows, NGA’s research and information officer, analyses the interim findings from NGA’s latest research.

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.


NGA updated 2017 Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct sets out the expectations of and commitment required from school governors, trustees and academy committee members in order for the governing board to properly carry out its work within the school/s and the community. NGA has updated its much used model code for the 2017/18 academic year ahead. You can download this today from the NGA Guidance Centre. Do remember to tailor it to reflect your specific governing board and school structure.


NGA Trustee Elections

Each year a proportion of the NGA board of trustees comes up for election. This year nominations are sought in four regions: East of England, London, South East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The NGA recognises that a diverse board can help to strengthen decision-making by considering issues from more perspectives. We would welcome nominations in particular from candidates from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

For more information about standing for the NGA Board – see the information on the website.


Updated statutory guidance on the constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools

Following amendments to the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012, the Department for Education (DfE) has released an updated version of the accompanying Statutory Guidance.

The guidance has specifically been updated to cover the new power that means from 1 September 2017 maintained school governing bodies have the power to remove elected parent and staff governors in the same way as they can remove co-opted governors – that is, by majority decision of the governing body.

The changes haven’t stopped there. Any person removed as an elected governor from the governing body during their term of office will be disqualified from serving or continuing to serve as a school governor for five years from the date of their removal – not just at the school they have been removed from, but any school. The statutory guidance emphasises that the power to remove an elected governor should only be used in exceptional circumstances, providing some examples which could warrant removal. It also states that governing bodies are expected to provide an appeals procedure to enable any removed governor to test the reasonableness of the governing body’s decision to remove them and advises that an independent panel conducts the appeal.

NGA would reiterate the need for the additional powers to remove elected governors to be used only in exceptional circumstances. It is important that governors are not removed for asking challenging questions and that boards contain a diverse range of viewpoints. The new September/October edition of Governing Matters features an article exploring the changes to the regulations which you can access here.

Clerks to governing bodies, in particular, should ensure they are familiar with the guidance document and regulations.


Round-up of GCSE and A-level results over the summer

As usual, the NGA reported on GCSE and A-levels results on its news page over the summer.

While A-level results remain stable compared to last year, there has been a sharp decline in AS level entry, as AS-levels are gradually being “decoupled” from A-levels. This has raised concerns that the post-16 curriculum is being narrowed. Geoff Barton,General Secretary of ASCL, said: “Combined with the decline in AS level entries as a result of the government’s ill-conceived decision to decouple these qualifications from A-Levels, we are seeing a significant narrowing of the post-16 curriculum”.

In terms of GCSE results, our key message to governors and trustees is to be very cautious of making comparisons between the “new” (1-9) reformed qualifications and the equivalent qualifications from previous years, and to avoid “knee-jerk reactions” if results appear to have dipped. Read Emma Knights’ (Chief Executive of the NGA) and Geoff Barton’s (General Secretary of ASCL) article in the TES: It’s impossible to compare GCSE results, so don’t try.


Update to School Teachers Pay and Conditions document (STPCD)

In August, the Department for Education (DfE) released the latest version of the STPCD. The STPCD provides a framework for teachers’ pay and conditions, and is statutory for all maintained schools, although many academy trusts also choose to adopt the STPCD for their schools.

The main change is to take account of the September 2017 pay award, which gives a 2% uplift to the statutory minima and maxima of the main pay range and a 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of all other pay ranges in the national framework (including headteacher groups) and all allowances across pay ranges. 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.

Governing boards will need to ensure that their pay policies take account of the new requirements.

Further advice and guidance can be found in NGA’s Knowing Your School: Governors and staffing briefing and the DfE’s Implementing your school’s approach to pay guidance.
 


Income and expenditure in academies

At the end of the summer term, the Department for Education (DfE) released its statistical first release of the income and expenditure in academies, for the year 2015/16.

Overall, the statistics showed that academies spent more than their income over the year, by 1.5% - equating to £280m - which is an increase of 0.5% on last year. The DfE explain that these figures may be down to academies using their reserves to meet certain costs, rather than being indicative of academy debt.

Other findings include the following:

  • teaching costs (unsurprisingly) remain the biggest expenditure item but have fallen slightly since 2011/12, despite a marginal increase since 2014/15
  • this fall has been offset by the increasing spend on “back office functions” staff
  • the median income and expenditure in primary academies has been increasing since 2011/2, whilst it has been decreasing in secondary academies

One of the core functions of the governing board includes “overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.” As school budgets are becoming increasingly strained, it is crucial for governing boards to effectively monitor income and expenditure and consider whether better value for money can be achieved or, indeed, further efficiencies. The DfE has a suite of resources for schools to use to improve their financial management and efficiency.

The full publication can be found on gov.uk here.


Workload challenge: New term – what does that mean for staff in your school(s)?

For many staff, workload is even more important than pay in terms of deciding whether or not to stay in their current role, and this is an area where the governing board can have a direct impact. The start of a new school year provides a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the workload challenges that the staff in our schools will face in the months ahead and to consider if there is any action the governing board needs to take in this regard.

Governing boards have a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of those working in their schools and a good starting point would be to consider with your executive leaders whether school policies and practices are contributing to unnecessary work for staff.

Take a look at Gillian Allcroft’s Teacher Workload article published in Governing Matters in May/June which gives helpful tips on some of the questions governors should be thinking about.


Primary school performance and accountability

The Department for Education (DfE) has published provisional data about attainment in the 2017 key stage 2 tests taken this summer. 61% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics. This is an increase on 53% in 2016, the first year pupils were tested on the new curriculum.

The statistics also include comparisons by characteristics such as pupil gender, school type, and local authority.

Alongside these statistics, the DfE has updated its primary school accountability guidance with confirmation of the 2017 floor standard. In 2017, a school will be above the floor if either of these conditions are met:

  • at least 65% of pupils meet the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics
  • the school achieves progress scores of at least -5 in reading, -7 in writing and -5 in mathematics (all three subjects)

The coasting definition for 2017 is expected to be published later in the autumn.

Visit NGA’s guidance centre for more on primary school accountability.


How to implement GDPR in your school webinar

From May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will apply to all schools and many governing boards are starting to ask what this will mean. Browne Jacobson (NGA’s legal partner) is giving a free webinar on the GDPR and how this will impact schools across the country. The webinar will look at the approach schools should be taking to reach GDPR compliance.

It will cover the following aspects:

  • Where does the responsibility for GDPR lie and who should be the Data Protection Officer (DPO)?
  • What does ‘explicit consent’ mean and how is ‘personal data’ defined?
  • What do we need to audit?
  • Will GDPR be a priority for Ofsted?
  • What are the risks and costs to our school?

The webinar will take place on Tuesday 12 September at 4.00pm. To register, please click here.


Sixth form students removed from roll – legal challenges made

This week, there has been several reports of 16-19 providers refusing to allow Year 12 students to return for Year 13 after the students failed to meet the institutions’ grade requirements in their AS-levels. The Times reports on a London grammar school that told students they could not return because they did not achieve three B’s at AS level. Parents of some of the students have initiated legal action.  

The Times followed up its initial story with a quote from ta spokesperson from the Department for Education, who said Our regulations make clear that schools are not allowed to remove pupils from a sixth form because of academic attainment once they are enrolled. Excluding pupils temporarily or permanently for non-disciplinary reasons is unlawful.

If you have come across this practice in your local area, NGA would like to know; email tanaka.tizirai@nga.org.uk.


Free thirty hours of childcare starts on 1 September

From 1 September the majority of children aged between 3 and 4 are entitled to thirty hours of free childcare a week. According to the BBC, of the 390,000 parents eligible for the free childcare scheme, 200,000 have applied to the DfE.

Governors and trustees of schools with pre-school provision should be aware of the start of this initiative and the potential impact on their school.


Several post 16 area reviews published over the summer: essential reading for governors and trustees with post-16 provision

This week, the Department for Education has released reports and recommendations from a number of 16-19 education area reviews across England. Beginning in 2015, these reviews were designed to “ensure that colleges are financially stable into the longer-term” and “well-positioned to meet the present and future needs of individual students and the demands of employers”.

If you are a governor or trustee of a secondary school, particularly with a sixth-form, it is important that you understand the implications of the review in your area. Depending on the decisions that the review group make, and the willingness of the organisations to implement the changes, the post-16 offer in your area may become significantly different.

Over the summer, the following area review reports have been released :

For more information on the area reviews click here. If your post-16 provision has been affected by these reviews we would be interested to hear about it, email tom.fellows@nga.org.uk.


Rate of funding doubles for the PE and sports premium

On 28 July, the Department for Education released the latest rate of funding for the PE and sports premium in primary schools. Most state primary schools receive this money (for years 1 to 6). Due to the levy on soft drinks, introduced in 2017 as part of the governments “obesity strategy”, the rate of funding for the PE and sport premium has doubled when compared to 2016.

Schools will now receive £1,000 per pupil (if there are 16 or fewer in a school) or £16,000 (with 17 or more pupils) and an additional £10 per pupil. This money can be used for a range of sporting and exercise activities in schools (some examples listed here), but cannot be used to “teach the minimum requirements of the national curriculum” or “employ coaches or specialist teachers to cover planning preparation and assessment (PPA) arrangements”.

Like the pupil premium, governors and trustees are responsible for ensuring that this money is well spent. Click here for more information on governance responsibilities managing school premiums.


Closing the gap? Research on disadvantage and achievement

Research conducted by the Education Policy Institute, published in early August, found that if current trends continue it will take around 50 years for the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers to close completely.

The report, entitled ‘Closing the gap: Trends in Educational Attainment and Disadvantage’, looked at the attainment gap between pupils eligible for pupil premium and their peers at the end of key stages throughout their time in school. Key findings include:

  • between 2007 and 2016, the attainment gap as measured at the end of secondary school has narrowed by 3 months – but the gap for persistently disadvantaged pupils has widened slightly by 0.3 months
  • disadvantaged pupils were on average 19.3 months behind their peers by the time they took their GCSEs (in 2016)
  • there are variations between regions and local authority areas, with the biggest attainment gap found in the Isle of Wight (29 months) and the smallest in the London borough of Southwark, Wandsworth and Tower Hamlets (7 months)

Governing boards should be ensuring that they consider the progress of disadvantaged pupils (in comparison to other pupils in their school and nationally) and assessing the impact of their pupil premium spending. This is an area that NGA will be doing more work on in the coming year and there is information available in the Guidance Centre.


Amanda Spielman writes about safety culture in schools

During the summer holidays, Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector of Ofsted wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph looking at the safety culture in schools. Ms Spielman encouraged school leaders to “to distinguish between real and imagined risk” and to make decisions based on their “experienced judgement rather than feeling the need to invent and then conform to overly prescriptive policies”.

Acknowledging that “Ofsted hasn’t always got this right” Ms Spielman used this as a platform to announce that new Ofsted training will seek to strengthen the perception of safeguarding among inspectors, providing a more accurate focus on what schools should be doing to identify and help children potentially at risk of real harm. 

Governing boards have a responsibility for ensuring that neither pupils nor employees are put at unnecessary risk while at school or on school business – this includes school trips. School trips can be hugely beneficial for pupils as part of a broad and balanced curriculum, but governing boards should ensure that their risk assessment procedure is being closely followed ahead of any planned trip. For more information on health and safety, including our school trips guidance, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


Report on the number of primary schools meeting the national curriculum school swimming requirement

On July 24, the curriculum swimming and water safety review group published recommendations for getting every primary school child to reach the “minimum standard of water safety knowledge and swimming ability as stated in the national curriculum”. The national curriculum has three measures for ensuring pupils can swim, which includes every child being able to swim “at least 25 metres unaided” by the end of key stage 2. A survey of schools found that 26% were “not currently providing any curriculum swimming and water safety provision or not recording any attainment levels”.

Those governing in primary schools should check with executive leaders as to whether their school meets the national curriculum requirement for swimming. Although there are many challenges to accessing facilities, particularly in areas with a lack of pools, all efforts need to be made to fulfil the national curriculum requirement. As part of the report, the Swim Group made a number of recommendations to ministers for improving access to pool facilities and incentivising schools to fulfil the requirement. These recommendations are flagged throughout the report.


New Chief Executive at ESFA

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that Eileen Milner will be the new Chief Executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Currently a senior official at the Care Quality Commission, she will take over the role from Peter Lauener in November.

The ESFA (formerly the EFA) allocates revenue finding directly to academies and distributes maintained schools’ revenue funding to local authorities, as well as allocating capital funding to schools. It provides assurance to the DfE that public money is being used appropriately and has powers of intervention in the financial management of academy trusts.


NGA training and consultancy

Have you sorted your governing board’s training and development needs for the coming year? The range of sessions NGA offers has been reviewed, updated and extended. You can find details on the training tab of the NGA website, or you can click here

New this year are:

  • Your governance framework - getting the right people round the table

Does your governing board understand who it needs around the table and how to recruit the right people?

  • Your governance framework - good relationships and effective meetings

You and your governing board need to be as effective as possible and keeping relationships professional is a key factor in this.

  • Being strategic – managing risk

Effective governance requires an understanding of the key risks a school organisation faces and how these can be managed strategically.

  • Knowing your organisation – an introduction to data

The changes introduced through the replacement of RAISEonline by Analyse School Performance provide the opportunity for you to get to grips with how to use data effectively

  • Knowing your organisation – using data in your organisation

This provides individual governing boards with the opportunity to explore effective use of data to improve outcomes using their own school organisation’s Analyse School Performance and in year data.

Contact Serina or Matt at trainingadmin@nga.org.uk to book a session. Remember many of our sessions can be shared with other schools which can be a great opportunity for networking (and reduces the cost!)

From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 21/07/2017

New Edition of the Chair’s Handbook out now!

NGA-The-Chairs-Handbook-6th-edtion-2017-2018.png

The brand new 2017-18 edition of our best-selling guide The Chair’s Handbook is out now.

The Chair’s Handbook is the essential guide for chairs and aspiring chairs of governing boards. As well as a basic introduction, this guide will help you develop your team of governors or trustees, work effectively with the headteacher and senior management team, lead the school toward improvement  and manage the strategic business of the board. Seven packed chapters explore the challenges of being the chair:

  1. Leading governance in schools
  2. Becoming the chair
  3. Leading and developing the team
  4. The chair, the headteacher and accountability
  5. Leading school improvement
  6. Leading governing board business
  7. Leaving the chair

The guide has been updated to reflect changes in education policy and practice. 

Click here to buy your copy today!

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Government publishes response to EBacc consultation

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) published its response to the consultation on the Implementation of the English Baccalaureate. The consultation was open between 3 November 2015 and 29 January 2016 and received a total of 2,755 responses, 69 of which were submitted by school governors or trustees.

The key messages of the response are:

  • the “5 pillars” of the EBacc will focus on the “core academic subjects at GCSE”: English, maths, science, history or geography (humanities) and a language 
  • the government’s ambition is for 75% of year 10 pupils in mainstream schools to the undertake the EBacc by September 2022, rising to a target of 90% of pupils by 2025
  • pupil cohorts in university technical colleges, studio schools, further education colleges (with key stage 4 provision) and special schools will not be included these targets

The consultation document details several issues raised by respondents including:

  • the supply and retention of teachers trained in EBacc subjects
  • the preservation of the place of arts, technical and creative subjects in the wider curriculum
  • “how schools will maintain a broad and balanced curriculum”; 71% of out of 1709 respondents made reference to this issue

Initial findings from the 2017 NGA/ TES annual survey indicates that 40.3% of governors/ trustees had changed the curriculum in response to Progress 8 and EBacc performance measures (in line with 40.9% of governors/ trustees in 2016).

NGA’s response to the consultation was informed by the views of members who attended two consultation sessions we held in conjunction with the Department for Education. 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.

You can read NGA’s full evidence to the EBacc consultation here.


School funding update

On Monday 17 July the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, announced in a statement to Parliament that there would be additional funding for schools.  She said that in each of the next two years (2018-19 and 2019-20) an extra £1.3billion would be added into the schools budget.  This additional funding would be found from within the Department for Education’s (DfE) existing budget by making savings and efficiencies. 

As proposed in the funding consultation issued in December 2016, changes to funding arrangements would come into force in April 2018.  For 2018 the DfE will calculate the amount of funding to be given to local authorities (LAs) using its new methodology – ie calculating a budget for each school within that authority using the national funding formula (NFF) methodology.    It will then be for LAs to calculate the actual funding for each school according to its own local formula.  The consultation document had proposed that from 2019-20 the DfE would take over responsibility for calculating individual schools’ budgets using the NFF.   The announcement on Monday stated that in fact LAs will continue to remain responsible for calculating schools’ budgets for 2019-20.  This ‘postponement’ may well be a disappointment to some members and is almost certainly a result of the changed make-up of the House of Commons as well as the Parliamentary time needed for Brexit related business– as to move to a system in which the DfE calculates funding for all schools requires primary legislation.  It may be possible for the DfE to shift local formula towards the factors and values to be used in the NFF through changes to secondary legislation (ie the School Finance Regulations).

NGA welcomes the additional funding announced by the Secretary of State, but according to initial calculations by the Institute of Financial Studies (IFS), even with the extra funding, schools’ budgets will still have declined in real terms by 4.6% between 2015-2020.

The extra funding does show that all the campaigning by all those in the education sector, including by NGA and our members, has had an impact. There is still more to be done and we would urge members to continue to write to their MPs to keep the pressure up.

The full details of the impact of these changes and the responses to consultation document will be published in September.


Financial benchmarking information

The Secretary of State also announced on 17 July that the Department for Education’s Schools financial benchmarking site had been updated and improved.

The site will enable maintained schools and academies to compare their performance data and spending levels with schools that share similar characteristics such as:

  • pupil numbers
  • school phase/type
  • proportion of pupils with special educational needs
  • proportion of pupils who are eligible for free school meals
  • proportion of pupils with English as an additional language

You can choose to compare your school with DfE pre-selected comparators or use the functionality of the system to choose your own comparators – eg if you are an infant school as well as relevant pupil characteristics you can also choose to compare to other infant schools only.

As with any comparison site this is intended as tool to start a conversation – rather than a call to immediate action.   It should be used to prompt questions and discussion, not as a stick to beat your business manager and headteacher with.

Although the site has now formally launched, the DfE is still interested in feedback – if once you’ve used it you have any comments these can be emailed to: cfr.benchmarking@education.gov.uk

The site is part of the DfE’s wider Schools Financial Health and Efficiency pages. 

NGA’s guidance centre also contains information for governing boards.


Update on Analyse School Performance and RAISEonline

The Department for Education (DfE) launched an updated and improved version of Analyse school performance (ASP) on 19th July. The service now provides 2017 Question Level Analysis (QLA) data and named pupil data.

The DfE are asking schools to log into ASP now to make it quicker and easier to gain access to 2017 data as it continues to become available. Help with logging into ASP is available here.

The RAISEonline service will close on Monday 31st July, therefore any data that needs to be saved e.g. school summary reports, needs to be saved before this date.

NGA is currently working on the content of a brand new new workshop for the 2017/18 academic year which will provide those governing with an opportunity to build confidence using the new system. Further details will follow in the coming weeks.


Updated DfE exclusions guidance

The Department for Education (DfE) has published updated guidance on school exclusion following a consultation earlier this year. The changes are intended to bring clarification to the rules that apply to exclusions and process of review.

The consultation outcome is now available and you can also read NGA’s response to the consultation, which was submitted in April.

This coincides with the publication of official statistics, showing that the number and rate of both permanent exclusions and fixed period exclusions have increased since the previous year. Pupils with special education needs (SEN) accounted for almost half of exclusions in 2015/16 and pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) were also more likely to be excluded than their peers.

Read the updated DfE guidance. The NGA is in the process of updating our guide for governing boards.


New Questions for Governors: careers guidance

The Wellcome Trust has launched a career guidance component of its Questions for Governors online resource, developed in partnership with the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby and with input from NGA. This free resource gives governors and trustees a set of challenging strategic questions, benchmarks to compare their school with others, and links to resources and ideas for further improvement.

You can access the questions for at: www.questionsforgovernors.co.uk


Research finds significant capacity for school-to-school support

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has published a new analysis which found “significant capacity in the system for same-phase high-performing schools to collaborate with schools in need in close proximity”.

The study identified 5,677 ‘high performing’ and 2,511 ‘underperforming’ schools based on performance data and Ofsted judgements and then looked at the number of ‘high-performing’ schools within a set radius of each ‘underperforming’ school (the distance was set at two, five, or 10 miles for urban, semi-rural, and rural schools respectively).

The analysis found that there were an average of nine high-performing primary schools within these distances of each underperforming primary school and two high-performing secondary schools within these distances of each underperforming secondary school. There were, however, notable regional and local differences: schools in need of support in London, for example, had a higher number of high-performing schools nearby than schools in the South West.

Overall, the findings paint a positive picture of the capacity for school-to-school support across the country. The effectiveness of any such arrangement will depend on the needs and characteristics of each of the schools involved but governing boards should look to engage with neighbouring schools and ensure that their school(s) are giving and receiving support through productive partnerships.


Parents’ and teachers’ views on Ofsted

Ofsted has published the results of surveys of parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of the inspectorate’s work. Findings which may be of interest to governing boards include:

  • 87% of parents know the Ofsted rating their child’s school received
  • Two-thirds of parents believe that Ofsted provides a reliable measure of school quality
  • 57% of parents use Ofsted reports for information about a setting their child already attends, while 42% use them to help choose a school
  • 57% of teachers said inspection provided a fair and accurate assessment of their school (of those that didn’t, 11% said it was too lenient and 25% that it was too harsh)
  • 86% of teachers agree that “Ofsted inspection introduces unacceptable levels of burden into the system”
  • 76% of teachers feel that Ofsted’s myth busting initiative has permeated through their school to some extent

Initial findings from the 2017 NGA and TES survey suggest that governors and trustees are more likely than parents or teachers to believe that Ofsted reports give a fair and accurate picture of a school, with 81% agreeing with this statement.

Governing boards may wish to consider parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of Ofsted, and especially how these might impact on staff wellbeing in the run up to an inspection.

For more information on Ofsted inspection, visit the NGA guidance centre.


Insight into workings of academy trusts

The Department for Education (DfE) has published findings of a survey of academy trusts. The responses received from 326 multi academy trusts (MATs) and 542 single academy trusts (SATs) shed light on the reasons schools have converted and how they are using academy status. 

Findings include:

  • the average MAT board consists of around 8 trustees
  • the majority of SATs support other schools, often through joint practice development
  • reasons that SATs have not converted to become MATs include not being convinced of the benefits and concerns about retaining autonomy and a sense of identity for the school
  • while most MATs ‘top-slice’ a proportion of their schools’ budgets to pay for shared services, only 18% currently redistribute funds between schools in their trust
  • most MATs allow some flexibility for individual schools in their approach to teaching and learning
  • in MATs, the responsibilities trust boards are least likely to delegate were financial compliance, legal compliance, and appointing headteachers; the responsibilities which were most likely to be delegated were school development action plans, setting individual school strategy, and designing school staffing structures

For more information about the academy structures and collaboration, visit the NGA guidance centre.


DfE releases research on how mainstream schools and colleges provide special educational needs (SEN) support

The Department for Education (DfE) has released a research report exploring how mainstream schools and colleges provide special educational needs (SEN) support. The report looks at how SEN is identified in schools, where referrals come from and what support is available for children and young people on SEN support such as classroom resources and the deployment of teaching assistants.

Survey responses indicated that it is standard practice for students with language and communication difficulties to be referred to a Speech and Language Therapist. The deployment of teaching assistants was largely viewed as a valuable resource, while the report also recognised potential barriers to effective support including staffing and resourcing issues.

Also released this week is a report comparing levels of happiness and psychological difficulties between children with and without special educational needs (SEN) in 2012 to 2013.

In the report data on child wellbeing is identified in two ways: subjective wellbeing, using a satisfaction scale in relation to the various aspects of a child’s life including school, and psychological wellbeing, which focuses more on mental health.

The research found that “children with SEN have similar levels of unhappiness to children without SEN regarding their appearance, their family and life as a whole, but there were differences when looking at other areas of their lives”. However, the report did find that children with SEN do have higher levels of unhappiness than children without SEN on a number of issues including school work, their school and with their friends.

Governing boards should ask how pupil-wellbeing is gauged and seek assurances that steps are in place to manage this. Those governing should also be confident that the resources available for the benefit of pupils with SEN are appropriate and effective.


Inequality in education

This week has seen the publication of The Social Market Foundation’s “Commission on Inequality in Education”, an independent, cross-party initiative which examined the causes and effects of inequality in education at primary and secondary levels in England and Wales.

The commission reviewed the evidence on inequality in education, drawing attention to a number of significant factors affecting how successful a child is at school, including ethnicity, where they live and parental income.

Evidence of the widening education gap between regions is seen to be particularly noteworthy, with regional disparities being wider in the UK now than in other western European nations.

Some of the report’s key findings are:

  • the performance gap between the richest and the poorest has remained persistently large between the mid 1980’s and the mid 2000’s, with no significant improvement
  • GCSE performance at 16 across England  reveals marked disparities between regions
  • the geographic area a child comes from is a more powerful predictive factor of performance for those born in 2000 compared to 1970
  • pupils in schools serving areas of higher deprivation are much more likely to have teachers without an academic degree in a relevant subject
  • on average, not reading to a chid at age 5 decreases their age 11 test score by 1.5 points

The report addresses the potential for pressures on school budgets to create obstacles to progress.  It also suggests that evidence for structural reform in reducing inequality is both disputed and limited.  With this in mind, recommendations focused on the role of teachers and families, finding compelling evidence of the impact they could have on outcomes:

  • schools in disadvantaged areas should have access to a fund for providing incentives to teachers that make housing more affordable
  • it should be a condition of gaining the headship qualification that a teacher has been in  middle leadership in a disadvantaged area
  • the government should launch a programme of after school “family literacy” classes in primary schools with above average proportions of children eligible for Free School meals


Academies planning calendar

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has published a planning calendar for the academic year 2017/18, for academy trusts. Particularly relevant for trust boards include:

September 2017

  • 2017 Academies Financial Handbook comes into force

October 2017

  • Public consultation on proposed changes to admission arrangements for entry in September 2019 or if the academy trust has not consulted in the last seven years.

December 2017

  • Audited financial statements for 2016/17 and auditor’s management letter must be submitted by 31 December.

January 2018

  • 2016/17 accounts return must be submitted by 19 January.
  • 2016/17 audited financial statements must be published by 31 January.

February 2018

  • Academies must determine their admission arrangements for entry in September 2019, by 28 February.
  • Admission appeals timetable must be published on the academy’s website by 28 February.

March 2018

  • Admission arrangements for entry in September 2019 must be published on academies’ websites and a copy must be sent to the local authority by 15 March.

May 2018

  • 2017/18 budget forecast return: outturn must be submitted by 18 May.
  • Audited financial statements must be submitted to Companies House within 9 months of the accounting period, which is 31 May.

July 2018

  • 2018/19 budget forecast return must be submitted by 27 July.


NGA Trustee Elections

Each year a proportion of the NGA board of trustees comes up for election. This year nominations are sought in four regions: East of England, London, South East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The NGA recognises that a diverse board can help to strengthen decision-making by considering issues from more perspectives. We would welcome nominations in particular from candidates from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

For more information about standing for the NGA Board – see the information on the website.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 14/07/2017

STRB 27th Report

On the 10 July the Department for Education released the School Teacher Review Body’s (STRB) recommendations on teachers’ pay and the Secretary of State’s response to those recommendations.

The STRB has recommended the following:

  • 2% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the main pay range
  • 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the upper pay range, the unqualified teacher pay range and the leading practitioner pay range
  • 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the leadership group pay range and all head teacher group pay ranges
  • 1% uplift to the maxima and minima of the Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) and Special Educational Needs (SEN) allowance ranges

The Secretary of State has accepted all the STRB’s recommendations. The intention is that these recommendations will be implemented from September 2017 in an updated School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD). These recommendations apply to all maintained schools and any academies who have adopted the STPCD or have staff entitled to its conditions through TUPE.

The NGA argued that the significant recruitment and retention challenges being faced by schools will not be assisted by the continued restrictions on public sector pay. We also proposed that any pay increase needed to be fully funded and we will be reiterating that message in our response to the Secretary of State.


Sir Kevan Collins appointed as DfE “Evidence Champion”

On 12 July, the secretary of state for education, Justine Greening, opened proceedings at the Sutton Trust Social Mobility summit, stating that “social mobility has always been an issue of profound importance” and that “Britain faces a social mobility emergency”. With a specific focus on the “Opportunity Areas”, described by the DfE as social mobility “coldspots”, Ms Greening emphasised the importance of the “intelligent use of evidence” in developing innovative solutions to poor performance.

It was announced that Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and keynote speaker at this year’s NGA summer conference, will become the DfE’s new “Evidence Champion” across the Opportunity areas, to help ensure that the “every single pound of investment [and] every intervention at a local level … will make a difference”.

It is hoped that the establishment of a Research School, organised by the EEF, in each of the Opportunity Areas, will enable this evidence-based practice to be implemented and contribute to improving social mobility across each area.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Dr Fiona McMillan and Sir Martin Narey will chair the partnership boards in Derby, West Somerset and Scarborough respectively. These boards will forge local links with “early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and LAs”.

The speech can be read in full here.


Amanda Spielman addresses the Association of Directors of Children's Services conference

This week, Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted delivered a speech about the importance of supportive leadership and the future of local authority children’s services inspections.

The address acknowledged the challenges of the growing population and the pressures this places on school places in “an ever more fragmented education landscape”, with Ofsted continuing to refine their processes to make the inspection framework as effective and consistent as possible.

Curriculum practice has been a particular focus during Ms Spielman’s first year in post; it was announced that Ofsted will be exploring whether routine inspection needs “rebalancing in favour of the curriculum”. If so, this will be reflected in the new inspection framework being developed for 2019.

The speech also drew attention to the needs of children outside of mainstream education, and the collective responsibility that Ofsted share in relation to these children. You can read the speech in full here.


DfE survey: pupils, parents and carers omnibus

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) published its report on the second wave of the omnibus survey of pupils, parents and carers in England. The survey provides key information on the views and experiences of school life for both parents/carers and pupils. The report on the first wave of the omnibus survey, conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of the department, was published in January.

Overall, a total of 1,595 paired parent/carer and pupil questionnaires were completed. Questions covered a range of topics including parental choice of a child’s secondary school, changes to school timetables, changes at school, bullying, subject choices and careers guidance. Significant findings include:

  • the most prevalent reason for choosing a school was academic performance followed by location
  • over half of parents/carers (54%) were in favour of extending the length of the school day for at least some pupils, with that time being directed at career guidance and academic support
  • of the 86% of pupils who had heard of the reforms to GCSE’s, 9% said they understood the rationale for the reforms
  • while a third of pupils reported being bullied for one of the given reasons listed, only 9% of parents/carers concurred; 45% of pupils said they had been bullied during the last year
  • 85% of parents/carers thought that ‘enjoying the subject or finding it interesting’ was the most important consideration when choosing a subject for GCSEs or A levels

In order to govern effectively, boards need to know their schools: this is one of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance. Governing boards should do everything they can to ensure that both pupils’ and parents’ views are gathered and acted upon appropriately and that the results are reported. For more information on pupils and parents and how to engage with them, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


DfE survey: teacher voice omnibus

In the autumn of 2016, the Department for Education (DfE) used another survey to collate the views of teachers and senior leaders relating to: curriculum reform, professional development, alternative provision, character education, bullying, careers, and support for pupils with special educational needs.

Some of the main findings include:

  • a higher proportion of secondary school leaders said they would attempt to recruit outside the UK
  • 71% of teachers indicated they were confident in implementing the Prevent duty
  • in supporting pupils on SEN support to improve progress and attainment, 83% of teachers used their own professional judgement, 77% used standard pupil monitoring.

The full research report can be accessed here.


CBI and Pearson report into the relationship between business and schools

This week, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pearson released the results of their 2017 skills survey. Conducted between February and April 2017, 340 employers were surveyed. The researchers found that the “most important factor employers consider when recruiting school and college leavers is their attitude to work (86%), followed by their aptitude for work (63%) and general academic ability (43%)”.

The report also outlined that young people are perceived to lack “skills of analysis”, “resilience” and “self-regulation”, but were generally good at “teamwork” and had a positive “attitude to work”. In terms of primary school pupils, businesses also believed that schools should focus on “self-management”, “literacy and numeracy” and “technical skills”. A large number of those surveyed reported the need to “address shortfalls in skills amongst young recruits”, with 26% putting on numeracy training for school/college leavers.

Encouragingly, the report also found that businesses were engaging more with schools, with 81% of businesses working with secondary schools to deliver careers advice. However, three quarters expressed an interest in helping more with careers education with 84% felt that careers advice was not good enough.

83% saw apprenticeships as a valuable route into business and a third intended to use the money to develop existing staff rather than “increasing access to new talent” (20%). Furthermore, nearly half struggled to fill apprenticeship places, 33% believed there was a lack of guidance on the new system and 29% highlighted that there was significant “inflexibility” in the system.

Pupils need to be given the best possible opportunity for a successful life after school. Governors and trustees need to be satisfied that the school is meeting its statutory responsibilities regarding careers provision, ensuring an effective and relevant Careers Education and Guidance policy in place. For more information, see the NGA Guidance Centre.


New Edge Foundation report calling for revamp of 14-19 education provision

The Edge Foundation has released a report into 14-19 education provision. The report starts by looking at three fundamental changes impacting society – the skills gap, the digital revolution and Brexit. It then seeks to address three “key missed opportunities” from the past. These were:

  • the failure to unify 14-19 education following the 2004 Tomlinson Review
  • the lack of good quality careers guidance, partly down to a lack of funding
  • the decision to extend the school leaving age from 16 to 18 instead of creating a “new phase of education”

To address these issues, the report argued that there needed to be:

  • a “broad, balanced and relevant” 16-19 curriculum
  • provision to allow young people to sit their GCSEs when ready, rather than at 16
  • the ability for student’s to go into apprenticeships from a younger age
  • better “careers guidance and employer engagement”, with advice offered from the age of 13 and greater employer engagement for 14-19 year olds
  • more “support and freedom” for teachers, including more planning time and training opportunities (particular around working with businesses)

Governors and trustees may want to speak with their executive leaders to explore some of the issues raised in the report more detail, such as ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum, providing impartial careers advice and generating CPD opportunities for teaching staff. See the NGA Guidance Centre for more information.


New NGA blog

This week, the DfE has published research by NGA in collaboration with the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) into “Defining and collecting metrics on the quality of school governance: a feasibility study”. In a new blog, chief executive Emma Knights reflects on the study and asks: have we gone as far as we can go with measuring?


Your last chance to have a say in the biggest governance survey of the year!

There are only a few days left to have your say in the 2017 NGA and TES survey, open to all governors, trustees, and academy committee members, including headteachers. You do not have to be an NGA member to take part – please share it with others on your governing board and your wider networks!

The survey aims to build a picture of who is governing our schools, of governance practice, and to understand the impact of government policies on schools. This includes key issues, such as the current crisis in school funding. The findings will be vital as we continue to campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased.

The more responses, the stronger the voice of governing boards in national education policy, so don’t miss the chance to have your say! Click here to take the survey which closes on Monday 17 July.

From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 07/07/2017

DfE confirms ministerial portfolios

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed the portfolios of its ministerial team following the general election. The former Minister of State for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, lost his seat in the election while the former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities, and Early Years, Caroline Dinenage has also left the DfE. Two new appointments have been announced. The confirmed portfolios of the ministerial team are:

  • Justine Greening continues as Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities and retains overall responsibility for the DfE and the Government Equalities Office.
  • Nick Gibb continues as Minister of State for School Standards with an expanded brief that includes Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) and Sex and Relationship Education (SRE). Mr Gibb has also been appointed Minister for Equalities.
  • Robert Goodwill has been appointed Minister of State for Children and Families. His remit includes school funding, special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and social mobility in the 12 opportunity areas.
  • Jo Johnson continues as Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation which covers both the DfE and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  • Anne Milton has been appointed Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills and Minister for Women.
  • Lord Nash continues as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System and retains responsibility for school governance.


Primary school test results released by DfE

National key stage 2 results released by the Department for Education (DfE) this week show that the percentage of children achieving the expected standard in primary school has risen. The results show that 61% of primary school children in England achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics, compared to 53% last year.

The results for individual subjects compared to last year were as follows:

  • 71% of pupils met the expected standard in reading, compared to 66% last year
  • 75% of pupils met the expected standard in mathematics, compared to 70% last year
  • 77% of pupils met the expected standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling, compared to 73% last year
  • 76% of pupils met the expected standard in writing, compared to 74% last year

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said that the “results show sustained progress in reading, writing and maths and are a testament to the hard work of teachers and pupils across England.” 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said that “comparisons with last year are inevitable but they are also unwise, as last year’s results were unexpectedly low and pupils were being assessed at a time when the curriculum and assessment methods had changed significantly…it is necessary to take these results with a pinch of salt”.

The 2016 results were not directly comparable to test results from previous years, which were under a different system of assessment. Results changed from being reported as levels, instead with each pupil receiving their test results as score between 120 and 80 – with 100 being the expected standard. It’s important for governing boards to take the time to make sense of this year’s data while considering the national picture. For more information on primary assessment visit the Monitoring Performance section of the NGA Guidance Centre.


A change of direction for school funding?

With growing concerns from school leaders, headteachers and parents about the squeeze on school budgets, Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, has become the latest senior minister to seek a change of direction on public spending. The Daily Telegraph reported that the Secretary of State has asked for an abandonment of plans to cut per pupil funding, calling for “a public statement within weeks making it clear the change in direction so schools know where they stand before the summer holidays”.

The Education Policy Institute published a research note this week, concluding that in order to address the inflation pressures faced by schools, the Government would need to allocate an additional £1.3bn in the schools budget by 2021-22, over and above the £4bn commitment made in the Conservative manifesto.

The report analyses how the new government could proceed with school funding and a new National Funding Formula, and its key findings include:

  • Without the £1.3bn, there would be a real-terms per pupil reduction of 3 per cent by the end of the Parliament.
  • No longer being able to rely upon redirecting savings from abolishing universal infant free school meals (UIFSM), the Chancellor already faced challenges to deliver the £4bn manifesto commitment.
  • The government has committed to introducing a new national funding formula with no losers in cash terms, at a potential cost of £350m per year. If the government did decide to put in the extra £1.3bn to protect real per pupil spending, then some of the extra money could be used to help ensure that schools in lower funded areas saw bigger budget rises.
  • The government needs to confirm whether it will maintain its commitment to implement the national funding formula in April 2018. Local authorities and schools need to know how much funding they are likely to have next year so that they can plan accordingly.

It remains to be seen if the Education Secretary will get the assurances she is seeking – keep an eye on the news section of the NGA website and the NGA Funding the Future campaign for further updates.


Nick Gibb questioned in House of Commons on school funding

Meanwhile, responding to questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards has confirmed the government will drop plans for removing infant free school meals and that no school will see a cut in funding as a result of the move to the new national funding formula.

Despite fears that the new formula would be delayed by one year due to the general election last month, the minister also told MPs that there would be no delay and “we are moving to the national funding formula in 2018-19”.

The full discussion can be accessed here.


Sixth-form budget underspent by £200 million

Following a parliamentary question on 26 June by the co-leader of the Green party, Caroline Lucas MP, it has emerged that the department for education (DfE) underspent on their 16-19 budget by “around £200 million”. The DfE had allocated £5.9 billion to 16-19 education, with only £5.7 billion finding its way to providers. This is despite budgets for 16-19 year olds falling by 14% between 2010 and 2015. Furthermore, the government has previously acknowledged that 16-19 funding is “tight” and commissioned a series of area reviews to reform sixth-form provision across the country.

Ms Lucas is the vice-chair of the APPG for sixth-form colleges. Speaking to TES, she stated that “school sixth forms and colleges are facing huge financial pressures, so it is hard to understand why £200 million of the sixth-form education budget has not reached the education frontline. The government needs to clarify where this money has gone and ensure that it is redirected to school sixth forms and colleges as soon as possible”.

For more information on 16-19 education, including an article specifically looking at the topic of funding for sixth forms, visit the NGA guidance centre.


Government offers support for late pupil fines

The government has chosen to back the decision of local authorities who have decided to penalise parents whose children are persistently late to registration. The TES reports that councils and schools in the West Midlands, Hampshire and Essex have implemented the policy, which leaves parents facing fines of £60, increasing to £120, where not paid within 21 days.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) stated that ‘’pupils being punctual to lessons not only benefits their learning, but also helps them develop core skills which will stand them in good stead for future employment.

It is right that schools monitor patterns of lateness and address it where it becomes a concern.’’

Governing boards should consider punctuality within the overall picture of behaviour and attendance in the school, specifically questioning if there are any persistent late-comers – if so, what impact is this having? See Knowing Your School: Questions for governing bodies to ask question seven on behaviour for more information.


New report on the impact of the Prevent duty in schools

The Prevent duty for schools was introduced two years ago this month. To mark the occasion, the University of Coventry has published a research report on What the Prevent Duty means for School and Colleges in England. This report draws upon 70 interviews with school staff in 14 schools; interviews with 8 local authority Prevent professionals and an online survey of 255 people working in education.

The report found that:

  • The message that Prevent is about ‘all forms of extremism’ and that it should form part of a schools’ wider safeguarding duty, is widely accepted.
  • There has been some opposition around the requirement to teach British values, which is linked to Prevent. In particular, schools are uneasy about calling the values “British” and are unsure about how to embed this into the curriculum effectively.
  • Staff who are not part of “safeguarding teams”, or are relatively junior in a school, are less confident about fulfilling the Prevent duty. Nevertheless, many practitioners reject the idea that Prevent has had a “chilling effect” on students in the classroom.
  • There were “widespread concerns” that the Prevent duty caused “increased stigmatism of Muslim students”.

Commenting on the report, Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT, outlined that “schools need appropriate support to ensure that the Prevent duty is being implemented in a way which supports equality and diversity in schools and promotes community cohesion.”

Governing boards should consider their Prevent duties in the context of the organisation’s wider safeguarding responsibilities. To find out more about Prevent, British values and the governing board’s wider safeguarding responsibilities, visit the NGA guidance centre.


Justine Greening provides more information about T-levels

On Thursday, the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, delivered a speech to the British Chambers of Commerce Education Summit on the introduction of T-levels for 16-19 year olds, which were announced in March. Ms Greening stated that she wanted to “create an army of skilled young people for British business”, describing T-levels as “a gold standard for technical and professional excellence”. Greening also announced that:

  • from April 2018, there will be a £50 million investment for work placements – these will form a crucial part of the T-level
  • a further £15 million to “contribute to improvements in further education so we have the colleges and teachers we need to deliver the new T levels”
  • an increased remit for the Further Education Commissioner to take on responsibility for Further Education Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges
  • a Department for Education Summit at the start of the next academic year to develop T levels with businesses

For governors and trustees, particularly in secondary schools, understanding the options available to school leavers is vital to ensuring that the school offers impartial and informed careers advice. Where appropriate, those governing may want to consider gaining assurances from executive leaders that young people are aware of all post-16 routes and opportunities, including the new T-levels. For more on the governing board’s careers advice duty, take a look at the NGA guidance .


Update on Analyse School Performance and RAISEonline

On Monday 31st July the RAISEonline service will close, with the Department for Education (DfE) asking schools to save any data needed from RAISEonline such as school summary reports before this date. Schools are also being asked to log into the replacement service, Analyse School Performance (ASP), before the end of the summer term.


Education Endowment Foundation release more information on teaching and learning initiatives that work

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, was this year’s keynote speaker at the NGA summer conference, focusing on education reform, social justice, harnessing evidence to improve outcomes and using the EEF teaching and learning toolkit . This week the EEF have published several evaluation reports of teaching and learning initiatives.

These include a study on the dialogic teaching initiative which found that pupils who were asked to “discuss, speculate, argue and explain, rather than simply give the expected answers” had increased “maths, science and English results”. Pupils made an average two months more progress over two years than their peers who had not benefited from the initiative.

The studies featured support the idea found in the “teaching and learning toolkit” that metacognition strategies (“encouraging pupils to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning”) are an effective and cost efficient way of helping pupils make up to an additional 8 months of progress.

Governors and trustees are encouraged to use the EEF teaching and learning toolkit to challenge senior leaders on the initiatives they implement for the pupil premium. Those governing that are interested in learning more about the EEF, and how they should use the teaching and learning toolkit, may want to consider reading the NGA guidance on monitoring the impact of the pupil premium.


Have your say in the biggest governance survey of the year!

The NGA has once again joined forces with the Times Educational Supplement (TES) to conduct the biggest school governance survey of the year.

The survey is open to all governors, trustees, and academy committee members, including headteachers. You do not have to be an NGA member to take part – please share it with others on your governing board and your wider networks!

The survey aims to build a picture of who is governing our schools, of governance practice, and to understand the impact of government policies on schools. This includes key issues, such as the current crisis in school funding. The findings will be vital as we continue to campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased.

The more responses, the stronger the voice of governing boards in national education policy, so don’t miss the chance to have your say! Click here to take the survey which is open until Monday 17 July.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 30/06/2017

Justine Greening: no school will lose funding under formula

This week, the secretary of state for education Justine Greening reaffirmed the government’s commitment that no school will lose funding under the national funding formula proposals. Speaking in parliament during the Education and Local Services debate, following last week’s Queen’s speech, Ms Greening said “as we outlined in our manifesto, we will make sure that no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula.”

In response, Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central said “although the Government say they are protecting budgets in cash terms, they are not protecting them in real terms, so even the winners from the fair funding formula will still lose 3% of their budgets, whereas the losers will lose more than 11%. Every school in the country is a loser.”

NGA are continuing their campaign for an increase in real-terms school funding to account for increased cost pressures facing schools; you can read more on the Funding the Future campaign page. NGA also encourage members to share their views about the school funding situation at their school or academy in the 2017 NGA/TES survey.


NGA Summer Conference: presentations now available

NGA was delighted to see so many governors, trustees and clerks from across the country attend the NGA summer conference, which was a huge success with lively contributions from members.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, was this year’s keynote speaker, focusing on education policy, education reform and social justice, and how to harness evidence to improve outcomes for all.

The presentations slides from the conference are now available to view online.


Updated NGA complaints guidance & model procedure

All schools face complaints at some stage, and they are required by law to have a procedure for dealing with them. If you are thinking about your schools complaints procedure, you can download the updated NGA guidance complete with a model complaints procedure to use in your school. This should be tailored to your own school context.

If you previously used the NGA model procedure, please ensure you are now using the updated version which has been amended in line with current legislation. Click here to access the guidance and procedure.


Sue Baldwin announced as new regional schools commissioner for the East of England and North East London

The Department for Education (DfE) has appointed Sue Baldwin as the new regional schools commissioner for the East of England and North East London. She replaces Tim Coulson who announced his resignation in April. In her previous role, Ms Baldwin was the director of school efficiency at the DfE.

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.


Governor and trustee views sought on headteacher recruitment and standards

The 2012 Guide to headteacher recruitment and selection published by NGA and the National College for School Leadership is being updated.

The work is being sponsored by Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner, and NGA is pleased to be co-drafting the new document with the Department for Education (DfE). A Task and Finish Group met this week in order to get the work underway.

The purpose of the review is to ensure that the guide reflects current good practice and the increasing diversity in leadership roles such as Executive Headteachers and MAT CEO’s and it is expected to be published on the GOV.UK website at the end of the autumn term.

Alongside the work on headteacher recruitment the DfE is looking at how the National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers is being used by governors and trustees as well as education professionals.

For both pieces of work, the views of those governing are being sought and the DfE has devised a list of questions. Please send all responses directly to Frances Wickstead (frances.wickstead@education.gov.uk), by Monday 10 July.


Secondary school staff get mental health 'first aid' training

The Department for Health has announced £200,000 of funding for a mental health ‘first aid’ training programme to help secondary school teachers identify and respond to the early signs of mental health issues in young people. The funding will initially cover 1,000 staff and will to be extended in years 2 and 3 to cover all schools in England. The Youth Mental Health First Aid One Day course will be delivered by the charity Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

According to a report published in May 2017 by the joint Education and Select Committees into the role of education in supporting the mental health of young people, half of all cases of mental illness in adult life start before the age of 15 and one in 10 children aged between 5 and 16 have had a diagnosed mental disorder.

Teachers participating in the one-day programme will receive advice on how to identify and deal with “issues such as depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders”. Those participating in the programme will be invited to become a Youth MHFA Champion to share their knowledge and experiences across schools and to act as an advocate for mental health awareness.

Governing boards have a vital role to play when it comes to pupil wellbeing. For more information on how to promote positive wellbeing in schools, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


New NFER report exploring staff movement across a MAT

A new report from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) focuses on the extent to which school staff move between schools within their Multi-academy trust (MAT). This research, which forms part of a wider Nuffield Foundation project, draws upon School Workforce Census data from 2010-2015. The key findings include:

  • Whereas seven per cent of teaching staff move schools per year on average, this rises to ten per cent in MATs. Of those who move on, 10% of classroom teachers and 30% of school leaders’ moved to another school within the same MAT.
  • Staff are ten times more likely to join a local school if it is within their MAT, compared to a school of a similar distance not within the MAT. This suggests that “MATs have internal teacher labour markets that are somewhat distinct from the teacher labour market in the local area outside of the MAT”.

Exploring the reasons why staff are more likely to move in MATs, the NFER suggests that CEOs and executive headteachers are likely to “take a strategic approach to redeployment that sees staff moved to where they are most needed”. The NFER found that MAT teaching staff are often redeployed to challenging schools, with leaders seeing this as a way of building new leaders from within.


Pupil Premium Awards finalists announced

Congratulations to the winners of the Pupil Premium Awards 2017 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.

The national winners for each category were:

  • Early Years - Comet Nursery School & Children’s Centre, Hackney, London
  • Primary - Springfield Junior School, Suffolk
  • Secondary – Sacred Heart RC School, Camberwell, London 
  • Pupil Premium Plus - Rose Bridge Academy, Lancashire
  • Special Schools and Alternative Provision Schools - Bristol Gateway, Bristol

More information on the winners and the runners up can be found here.

For more on strategies to get the most out of the pupil premium, see NGA’s guidance centre.


ESRC project: supporting and engaging schools in decision-making and multi-agency working for the protection of children

King’s College London have been awarded a grant by the Economic and Social research Council (ESRC) to examine how schools are supported and engaged in multi-agency work to protect and safeguard children. The project will run until 30 September 2019.

Governing boards have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils in their schools. To that end, they must ensure that their schools contribute to inter-agency working, in line with the statutory guidance, Working together to safeguard children, so that a coordinated offer of early help from the police, social care, health services and other services can be implemented to protect children identified as having additional needs from harm.

NGA met with Dr Mary Baginsky, a member of the project team, to discuss the issues that schools face in this regard, how multi-agency working has changed over the last five to ten years, the usefulness of guidance and what sources of support are available. She would also be interested in any insights that schools would be willing to share by email. Her contact email address is: Mary.Baginsky@kcl.ac.uk.

*All insights would be treated in confidence and no individual /school / or authority would be named.


Social Mobility Commission report: Government Policies on Social Mobility 1997-2017

The social mobility commission published its Time for change report on 28 June 2017. The report examines the different public policies approached during the last two decades and warns that despite the government’s effort to make social mobility one of the “holy grails of public policy” in the last two decades, progression has been too slow.

The report primarily focuses on early years, schools, young people, and individual working lives, and concludes that “schools are not yet the engines of social mobility they should be”. Within the report the following key points were made:

  • spending on education increased in the first decade, but is “now falling in the second”
  • “tougher inspection and accountability regimes have helped raised standards”
  • efforts to tackle the issues of recruitment and retention in teaching have stalled
  • two thirds of disadvantaged children still do not get five good GCSEs at age 16, and there is currently no prospect that this will change in the coming years
  • careers advice in schools is declining

The report goes on to make several recommendations, including implementing effective incentives to retain good quality teachers, and developing a more balanced curriculum.


Schools able to challenge exam results based on “marking and moderation error”

This week, Ofqual has announced that schools will receive a “second opportunity to challenge GCSE, AS level, A level and project results if they continue to have concerns about marking or moderation errors”. This is in addition to “their existing right to appeal results on the grounds that an exam board hasn’t followed its own procedures”.

This year, schools will only be able to challenge AS and A level results. However, this will be “extended to GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths in 2018, and to all remaining GCSE subjects in 2019”.

Although governing boards cannot challenge results themselves, they may want to alert their executive leader to the changes.


Have your say in the biggest governance survey of the year!

The NGA has once again joined forces with the Times Educational Supplement (TES) to conduct the biggest school governance survey of the year.

The survey is open to all governors, trustees, and academy committee members, including headteachers. You do not have to be an NGA member to take part – please share it with others on your governing board and your wider networks!

The survey aims to build a picture of who is governing our schools, of governance practice, and to understand the impact of government policies on schools. This includes key issues, such as the current crisis in school funding. The findings will be vital as we continue to campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased.

The more responses, the stronger the voice of governing boards in national education policy, so don’t miss the chance to have your say! Click here to take the survey which is open until Monday 17 July.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 23/06/2017

Queen’s Speech: education policies

On Wednesday, the Queen’s Speech set out the government’s legislative programme for the next two years.

Several policies which the Conservatives included in their manifesto, such as removing the ban on new selective schools and ending universal infant free school meals, were not included in the speech. However, the government has said that it will “look at all options and work with Parliament to bring forward proposals that can command a majority”. The government will continue to convert “failing” schools to academies.

On the national funding formula, the government say they “will deliver on our manifesto commitment to make funding fairer” but no mention is made of the timescale. Reference is made to the manifesto commitments to increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022 and to continue to protect the pupil premium.

The speech also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reform technical education.

Full details are available on pages 63-65 of the government’s background briefing notes. Parliament will now debate the contents of the speech, with a vote expected on Thursday 29 June.


School leaders and governing boards: what do we expect of each other?

What governing boards should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing boards has been updated for 2017.

The NGA has collaborated with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Local Government Association (LGA) to produce a new edition of this popular guidance document. The new edition will be formally launched at our summer conference tomorrow.

Effective working between those leading and those governing schools is vital to improving education for children and young people. This joint guidance aims to improve the effectiveness of governance by developing effective, mutually supportive and respectful working practices.

Among the expectations this document makes clear are that while governors must have the confidence to have courageous conversations, in turn, school leaders must be willing to be challenged. And while governors must be knowledgeable about the school, including its pupils, staff and community, in turn, school leaders must provide information to them in the appropriate way.

This guidance is available to both NGA members and non-members. Download as a pdf: What Governing Boards Should Expect From School Leaders and What School Leaders Should Expect From Governing Boards.


Queen’s Birthday Honours 2017: Governors and trustees recognised

NGA would like to congratulate those recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to education. Particular congratulations go to the nine governors who received recognition.

These were:

  • William Edward Bagnall, Chair of Governors, The Sixth Form College Farnborough, Hampshire (MBE)
  • John Baker, Chair of Governors and National Leader of Governance, Queen Boudica Primary School, Essex (MBE)
  • Georgina Felicia Tutuaa Bondzi-Simpson, Chair of Governors, Kingsbury High School, London (MBE)
  • James Andrew Dick, Chair of Trustees and Governors, Moor House School and College, Hurst Green, Surrey (MBE)
  • Marion Jean Faust, Chair of Governors, Brampton Manor Academy, London (MBE)
  • Elizabeth Anne O’Reilly, Chair of Governors, Greenway Primary and Nursery School, Hertfordshire (MBE)
  • Penny Roberts, Chair of Governors, St Luke’s CofE School, London (MBE)
  • Denise Shaw, Chair of Governors, Outwoods Primary School, Staffordshire (MBE)
  • Janice Main, Governor, Stag Lane Junior School, Edgware (BEM)
  • Ruth Marie Truelove, Governor, Stepney Primary School, Hull (BEM)

If you think that a governor or trustee in your organisation deserves recognition, please consider nominating them for an award in the next round. The guidance for nominating a governor or trustee can be found here. The full list of education honours for the 2017 Queen’s Birthday can be found here.


Amanda Spielman, HMCI, speaks of Ofsted’s future

Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector, outlined her vision for Ofsted at the Festival of Education on 23 June.

Firstly, she outlined that Ofsted will increase its “research function” in an effort to test the “validity and reliability” of the inspection process. As part of this, Ofsted will seek the views of stakeholders, including governors, “on how well [Ofsted] inform and advise” schools. The aim of this, Ms Spielman outlined, was to both inform practice as well as influence policy.

Ms Spielman also commented on the importance of the curriculum in schools, with Ofsted currently undertaking a project to look at curriculum practice in “hundreds of schools across the country”. She criticised the practice to “reduce education down” to labour market success and spoke out against preparing students for exams in year 4 and key stage 3. Ms Spielman went on to say that school leaders should ensure that teachers are “concentrating on the curriculum and the substance of education, not preparing … pupils to jump through a series of accountability hoops”. She said that rather than just focusing on accountability data, “Ofsted inspections must explore what is behind the data, asking how results have been achieved” and ensuring that “a good quality education – one that genuinely meets pupils’ needs – is not being compromised”. Commenting on the recent terror attacks across England, Ms Spielman also outlined how schools need to continue to fulfil their duty to teach students about British values through “a real civic education.”

Speaking on leadership challenges in “tough schools”, Ms Spielman recognised that pupil intake made a significant difference to accountability outcomes.  She outlined that Ofsted recognise “the [role played by] leadership and management teams in overcoming” significant challenge. She outlined that Requires Improvement schools in less affluent areas were two-and-a-half times more likely to achieve a “Good” for leadership than schools in affluent areas. Continuing on the theme of school leadership, Ms Spielman outlined how too much emphasis is placed on the headteacher in “transforming a school”. Instead, schools need “strong deputies and assistants … good department heads, [an] effective business and finance manager… and, of course, governors providing strong support and challenge”. Thus, in their “public pronouncements”, Ms Spielman outlined that Ofsted would put more emphasis on the importance of school management as a whole, rather than just focusing on the headteacher.


NGA Trustee Elections

Each year a proportion of the NGA board of trustees comes up for election. This year nominations are sought in four regions: East of England, London, South East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The NGA recognises that a diverse board can help to strengthen decision-making by considering issues from more perspectives. We would welcome nominations in particular from candidates from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

For more information about standing for the NGA Board – see the information on the website.


What makes a good school? Public perceptions

New research from NatCen looks at public perceptions of what makes a “good school”. The study asked 2,176 adults in England and Wales how important they consider various characteristics for a good secondary school. Characteristics related to work readiness were the most highly rated, with 82% of people saying that whether “pupils become confident and self-assured young adults” was “very important” and 80% said the same about whether “pupils go on to find fulfilling employment”.

Participants put less emphasis on academic success, with 68% rating whether “pupils make good academic progress no matter what standard they start at” as very important and 57% saying “pupils achieving good GCSE grades” as very important. Interestingly, just 22% of people said that whether a “high proportion of pupils go to university” was a very important characteristic for a good secondary school.

Social factors were also thought to be very important by more than half of the sample: “pupils mix with others from other backgrounds” (53%) and “pupils are well-presented and well-behaved” (72%).

The research also looked at views on selective education (grammar schools). It found that 61% of people agree that “all children should go to the same kind of secondary school, no matter how well or badly they do at primary school”. This is despite 53% being in favour of expanding grammar schools and 69% of people believing that attending a grammar school has a positive impact on pupils who get a place. Views on the impact of secondary moderns were more mixed but this was the school type parents were least likely to favour for their own children.

Read the report in full: Attitudes towards ‘good schools’ and selective education.


DfE statistical release into the teacher workforce

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has released the latest school workforce data for England. This dataset covers the period November 2015 to November 2016, giving a statistical representation of teacher retention and recruitment across the country. During this time, the number of teachers working in state schools rose by 0.1%, this amounted to a 1.1% increase in the number of primary school teachers and a 1.3% reduction in the number of secondary school teachers. From 2015 to 2016 the number of new entrants into teaching fell by 0.3%, while the number of teachers leaving the profession fell by 0.1%. Nevertheless, the pupil teacher ratio has increased by 0.2% since 2015, and now stands at 17.6 students per teacher. Furthermore, the number of teaching assistants also rose by 1% between 2015 and 2016 while there was a 1.3% drop in the number of support staff.

Overall, the number of teachers choosing to work part-time grew to 23.2% in 2016. Sickness rates nonetheless dropped, with 54% of teachers having a period of sickness last year compared to 56% percent in 2015.

In terms of pay, the mean full-time equivalent salary of teachers stood at £35,100 in 2016 compared to £34,600 in 2015. Interestingly, although teaching staff get paid slightly less in academies compared to maintained schools, those in leadership positions get slightly more pay in academies. The average pay for primary school leaders in academies was £54,600 compared to £54,400 in maintained in 2016. At the same time, the average leadership pay in maintained secondary schools was £63,100 compared to £63,200 for secondary academy schools.


Unions write to Justine Greening over fire safety in schools

Earlier this week, the Fire brigades Union (FBU), National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, seeking urgent reassurances about fire safety in schools in light of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.

The letter is seeking an urgent reassurance that the Government will retain the provisions of Building Bulletin 100, published in 2007, and not proceed with the revised version. The revised version would remove the expectation that sprinklers should be fitted in new schools.

Also referred to in the letter were concerns raised at a meeting between DfE, NUT and FBU officials in November 2016. The revised Building Bulletin proposes to increase the size of un-sprinklered compartments in schools by 150% and remove sections from the original 2007 Bulletin, discouraging the use of combustible materials for building cladding.

The letter is seeking the Government’s definitive position on:

  • the fitting of sprinklers in new schools
  • the use of combustible materials for cladding school buildings
  • allowing larger un-sprinklered compartments in schools

Governors should seek assurances from their headteachers that school premises are in good condition and comply with the necessary statutory and regulatory requirements, contacting their local authority or academy trust where necessary. Governors may also find the Knowing your schools briefing note on buildings and assets helpful.


New factsheets to help parents and stakeholders understand changes to the GCSEs

This week, the Department for Education has released factsheets for employers, FE providers, HE providers and parents concerning the new 1-9 GCSE system. The factsheets outline how the new system matches up with the old A*-C model and the timetable for changes up to 2020.

These factsheets are accessible tools for understanding the new GCSE system. Those governing may want to consider asking the headteacher whether they would be interested in circulating this to parents.

NGA has produced its own summary of changes to GCSEs, pitched at the right level for those governing. This can be found on the NGA Guidance Centre.


National Literacy Trust: Research on writing for enjoyment

This week, the National Literacy Trust published its research report on writing for enjoyment. The research centred on children and it discovered that children who write for enjoyment and write creatively outside school do significantly better in the classroom. The report found that the same obstacles to writing outside school affect all children regardless of whether they enjoy writing or not. Therefore, around a third of pupils struggle with spelling and grammar and close to a half of pupils cannot decide what to write.

Other significant findings were:

  • children who write creatively outside school (19.3%) are twice as likely to write above the expected level for their age compared with children who do not write creatively outside school (7.9%)
  • children who enjoy writing outside school (23.2%) are seven times more likely to write above the expected level for their age compared with children who do not enjoy writing (3.2%)

The research had been launched to mark the very first National Writing Day, which is a campaign coordinated by the charity First Story. It is expected that National Writing Day will be vital in helping children develop an enjoyment for creative writing and simultaneously improving their attainment.

To access the National Literacy Trust’s research click here.


New OECD report on the transition from early years to primary education

This week has seen the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) publication of Starting Strong V: Transitions from Early Childhood Education and Care to Primary Education.

Drawing on in-depth country reports and questionnaires, this report compares the transition policies and practices across 30 OECD and partner countries, focusing on the organisation and governance of transitions and the policies and strategies to ensure professional, pedagogical and developmental continuity between early childhood education and care settings and schools.

The transition from early childhood education to primary school is a big and important step and changes for most children include:

  • the types of activity they engage in
  • the way in which adults interact with them
  • their physical surroundings
  • the number of peers
  • the rules and routines

With countries increasingly directing policy attention to facilitate smooth transitions, the report describes the main policy challenges highlighted by participating countries along with practical strategies for tackling them.

Governing boards should ask their senior leaders what steps are in place to ease the stress of transition and whether they evaluate whether the strategy is successful.


New NGA Blog – “No crooks, no cronies, no cowards”

Gillian Allcroft blogs on the importance of the Nolan principles to good governance.


Localis report calls for an overhaul of the mental health system to better support young people

This week, Localis (an independent, cross party, neo-localist think tank) has published its report on improving the mental fitness of young people. The report claims that “In Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)… something has gone badly wrong.”

The report identifies some key reasons for the failure of mental health services being that: too many inappropriate referrals are made; CAMHS is oversubscribed leading to people being kept on long waiting lists; non-specialist mental health professionals lack the confidence and knowledge needed to support young people in the early stages; there is stigma attached to mental health; and looked after children are not receiving the standard of support they are entitled to.

To address these barriers, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • the Department for Education (DfE) introduces a mandatory module on mental health in initial teacher training (ITT)
  • the government provides guidance on its plans to roll out free mental health training in every secondary school in England
  • schools forums should be given the necessary powers to appoint a lead mental health co-ordinator to encourage a local strategy for school-based services
  • mental health is incorporated in social work training
  • the government should improve school-based services by giving local authorities statutory powers to provide these, retaining 6.5% of pupil premium to do so and revising academy funding agreements to require them to do so
  • NHS England to accelerate their investment in 3,000 practice-based mental health professionals, to provide support to GPs

The Local Government Association (LGA) welcomed the recommendations, in particular, mental health being included in ITT and improving referral systems.

Governing boards have a vital role to play when it comes to pupil and staff mental health and wellbeing. For more information on how to promote positive mental health in schools, visit the NGA Guidance Centre. NGA also responded to the joint inquiry by the Health and Education committees, looking at the role of education in children’s mental health.


Three new jobs at the NGA

NGA is looking to recruit three new highly motivated individuals to join the team. Each post will be based in Birmingham. We are looking for:

  • a graduate Information Officer with excellent customer service and communication skills to join the advice team
  • a Service Training Manager with experience of delivering training contracts or projects
  • a Web and Marketing Officer who will be responsible for updating and developing NGA’s web presence and providing dedicated marketing support

If you, or anybody you know, is interested in the above roles, please click here for further information and application packs.


NGA welcomes new member of staff

NGA is pleased to welcome the new chairs’ development manager, Simon Richards, as a recent addition to the NGA team. This new role is part of the Inspiring Governance programme led by our partner, Education and Employers, which commenced in September 2016.

Simon has governed in several schools on the Isle of Wight with experience as chair and vice-chair, and comes to NGA after a career in public sector business and financial management and more recently as a freelance governance development consultant.

Simon is responsible for delivering the chairs recruitment and development element of the project. This service aims to link up recruiting boards with volunteers demonstrating the potential to become a chair or vice-chair of a governing board, or committee chair, in the future as part of a succession plan. The service also ensures that future chairs have access to e-learning, support and training to help their preparation and development.

The next phase of the programme is focussed on the following areas:

  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • London Boroughs of Brent & Barnet
  • West Somerset
  • Blackpool
  • Birmingham
  • Liverpool
  • Plymouth

If your board has a future need for a chair, or you are interesting in becoming a future chair at another school, please get in touch with Simon Richards (simon.richards@nga.org.uk). Any new governor volunteers can sign up through the Inspiring Governance website here.


Last call for the Young Governors’ Network meeting in London!

The last Young Governors’ Network meeting of this academic year in London will be taking place on Monday 3 July from 18.00 – 19.30. Book your place here.

This is a great opportunity to meet with other young governors, share experiences, discuss education policy and see if there are ways you can give support to, or get support from, the network.

There are also still places available for the Birmingham meeting on Tuesday 11 July from 17.30 – 19.30 and you can book your place here.

If you have a young governor or trustee on your board please pass the invite on. Find out more at www.nga.org.uk/ygn.


The Southern Education & Academies Show

 

 

 

Wednesday 28 June 2017, 8.30am - 3.30pm.

Hall 5, Farnborough

International Exhibition & Conference Centre.

NGA will be attending The Southern Education & Academies Show (SEAS 2017) – the largest education-related event in the South of England. This is an exciting new forum for the promotion and development of effective school leadership, management, learning and teaching and features a high-level conference, inspirational workshops and a comprehensive exhibition of leading suppliers of key services for schools, colleges and academies.

Come and visit NGA at stand 143!

NGA Workshop - The DfE Competency Framework for Governance: what does this mean for your school or trust?

  • Clare Collins, Head of Consultancy, NGA
  • Time: 11.00 –11.40 am
  • Location: Keynote Theatre

An overview of the DfE’s competency framework: why we need to ensure that governance is fit for purpose, why we need a framework, the rationale and development of the framework, how it works, and some ideas for how it might be used.

Free-to-attend: Register now for FREE online, or call 01892 820366.

The event is free to attend for headteachers, deputy headteachers, finance directors, bursars, business managers, governors, local authority education leaders, PTAs, IT managers and school leadership teams from the state, academy and private sectors.

Lunch, refreshments and parking are free-of-charge for all attendees!


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 16/06/2017

NGA writes to Justine Greening

Today, NGA has written to Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education, to draw her attention to our previous letter on school funding, call for greater focus on stakeholder engagement, and highlight the fundamental change in school governance brought about by the growth of multi academy trusts.

We suggest that it is time to debate seriously the legitimacy of new models of school governance and ensure that there is not a growing divide between those who have the power and are making the decisions about the use of public funding and those in local communities who can feel powerless and ignored.”

Read the letter in full.

These themes are also discussed in a new blog by NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights: Academy governance: democracy, legitimacy and engagement

Following last week’s general election, Justine Greening has been reappointed as Secretary of State for Education. The Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, Lord John Nash, both remain in post. Two new ministers have been appointed to the Department for Education, Anne Milton and Robert Goodwill, and their portfolios have not yet been confirmed. 


Have your say in the biggest governance survey of the year!

The NGA has once again joined forces with the Times Educational Supplement (TES) to conduct the biggest school governance survey of the year.

The survey is open to all governors, trustees, and academy committee members, including headteachers. You do not have to be an NGA member to take part – please share it with others on your governing board and your wider networks!

The survey aims to build a picture of who is governing our schools, of governance practice, and to understand the impact of government policies on schools. This includes key issues, such as the current crisis in school funding. The findings will be vital as we continue to campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased.

The more responses, the stronger the voice of governing boards in national education policy, so don’t miss the chance to have your say! Take the survey here until Monday 17 July.


Ofsted launch consultation on short inspections

Ofsted has opened a consultation on proposed changes to the process for short inspections of ‘good’ schools. These one day inspections were introduced in September 2015 in part to reduce the burden of inspection for schools that are performing well.

A short inspection can convert to a full two day inspection if there is not enough evidence that the school remains ‘good’ or if inspectors think it might be ‘outstanding’. The consultation proposes extending the period in which a converted inspection will be completed from 48 hours to 15 working days. This is for ease of scheduling and to reduce the burden on schools.

The consultation also proposes that schools “in complex circumstances” will automatically receive a full inspection. These will be identified through Ofsted’s standard risk assessment process.

Full details of the proposals are available on Ofsted’s website. The NGA will be responding to the consultation and if you wish to feed into our response, please get in touch: fay.holland@nga.org.uk.


Letter from Ofqual Chief Regulator on 2017 summer exams

This week, the Chief Regulator for Ofqual, Sally Collier, has written to schools outlining how Ofqual is “working with exam boards to ensure that students sitting … [exams] … are treated fairly”. Ofqual has recently introduced a number of changes, particularly to GCSE and A level exams, and the letter addresses how this will not put students at a disadvantage compared to previous years.

The letter outlines how:

  • For exams with a new syllabus, Ofqual will rely on “statistical predictions to set grade boundaries” more than it usually does. This is because it anticipates a “small drop in performance” due to the material being new for teachers and students. Grades students receive will compensate for the changes, ensuring that this years’ cohort is “not unfairly disadvantaged”.
  • Under the new 1-9 system, students that receive a level 7 or above would have most-likely achieved an A grade in 2016. Furthermore, those that receive a level 4 or above would have most-likely achieved a C grade, and those that receive a level 1 would have achieved a G grade.
  • The thirteen new A-levels introduced in 2016 will be linear, with the whole assessment taking place in year 13. Students who received a B grade under the old A-level system will receive a B grade under the new system.
  • Ofqual says that schools should be aware that “when qualifications change, there is normally more variability in schools and college results, and this is what expect for new qualifications this year”. To read the letter click here. There is also more information around changes to assessment for both primary and secondary schools on the NGA guidance centre.

Look out from an article from Ofqual in the next edition of Governing Matters (July/August).


Provisional exam entry data 2017

This week, Ofqual has published provisional exam entry data for 2017. The headline finding is that GSCE entry is up by 3% compared to last year. Most GSCE entries are from year 11 and 12 students, with an overall fall in the number of year 10 students sitting GCSE exams. The provisional figures also show that, although A-level entry has remained stable, the number of AS entries has fallen by 42%. This reflects the decoupling of A-level and AS-level grades in English and maths. Finally, the numbers entering the Ebacc has also risen by 9%, with a fall in entry for non-Ebacc by 11%.

For governors and trustees interested in learning more about that data, Ofqual has written a blog - 2017 entry data: things to look out for.


Trends in language teaching

The British Council has published its annual report on language teaching in English schools. The report looks at teaching and uptake of languages in both primary and secondary schools, as well as the transition between these phases.

The report concludes that:

  • a system wide approach is needed to address disparities in the quality of teaching provision at key stage 2
  • teachers report benefits of language teaching in key stage 2 for social inclusion (particularly for lower attaining pupils and those with English as an additional language) and this should be carried through to key stage 3
  • schools are increasingly focusing on key stage 3 in order to prepare pupils for the new language GCSEs
  • schools are expecting an increase in the number of pupils studying language GCSEs, driven by the EBacc, but are concerned that the new GCSE specification will produce poor results
  • the decline in the number of pupils taking A-level languages is likely to continue unless the bodies involved come together to address it
  • a reduction in opportunities such as overseas trips and contact with native-speaker language assistants mean that language learning is becoming exclusively classroom-based

Overall, the report concludes that while many teachers are working hard to address issues in language teaching, the British Council “would welcome concerted action on an increased scale in order to ensure that the many positive aspirations in current government policy are successfully implemented”.

Many of the challenges highlighted in this report will be familiar to governing boards – 26% of secondary school governors and trustees who responded to last year’s NGA & TES survey reported difficulties in recruiting modern foreign languages teachers. Recruitment and retention of teachers is one of NGA priority areas for the coming year and we urge the Government to take action to ensure that sufficient numbers of high-quality language teachers are trained. Languages are an important part of a broad and balanced curriculum and governing boards should ask questions about what provision is available in their school and plan for any future risks to language teaching capacity.

Full report: Language Trends 2016/17


Ofsted release clarified complaints guidance

Ofsted has amended its guidance about raising concerns and making a complaint about Ofsted.

The guidance applies to the handling of complaints about Ofsted’s work, including the inspection and regulation of maintained schools including academies.

Reference in the guidance is also made to concerns organisations may have about an Ofsted inspection or inspector. More guidance on submitting a complaint about an Ofsted inspection report can be found here.


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:

  • an increase of 2.6% of secondary school applications compared to 2016, but the number of primary school applications decreased by 3.3% from 2016
  • 83.5% of secondary school applicants were offered their first choice, a slight drop from 2016 where 84.1% were offered their first choice
  • 90% of primary school applicants were offered their first choice compared to 88.4% last year
  • London continues to offer the lowest first preference rates for both primary and secondary school applicants, although London local authorities’ first preference rates for primary school applicants is considerably better than their first preference rates for secondary school applicants

In light of these statistics, the Local Government Association has called for councils to be given more powers to require schools to expand, particularly in relation to academies. This is to meet local demand.


Primary assessment consultation

In March, the Department for Education launched a public consultation exercise about the future of the primary assessment system in England. Details are included in a statement made to Parliament on 30 March by Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening.

The consultation sets out wide-ranging proposals for improving the primary assessment system. These include consideration of the best starting point from which to measure pupils' progress, how to ensure the assessment system is proportionate, and how to improve end of key stage assessments.

A parallel consultation, launched at the same time asks for views on the recommendations of the independent Rochford Review. The recommendations focus on the future of statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests at the end of key stages 1 and 2.

You have until 5.00pm on Thursday 22 June to respond to the consultations. All those with an interest in primary education are encouraged to share their opinions and insights.

If you have any questions please contact the assessment policy team at: PrimaryAssessment.CONSULTATION@education.gov.uk or Rochford.Review@education.gov.uk.

The NGA will be putting together a detailed response to the consultation. The House of Commons Education Select Committee recently conducted an inquiry into primary assessment: read the report from that inquiry and NGA’s written evidence which was submitted in October 2016.

NGA Guidance Centre: Monitoring performance


Universal Infant Free School Meals campaign – sign the petition

One of the items in the Conservative Party’s manifesto was a proposal to stop providing universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) and instead require all primary schools to provide a breakfast instead. NGA thinks that breakfast clubs are a great addition to any school and there is evidence that they can help children’s education. However, we do not think that these should be introduced at the expense of the UIFSM.

Given the outcome of the election we do not yet know which elements of the manifesto will be retained and which allowed to fade away.

If you are keen to see the retention of the UIFSM then a headteacher has started a petition to the Prime Minister. You can sign it here: https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-save-free-school-lunches


Share your school funding stories

The TV production company Twofour Broadcast are interested in speaking to governors and trustees about how the current school funding crisis is affecting their schools. This would be on a confidential basis as part of background research for a potential new series on school funding cuts. If you are interested in being put in touch, email fay.holland@nga.org.uk.


Free FFT webinars for school governors and trustees

School governors and trustees (or senior leaders thinking of sharing the Governor Dashboards with their governing board) are invited to view the FFT (Fischer Family Trust) Governor Dashboards and discover how FFT Aspire supports them in their role by joining a free webinar provided by FFT.

The FFT Aspire Overview Webinar for School Governors lasts just twenty five minutes and will take place on the following:

  • Monday 26 June, 11.00am
  • Monday 26 June, 4.00pm
  • Tuesday 18 July, 11.00am
  • Tuesday 18 July, 4.00pm

The FFT Governor Dashboard, developed in partnership with the National Governance Association and the Wellcome Trust, is available through FFT Aspire, FFT’s reporting and data tool for schools, local authorities and academy trusts.

Through a simple dashboard, those governing can see how their school attainment and pupil progress compares to the national average, how it performs in different subjects, and whether any specific groups of pupils are under-performing. This makes it ideal for planning inspections.

KS1 and KS2 Governor Dashboards are available, with the latest DfE accountability changes, including FFT’s unique comparative analysis of the new and old measures. KS4 and KS5 Governor Dashboards are available showing the latest Attainment 8, Progress 8 and English Baccalaureate measures.

To book a place on the webinar please visit the FFT training events website and choose the online training option.


Inspiring Governance – Mentors for Future Chairs

As part of the Inspiring Governance project, NGA is leading on the Future Chairs recruitment scheme. This scheme is about helping boards strengthen their succession planning by recruiting skilled volunteers who have leadership experience. Volunteers are introduced to the board and, following an interview, are appointed in accordance with the board’s recruitment process. Future Chairs are appointed upon the understanding that they will join the boards succession plan; aiming to become a vice-chair, chair of a committee, or chair of governors after 12 months. As Future Chairs, they receive 12 months training and support – an essential element of this support is the allocation of an IG Mentor.

NGA is running three Mentoring Skills courses and would like to hear from any NLG or experienced Chair of Governors interested in mentoring a Future Chair. They need to be available to attend one of the following mentoring courses:

  • Knowsley – 28 June 2017
  • Northampton – 30 June 2017
  • Norwich – 7 July 2017

If you are interested, please contact Judith Hicks on judith.hicks@nga.org.uk or phone the NGA office.


Work for the NGA: PR Officer

NGA are looking to recruit an experienced individual with journalistic and/or PR experience. Based in Birmingham city centre, the post holder will be responsible for briefing newspaper journalists; responding to questions on Twitter and working with members and partners to deliver a public facing campaign. The role involves promoting the work and views of school governors, trustees and clerks across a wide range of channels.

For more on the role, and to download an application pack, click here. Please do pass on the link to anyone you think may be interested in applying.

The closing date is 9am on Monday 19 June.


Discount for The Telegraph Festival of Education

The Telegraph Festival of Education will take place next week at Wellington College (Crowthorne, Berkshire, RG45 7PU). The festival runs from Thursday 22 June to Friday 23 June and there are sessions on each day with NGA speakers:

Day 1: Emma Knights, "The Challenges of School Governance in 2017"

Day 2: “Multi Academy Trusts Panel” with Katie Paxton-Doggett, Liz Holmes, Emma Knights, Roger Inman and Jon Coles

Governors and trustees can receive an additional 20% off early-bird tickets and standard tickets with the code GOV201720. Click here for more details. For more information on the programme visit: www.educationfest.co.uk


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 09/06/2017

General election: notable outcomes for education

It will not have escaped your notice that yesterday’s general election resulted in a hung parliament. While, at the time of writing, it is not yet clear what shape the new government will take and what it will mean for schools, there have been some notable results for the politicians involved in education.

Among the former ministers in the Department for Education, Secretary of State Justine Greening, Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb and Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Robert Halfon were re-elected. The Minster for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson, lost his seat in Crewe and Nantwich. Announcements about any changes to the ministerial line up will follow the formation of a government.

Conservative politician Neil Carmichael, previously chair of the Education Select Committee and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Governance and Leadership, was defeated in Stroud. NGA would like to thank Neil for his strong support of governance and hope that other MPs will continue his work. The seat was won by the Labour and Co-operative candidate, David Drew, a former teacher who was MP for the area from 1997-2010.

Former Conservative Education Secretaries Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan retained their seats, as did Labour Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner and her predecessor Lucy Powell. Sarah Olney, previously the Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, was not re-elected.

Among the new MPs elected to parliament are former teachers Emma Hardy (Hull West and Hessle) and Laura Smith (Crewe and Nantwich), both representing the Labour Party.

Remind yourself of the main parties’ education policies with our manifesto summary.


Guidance on school trips and supporting pupils following recent terror attacks

Following the recent tragic events in London and Manchester, there have been reports of schools cancelling schools trips, both nationally and abroad. Schools will understandably be concerned about taking pupils on school trips to places like central London and other large cities, events and attractions, and as a result, may be seeking advice and guidance.

Speaking to the Guardian this week, Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, stated in response to these concerns “Our advice to schools concerned about planned trips to London is to review and amend risk assessments as necessary, and to talk to parents to gauge their views”.

Governing boards have a responsibility for ensuring that neither pupils nor employees are put at unnecessary risk while at school or on school business – this includes school trips. This in itself does not mean that trips should be cancelled - school trips can be hugely beneficial for pupils - but schools should seek specific advice where this is a genuine concern, and ensure that their risk assessment procedure is being closely followed before going ahead with a planned trip.

NGA has produced a short guide on the role of the governing board in relation to school trips. You can access the guidance here.


Regional Schools Commissioner: resignation

Last week, the Department for Education (DfE) confirmed that Rebecca Clark, the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for the south west of England will be stepping down from her role. Ms Clark had been appointed as RSC for the region in April 2016, succeeding Sir David Carter who left the role to become the new national schools commissioner. Both the TES and Schools Week have reported that she will be joining the large multi-academy trust Ark as regional director for secondary schools in London and Portsmouth.

RSCs are responsible for making decisions about academy trusts and intervening in cases of underperformance. Rebecca Clark will be the fifth RSC to leave the schools commissioners group since its inception in 2014.


Ofsted webinar on governance

Ofsted will be hosting a webinar on governance on Wednesday 14 June, 19.00-19.45. The webinar will outline the inspection process and allow you to put questions to senior inspectors. You can register for the webinar online.

NGA Guidance Centre: Ofsted.


Latest statistics on 16-24 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) released

This week, the department for education has released the latest figures for young people not in education or training (NET), and those not in education employment or training (NEET). This data release covers the period January to March 2017.

The NEET rate for 19-24 year olds fell by 1.3% to 12.7%. However, there was a statistically significant rise in the number of NET students aged between 16 and 18, with a 2.1% increase compared to last year. The percentage of 16-18 year olds not in education or training has now risen to 15.5%.

Overall, there has been a 0.6% drop in the number of 16-24 year olds classified as NEET, with the figure now standing at 11.1%. There is, however, some significant regional difference. In the West Midlands, for instance, the NEET rate for 16-24 year olds is 15% compared to London and the South East which has a NEET rate of 8.6% and 8.7% respectively.

Secondary schools should be monitoring destinations data and aim for a target of zero NEETs for former pupils. For more information about monitoring destination data, see Element C of the Framework for Governance.


National Statistics on statements of SEN and EHC plans released

The Department for Education (DfE) has released statistics on statements and educational, health and care plans (EHC plans). The statistics are taken from the statutory annual special educational needs (SEN) survey completed by local authorities earlier this year. The release includes details on:

  • the number of statements of SEN and EHC plans in place at January 2017
  • the number of EHC plans made for the first time during the 2016 calendar year
  • developments with transferring statements of SEN and learning difficulty assessments to EHC plans

As at January 2017, there were 175,233 children and young people with statutory EHC plans and 112,057 children and young people with statements of SEN maintained by local authorities. The overall figure of 287,290young people with either an EHC plan or statement of SEN represents an increase of 30,975 when compared to January 2016. This overall total has increased each year since 2010. 

The department has also released updated statutory guidance on Performance scales, commonly referred to as P-scales. The guidance specifies performance attainment targets and performance descriptors for pupils aged 5 to 16 with SEN who are working below the standard of the national curriculum tests and assessments.

The DfE is also seeking views on the recommendations for assessing pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum tests. The consultation closes on 22 June 2017 and NGA will be responding. If any members wish to contribute to NGA’s response, please email: fay.holland@nga.org.uk.


Announcing free access to FT.com for sixth formers and their teacher

The Financial Times (FT), working with Lloyds bank, is offering all UK secondary schools and colleges free access for their sixth formers and sixth form teachers to the online FT service from September. The initiative seeks to do more to bridge the gap between sixth form education and employment or university, with the aim of highlighting “FT journalism that can enrich senior school education and help prepare students for successful careers”.

The rolling out of the scheme follows an initial pilot with a few secondary schools which was launched after a sixth former from the Leys School approached the FT proposing the concept.

Governing boards should have a strong awareness and regard to their school’s career strategy and the guidance and support it provides to pupils further education and career planning. Governing boards should ask their senior leadership team whether they have heard of the offer and registered interest for free access to FT.com for their sixth formers at www.ft.com/secondaryschools.

You can find more information on the role of governing boards in relation to sixth form education and careers guidance by accessing the NGA Guidance Centre.


NGA attending the Southern Education and Academies Show

Date: Wednesday 28 June, 2017

Time: 8.30am – 3.30pm

Venue: Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre.

The Southern Education and Academies Show is aimed at school leadership teams from all types of schools - infant, junior, primary, secondary, special, colleges and academies - plus local authorities from across the Southern Region. This is a free event for governors to attend. NGA’s Clare Collins will be delivering the stream 1 keynote on: “The DfE Competency Framework for Governance: what does this mean for your school or trust?”

For more information click here to visit their website.


Last of current funded training for developing chairs, aspiring chairs and new and experienced clerks in all school settings

A quick reminder to all that the last courses for both Chairs and Clerks are starting this month and July. These will be the last ones from the current scheme; where the NCTL are providing a scholarship of £320 per place on the Chairs and Clerks programmes. Each school is entitled to claim the scholarship for two places on the Chair’s programme and one place on the Clerks’ programme. Please note that this funding is now available to all sizes of schools/academies. One further fully funded workshop running in Blackburn with Darwin on 5th July 2017 to gain knowledge on interpreting data. Check the Leading Governance website for further details.


Young Governors’ Network: book now

The last Young Governors’ Network meetings of the academic year will be taking place on Monday 3 July in London and Wednesday 11 July in Birmingham. Book your free place using the links below. 

The Young Governors’ Network has been running as a pilot in London and Birmingham since November 2016. The idea is to support young people in their role as governors or trustees. NGA would like to thank everyone who has participated so far and hope to see you at the next meeting!

If you’re a young governor or trustee (under 40), it could really help to speak to others about your experiences and network with other young governors/trustees.

If you have a young governor or trustee on your board please pass the invite on. Find out more at www.nga.org.uk/ygn.

Book here for London.

Book here for Birmingham.


New job opportunity at the NGA: PR Officer

NGA are looking to recruit an experienced individual with journalistic and/or PR experience. Based in Birmingham city centre, the post holder will be responsible for briefing newspaper journalists; responding to questions on Twitter and working with members and partners to deliver a public facing campaign. The role involves promoting the work and views of school governors, trustees and clerks across a wide range of channels.

For more on the role, and to download an application pack, click here. Please do pass on the link to anyone you think may be interested in applying.


New NGA guest blog on school funding cuts

Caroline Wheeler, vice chair of governors at a primary school in South London, writes about the impact of school funding cuts in NGA’s guest blog.

The 2016 annual NGA/TES survey revealed that 60% of respondents expected to reduce staffing over the next two years due to budget constraints. NGA is continuing to campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased through the Funding the Future Campaign; for further details click here



From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 26/05/2017

Statement following Manchester terrorist attack

On Tuesday, following the tragic events that unfolded during and after Monday night’s terrorist attack in Manchester, Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governance Association, released the following statement: “The thoughts of everyone at NGA are today with the victims, families and those affected by last night’s horrific attack in Manchester, which targeted young people having fun. As a governance community, our thoughts also go out to pupils and the schools having to deal with anger, confusion and grief.”

For those schools directly affected, Ofqual has issued a statement confirming that “head teachers are best placed to decide whether exams should go ahead as planned”.

In responding to the trauma of this week’s events, schools may be looking for ways of coming together as local communities. Community events will be held across the country on June 16-18 as part of The Great Get Together, inspired by Jo Cox, the MP who was killed last year. The Great Get Together provide information for schools on planning or hosting an event. 


Postponed: NGA’s Outstanding Governance Awards

NGA’s awards for outstanding governance were postponed this week due to the national security threat level being raised to critical and the subsequent closer of the Palace of Westminster to all visitors. This news followed the attack in Manchester on Monday night.

The NGA awards had been scheduled for Thursday 25 May at the House of Commons, Terrace Pavilion. NGA would like to thank the seventeen finalists for their support and understanding; a new date for the awards will be confirmed in the coming weeks. NGA would also like to thank the Rt Hon. David Laws who had agreed to present the awards. 


New job opportunity at the NGA: PR Officer

NGA are looking to recruit an experienced individual with journalistic and/or PR experience. Based in Birmingham city centre, the post holder will be responsible for briefing newspaper journalists; responding to questions on Twitter and working with members and partners to deliver a public facing campaign. The role involves promoting the work and views of school governors, trustees and clerks across a wide range of channels.

For more on the role, and to download an application pack, click here. Please do pass on the link to anyone you think may be interested in applying.


Analysis of general election manifestos from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Education Policy Institute

In the build-up to the upcoming general election on 8 June, both the Institute for Financial Studies (IFS) and the Education Policy Institute (EPI) have published their individual analysis of the manifesto pledges for the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Both think-tanks focused specifically on education.

NGA has produced a summary of the main education pledges for Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. In addition, NGA has also released an infographic ahead of the election, with several key asks for the incoming government. 


Rise in discrimination claims over flexible working hours for teachers

This week, TES reported that the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and NASUWT have all received a significantly higher number of disputes and enquiries from teachers in relation to denied flexible working arrangements. This follows the ongoing debate regarding teacher recruitment and retention and the increasing body of evidence showing a growing shortage of teaching staff across the board. The article suggests that flexible and part time working requests are increasing but some schools are being “reluctant to grant” them. 

In February, the Department for Education released guidance on how school leaders should manage flexible working requests legally. The guidance demonstrates through numerous case studies the impact and benefits of flexible working, and the link between flexible working and “attracting and keeping high quality teachers”. It offers practical advice on how to make part-time and job-sharing arrangements work in practice

Apart from the fact that treating all people equally is the right thing to do Governing boards have legal responsibilities under the Equalities Act 2010.  Governing boards should ensure that they have a fair and proper staffing procedures in place. 

For more information, Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s Deputy Chief Executive, has written on strategies for managing teacher workload in the latest Governing Matters. Governing boards may also receive flexible working requests from the headteacher – see the National College’s article on co-headship for more information.


The future of UTCs and studio schools

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have published a research report looking at the development and performance of ‘UTCs, studio schools, and technical and vocational education in England’s schools’. The report raises concerns over the many challenges faced by university technical colleges (UTCs) and studio schools and suggests some ways forward for these school types.

UTCs and studio schools recruit pupils who wish to focus on vocational subjects at age 14, and IPPR have identified the non-standard transition age as making pupils “highly vulnerable to falling into a ‘cycle of decline’”. Key findings include:

  • a significant number of UTCs and studio schools look likely to close due to significant numbers of unfilled places
  • both UTCs and studio schools “are, on the whole, failing to deliver a high-quality education to pupils”

The IPPR recommend that new UTCs should cater to pupils aged 16-19 and that, unless they are achieving good outcomes at key stage 4, existing UTCs should also change their age range. It recommends a block on the creation of new studio schools and that existing studio schools should join multi-academy trusts, with safeguards in place to minimise the risk of low-attaining pupils being “streamed” into studio schools to improve their previous school’s performance measures.

Governing boards of UTCs and studio schools should look carefully at their intake and outcomes to ensure that their organisations continue to be viable and are providing a high quality education in accordance with their aims. 


Inspiring Governance – Mentors for Future Chairs

As part of the Inspiring Governance project, NGA is leading on the Future Chairs recruitment scheme. This scheme is about helping boards strengthen their succession planning by recruiting skilled volunteers who have leadership experience. Volunteers are introduced to the board and following an interview, are appointed in accordance with the board’s recruitment process. Future Chairs are appointed upon the understanding that they will join the boards succession plan; aiming to become a vice-chair, chair of a committee, or chair of governors after 12 months. As Future Chairs, they receive 12 months training and support – an essential element of this support is the allocation of an IG Mentor.

NGA is running three Mentoring Skills courses and would like to hear from any NLG or experienced Chair of Governors interested in mentoring a Future Chair. They need to be available to attend one of the following mentoring courses:

  • Knowsley – 28 June 2017
  • Northampton – 30 June 2017
  • Norwich – 7 July 2017

If you are interested, please contact Judith Hicks on judith.hicks@nga.org.uk or phone NGA offices.


Crown Commercial Service (CCS) quarterly newsletter

The CCS have published its quarterly newsletter for schools and academies. This provides information about how schools can achieve best value for money and ensure they are compliant with legislation when spending public money in relation to common goods and services. In the latest newsletter, the CCS looks at:

  • The Multifunctional Devices Framework (MFD)
  • The Crown Marketplace purchasing platform
  • Payment services
  • Water, Wastewater and Ancillary Services
  • Vehicle ePurchase auction
  • Government eMarketplace

The governing board is the accountable body for schools and academies and one of their core functions is to oversee the financial performance of the organisation and make sure its money is well spent. For more information on school finances and efficiencies visit the NGA Guidance Centre


Last call for Young Governors’ Network, Birmingham

Don’t forget that the next meeting of the Young Governors’ Network (YGN) is in Birmingham next week (31 May) at Birmingham City University. At this meeting we will be discussing: funding, joining a MAT, Ofsted, and training and induction.

If you are a young governor or trustee (under 40), it could really help to speak to others about your experiences and network with other young governors/trustees.

If you have a young governor or trustee on your board please pass the invite on. Find out more at www.nga.org.uk/ygn.

Book now.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 19/05/2017

General election 2017: party manifestos

This week has seen the launch of general election manifestos by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. This page will be updated with summaries of manifestos from other major parties when they become available.

Conservatives

Early years: institute a capital fund to help primary schools develop nurseries and introduce a presumption that all new primary schools should include a nursery; allow maintained nurseries “to take on academy freedoms”

Schools:

  • build at least 100 free schools per year
  • ban local authorities from creating new places in schools judged ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’
  • require universities charging maximum tuition fees and at least 100 leading independent schools to be involved in sponsoring academies or free schools
  • new funding to create a specialist maths school in every major city
  • allow the establishment of new grammar schools, subject to conditions
  • remove restrictions on faith based admissions for new schools
  • expect every 11 year old to know their times tables off by heart
  • improve schools’ accountability for progress at key stage 3
  • ensure an academic, knowledge-rich curriculum, reflected in assessments, and consider how Ofsted can give parents more information on curriculum
  • mental health: introduce mental health first aid training for teachers and ensure every school has a single point of contact with mental health services; publish a green paper on young people’s mental health in 2017
  • continue offering the teacher training bursaries currently available and offer “forgiveness” on student loan repayments for new teachers while they remain in the profession
  • support for teachers in lesson preparation and marking, addressing unnecessary paperwork
  • create a single jobs portal for schools to advertise vacancies
  • funding: increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022; introduce new national funding formula while ensuring “no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula”
  • continue to protect the pupil premium
  • end universal infant free school meals and instead provide free school breakfast to every child in primary school

Further education: create new T-levels with increased teaching hours and a three-month work placement; invest in further education colleges; new programme to attract experienced industry professionals to work in further education colleges; review of funding across tertiary education as a whole.

Read the Conservative manifesto in full.

 

Labour

“Labour will create a unified National Education Service (NES) for England to move towards cradle-to-grave learning that is free at the point of use.”

Early years: move to direct government subsidy of childcare settings; maintain current commitments on free hours and invest in places; phase in subsidised provision on top of free hours; move to a graduate-led workforce with increased wages and enhanced training opportunities; extend the 30 free hours to all two-year olds and move towards provision for one-year olds and 12 months maternity pay.

Schools:

  • Labour will “not waste money on inefficient free schools and… grammar schools” or force schools to become academies
  • funding: invest to ensure schools are “properly resourced by reversing Conservatives’ cuts”, “introduce a fairer funding formula that leaves no school worse off”, and invest in school buildings
  • drive up standards by learning from best practice and encouraging co-operation across schools
  • ensure that “all schools are democratically accountable
  • “require joined-up admissions policies across local schools”
  • smaller class sizes: less than 30 for pupils aged between 5-7
  • universal free school meals for all primary school children
  • a commission to look into curriculum and assessment, beginning with key stage 1 and 2 SATs (abandoning plans to introduce baseline assessments in primary school)
  • end the public-sector pay cap (which affects teachers)
  • give teachers more direct involvement in the curriculum
  • tackle workload by reducing monitoring and bureaucracy
  • consult on introducing teacher sabbaticals and placements within industry
  • reintroduce the Schools Support Staff Negotiating Body and national pay settlements for teachers
  • remove requirement for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy
  • extend schools-based counselling to all schools
  • deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) that embeds SEND into training for teachers and support staff

Further education: free, lifelong education in further education colleges; improved careers advice; bring funding for 16-18 year olds up to key stage 4 levels; bring back education maintenance allowance; encourage co-operation across colleges and sixth forms.

Read the Labour manifesto in full.

 

Liberal Democrats

Early years: increase early years pupil premium to £1,000 per pupil; “raise the quality of early years provision”; aim for a qualified early years teacher in every setting by 2022.

Schools:

  • funding: “investing nearly £7 billion in our children’s education”, which would be used to:
    • “reverse all cuts to front-line school and college budgets, protecting per-pupil funding in real terms”
    • introduce a national funding formula under which “no school loses money”
    • protect the pupil premium
  • end the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises
  • teacher training: guarantee all teachers in state-funded schools will have or be working towards qualified teacher status (QTS); funded entitlement to 25 hours professional development for teachers by 2020, rising to 50 hours by 2025; long term planning of initial teacher training places
  • address teacher workload by establishing an independent Education Standards Authority, reforming Ofsted inspections, and supporting the Foundation for Leadership in Education
  • clarify local authority responsibility for school place planning and allow new maintained schools to open; ensure new schools open where there is need for places
  • ensure early identification and support for children with special educational needs
  • allow Ofsted to inspect multi academy trusts
  • “scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools
  • curriculum: introduce a curriculum entitlement, including personal, social and health education (PSHE); protect the availability of arts and creative subjects; improve vocational education
  • improve careers advice
  • primary assessment: prioritise progress measures and work with profession to reform end of key stage 2 tests
  • provide training for teachers on identifying mental health issues and ensure schools provide access to support and counselling; include promoting wellbeing in the Ofsted framework and as a statutory duty of a school ; tackle bullying
  • extend free school meals to all primary pupils and promote school breakfast clubs

Further education: expand availability of apprenticeships; develop national colleges as centres of expertise; address skills gaps; create “individual accounts for funding mature adult and part-time learning and training”.

Read the Liberal Democrat manifesto in full.

 

The Green Party

Early years: “free universal early education and childcare for all children, with formal education starting at age 7”

Schools:

  • funding: “properly fund our schools so real term spending per pupil increases and is protected”
  • “bring Academies and Free Schools into the local authority system”
  • assessment: abolish SATs
  • reduce class sizes
  • address teacher workload
  • abolish Ofsted
  • reform the curriculum “so that it is pupil-centred, freeing up teachers to teach”; introduce “non-biased political education”
  • SEND: ensure “that every child with Special Educational Needs or Disability has access to a mainstream education”

Further education: restore Education Maintenance Allowance; expand availability of apprenticeships

Read the Green Party manifesto in full.

Governors in West Sussex “withdraw their labour” for one day over school funding

Both the BBC and Schools Week have reported that over 20 school governing boards in West Sussex have planned to hold a symbolic strike today (Friday 19 May) in response to fears over school funding and the projected £3bn in real-term budget cuts by 2020. The “unprecedented” move to strike is part of the wider ‘WorthLess? West Sussex Schools Campaign for Fairer Funding’ and is believed to be the first of its kind. Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA commented on the planned action back in January which can be accessed here.  

The 2016 annual NGA/TES survey revealed that 60% of respondents expected to reduce staffing over the next two years due to budget constraints. NGA is continuing to campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased through the Funding the Future Campaign; for further details click here.  


NFER releases Research Update on Teacher retention by subject

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has released a Research Update on teacher retention rates. Teacher retention by subject is the first part of a research project funded by the Nuffield Foundation exploring the changing aspects of the teacher workforce in England.

The update emphasises the crucial importance of teacher retention in the face of increasing pupil numbers and the lack of new teacher trainees.  

The key findings of the update include:

  • Leaving rates being especially high “for early-career teachers in science, maths and languages”. The number of trainees for these subjects is “consistently below” government targets leading to concerns over the impact on future teacher supply.
  • Teaching time for technology subjects has seen a sharp decline since 2011; other non-EBacc such as arts subjects may also see “reductions in staff numbers over the next few years” unless protected.  
  • The cost effectiveness of bursaries for shortage subjects should be evaluated to ensure they encourage retention after training.          

NGA is concerned about the increasing body of evidence which shows a growing shortage of teaching staff across the board and has called for the government to take affirmative action to prevent a serious staffing shortage. For further reading, please see the NGA News coverage on the Select Committee Report and Emma Knight’s blog: Are we doing enough to keep our staff?


Institute of Directors report: Education for an Evolving Economy

This week, the Institute of Directors (IoD) released the report Education for an Evolving Economy which sets out its education proposals for the new government in the run-up to the General Election. The IoD, a membership organisation representing 30,000 independent business leaders, emphasises that the biggest concern for IoD members is the “lack of appropriate skills in the workforce”.

The report focuses on the role of education in meeting the needs of the future labour market and offers several recommendations on curricula, guidance, provision and finance. These include:

  • drop plans for grammar schools which are “an unnecessary distraction” from the immediate issue of key subject teacher recruitment shortages
  • an independent examination of the curricula “free from political interference”
  • all schools to have “a full-time careers coach” and compulsory work experience for pupils aged 13 and over
  • reform to the Apprenticeship Levy to give more flexibility from “the one-size-fits-all model”

The IoD also called for much better collaboration between companies and educational establishments. You can read the report in full here.


Absence statistics for 2015/16 academic year

On 18 May, the Department for Education (DFE) released information on the absence rates in schools for the 2016 autumn term.

While the overall absence rate has risen slightly from 4.1 percent to 4.3 percent, with illness remaining the most common cause of absence, unauthorised absence for holidays has also made a significant contribution to the rise.  The “percentage of pupils who missed at least one session” due to an unauthorised family holiday, rose from 4.2 per cent to 5.0 per cent. This is the first set of absence statistics since a landmark decision by the High Court ruling in favour of parent Jon Platt after he challenged the interpretation of the Department for Education’s (DfE's) regulations forbidding term-time absences for state school pupils in “non-exceptional” circumstances. However, a further appeal from the government has since resulted in this decision consequently being overruled.

Given the lack of available data, the DfE state that it is too premature to draw links between the High Court ruling and unauthorised absence at this time. Governors and trustees should be aware of their schools absence rate and how this relates to the national average. Click here for more information on Knowing Your School.


New NAHT general secretary from September

It has been officially confirmed that the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) will be led by Paul Whiteman from September 2017, following the decision of the current General Secretary, Russell Hobby, to step down. Mr Whiteman is currently NAHT’s director of representation and advice and was the union’s preferred candidate. He was unchallenged for the role as no other candidates came forward.


Warning over fraudsters targeting schools

Earlier this year, Action Fraud issued an alert to education establishments to be aware of fraudsters impersonating the department for education (DfE) and targeting them with ransomware. The warning has become even more relevant following the cyber-attacks that hit the NHS last week.  

Action Fraud have anticipated more disruption from cyber-attacks in the future and schools are being urged to make the management of their IT security a priority. Amidst current budget pressures, schools are at a high risk and professionals should openly discuss any preventative tactics that can be taken.

Lloyds bank’s school team has issued a press release outlining various top tips to help schools recognise, prevent and deal with fraudulent scams. For information about these top tips click here.


Royal College of Nursing report: reduced public health services for young people

The Royal College of Nursing has published a report disclosing the significant decline in the school nurses and the health visitor workforce. The report considers the various reasons behind the changes to these services, in particular the impact that cost pressures have had on their delivery.

The key findings directly related to schools include:

  1. Despite the number of school age children rising to 450,000 between 2010 to 2017, there has been a 16% reduction in the number of full-time school nurses;
  2. School nurses are “overstretched”, with 29% stating that they worked across 13 schools.

The report notes that reduced public health funding has led to fewer numbers of nurses taking up the relevant qualifications to specialise in school nursing and health visiting; resulting in fewer nurses taking up these roles and an increasing workload for those who do. The Royal College of Nursing is calling on the Government to improve resources for local authorities so that they can deliver an adequate service of health visiting and school nursing.

NGA are aware that some schools do not have access to a school nurse or that their availability is sparse. Nevertheless, governing boards have a duty to promote the wellbeing of the pupils in their schools and should seek assurances from the headteacher that the school is as equipped as it can be to keep children safe and healthy.


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 current wave of funding ends in August.

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.

The locations for the Governance leadership development programmes beginning this term are: Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Norfolk, Stoke, Sunderland and Suffolk.

The locations for Clerks are: Birmingham, Bedfordshire, Cheshire, Essex, Liverpool, London, Norfolk, Nottingham and Suffolk. 

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.


Young Governors’ Network

School governance is not as diverse as we want to it to be. Only 11% of respondents to the annual TES/NGA survey were under 40 and 93% were white. This kick-started two projects at NGA; one with the aim of diversifying the cultural makeup of school governing boards and another looking to support young governors/trustees. On Wednesday 24 May our pilot ‘Young Governors’ Network’ will meet for the third time in London. Then on Wednesday 31 May, we’re meeting again in Birmingham. If you govern in these areas please encourage your young (under 40) governors to attend. It’s an excellent opportunity to share ideas and meet other governors.

Click here to find out more.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 12/05/2017

With pupils in year 6 taking their key stage 2 SATs tests this week, and GCSEs and A levels beginning from Monday, assessment will be a key focus for schools across the country.

LKMco and Pearson have published an interim report on the future of assessment. The report reflects the views of teachers, pupils, parents and governing boards. As part of the consultation, governors and trustees took part in focus groups in Birmingham and Essex earlier in the Spring – thank you to those who participated.

The report put forward a number of initial conclusions based on the feedback received so far. Those which will be of particular interest to governors and trustees include:

  • assessment impacts workload and schools need to ensure that their policies and expectations are realistic
  • concern about the impact of statutory tests on pupils’ and teachers’ wellbeing
  • teachers do not feel their professional judgement is valued highly enough
  • teachers, parents and young people are concerned that assessment is impacting on the content of the curriculum
  • more should be done to share best practice across the system
  • there was particular concern about how assessments are impacting pupils with special education needs

A final report will be published later in the summer.

Would you like to have your say on assessment?

The online consultation which will feed in to the final report remains open to all governors and trustees serving in primary and secondary schools in England. You don’t need to be an assessment expert to take part; the consultation comprises three short questions about your views on assessment, and some brief questions about you. It will take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.

To take part in LKMco and Pearson’s online consultation, please click here.

For more on assessment, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


Promoting positive mental health during the exam period

As exam season gets underway, many pupils feel pressure to achieve the top results to secure school, college or University places or to meet expectations from themselves, family or peers. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and school leaders, including those governing should use this as an opportunity to consider the effects of exams on student wellbeing.

This academic year, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) have carried out 3,135 counselling sessions for young people concerned about exams. This represents an 11% rise compared to the previous two years. Of any pupil groups, secondary school children (aged 12-15) are most likely to seek help. However, there has also been a 21% increase in the number of 16-18 year olds receiving counselling support (particularly those taking A-levels).

Governing boards are responsible for promoting the well-being of children and young people and must ensure that they set an ethos and culture which is supportive. There is information on various aspects of pupil well-being in the NGA Guidance Centre, including a Governing Matters article by Dr Pooky Knightsmith on ‘Promoting positive mental health’.


Funding the Future

Luke Sibieta, education programme director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has said that protecting school budgets from real term cuts would require investment of £3.7 billion. Writing in Schools Week, he said that this amount is “the equivalent of 1p on the basic rate of income tax or 3 per cent of the NHS budget in England”.

The figure of £3.7 billion is the combined cost of protecting spending per pupil between 2017-18 and 2021-22 (about £2 billion) and the cost of compensating schools for the additional costs they have incurred over the past two years (at least £1.7 billion according to the National Audit Office).

Separately, a survey of over 700 headteachers has provided further evidence of the scale of the school funding crisis. Across these schools, at least 1,160 teaching posts have been withdrawn, at least 1,600 teaching assistant posts have been lost, and at least 875 support posts have been removed. Almost half (49%) said school funding arrangements for April 2017 are “at crisis point”.

School funding is a prominent topic in the current general election campaigns, with both Labour and the Liberal Democrats having announced plans this week. The Conservatives are yet to set out their plans for education.

Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information request by TES magazine has revealed details of how the Department of Education (DfE) expect schools to make savings. Previously, the headline figure of £3 billion savings by 2019-20, based on £1.7 billion cut to staffing budgets and £1.3 billion procurement savings was in the public domain.

TES’s investigation revealed that the DfE expect more than £500 million to be cut from teacher pay across England and £400 million from education support staff. A further £750 (million?) of savings are expected on supply staff, back office staff and other staff related costs e.g. training and insurance. The calculations are based on the potential savings if the highest spending schools reduced spending in line with ‘more efficient’ similar schools.

The article quotes a range of stakeholders expressing concern that schools will not be able to make the desired savings without damaging the standard of education they provide to pupils. While governing boards should ensure that their organisation is using its resources efficiently, the NGA will continue to campaign for an increase in the overall schools budget to protect pupils’ education. More on NGA’s priorities for the general election and Funding the Future campaign.


UK Civil Society Almanac 2017 

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has released its 2017 almanac, giving an overview of volunteering in the UK.

In 2015/16 an estimated 14.2 million people “formally” volunteered, that is, giving unpaid help through a group, club or organisation, at least once a month - a value estimated to be £22.6bn. “Regular volunteers” gave on average 11.6 hours per month. The almanac also reported the following key findings:

  • There are no gender differences in rates of formal volunteering but more women than men informally volunteered
  • The number of young formal volunteers has dropped for the first time since 2010/11,
  • In general, those in deprived areas are less likely to volunteer than those in the least deprived
  • The most common reason to volunteer was to improve things/help people (61%) and that the cause was considered important (39%).
  • By far the most commonly cited reason for respondents to stop volunteering was lack of time due to changing home/work circumstances (52%).
  • The main reason for not formally volunteering on a regular basis was work commitments (55%), followed by commitments in the home or in caring for children (34%).

More on this: The Right People Around the Table: how to recruit and retain governors and trustees.

Does your employer support you with paid time off to volunteer? We want to hear from you. Email Mark Gardner (mark.gardner@nga.org.uk).  


Number of weapons seized by police in schools this year rises by 20%

According to police figures obtained by the Press Association, a total of 1,369 weapons have been seized by police so far in 2016/17. This represents a 20% rise compared to this time last year. The weapons seized include knives, imitation guns (such as BB guns), rocks and Tasers. The data was derived from 32 police forces across the country.

Punishments for bringing weapons into school will include permanent exclusion in many cases; the article emphasises that 2014/15 saw 2,100 permanent exclusions related to assault, verbal abuse and threatening behaviour.  Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that schools should “work closely with the police to protect and educate their pupils … Where appropriate, schools [can] conduct searches and use metal detectors, and they [are able to] implement robust disciplinary procedures against anyone found in possession of a weapon”. 

Those governing should gain assurances from executive leaders that protocols are in place for dealing with such scenarios and included in the schools’ behaviour policy. Governing boards’ should also question how pupils, parents and staff are made aware of the school behaviour policy.  For more on what those governing need to know about behaviour and exclusions, see the NGA guidance centre.


Sixth form college association launches manifesto and new funding campaign

On 8 May, the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) launched its “support our sixth-formers campaign”. The main ask from the campaign is an “uplift” of “£200 [additional funding] per student”. This equates to a “less than 5% … overall increase” in sixth-form funding. The aim of this money would be to:

  • “boost student employability skills”,
  • to “support the growing number of sixth form students experiencing mental health problems”
  • to “improve students’ study skills to aid exam performance”

This campaign was launched at the same time that the SFCA released its election manifesto which, as well as the £200 per student “uplift”, also called for sixth form funding review, a “VAT refund scheme” for all sixth form providers and a “competitive process for establishing new sixth form provision”.

Click here to learn more about the SFCA campaign and here to view the SFCA election manifesto. NGA has also released a manifesto for the election, click here for more information.


A Framework for Governance update – take our feedback survey

The NGA and the Wellcome Trust jointly developed the Framework for Governance to help governors and trustees effectively carry out their strategic role. It is a flexible guide and was designed for use by any school, regardless of phase, type or governance structure.

The Framework sets out how governing boards can agree broad governing principles and evaluate practice by using the Twenty Key Questions for a governing board to ask itself. It then leads governing boards through the process of setting strategic direction and addresses how to monitor progress against strategy using key performance indicators.

As reported last week, the NGA will be updating the Framework for Governance this year and are keen to hear your thoughts and suggestions for improvement.

If you would like to provide feedback, click here to take the short survey. Please note, links to the relevant sections of an online version of the Framework are embedded throughout the survey.

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far. This survey will close on 19 May 2017. 


Department for Education releases figures for the allocation of Initial Teacher Training places

The Department for Education has published the allocation of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) places and Teacher Supply Model (TSM) for the academic year 2017/18. The TSM gives an approximate figure of the number of newly qualified teachers needed in 2018/19.

The department sets a higher number of allocations compared to the number of NQTs actually required.  This is to account for providers who don’t successfully fill their places and the trainee dropout rate; as well as to accommodate trainees who don’t pursue employment in state funded schools.

The release was covered in the TES who state that “the government’s target for postgraduate trainees is 1,600 higher than last year.” At the same time TES refers to UCAS figures that show that by April 2017 there was a drop of six per cent in the number of people who had applied for teacher training.

There is clear evidence of a growing shortage of teaching staff across the board.  Like many others, NGA has been calling for the government to take affirmative action to prevent a serious staffing shortage. More information on staffing can be found in the NGA Guidance Centre.


NGA Blog: Emma Knights and Russell Hobby reflect on the recent NAHT conference motion on governance

Emma Knights and Russell Hobby reflect on the NAHT conference motion calling for reduced emphasis on governance in Ofsted’s judgments on school leadership and management in this week's blog


NGA Special schools’ advisory group

The NGA’s special schools’ advisory group will be meeting on Monday 22 May 2017 at 1pm at the NGA offices in Birmingham. The group provides those governing with 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 chance to exchange information on practices that they feel are working well in their schools. If you would like to attend please contact Rani Kaur (rani.kaur@nga.org.uk) by Wednesday 17 May.


Community MATs network: join us in London!

Following events in Manchester and Birmingham, the community MATs network will be holding its next meeting in London on Friday 23 June.

This is a chance for trustees and clerks of multi academy trusts (MATs) to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in governing a group of academies. The event is free to members: click here to book a place.

Topics will build on some of the issues highlighted at previous network meetings; if you are involved in governing a MAT and would like to suggest a topic for the agenda, get in touch by emailing Fay Holland (fay.holland@nga.org.uk).

From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 05/05/2017

2017 General Election: NGA’s priorities

In time for the general election on 8 June, the National Governance Association (NGA) has published an infographic outlining its five priorities. NGA is asking politicians to consider these as they campaign. Education will be an important battleground for the competing political parties and NGA want to ensure that the views of its members are expressed in the lead up to the election. As well as sharing the infographic on social media, many NGA members have recently written to their MP to alert them to the school funding situation. While parliament has now dissolved (meaning there are no MPs until after the election) you can still write to a candidate, outlining one or more of these issues, and NGA has created a template letter for you to adapt. Just click the link below.

View and share NGA’s five priorities.

View NGA’s template letter.


A Framework for Governance update – take our feedback survey

The NGA and the Wellcome Trust jointly developed the Framework for Governance to help governors and trustees effectively carry out their strategic role. It is a flexible guide and was designed for use by any school, regardless of phase, type or governance structure.

The Framework sets out how governing boards can agree broad governing principles and evaluate practice by using the Twenty Key Questions for a governing board to ask itself. It then leads governing boards through the process of setting strategic direction and addresses how to monitor progress against strategy using key performance indicators.

The NGA will be updating the Framework for Governance this year and are keen to hear your thoughts and suggestions for improvement.

If you would like to provide feedback, please click here to take a short survey. Please note, links to the relevant sections of an online version of the Framework are embedded throughout the survey.


Government publishes response to report on recruitment and retention of teachers

In February the House of Commons Education Select Committee published its report on the retention and recruitment of teachers. The report stated that the “number of different routes into teaching are not always understood by applicants and can be confusing”. The Department for Education (DfE) has responded by saying it has been “working to improve the support available”, aiming to make the application process more straightforward, while also emphasising the extent of existing support that applicants can access.

The report also called for the government to pursue its plan of launching a “national vacancy website which would be free to schools”. The department confirmed that it plans to produce information and guidance, including case studies, which will assist schools with advertising jobs at low cost, as well as develop “common standards for vacancy adverts and application forms”.  The government agreed to create a vacancy website, “if there is sufficient benefit” in doing so. The completion of exit interviews was another key ask by the committee; the department said it “would welcome the contribution that this would make to help understand why teachers leave the profession”.

The TES/NGA annual survey 2016 found that 35% of governors and trustees found it difficult to attract good candidates when recruiting a headteacher. This increased to 42% for senior staff posts and 50% for teaching posts (up from 38% in 2015).

School governing boards have a duty of care to their employees and should ensure their health, safety and wellbeing at work. This should include measures to prevent staff from working excessive hours and consulting employees on issues that concern them. To read the full government response to the committee’s report please click here.


MPs publish report into primary assessment

In 2016 the House of Commons Education Select Committee launched an inquiry into primary assessment, following the first end of key stage tests on the new national curriculum. The full report of the committee’s findings was published this week.

Among the recommendations were:

  • longer lead in times for changes to assessment and improved communication with schools
  • an independent review of the development process for tests
  • the Department for Education (DfE) and Standards and Testing Agency (STA) should publish plans to improve the test experience for pupils
  • the key stage 2 spelling, punctuation and grammar test should not be part of statutory assessment
  • the DfE should evaluate the reliability of teacher assessment judgements and their use in accountability
  • teachers should receive professional development training on effective assessment throughout their careers, with resources provided by the DfE
  • the DfE should provide more advice and guidance for schools on assessment systems
  • Ofsted should ensure that its inspectors consistently report on the full breadth of a school’s curriculum and explore alternative ways of using data in inspections
  • the DfE should change its performance tables so that key stage 2 results are reported as a rolling three year average
  • the DfE should consider the wider impact of its proposal to measure progress from early years to key stage 2

The NGA submitted written evidence to the inquiry last October, which is available to read here. As reported in a previous newsletter, the government published a consultation on primary assessment at the end of March which is due to close on 22 June. Any future government will respond to both the Select Committee report and the responses to the consultation.

Visit the NGA Guidance Centre for more information on the current assessment system in primary schools: primary assessment guidance and assessment without levels.


National Association of Head Teachers conference

Last weekend the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) held its annual conference in Telford, with a keynote address from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

On the final day of the conference, members discussed a number of motions including some about governance. One motion, which received considerable twitter reaction, stated “Conference calls on the National Executive, working with the National Governors’ Association and other relevant organisations, to campaign for a reduced emphasis on governance within the judgement for leadership in Ofsted and reduce the expectations, workload and ever-increasing accountability of the volunteers who put themselves forward as governors of our schools.”   

This motion could be read as being supportive of those governing, or seeking to downgrade the importance of governors and trustees. The first NGA fully endorses whereas the latter we emphatically do not and it would have been nice to have been consulted before the motion was laid. In discussion the retention of governors was also listed as a concern, with this being linked to headteachers’ careers which were “being put on the line by bewildered governors”.

NGA has long campaigned for the understanding and prominence of governance across the sector to be increased and the profile of governors and trustees to be raised. NGA’s view is that governance should form a key part of the leadership and management judgement in Ofsted inspections.  

NGA’s own manifesto emphasises the need to take action to address the shortage of headteachers and invest in their professional development, and this includes a call for headteachers and executives to receive mandatory governance induction training.

NAHT will be attending the NGA's Summer Conference on Saturday 24 June to discuss this issue with NGA members. 

NAHT summary of discussion


Report on children and young people’s mental health

This week, the House of Commons Education and Health Committees published a joint report into the role of education in supporting the mental health of children and young people. The Committees received evidence from mental health experts, researchers, academics and education providers. The NGA submitted evidence on the role of governors and trustees in promoting emotional wellbeing and support for young people which you can access at the NGA consultation responses page.

The reports outlines that despite a growing prevalence of mental ill-health in young people, education providers are having to scale back on time and resources that promote pupil well-being. The report also finds that an increasing number of education providers are having to restrict access to mental health services, such as in-school counsellors, due to financial pressures. The committees made 13 recommendations, including:

  • For the next government to return to the issues of the inquiry, publish a Green Paper and uphold compulsory status of PSHE
  • For school leaders to develop a whole-school approach to well-being which should be embedded across the curriculum
  • That sufficient prominence be given to personal development and well-being criteria in the Ofsted inspection framework
  • The government should build on the inclusion of mental health training in initial teacher training and extend it to current teachers
  • The government should review the effect of budget reductions on the provision of mental health support services
  • Schools to include education on the risks of social media as part of PSHE

Governing boards have a vital role to play when it comes to pupil wellbeing. For more information on how to promote positive wellbeing in schools, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


APPG for Education report - schools preparing children for the future

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Education has published a report on their inquiry on how well schools prepare children for their future.

Examining changes in the labour market and the necessity for basic literacy and numeracy skills, the report emphasises the need for children and young people to also have “soft skills, character and resilience” as well as the increasing demand for skilled STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics ) workers.

The report also explores the importance of high quality employer engagement, work experience, and careers education in terms of “levelling the playing field” for young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The inquiry found that that a rising number of schools were struggling with increasingly limited resources, meaning that time and money are not being focused on areas crucial for a young person’s future life chances, such as good quality careers guidance or “soft skills development”.

The inquiry recommendations include: 

  • that the government reinstates mandatory work experience
  • careers advice and guidance should always be provided by a “qualified, independent and impartial counsellor”
  • children with SEND must be “more visible in debates around careers provision”
  • the government should allocate additional resources to schools for the explicit purpose of providing careers advice

It is NGA’s view that students need to be given the best possible opportunity for a successful life after school and the qualification system must offer high-quality vocational and academic qualifications.


Getting into grammar school is like “rolling a loaded dice”

Education Datalab has described admission to Kent’s grammar schools as “akin to rolling a loaded dice” because there is a strong element of chance involved and the odds are not equal for all children.  It found that:

  • small changes to the rules would lead to significant changes in which pupils are considered to have passed
  • performance on the 11-plus is not a reliable predictor for performance on end of key stage 2 SATs
  • pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) score particularly poorly in the reasoning element of the Kent Test compared to other pupils
  • pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) tend to score more highly on the SATs than the 11-plus

The report also casts doubt on the effectiveness of methods used to decide on admission for pupils that did not pass the 11-plus, such as headteacher panels.

A number of strategies that could improve access to grammar schools for disadvantaged pupils are identified, including allowing primary schools to provide practice on reasoning questions, adjusting the marks of FSM eligible pupils, and increasing the number of FSM eligible pupils that are entered for headteacher panels.

Full report: The 11-plus is a loaded dice: Analysis of Kent 11-plus data

Proposals to allow new grammar schools to open in England were set out in a Department for Education consultation last autumn: click here to read the NGA’s response.


Young Governors’ Network: Book now

The Young Governors’ Network will meet again on Wednesday 24 May in London and Wednesday 31 May in Birmingham. Book your free place 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 or trustees.

If you’re a young governor or trustee (under 40), it could really help to speak to others about your experiences and network with other young governors/trustees.

If you have a young governor or trustee 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.


NGA Special schools’ advisory group

The NGA’s special schools’ advisory group will be meeting on Monday 22nd May 2017 at 1pm at the NGA offices in Birmingham. The group provides those governing with 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 chance to exchange information on practices that they feel are working well in their schools. If you would like to attend please contact Rani Kaur (rani.kaur@nga.org.uk) by Wednesday 17th May.


Guest blog: members in academy trusts

Alison Critchley, Chief Executive of RSA Academies, guest blogs about the role of members in academy trusts, saying: ‘We should encourage fundamental rethink about who the members are and how they are appointed’. 


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 28/04/2017

2017 General Election: NGA’s priorities

In preparation for the general election on 8 June we are publishing some of our priorities and asking politicians to consider these as they campaign. Education will be an important battleground for the competing political parties and we want to ensure that the views of our members are expressed in the lead up to the election. So we call on a new government to:

1.  Articulate a clear vision and long term strategy for the school system in England that ensures all young people have a well-rounded education

2.  Fund the Future

a)   Act swiftly to redress the existing real term cuts facing schools (estimated to be £3bn by 2020) and commit to protecting future per pupil funding in real terms

b)   Implement funding reform with a new national funding formula

c)   Redress the shortfalls in funding for sixth forms and early years education

d)   Protect Pupil Premium and Sports Premium funding

e)    Provide enough capital to ensure school buildings are fit for purpose

f)    Ensure health, care and well-being support services are available for children and young people

3.  Understand and value the role that school governance plays in ensuring a good education for all pupils

a)  Give citizens a minimum amount of paid time off work to undertake voluntary activity, including school governance  

b)  Make governance induction training free and mandatory for all new school governors, trustees, headteachers and senior academy executives

c)  Continue to invest in development programmes for those governing and for clerks of boards

d)  Ensure that the governance implications of school structural change are understood and appropriate mechanisms put in place to safeguard the interests of pupils

e)  Ensure that multi academy trusts stay connected to the parents and communities they serve

4.  Take action to address the shortage of headteachers and teachers across the country and invest in their professional development

5.  Introduce a ‘policy relief period’ to give schools a chance to implement and review the impact of the many recent and substantial changes to their practice and structure

In the next few weeks we will be outlining each of our requests in more detail. If you are planning to attend a political husting, please do ask candidates about these requests. Unfortunately we can’t including everything here, but if you think we’ve missed something crucial or just want to pledge your support, get in touch with mark.garnder@nga.org.uk


Funding the Future update

Funding the future is a core part of the NGA’s new manifesto. NGA thinks that there is simply not enough money for all pupils in schools in England and the school funding crisis is not going to go away without more investment. With our members’ help, we will continue to campaign for additional funding. Remember that you can read all about our campaign at: Funding the Future: supporting England’s schools.


Governing Matters: May/June edition 

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

Cover stories include:

  • Teacher workload

Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s deputy chief executive, discusses new recommendations on tackling teacher workload and the impact governors and trustees can have on teacher retention.

  • PE and school sport

Dominic Judge looks at how governors and trustees can achieve a lasting legacy for their students.

  • Research matters: Appointing a headteacher

Chris James, Tom Fellows and Sarah Fitzgerald discuss the process of recruiting a headteacher. 

  • Good practice: Risk Management

Duncan Gotobed looks at the steps governors and trustees can take to improve a school’s capacity to handle the threats and uncertainty it faces.

  • Cultural Education

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, looks at the importance of cultural education for all students. 

  • Clerking Matters

NGA holds its first clerks’ conference. Read up on how it went!

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@nga.org.uk.


Changes to constitutional arrangements for maintained school governing bodies

The government has published the School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 which will enforce changes to the constitutional arrangements of maintained school governing bodies, including federated governing bodies.

From 1 September 2017, maintained school governing bodies will have the power to remove elected parent and staff governors in the same way as they can remove co-opted governors – that is, by majority decision of the governing body. See NGA’s guidance on the appointment, election and removal of maintained school governors for the process of removing a governor.

From 1 May 2017, any person who has held office as an elected parent or staff governor and removed from the governing body during their term of office, will be disqualified from serving or continuing to serve as a school governor for five years from the date of their removal.

This change follows a consultation launched by the Department for Education ealier this year. The NGA response to the consultation can be accessed here.  NGA had previsouly sought our members’ views via an online poll and regional focus groups, on the Department for Education’s proposal to implement such changes to the constitution arrangements of maintained school governing bodies in autumn 2015. 88% of our members who responded to our poll, indicated that they would support a clear and fair process that would allow for the removal of governors where their presence is detrimental to the workings of the governing board and more widely to the school.

Generally, governing boards must ensure that their code of conduct provides a clear framework for basing decisions to remove individuals from the governing board, regardless of whether they have been elected or appointed. NGA will be updating its model code of conduct to reflect the changes in legislation.


Further information on the replacement for RAISEonline

The Department for Education (DfE) has released a video with information on the replacement for the RAISEonline service. The new “Analyse School Performance” service will be a “sister service” to the DfE performance tables. Unlike the performance tables, it will require secure access and those governing should speak with their business manager about obtaining access from the secure access approver. Any access provided should be in anonymised form. The anonymised data will also be available to Ofsted, local authorities, multi-academy trusts and dioceses. 

The service will allow governors and trustees to “view and analyse details on key headline measures” and compare performance at “school and pupil group level against national averages”. The system allows for both overview and in-depth reports (i.e. breakdown by pupil groups) on headline measures. The new system also allows users to use scatter graphs to identify trends over time. This useful feature will help those governing to see if “their school development plan and priorities” are being translated into better results in key areas.

For more on knowing your schools and the use of school data, visit the NGA guidance centre


Regional Schools Commissioner for East of England resigns

Dr Tim Coulson, the regional schools commissioner (RSC) for the East of England and north-east London, has announced that he will be stepping down from his post over the summer. He will take on a new role as chief executive of the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, a multi academy trust running fifteen schools in Suffolk.

RSCs are responsible for making decisions about academy trusts and intervening in cases of underperformance. RSCs are part of the civil service and the Department for Education are currently advertising for Dr Coulson’s replacement.


Clerking Competency Framework published

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a Competency Framework for clerks. The new non-statutory guidance sets out the competencies required for professional clerking to school governing boards and multi academy trust boards.

The Framework details specific knowledge, skills and effective behaviours for clerks, grouped under the following competencies:

  1. Understanding governance: understanding the board’s duties and responsibilities including governance legislation and procedures
  2. Administration: ensuring that the processes and procedures of governance are administered efficiently
  3. Advice and guidance: access to timely and accurate advice and guidance, or signposting to expert advice where appropriate
  4. People and relationships: ensuring that the board has accurate records of its people and their skills

The NGA has campaigned for a number of years for the role of clerk to be professionalised. It is widely recognised that an effective and suitably paid clerk is a key element in the success of any governing board. NGA welcomes the focus the Department for Education is putting on this crucial role and the framework can be used to assist governing boards with both the recruitment of a clerk and when setting their objectives.

The framework will also help individuals and organisations delivering professional clerking services to assess their own practice. For more information and guidance on the role of the clerk, visit NGA Clerking Matters.


Public Accounts Committee criticises DfE’s capital strategy

“The system for funding new schools and new places in existing schools is increasingly incoherent and too often poor value for money” – so opens the House of Commons, Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) critical report into the way in which the Department for Education (DfE) distributes capital funding.   Published on 26 April 2017 the report looks at funding provided both for additional school places and improving existing buildings. It makes seven recommendations for DfE.

The PAC commented that it was not convinced the DfE was funding the right number of places in the right areas and could not explain to the Committee how it assesses whether an area had too much spare capacity. The PAC said it was equally unclear what the DfE meant by its aim “to provide parents with choice’ – as there was no definition of how much spare capacity was deemed to provide ‘meaningful choice’.

The committee accepted that the DfE has made progress to understanding the state of school buildings, but said it still did not have good enough information, particularly in relation to the prevalence and management of asbestos in schools. It recommends that the DfE should set out by December 2017 how it will address this gap in knowledge. The report goes on to say that there is not enough focus on routine maintenance and DfE should develop mechanisms for holding local authorities and academy trusts to account for the state of their school buildings.  

Finally it considers the schools built under the Priority Schools Building Programme and the fact that the DfE does not have sufficiently robust mechanisms for assessing the quality, suitability and value for money of buildings provided under the programme.  In particular it was critical of the fact that the DfE had endorsed the provision of some schools built without adequate on-site outdoor space.


Schools financial health check survey

Last summer, the Department for Education (DfE) developed a financial health check structure for schools to help them identify whether or not they would benefit from an external financial review. The Department is now undertaking a review to improve the offer and are keen to hear from those governing in schools about their views and experiences of the schools financial health checks offer. Whether or not your school has used the offer, if you would like to contribute to the review, you can do so through a short online survey.

One of the core functions of the governing board is to oversee the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent. A financial review is just one way in which the governing board can ascertain whether or not the school is securing good value for money. In the current climate of uncertainty over school funding, governing boards need to ensure that their schools are running as efficiently as possible and seeking ways to assure themselves of this. Further guidance on overseeing financial performance of schools can be found in the NGA Guidance Centre finance section.  


Justine Greening speaks of grammar schools to help “ordinary working families”

On 13 April, the secondary of state for education, Justine Greening, outlined the government’s vision for the school system. Reaffirming her commitment to increasing the number of grammar schools, the education secretary rejected the arguments of those that criticise the grammar school system, claiming that they were “ignoring the views of parents”.

The speech also confirmed that the department was undertaking a technical consultation on the methodology used in the statistical working paper that analyses household income and educational outcomes.

Responding to the releases, Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s Deputy Chief Executive, outlined that: “The NGA shares the government’s concern that pupils from lower income households are less likely than those from higher income households to access a good school and leave with grades needed to move onto employment, education or training that will provide opportunities for them in the long term. We welcome the government’s ambition to create an education system that extends opportunity to everyone, but there is no evidence to suggest that an increase in selection will achieve this aim”.

The most effective way to ensure that the education system works for everyone, not just the privileged few, is to support improvement in all schools. The government can do this through tackling the immediate issues facing governing boards, such as insufficient funding and teacher retention and supply.


Update to primary school accountability measures

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its technical guidance on primary accountability and school-level progress measures for 2017. The updated guidance sets out the methodology for including pupils below the standard of the key stage two tests in progress measures (previously, pupils who were entered for the tests but did not receive enough marks for a scaled score were excluded from primary school progress measures).

Separately, the DfE are currently consulting on a number of reforms to assessment in primary schools, including changing the starting point for measuring progress. The NGA will be putting together a detailed response to the consultation. Any members who wish to feed into this should get in touch via fay.holland@nga.org.uk.

DfE guidance: primary school accountability.

NGA guidance: monitoring performance.


National primary offer day

Last week, parents of primary school-aged children found out which schools their children will be attending from September 2017. Whilst there are currently no figures published from the Department for Education (DfE), local authorities have published their own figures about places and allocations.

Schools Week has analysed the national offer day figures for eight local authorities which are facing the largest increases in demand for primary school places by 2019. Overall, seven of the eight authorities analysed either increased or maintained the number of applicants offered a place at their first preference school.

You can read the full analysis on the Schools Week website.


Calling all trustees and clerks of multi academy trusts

The next meeting of NGA’s Community MATs network for trustees and clerks of multi-academy trusts will take place in London on Friday 23 June, the day before NGA’s summer conference.

The main topics for discussion will be:

  • Finance and staffing: how do you balance budgets across the MAT and fund the central staff structure?
  • Knowing your schools: how do you monitor and hold executive leaders to account for the standards of education across the MAT?
  • Communication: how do you manage communication between different layers of governance, including academy committees in each school?

The meeting is free to attend for NGA members and is a valuable opportunity to network with others facing the same challenges, supporting and challenging each other’s practice.

Download the agenda.

Book a place.


Strategic School Improvement funding available to groups of schools

This week the Department for Education (DfE) has released information relating to the Strategic School Improvement Fund. The funding available amounts to £140 million and is available to all types of state school. The money can be used for “improving leadership, governance, teaching methods and approaches, and financial health and efficiency”.

The money is for groups of schools (minimum of four schools) and individual schools cannot apply for the funding. Therefore, “teaching schools, multi-academy trusts and local authorities will submit to the Department for Education applications for funding on behalf of the sector”.

Schools should speak with their local authority/MAT/Teaching School to “bring together their local intelligence to identify shared improvement priorities”. The DfE recommend that the regional school commissioner (for academy trusts) and the Teaching Schools Council regional lead (for Teaching Schools) should be consulted to avoid schools in the same area putting together duplicative applications.


New research from the National Foundation for Educational Research

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has published two new pieces of research. The first looks at the “latest available performance data” to gain a deeper understanding of the issues faced by the regional schools commissioners including the capacity of multi-academy trusts. The second looks into the factors which influence headteacher retention based on school workforce census data and interviews with headteachers.

A summary of these reports can be found on the NGA research page.


Investigation highlights impact of Private Finance Initiative contracts

An investigation in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) highlights the impact of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts on some of England’s schools. Many of these contracts were used to fund the Building Schools for the Future programme in the 2000s.

There are 172 PFI contracts affecting schools, costing a total of £32.09 billion during their lifetime (£22.1 billion of which is outstanding and due to be paid over the next 25 years). The TES analysis states that the capital value of schools built through PFI contracts is £8.5 billion.

Some schools are spending a significant proportion of their budgets repaying the contracts each year and the conditions in the contracts can mean that routine maintenance costs well above the market rate. TES gives examples of this, including one school which had to spend over £8,000 to install a blind in one room.

The National Audit Office are planning to report on public bodies managing and making savings from legacy PFI deals later this year.


OECD PISA assessment on pupil wellbeing

The first report on the “PISA assessment of student’s wellbeing” produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that UK teenagers have a below average score for life satisfaction compared with students in other OECD countries. The findings are based on a questionnaire completed by approximately 540,000 students in 72 participating countries and economies in addition to the main OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 Survey on science, mathematics and reading.

The report found that on a scale from zero to 10, the average life-satisfaction score across the OECD countries and economies was 7.3. UK students reported a below average score of 7. The report into wellbeing analysed several factors including students’ performance in school, their relationships with peers and how they spend their time outside of school. Key findings for UK students included:

  • 72% said they felt very anxious before a test even when they were well prepared compared with an OECD average of 56%.
  • 24% reported being “bullied at least a few times a month” compared with an OECD average of 19%.
  • 63% reported “that they exercise or practise sports before or after school” compared with an OECD average of 70%.

Governing boards have a vital role to play when it comes to pupil wellbeing. For more information on how to promote positive wellbeing in schools, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 13/04/2017

NGA responds to Justine Greening's speech

13/04/2017

Commenting on Justine Greening’s speech at St Mary's University today, NGA Deputy Chief Executive Gillian Allcroft said:

“The NGA shares the government’s concern that pupils from lower income households are less likely than those from higher income households to access a good school and leave with grades needed to move onto employment, education or training that will provide opportunities for them in the long term. We welcome the government’s ambition to create an education system that extends opportunity to everyone, but there is no evidence to suggest that an increase in selection will achieve this aim.

The most effective way to ensure that the education system works for everyone, not just the privileged few, is to support improvement in all schools. The government can do this through tackling the immediate issues facing governing boards, such as insufficient funding and teacher retention and supply.”

 

Notes:

In a snap poll by the NGA for TES of nearly a thousand school governors/trustees (carried out in September 2016) 78.2 per cent were opposed to government plans to introduce more selective education.

The NGA’s response to the 'Schools that work for everyone' consultation can be found here.

From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 07/04/2017

NGA is researching headteacher appraisal

Effective appraisal of the headteacher is a key part of how governing boards hold the executive leadership to account. NGA wants to find out more about how governing boards approach this important task, and will be undertaking a small-scale research project to explore this further. The first stage of the study is a survey aimed at chairs of governing boards: take part here. The survey will be open until Tuesday 2 May 2017.

The second stage will consist of telephone interviews with chairs, their headteacher and (where relevant) external adviser. If you would be happy to take part in a phone interview, please do leave your contact details at the end of the survey.


School places: the national picture

Data on school capacity released by the Department for Education (DfE) reveals that 104,000 new primary places and 32,000 new secondary places were created between May 2015 and May 2016. The proportion of schools that were full or had pupils in excess of capacity had reduced slightly in the same period for both primary and secondary.

The underlying data also shows that there were significant numbers of extremely small schools: over 800 primary schools running with 60 or fewer pupils and over 200 secondary schools running with 300 or fewer pupils (though some of these are new schools that do not yet have full year groups).

There are 211,000 planned places due to be added to the system between this academic year and 2018/19. Pupil numbers in primary school are forecast to plateau beyond 2020/21 while the number of pupils in secondary schools is expected to continue to rise.

However, there will be significant differences in the need for additional places between local areas: a recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that nationally “10% of primary places and 16% of secondary places were unfilled”, while “more than one in 10 planning areas had fewer than 2% of their places unfilled”.

When setting out their strategy for the next three to five years, governing boards should consider forecast pupil numbers in their local area and the sustainability (or indeed whether they will need to consider expansion) of their school or schools.


Women continue to be underrepresented in headship

A new study highlights the underrepresentation of women among headteachers as an issue of social justice.

While the proportion of secondary school headteachers who are female has risen from 25% in 2001 to 38% in 2015, this remains significantly lower than the 64% of secondary school teachers who are female across the country.

The study found that there are just seven local authority areas in England where the proportion of women amongst secondary school headteachers matches the proportion of secondary school teachers nationally. It concluded that, if current trends persist, “women’s representation in headship will not match their representation in the teaching workforce before 2040”.

Appointing a headteacher is one of the most significant tasks a governing board will undertake and they need to be mindful of employment and equalities legislation. In this Governing Matters article, Kate Chhatwal asks if governing boards are unintentionally discriminating against some candidates for headship.


Labour propose universal free school meals in primary schools

The Labour Party has said that it would extend free school meals (FSM) to all primary school pupils if elected. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is proposing to fund this through VAT on private school fees.

Currently, eligibility for FSM is means tested based on family income and receipt of certain benefits. This eligibility is then used to identify pupils for which the school receives pupil premium funding. FSM provision is already universal for pupils in reception, year one and year two.

In making its proposal, Labour cite the outcome of a trial conducted in Newham and Durham between 2009 and 2011 which found a positive effect on pupils’ attainment (though the route of this improvement was unclear as improvements in attendance, health or behaviour were not observed). Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner, said that Labour’s proposals would also “remove the stigma attached to free school meals”. It should be noted that many schools have addressed this “stigma” through, for example, the use of cashless systems to pay for school meals which mean FSM vouchers are not visible.


Launch of new Institute for Apprenticeships and apprenticeship levy

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) launched the new Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA). The main role of this new “non-departmental public body” is to “consider and approve expressions of interest, apprenticeship standards and assessment plans submitted by employer groups”. Although employers will write the new apprenticeship standards, they will be able to get support from the IfA. It will be the IfA’s responsibility to review, approve and “quality assure” all plans to ensure they are in line with government requirements.

As well as the launch of the IfA this week, governing boards should be aware that the apprenticeship levy was officially introduced on 6 April 2017. The NGA has written guidance for schools that are required to pay the levy or to contribute to a wider levy pot. The DfE press release also made clear that smaller organisations would be able to access apprenticeship funding. The DfE stated that: “generous support” will also be provided for smaller employers with an annual pay bill below £3 million and therefore not required to pay the levy – although of course many schools with a pay bill lower than the threshold will have to pay the levy because they are not the direct employer of staff. More information on the apprenticeship levy, including how to utilise the funding, can be found on the DfE website.

Governors and trustees should gain assurances from school leadership that plans are in place to pay the levy (if applicable) and may also want to ask executive leaders about opportunities for your school to use the apprenticeship system.


Supreme Court ruling on term-time holiday

The Supreme Court has ruled against a father who mounted a legal challenge to a fine over a term-time holiday. The case was brought by the Isle of Wight council following a High Court ruling in favour of the parent last year. The case hinged on the interpretation of ‘regular attendance’ and whereas previous judgements had found in the parents’ favour, the Supreme Court ruled that it was for the school to decide the interpretation of “regular attendance”.


Labour market report sheds light on the disadvantage faced by children in “workless families”

This week has seen the publication of the Department of Work and Pensions report “Improving Lives. Helping Workless Families”.

The report draws on evidence from snapshot surveys of people’s participation in the labour market and their personal and family characteristics, alongside longitudinal household surveys and birth cohort studies. It highlights the disadvantage faced by the 1.8 million children living in the UK in workless families, impacting their development and education, limiting their future employment prospects and reducing their opportunities to succeed throughout their lives.

The stark difference between outcomes for children in workless families and those in lower-income working families is emphasised, with analysis showing that children growing up in workless families are almost twice as likely as children in working families to fail at all stages of their education:

  • 37% of children in workless families in England failed to reach the expected level at key stage 1 (aged 7) compared with 19% in lower income working families
  • 75% of children in workless families failed to reach the expected level at GSCE, compared to 52% in lower-income working families

Ensuring that every child has the chance to go to a good school is included as one of the next steps for action. The Government references its proposals set out in “Schools that Work for Everyone” as one way of achieving this aim. NGA’s response to that consultation can be found on the website.


Equality and Human Rights Commission publishes report on disability inequality in Great Britain

The report looks at six core areas of life: education; work; standard of living; health and care; justice and detention; and participation and identity. It highlights areas where there has been progress and where improvements still need to be made.

In relation to education, the report looks at attainment for children and young people, exclusions from schools, bullying in schools, young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and also educational qualifications for adults.

The report highlights that in 2014/15 the overall proportion of children with SEND in England who achieved at least five A*-C GCSEs, including English and mathematics, was 20%, whereas this was 64.2% for non-disabled children. In 2014/15, pupils with identified SEND accounted for just over half of all permanent exclusions and fixed-period exclusions.

As no government department collects regular data on bullying, the report cited various studies that support the view that bullying amongst pupils with SEND is higher than those without. In 2015/16, the proportion of disabled 16-18-year-olds who were NEET (13.2%) was higher than for non-disabled 16-18-year-olds who were NEET (5.8%). Finally, in 2015/16, the proportion of disabled people with no qualifications was higher (17.4%) compared with that of non-disabled people (6.3%).

Governing boards should be looking at headteacher reports and data with a view to ensure that pupils with SEND are receiving the support they need and, where appropriate, are receiving all the opportunities available to pupils without SEND.


Inspiring Governance: diversifying the cultural makeup of school governing boards

As part of the Inspiring Governance project, NGA is beginning to work with partners with the aim of diversifying the cultural makeup of school governing boards.

Click here for more information about the project.

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the project should contact:

Richard Ellam – Inspiring Governance Regional Manager: Richard.ellam@educationandemployers.org

Judith Hicks – Head of Inspiring Governance: Judith.hicks@nga.org.uk


NCVO blog: managing your resources

This week, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) published a blog post about managing resources in the third sector.

The three core functions of governing boards are:

  • ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  • overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent

The third function is particularly relevant with regards to managing resources. Whilst NCVO’s blog post is not directly related to schools, at a time of uncertainty over funding and an inevitable need to make efficiencies, it can be useful to look beyond the education sector for good practice in this area. Many of the hints and tips mirror those set out in the Department for Education’s Financial Health and Efficiency pages.

The full blog post can be found on the NCVO website and further information can be found in NGA’s Guidance Centre.


NGA regional events roundup

NGA’s Policy and Information team have been out and about over the last month at our regional events. It’s been great to meet our members, to understand what is happening in your local areas and to continue the debate about the National Funding formula.

Presentations from our regional conferences that took place in the East Midlands, North East and South West can now be found here.


From the National Governance Association (NGA) News Briefing 31/03/2017

Introducing the National Governance Association

The Charity Commission has given the NGA the go-ahead to change its name. The National Governors’ Association has officially become the National Governance Association after its members voted on it at their annual general meeting last November.

The name change reflects the significant changes in school governance over the last decade. For example, those governing in some types of school (academies) are trustees not governors. The NGA also wanted to recognise the vital role of clerks and governance managers, many of whom are NGA members, regularly accessing the charity’s guidance, legal advice and training services.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governance Association, said: “It has been a privilege to lead NGA for the last seven years and to see our membership and influence grow. While NGA has very much kept pace with developments in school governance – in fact we have led the way in many areas, including governance in groups of schools – we recognise that the sign above the door must also stay relevant for the many thousands of people who benefit from membership of NGA. Our work as a charity would be nought without the hard work of our members; we build on their endeavours and we are proud to represent them.”

Ian Courtney MBE, Chair of the National Governance Association, said:  “Our name will be different but our aim remains the same: to improve the education of children and young people in England by promoting high standards in schools and improving the effectiveness of their governance. NGA is a charity that gets things done and so we are not going to spend lots of time or money rebranding. This is a subtle change but an important one – recognising the many roles that make up school governing boards. Now we get on with providing leadership to the sector and supporting our members in the way we always have.”

NGA will be updating the website and other online and printed materials on a rolling basis from 1 April 2017.

Read our impact report Growing Governance: 10 years of NGA


Consultation launched – primary assessment in England

The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a public consultation on the future of the primary assessment system in England. Details are included in a statement made to Parliament on 30 March by Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening.

The consultation sets out wide-ranging proposals for improving the primary assessment system. These include consideration of the best starting point from which to measure pupils' progress, how to ensure the assessment system is proportionate, and how to improve end of key stage assessments.

A parallel consultation, also launched this week, is asking for views on the recommendations of the independent Rochford Review. The recommendations focus on the future of statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests at the end of key stages 1 and 2.

All those with an interest in primary education are encouraged to engage with these consultation exercises and to share their opinions and insights. Both consultations are open until 22 June 2017.

The DfE have invited those with any questions to contact the assessment policy team at PrimaryAssessment.CONSULTATION@education.gov.uk or Rochford.Review@education.gov.uk.

The NGA will be putting together a detailed response to the consultation and any members who wish to feed in to this can get in touch via fay.holland@nga.org.uk.

The House of Commons Education Select Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into primary assessment: read NGA’s written evidence which was submitted in October 2016.

NGA Guidance Centre: Primary – Assessment without levels


RAISEonline update

Last week’s newsletter included an update on the new official data service to replace RAISEonline next month. Following a request from the NGA, the DfE has subsequently released the following information:

“The Department for Education are launching a new service, which will provide schools and other existing user groups with detailed performance analysis to support local school improvement as a replacement to RAISEonline. We hope to have this ready in late April/early May. The name of the new service will be announced as soon as confirmed.

The current RAISEonline service will be available until 31st July 2017. This will allow users to familiarise themselves with the new service and provide feedback before the current one is taken offline.  

During this period of dual running we will continue to develop the new service and plan to release an updated version in July 2017. During this time, we will also seek your feedback through formal testing and user surveys which are built into the new service. 

Ofsted Inspectors will continue to use the data available in the existing summary report and inspection dashboard to prepare for inspections, until 2017 datasets are released in the autumn term.

How to access the Replacement Service and Help

  • Schools, Local Authority, Multi Academy Trust and Diocese Users

The new service will be available through ‘Secure Access’, DfE’s single sign on for a growing range of services.  Each school, Local Authority, Multi Academy Trust and Diocese has someone already designated as the Secure Access Approver. They can see how to do this via the Secure access approver role guide.  

If you are not sure who your Secure Access Approver is then ask the person who sends the data returns such as the School Census to DfE – this may be your Business Manager. If you still need help then contact the Secure Access Helpdesk  

  • Ofsted and DfE Users

We will contact you with further detailed access information by e-mail during mid-April. 

You will be able to request help online through the new service.

Existing RAISE Service Management

The Ofsted Helpdesk for the existing RAISEonline service will close on 31st March 2017.

If you have an enquiry about the existing RAISEonline, service you should contact EDD.Helpdesk@education.gov.uk  Note this e-mail address is not for any other type of query.  

Communications

We will write to you again over the coming weeks before the new service is switched on and include links to short training videos that will help get you up and running.

Our library of FAQs have been published on the current RAISEonline service.


New recruitment guide ‘The right people around the table’ published

A new recruitment guide has been published today for the Inspiring Governance service. ‘The right people around the table’ is a practical guide designed to help school governors and trustees plan and carry out recruitment and induction. The guide highlights good practice for induction, training and succession.

Five short chapters cover:

  • Evaluating: composition and currant practice
  • Recruiting: attracting good candidates
  • Appointing: interviewing and references
  • Inducting: training and support
  • Succession planning: ensuring there is leadership of the board     

The guide is designed to complement the Inspiring Governance, which is a free online recruitment service connecting volunteers interested in serving as governors and trustees with schools who are looking for new recruits. Inspiring Governance is funded by the Department for Education and run by the charity Education and Employers in partnership with the National Governance Association.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governance Association, said: “This document is one the most important resources we have on the topic of recruitment and induction. We need to keep focussing on recruitment, succession, training and relationships because the work of governing boards largely depends on how well they work as a team.

“When it works, the governing board is dynamic, diverse and productive and efforts are directed towards school improvement. This guide reminds us that good people are at the heart of good governance. It clarifies what the expectations are for induction and training in the pursuit of improving the educational standards and well-being of children and young people.”

Click here to find out more and to download ‘the right people around the table’


GCSE 9 to 1 grading update

This week it was announced in a letter from the Education Secretary to the Education Select Committee Chair that there has been a further revision to the new GCSE system. The letter confirms that a grade 4 in the newly reformed GSCE system (with grading set between 1-9, with 9 being the highest level of achievement) will now be considered a “standard pass” and a grade 5 a “strong pass”.

Under the previously announced reforms a ‘good pass’ (previously set at C grade) was proposed as a grade 5, whereas the historic C grade would have come in at the grade 4 level, showing a distinct shift towards a tougher grading system. For full guidance including more details on what this latest development means, view the NGA suite of Key Stage 4 assessment and progress guidance on the Guidance Centre


DfE does not understand the financial pressure facing schools, say MPs

A committee of MPs has warned that the Department for Education (DfE) does not seem to understand the financial pressure facing schools - the most significant since the mid-1990s -and is not in a position to act swiftly where cuts threaten the quality of pupils’ education.

The Public Accounts Committee’s report, published on Wednesday, is the result of an inquiry based on the National Audit Office report published in December, which found that funding per pupil is reducing in real terms and if schools are to cope, then ‘efficiency savings’ will need to rise from £1.1 billion in 2016–17 to £3 billion by 2019–20. It found that this is due to costs which are beyond schools’ control, such as pay rises, higher employer contributions to national insurance and the teachers’ pension scheme, and the apprenticeship levy.

The committee concluded that savings have already been made, but the Government’s insistence that schools make more savings, which could come in the form of reduced spending on staff, will be hard to achieve without affecting the quality of education. Meg Hillier MP, who chairs the committee, said the Government must not be deaf to the experiences of headteachers who have already had to make potentially damaging cuts in areas such as maintenance, teacher recruitment and pastoral services.

Read the NGA’s evidence to the Public Accounts Committee

Read more about this report and its recommendations

NGA is calling on the government to increase the overall size of the schools budget through its Funding the Future: supporting England’s schools campaign. Does your school or group of schools have a story to share? Get in touch via shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk.


Councils raise concern about high needs funding

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that “pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are at risk of being turned away by mainstream schools due to a lack of funding and rising demand”.

The LGA argues that because the High Needs Dedicated School Grant has been frozen for several years, local authorities have had to top up high needs funding from other budgets. It suggests that this flexibility will not be available in future and therefore that the government should provide additional funding to ensure suitable provision can be made for all pupils.

Admissions rules do not allow schools to refuse places to pupils on the grounds of SEND. Admissions authorities must ensure that their arrangements do not disadvantage, directly or indirectly, a child with SEND.

Read NGA’s response to the consultation on high needs funding reform.

NGA Guidance Centre: Admissions


Expert views on pupil mental health in schools

This week, MPs on the Health and Education Select Committees heard oral evidence from experts in the final session of their joint inquiry into the role of education in preventing mental health problems in children and young people. NGA previously submitted written evidence to the inquiry.

The session heard evidence from individuals including Baroness Tyler of Enfield, the chair of the values-based child and adolescent mental-health system commission; Lord Layard, director of the Well-Being Programme at the London School of Economics and Natasha Devon, a former government mental health champion. 

The main points raised during the session include:

  • Embedding wellbeing and mental health awareness across the whole school. Baroness Tyler highlighted that well-being in school context includes parents and teachers. She welcomed the move to place Sex and Relationships education (SRE) on statutory footing and called for compulsory personal, social, economic and health education (PSHE) in all schools.
  • Encouraging senior leaders to measure how schools are influencing the well-being of children through tools such as surveys, and their integration into school improvement plans. Lord Layard asked the committee to run a careful pilot with volunteer schools to rebalance the present focus on measuring academic performance only.
  • The impact of school funding pressures on mental health. Natasha Devon highlighted the effect of cuts on access to school support services including counsellors, to the enrichment curriculum and to subjects like sports, drama and music which support positive mental health.

The cross-party group of MPs also questioned ministers on their record on education and children’s mental health. Edward Timpson MP, Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families said “there was still much to be done” to address patchy and variable access to mental health services for young people across the country.

Governing boards are responsible for promoting the well-being of children and young people and must ensure that they set an ethos and culture which is supportive. There is information on various aspects of pupil well-being in the NGA Guidance Centre, including a Governing Matters article by Dr Pooky Knightsmith on ‘Promoting positive mental health’.


Merger creates Education and Skills Funding Agency

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is merging with the Skills Funding Agency to form the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

The EFA is an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE), responsible for all revenue and capital funding for schools. It is charged with acting on behalf of the Secretary of State with regard to academies’ financial affairs and allocates revenue funding directly to academies as well as distributing maintained schools’ revenue funding to local authorities.

The new ESFA will retain these functions and also have responsibility for overseeing funding for post-16 education and training, apprenticeships, and adult education.

Peter Lauener is the current chief executive of both agencies. He intends to retire following the merger but will remain in the role until a permanent replacement is in place.

NGA Guidance Centre: Academies finance guidance


We need ethical as well as effective governance, says NGA Chief Executive 

School governors and trustees in England should be asking school leaders more searching questions about ‘disappearing pupils’ according to the chief executive of the National Governance Association, Emma Knights.

As reported in TES, Emma was speaking at the Bett Academies show in Birmingham earlier this month when she cited a report published by Education Datalab. The report showed 125 schools would have seen their GCSE pass rate fall by 5% or more if the league tables were re-weighted according to how long pupils had stayed at a school.

Emma warned that some pupils seem to be being "managed out" of mainstream secondary schools to “game” the league tables in their favour.

Emma has also blogged about this subject in the past, saying: “These very headteachers who no doubt use the phrase ‘moral purpose’ are systematically moving out pupils who will hurt the school’s performance table ranking. Surely their governing boards monitor this. If they haven’t been, this research reinforces the need to do so and not accept excuses for why so many pupils are leaving the school… There are clearly schools which are not there for all.”

Governing boards should play a central role in ensuring that their school (or schools) are not ‘gaming’ the system. If you do not already, your governing board could request information on the number of pupils leaving the school (particularly in year 10 and the first term of year 11) and a breakdown of their destinations and reasons for leaving.

Read more about this story on the TES website and the NGA latest news.

A previous NGA newsletter summarised the findings of Education Datalab’s research on this issue.


Are your A Level classes viable?

New research commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) looks at the decision making processes behind class sizes to understand the costs of A Level provision across school sixth-forms, further education (FE) colleges, and sixth-form colleges. The key findings were:

  • the minimum viable class size was found to be 11.7 students
  • around half of schools that took part in the research believed that they supplement post-16 funding from their pre-16 budget
  • class sizes tend to be larger in FE colleges and sixth-form colleges than in school sixth-forms
  • responding to student choice played an important part in determining the number of subjects offered – but this was also matched against staffing provision
  • providers with smaller average class sizes tended to have higher per-student costs

A number of barriers to maximising class size were identified, including competition for students, inflexibility of staffing, unpredictability of student numbers, and the importance of offering minority subjects (for example, modern foreign languages, further mathematics, music and some sciences) to an organisation’s reputation.

The research goes on to suggest some options for addressing financial pressures through reviewing class size including:

  • developing a system to evaluate the cost of provision
  • using extended dialogue and good-quality information, advice and guidance to test assumptions about student preferences
  • more innovative approaches to collaboration e.g. using technology, moving teachers rather than students
  • investigating and addressing the reasons some students drop-out before the end of their course

In this article from the January/February 2016 edition of Governing Matters, Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of ASCL, explores the issues surrounding sixth form funding. 


Independent review of behaviour in schools

Tom Bennett, behaviour expert, has produced an independent review on behaviour management in schools entitled ‘Creating a culture: How schools can optimise behaviour’.

The report draws on the typical factors used by schools to establish effective behaviour systems, stressing the importance of accountability and the key role governors play in supporting an effective school culture.

The review made the following six recommendations for school leaders:

  • designing the culture which is supportive of good conduct
  • creating a vision of the school culture which is commonly understood
  • making behaviour a whole school focus
  • developing social norms which encourage good behaviour
  • communicating that culture to the school by explaining and promoting its shared values
  • ensuring that the leadership team is loyal and well-supported to perform their roles.

The government welcomed the review in a letter from Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening. The letter confirmed that the government would be taking a number of measures to give school leaders the knowledge and skills they need to deal with bad behaviour.

The NGA has produced a set of questions for governing boards to ask specifically on behaviour in schools – these can be accessed in the NGA Guidance Centre.


National Children’s Bureau report on children missing in education

The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) is urging the government to take action in order to assist identify and support children who go missing in education. In a new report published by the NCB, insight is given into the experiences of young people who “drop off the school roll” and are not educated at home.

Governing boards have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, including those who go missing in education, particularly to aid identification of any risk of abuse and neglect. According to the report, experiences such as bullying, domestic violence, difficult home circumstances, special educational needs and disabilities, are amongst the challenges faced by children who miss out on education. To this end, governing boards must have appropriate safeguarding procedures and responses in place, to help protect such children. The Department for Education’s statutory guidance, Keeping children safe in education includes a dedicated annex outlining further information about children missing in education to help schools formulate their processes effectively in this regard.

The key conclusions and recommendations from the NCB include:

  • The legal definition of children missing education should be expanded
  • Monitoring and awareness should be improved to tackle missing education
  • Data collection and information sharing should be improved
  • Everyone should have clear responsibilities for prevention
  • Lessons should be learnt from existing good practice
  • More must be done to (re)integrate children into education
  • Financial constraints must be considered and addressed

The report can be read in full on NCB’s website.


The Driver Youth Trust asks whether universal provision is what it seems

The Driver Youth Trust has released a new report exploring recent publications focusing on literacy and asking whether current policy development is really suitable as ‘universal provision’ for all children.

It includes an examination of the text of 21 strategies, policies and initiatives from various educational and policy organisations including DfE and Ofsted, noting key themes including confusion over the intended focus of literacy improvement in terms of pupils  and a lack of clarity around what is meant by ‘disadvantage’.

The report made ten recommendations, three of which were specific to schools:

  1. Ensure that SEND and literacy strategies work harmoniously, with a particular focus on how learners, who may never reach ‘mandated’ standards in literacy, are supported.
  2. Consider how funding could be used to boost the number of specialists across a cluster of schools.
  3. Increase targeted sharing of effective practice in relation to literacy between for example, SENCos, faculty and subject leaders across curricula and educational settings.

The governing board must use its best endeavours to secure that the special educational provision called for by the pupil’s or student’s special educational needs is made.


Pupil absence in schools in England

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) has published statistics on pupil absence in primary and secondary schools for the 2015 to 2016 academic year. The release provides national statistical data on the levels of authorised, unauthorised and overall absence in state-funded primary, secondary and special schools. It also includes information on absence in pupil referral units, and for pupils aged four.

The significant findings of the report include:

  • Overall absence rates have stayed the same as in 2014/15 at 4.6 per cent. In general, they have followed a longer term downward trend since 2006/07 when the overall absence rate was 6.5 per cent
  • The percentage of pupils that were “classified as persistent absentees” under the new absence measure has decreased from 11.0 per cent in 2014/15 to 10.5 in 2015/16
  • Illness continued to be the main cause for absence in 2015/16, accounting for 57.3 per cent of all absence.

Governing boards should monitor attendance, specifically asking how attendance in each year group compares with national averages, and what the trends are over time?

For more information see:

Questions for governing boards to ask: Behaviour

Questions for governing bodies to ask: Raising Standards


Governor data on Edubase

Last year, the Department for Education (DfE) announced plans to implement a national database of governors and trustees, extending the information collected via Edubase (the DfE’s database of all schools in the country). Details about those governing in maintained schools and academies have since been collected and uploaded to the system. The purpose of the database is to increase transparency and to enable the DfE to quickly and accurately identify individuals who govern. However, concerns have been raised about the DfE’s use and storage of personal data about those governing, particularly their nationality and date of birth. The NGA is following up these concerns with the DfE to clarify what the data will be used for and will update members with further information when available.


Growing up in hard times

A new report published by The Children’s Society explores what it’s like to grow up in poverty as a child in Britain today. Understanding Childhoods marks the launch of a qualitative, longitudinal study over three years, which began in 2015 with a sample of 60 young people who are interviewed annually.

Looking to increase its understanding of the issues of poverty in childhood, the Children’s Society, partnering with the University of Bath, have set out to look at children’s experiences of growing up in poverty over time.

This initial report focuses on four key themes: housing, school, neighbourhood and money and material things. In the discussions of school, the research specifically looked at:

  • the ways in which school life can be difficult for some young people living in low income households, particularly at secondary level
  • the challenges faced accessing adequate and desirable food in a non-stigmatising way
  • the costs of school for those in poverty can be prohibitive of learning and enrichment opportunities
  • how issues of poverty can be treated as behavioural infringements and children penalised accordingly

The Children’s Society has used the report to support a number of recommendations previously made to help children growing up in poverty including:

  • all teachers should receive training on childhood poverty and its impact on children’s education
  • ensuring that Ofsted inspects schools on how they support the poorest pupils
  • allow children to have a say in how Pupil Premium money is spent
  • ensure schools make uniforms affordable

NGA supports the continuation of targeted funding, in the form of the pupil premium or otherwise, to help improve the achievement of disadvantaged pupils. Governing boards have a key role in asking why some groups of pupils may be progressing less well than in other schools and what is being done to raise performance for those children. For more guidance on questions the governing board should be asking, click here.


Technical and vocational qualifications in the 2018 performance tables

The Department for Education have published details of the technical and vocational qualifications which will be included in the 2018 performance tables.

Notably, the European Computer Driving Licence qualification has been removed due to concerns about ‘gaming’.

Full lists of qualifications which will be reported in the performance tables are available on the DfE website.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 24/03/2017

National Funding Formula

Stage one of the consultation on a national funding formula (NFF) closed in April 2016 and looked at the principles of reform, for which there was strong support. Stage two looked at the proposed distribution of funding and closed on Wednesday night. NGA’s response can be read here, and if you missed it, Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s Deputy Chief Executive, set out what this means for schools in her policy pages of Governing Matters.

We have been gathering members’ views in a number of ways, including at our regional meetings. Many of you emailed NGA both about the formula, but also the very difficult financial position you are facing. Some of you attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership and the minutes were passed to the schools minister Nick Gibb. Thank you for that invaluable information.

Over the last few months there has been sometimes heated debate about school funding in which two separate but related issues have often been confused, particularly in the press: reform of the funding system (how we cut up the cake) and the total amount of money in the system (the size of the cake). NGA has campaigned for funding reform (along with many other organisations) for a very long time and welcomes the fact that the Department for Education has finally grasped the nettle. The principle of reform was only opposed by one fifth of our members who responded to the recent BBC survey: see below. Governors’ support for the principle of the NFF became headline news on the BBC on Wednesday morning as a result.

We don’t think the detail of what is proposed in the second consultation is perfect and we expect the DfE may make some changes, but we do think it would be a mistake not to replace 152 different local formulae with an NFF. How members’ schools will be affected by the NFF very much depends on your existing LA formula, and therefore there is not a uniform view amongst governors, but we have listened to as many differing voices as we possibly could.

After looking closely at the proposed formula and having been part of considerable discussion with partners at national level, we do not think that the basic amount of money allocated to each pupil for primary or secondary has been set at the right level, which means there is a risk that schools without a significant level of deprivation will be unable to provide a good level of education. Furthermore, we are concerned that some of the currently lowest funded areas will be even worse off under the new formula.

NGA thinks there is not enough money for all pupils in schools in England, and this is going to get more difficult over the next few years. We wrote to the Chancellor about this before the Budget and are awaiting a reply. With our members’ help we will continue to campaign for additional funding. But, we need to be clear that this is separate from the introduction from an NFF – if the proposed changes were abandoned tomorrow there would still be a funding shortfall.


BBC governance survey on school funding

The BBC has published the results of an exclusive survey of more than a thousand NGA members. The survey looked at the decisions being made by our members to try and manage the unprecedented financial pressure facing schools, and what the consequences of those decisions will be for teachers and pupils.

The survey found that in 2017-18:

  • 39% of respondents expect to cut the number of full-time teachers, rising to 45% in 2018-19
  • 60% of respondents expect to cut teaching assistants and support staff hours
  • 42% of respondents expect to increase class sizes
  • 33% of respondents expect to reduce the number of subjects on offer

Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey. As part of Funding the Future we will continue to campaign for more money for each pupil. You can help by sending us your stories – outlining the position of your school/s and the challenges that you are facing. Email stories to shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk we can use these lobby on your behalf.

More on this:

Read more about our campaign:


New official data service to replace RAISEonline next month

Members may have heard that the Department for Education will replace RAISEonline with a new service in April 2017. On 31 March (next Friday), Ofsted will close its RAISEonline helpdesk in preparation for this.

The new service will be a “sure access log-in” service, meaning that only authorised personnel will have access to the data. As usual, governors and trustees will be entitled to view information which is not pupil specific and should talk to school staff about obtaining login details when the new service is live. NGA has been asking the DfE for more detail to pass onto members: this should be in next week’s newsletter.

NGA has recently released new guidance on understanding primary and secondary assessment which we hope is useful for all governor or trustee wanting to interpret their schools’ data.


Minimum standards for 16-18 year olds: important information for governors of schools with sixth forms

On 22 March 2017, the Department for Education released information clarifying how it would apply minimum standards to 16-18 education providers. Schools or colleges will be defined as “underperforming” if they achieve a “value added score… below the threshold set by the department” and if their “value added score is statistically significantly below the national average”.

For 2015-16 results, the value added threshold for academic qualifications is -0.50 and the threshold for applied general qualifications is -0.75. The guidance states that “for academic qualifications, we expect that over 90% of eligible providers will score between minus 0.50 and plus 0.30; and for applied general qualifications, over 90% of eligible providers are expected to score between minus 0.70 and plus 0.90”.

This guidance also clarifies how the minimum standard will be calculate for “Tech level qualifications”. The government will compare students taking these awards with their peers nationally to “determine if the student achieved better or worse than the national average for the subject”. For Tech subjects, the minimum standard will be “set at minus 0.9 of a grade”.

Governors and trustees should be aware of the minimum standards when discussing the value added scores for their 16-18 provision with their executive leaders. For more information on sixth forms and assessment visit the NGA guidance centre. NGA will shortly be publishing some top tips for sixth-form governors and trustees.


Continued opposition to plans to open new grammar schools

A cross-party group of prominent MPs have written in the Guardian in opposition to the government’s plans to expand academic selection in schools. The article was written by Conservative MP Nicky Morgan, former secretary of state for education, Liberal Democrat MP Nick Clegg, former deputy prime minister, and Labour MP Lucy Powell, former shadow secretary of state for education.

Commenting on the proposals set out in the Schools that work for everyone consultation, the MPs say “all the evidence is clear that grammar schools damage social mobility”. The secretary of state for education, Justine Greening, has indicated that a White Paper taking forward its proposals will be published “in the coming weeks”.

In their article, the MPs suggest alternative priorities for improving education for all pupils:

  • high quality early years education
  • targeting “pockets of underachievement”, through high quality teaching and continued protection of the pupil premium
  • high quality technical education combined with requirement to study English and maths until age 18
  • ensuring “adequate resources for all schools” by addressing the present funding crisis

Click here for NGA’s response to the Schools that work for everyone consultation.


Ofsted inspection outcomes: official statistics

Ofsted has released official statistics about the outcomes of school inspections in autumn 2016/17:

  • 70% of schools inspected were judged “good” or “outstanding”, compared to 73% in the same period the previous year
  • 61% of schools previously judged “requires improvement” improved to “good” or better, compared to 71% during the same period the previous year
  • across England, 89% of schools are currently “good” or “outstanding” overall

For more information on Ofsted inspections, see the NGA guidance centre.


DfE commissioned report on provision of work experience in schools

This week, a study commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) into the current provision and operational practice of work experience activities was released. The Work Experience and Related Activities in Schools and Colleges report takes a wide-ranging look at the type, take up, coverage and effects of work experience activities across England. Stakeholders surveyed and interviewed as part of the research report included work experience leads, senior school or college staff, employers, external agents, parents or carers and students.

The study found that, overall, satisfaction with work-related activities and work experience placements was high among schools, colleges, employers and students, with 87% of work experience coordinators surveyed rating their institution’s offer as “very” or “quite effective”. However, the report reveals a worrying correlation between high deprivation and decreased work-experience opportunities for pupils in years 10 and 11. 42% of staff in schools in areas of high deprivation said they did not offer enough work experience placements, compared with 58% who said they did. This is contrasted with areas of low deprivation, in which 74% of staff said they did offer enough placements and only 26% said they did not. The reasons cited by staff for the lack of work experience placements of the right type for pupils in high deprivation areas included: there “isn’t a wide range of employers in the area” and we “don’t have contacts with enough employers”.

In their concluding remarks, the authors of the study recommend that more guidance is published by the DfE. They report that the absence of clear guidance in relation to pre-16 work-experience has meant that it is not always prioritised in curriculum or staffing decisions. They note that the “absence of guidance was felt to be particularly impactful when governors or senior leaders needed to be persuaded of the benefits of delivering a structured programme of work-related activities.” To read more on the findings of research report including case-studies and lessons from good practise, click here.


Ethnic and socio-economic segregation in schools

A new report by The Challenge, the iCoCo (Institute of Community Cohesion) Foundation and SchoolDash has “found that thousands of schools across England are segregated along ethnic and socio-economic lines”.

The analysis looked at characteristics of pupils in schools compared to the local community in which they are based.

Key findings:

  • 26% of primary schools and 41% of secondary schools were ‘ethnically segregated’ in 2016; in some areas, there had been an increase in the proportion of ‘segregated’ schools since 2011.
  • 30% of primary schools and 28% of secondary schools were ‘segregated by socio-economic status’ based on the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM); these proportions were higher in 2011, suggesting a reduction in socio-economic segregation overall, though the authors point out that changes to FSM eligibility criteria may have affected this measure.
  • On the whole schools are more ethnically segregated than neighbourhoods and particularly so in London. EG although about 60 per cent of the South Asian population lived in white majority neighbourhoods, only 35 per cent of South Asian pupils were in white majority primary schools, and 46 per cent in white majority secondary schools.
  • Some differences were reported around specific types of school: in particular, grammar schools were found to be “starkly divided by socio-economic status”, with 98.2% having a low proportion of FSM eligible pupils compared to neighbouring schools.

The report recommends that schools should consider how representative their intake is of the local community and the impact of this on neighbouring schools. It also recommends that governing boards publish details of their intake, including trends over time, and engage with parents in developing “open and transparent” admissions arrangements.

Governing boards should understand the make-up of the community in which their school is situated.

For more on admissions, including correct procedures, please see the NGA guidance centre.


Communications Select Committee: ‘Growing up with the internet’

This week, the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications published its report amid an inquiry into children’s access to, and use of, the internet. The report outlines the responsibilities of, and a range of recommendations to better inform, parents and carers; regulators, law enforcement and civil society; schools; industry; and the Government.

Governing boards have a legal responsibility to safeguard children in their schools and provide a broad and balanced curriculum. Current statutory guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) – Keeping Children Safe in Education – has gone further than it ever has, to highlight the prevalence of children’s online activity, and the duties on governing boards to ensure appropriate filtering and monitoring systems are in place. The guidance also includes a dedicated annex, outlining additional information to help governing boards fulfil their responsibilities.

Recent changes to the computer science curriculum, personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, and relationships and sex education (RSE) also go some way of promoting teaching online safety and appropriate use of the internet.  The Department for Education has recently made an announcement about making RSE compulsory in all schools, but this has not yet come into force (and parents still have the right to withdraw their child).

The key recommendations from the Select Committee relevant for schools are:

  • digital literacy should be the fourth pillar of a child’s education, alongside the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) and resourced and taught appropriately
  • PSHE should be made a statutory subject, inspected by Ofsted and be mandatory in all schools. It has long been our view at NGA, that PSHE is made a statutory subject
  • The legislative changes which will make RSE compulsory will also give the Secretary of State for Education the power to make PSHE compulsory if she chooses to.
  • reassessment of the resources and teacher training needed to deliver computer science and PSHE, should be undertaken by the Government

The report can be read in full on parliament.uk.


Free sanitary products for female students in receipt of free school meals

Education Secretary, Justine Greening, has told Members of Parliament that she will consider the issue of providing free sanitary products for children receiving free school meals.

During Monday’s Education Questions in the House of Commons, Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, drew the response from the Education Secretary when he highlighted the issue of girls not attending school because they could not afford sanitary products.

A change.org petition, launched only a week ago, is calling for schools across the UK to give pupils free sanitary products and has already attracted well over 49,000 signatures.

The charity Freedom4Girls provides sanitary products for women in Kenya and, after being contacted by a school in Leeds concerned about the attendance of teenage girls, is now doing the same in West Yorkshire.

Often through the use of Pupil Premium funding, schools already take many practical steps to support disadvantaged students who face barriers to learning because of factors associated with poverty. NGA has published guidance on using Pupil Premium to help governing boards assess its impact, and the provision of sanitary products in school may sit well with examples of Pupil Premium spend such as the purchase of bus passes, providing breakfast and buying clothes and shoes.


NUT and ATL merger confirmed

Members of the National Union of Teacher (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lectures, have voted to amalgamate to form the National Education Union (NEU). As the NEU will be the largest union of teachers and education professionals in Europe, and the fourth largest trade union in the United Kingdom, it has been described as a game changer.

The effective date for the NEU to come into being is 1 September 2017. From this date ATL and NUT will operate in parallel, until full amalgamation in January 2019, with joint general secretaries until 2023.  Governing boards will only generally be affected by the change if they are employers and, therefore, directly negotiating on terms and conditions.


Community MATs network: join us in London!

Following events in Manchester and Birmingham, the community MATs network will be holding its next meeting in London on Friday 23 June.

This is a chance for trustees and clerks of multi academy trusts (MATs) to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in governing a group of academies. The event is free to members: click here to book a place.

Topics will build on some of the issues highlighted at previous network meetings; if you are involved in governing a MAT and would like to suggest a topic for the agenda, get in touch by emailing fay.holland@nga.org.uk.


Presentations for the East Midlands Spring Regional 2017

Thank you to our East Midlands members for attending NGA’s Spring Regional Conference in Leicester on Saturday 18 March, the presentations from the event are now online.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 17/03/2017

Funding the Future

Last week’s newsletter reported on the spring budget, which failed to deliver the needed additional funds for schools, and detailed some of NGA’s thinking on the proposed national funding formula (NFF).

Funding has, of course, remained high on the agenda for both schools and government. The Department for Education (DfE) has denied media reports that it is intending to abandon the NFF, reiterating that consultation on the specific proposals is ongoing.

MPs from across the political spectrum have been calling on the government to change the proposed formula. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday 17 March, Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said that he had led a delegation of nine MPs to meet the prime minister and made it clear that the proposals would not be approved in their present form. During the House of Commons debate on the budget, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Labour MP Angela Rayner, highlighted that the government has not kept its manifesto commitment to protect per pupil funding in real terms. Other Labour MPs, such as Helen Hayes, are encouraging their constituents to take action on the overall size of the schools budget.

The Education Policy Institute has published new research into “the implications of the National Funding Formula for schools”. The analysis is based on the proposals currently being consulted on and concludes that:

  • “the DfE has made a number of decisions which are not supported (one way or another) by empirical evidence”, including on the basic per-pupil funding rate and the amount in the lump sum
  • the most disadvantaged schools and those with the highest proportion of English as an additional language (EAL) pupils are set to lose funding on average if they are in London and gain proportionately less if they are outside of London
  • “the combination of funding decisions, including the impact of increases to inflation, pupil numbers and pension costs, means that there are unlikely to be any schools which will not face real term cuts by 2019-20”
  • the DfE should clarify how funding will be distributed after 2019-20

NGA is finalising its response to the NFF consultation, which closes on 22 March. Many thanks to all of the governors and trustees who have been in touch to feed into the response.

NGA will continue to make the case for an increase in the overall size of the schools budget. If your governing board is concerned about funding pressures, make sure that your MP understands the impact on local children: download our template letter.


Executive pay continues upwards

An article published in Schools Week looks at the ascending trend of executive pay in multi-academy trusts. The annual Schools Week analysis compares chief executive officer (CEO) pay across the largest MAT's, often referred to as academy chains, breaking down CEO pay against the number of pupils and good or outstanding schools in their trust.  The article reveals that while executive pay is surging, this doesn’t always reflect a rise in the number of pupils or indeed an increase in the number of good or outstanding schools in the trust.

The article also focuses on the crucial role of trustees in setting salaries, referencing the work NGA has done to promote the role of governing boards in having “courageous conversations that sometimes involve saying ‘no’” and in lobbying government to publish benchmark salary figures.  

Last year NGA’s deputy chief executive, Gillian Allcroft, wrote a blog looking at the state of executive pay in education. “Onwards and upwards? The rise of executive pay” explores the key considerations this presents, and reminds governing boards of the hugely important stewardship role they have over schools. To read the blog click here.


PAC report on National Citizen Service

This week, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has called for a “radical rethink” of the youth participation programme the National Citizens Service (NCS) ahead of its proposed expansion. NCS was set up by the government in 2011 as part of David Cameron’s vision of a “Big Society” with the NCS programme set to form a “rite of passage” for young people.

Since 2011, more than 300,000 16- to 17-year-olds have taken part, usually undertaking group residential courses and community projects over a four week period. The PAC report acknowledges the benefits of NCS to young people who have participated in the programme but raises several serious concerns over the sustainability of the programme.

The main concerns raised in the report include:  

  • Transparency and governance - The Cabinet Office set up the NCS Trust (the Trust) as a community interest company which has since received “£147 million public money - accounting for 99% of its income since 2014-15”. The report finds that the Trust has not adopted transparent or robust governance arrangements including “salary increases and other figures in the Trust’s annual report that the Chief Executive of the Trust could not explain”.
  • A lack of evaluation measures for improvement and growth - The report finds that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which has overall responsibility for the NCS, "lacks the data to measure long-term outcomes of the programme or understand what works". The report also finds it is "unclear" whether the Trust has “the skills and experience necessary to oversee the growth of the NCS programme”.
  • Value for money - Participation costs per head are much higher than other comparable voluntary programmes. In 2016, the NCS 4 week programme cost £1,863 of taxpayers’ money. The PAC offers a comparison with The Scout Association which estimates costs of £550 to create a place that lasts for at least four years.
  • Ineffective use public funds - The Committee highlights that the Trust paid providers £10 million in 2016 for places that were not filled and expresses concern at the Trust's "relaxed attitude about the non-recovery of these funds".

The PAC report outlines several recommendations to address immediate concerns over the Trust’s governance and management arrangements ahead of the passing of the National Citizen Service Bill which in combination with a Royal Charter, would place the NCS on a permanent statutory footing.


School exclusion guidance: open consultation

This week, the Department for Education (DfE) opened a consultation on its proposed revisions to the statutory guidance on the exclusion of pupils. The amendments will centre on both statutory and non-statutory information. It is hoped that the proposed revisions will bring clarification to the rules that apply to exclusions and process of review.

The DfE is currently seeking views on the planned changes to the statutory guidance via an online survey. If you would like to offer your views, the survey can be found here.

For more information on the role of governing boards in school exclusions, visit the NGA Guidance Centre and download the four stage guide for governing boards.


Apprenticeship guidance and further clarification on the apprenticeship levy

This week, the department for education (DfE) has produced guidance for schools and academies on apprenticeship reform. The guidance covers what the reforms to apprenticeship mean for schools and the type of apprenticeship that are currently being developed for a school setting.

Of particular importance for those governing, this guidance clarifies what type of LA school needs to pay the apprenticeship levy and what the money can be used for. The guidance confirms that all public, private and charity sector employers will contribute 0.5% of their wage bill over £3 million to a levy. This can then be accessed by the employer in the form of “credits” to fund apprenticeship programmes.

Even if your school does not have an individual wage bill of over £3 million, if it is part of a multi academy trust (MAT) or is a community or voluntary controlled LA school with a wage bill of over £3 million, it may have to contribute a proportional share. Any school in which the governing board is its own employer with a wage bill of under £3 million will not have to pay the levy. If you are a governor or trustee of a school with a wage bill of over £3 million, or the governing board is not the employer in your school, you should ensure that the school business manager is aware of the levy and provision has been made to factor this into the budget.

With several apprenticeship positions being developed for schools (including business manager apprenticeships and teaching apprenticeships), governing boards, whether their school has paid into the levy or not, may want to ask senior leaders how they intend to access and use apprenticeship funding.

To access the DfE guidance click here. The NGA has also produced a summary of what governors need to know in terms of the apprenticeship levy, click here for more information. NGA GOLD members can always contact the NGA GOLDline on 0121-237-3782 for bespoke advice if they are unsure about any aspect of the levy in relation to their school.


Asbestos in schools: National Conference

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) is holding a national conference on the important topic of asbestos in schools on Tuesday 4 July in Birmingham.

All governing boards have a responsibility to ensure that neither pupils nor employees are put at unnecessary risk while at school or on school business. The conference is therefore relevant for school leaders and governing boards who wish to gain:

  • a better understanding of the risks that asbestos poses to the health of pupils and staff
  • an understanding of the steps to take to manage asbestos

The cost of the conference is £40 and booking is open at http://www.juac.org.uk/.


Education’s role in children and young people’s mental health examined

This week a joint inquiry by the Health and Education committees got underway examining the role of education in the mental health of children and young people.  The committees heard from psychologists, campaigners and headteachers including Siobhan Collingwood, headteacher of Morecambe Bay Community Primary School who emphasised that school budget cuts are having a “significant impact” on mental health provision with therapeutic services being the first to go. The issue was also raised that it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to teach a broad and balanced curriculum when the “pressures are on to reach a high level of performance in things we haven’t previously taught”.

Kate Fallon, general secretary at the Association of Educational Psychologists, focused on the difficulties caused by the “growing autonomy of schools” and “decreasing responsibilities … of local authorities”, citing competition between schools and the freedom they have to “opt into something” as making it harder to realise joint strategic approaches across communities.       

Meanwhile, a separate survey of 1,003 parents in Britain found that almost three-quarters of parents would “choose a school where children are happy even if previous exam results have not been good”. 92% of respondents agreed that schools have a “duty to support the wellbeing and mental health of students, while more than half want more information about what their child’s school is doing to promote it”.

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said that “schools are critical in helping prevent mental health problems escalating … Many schools are already doing excellent work, but too often they are hampered by competing pressures and a lack of resources. If the government is serious about tackling the crisis, it must rebalance the whole education system.”

Governing boards have a vital role to play when it comes to pupil and staff­ mental health and wellbeing. For more information on how to promote positive mental health in schools, visit the NGA Guidance Centre.


Academics warn over learning style myths

Academics have published a letter cautioning schools against using neuroscientific research findings that lack sufficient evidence in educational practice.

The letter focusses on “learning styles” described as the “belief that individuals can benefit from receiving information in their preferred format, based on a self-report questionnaire”. The practice supposedly improves education by matching materials to the pupil’s preferred “mode of sensory information processing”.

The letter identifies inconsistencies in the framework of preferred learning styles and notes that studies have consistently found either no evidence or very weak evidence to support the effectiveness of learning styles. The Educational Endowment Foundation has also concluded that, although the costs are very low, the impact is also low.


Calling governors and trustees: participate in a national consultation on assessment

In partnership with the education ‘think-and-action-tank’ LKMcoPearson have launched an in-depth consultation with teachers, school leaders, governors, parents and pupils to better understand concerns about assessment across the education system and to identify ways of addressing them.

What should assessment look like, and how should it underpin great teaching and learning? Have your say by taking part in LKMco and Pearson’s national consultation. Your response will inform the findings presented in a report, to be published this summer. Further information on the purpose and aims of the consultation can be found at the LMKco website.

The consultation is open to all governors and trustees serving in primary and secondary schools in England and you do not need to be an assessment expert to take part. You can get involved in two ways:

1. Focus group, 22 March 2017, Birmingham.

NGA will be hosting a focus group run by LMKco in central Birmingham. This one hour session will take place on March 22nd 2017, 17.30 pm – 18.30 pm.

For further details and to book your place, click here.

2. Take part in the online national consultation survey.

This online consultation comprises three short questions about your views on assessment, and some brief questions about you. It will take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.

To take part in the online survey, click here.


NGA summer conference: book now!

Bookings are open.

This year’s Summer Conference is taking place on Saturday 24 June in London.

Our keynote speaker is Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation.

The workshop topics will include:

  • Conducting your head teacher's appraisal
  • Management of change - GBs role 
  • Risk Assessment
  • SEN - GBs role
  • Balancing your budget for secondary schools
  • Managing governor relationships 

To book your place and view all the workshop options visit our events page.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 10/03/2017

Spring budget fails to deliver sufficient funding for every pupil

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, has delivered his spring Budget to the House of Commons. NGA and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) had written to the Chancellor ahead of this to call for more money to be allocated to the education budget.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “It is disappointing that there was nothing in today’s Budget about increasing the amount of money for each pupil, especially given the urgency of the school funding crisis and the range of organisations and campaign groups, across the education sector, calling on the chancellor to deliver the investment schools desperately need”.

“While on paper the government is giving more money than ever before, everyone knows it does not address the fact that the pupil population is increasing and costs are rising for schools”.

"It is particularly galling that pots of money can be found for projects which are not supported by the vast majority of the education sector, such as increasing selection, when schools are being told there is nothing available to cover rising costs”.

“We agree with the Chancellor that investing in education and skills is the most important thing that we can do to equip our children for the future. Therefore we need to ensure there is enough in the basic budget for every pupil in England to secure a good education”.

The section of the budget relating to education was limited to confirming announcements made earlier in the week:

  • The extension of the free schools programme, with investment of £320 million for 140 new free schools
  • £216 million of capital funding to help rebuild and refurbish existing schools
  • the expansion of the current 'extended rights' entitlement for children who access free home-to-school travel to cover selective schools
  • a new education White Paper to be published in the coming months, paving the way for selective free schools

NGA will continue to make the case for increased investment in schools. Find out more by visiting the Funding the Future campaign page.


National Funding Formula – responding to the consultation

The deadline to respond to the consultation is rapidly approaching – 22 March.

NGA’s members spread across all local authority regions, phases and types of schools. Consequently there will be a wide range of views on the proposed weightings of the factors in the National Funding Formula and of course, views will be affected by the impact of the formula on your area and your individual schools.

NGA, in common with many others in the sector, has made it clear to the Government that the overall pot of funding available for schools is not enough. As we try to put together our final response to the consultation we wanted to give members a heads up on our thinking.

Cost of running a school – we do not have any concrete, agreed figures for what it costs to run a school. Different groups have suggested a variety of mechanisms and indeed figures, but there is not a consensus. In the absence of such a figure – it is difficult to say with any certainty that the proportion of funding the Department for Education (DfE) has allocated to each factor is wrong.

But, basic per pupil funding – NGA does not think the amounts in the formula are enough, given the comments we have already received from members in response to previous newsletter articles and the annual joint survey with TES. Schools without many pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will struggle to operate and even those with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils will have to use deprivation funding to subsidise other pupils. NGA is asking the DfE to increase the total amount for the basic per pupil by 3%. We see this an interim figure while further work is done on what it costs to run a school.

Averages – the Department for Education has largely determined the proposed weightings by taking the ‘average’ of what local authorities currently allocate to each factor. There are arguments against using averages – if the object is to move to a new distribution mechanism then basing the new funding formula on the way in which authorities have distributing their funding to date could be argued to perpetuate the status quo – ie each LA’s formula weightings was driven by the funding it received.  But, in the absence of an agreed figure or mechanism for working out what it does cost to run a school, NGA is not convinced that moving away from the DfE methodology can be solidly evidenced.

Deprivation – it is arguable that the DfE has placed a higher proportion of money to be delivered through deprivation factors than is currently the average across LAs. This is because a number of LAs with high levels of deprivation distribute this money through basic per pupil factors. Some have argued that the DfE has got this wrong and that some money should be shifted out of deprivation back into basic per pupil funding.  

NGA is considering asking for a limit to be placed on the total amount of funding which should be allocated to any one pupil when basic per pupil and deprivation is added together. Currently a pupil who ticked all the various deprivations factors would attract more than double the funding a pupil attracting no deprivation would receive. If you add pupil premium to funding this rises even further:

 

Basic per pupil  

Basic per pupil, deprivation factors and pupil premium

Primary

2712

  7152

Key Stage 3

3797

  9702

Key Stage 4   

4321

  10217

We would be interested in any views on whether total funding for one pupil should be capped and if so at what level?

NGA also thinks that the pupil premium should be included in the formula and not be kept as a separate pot. Schools could still be required to report on strategies and outcomes for eligible pupils.

We welcome members’ views on the factors including ones we haven’t had room to cover here – for further details see the March magazine. Please send comments to gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk


Ofsted chief announces new study into curriculum provision

Speaking to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) national conference, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has announced “a major investigation into how well schools are using the curriculum to ensure children receive a broad education”.

The study, which is currently being scoped, will look for examples of good practice across all education settings, consider the potential problems, such as curriculum narrowing, and how they can be avoided. It is expected to address concerns that the pressures of accountability are leading some schools to ‘game’ the system.

This follows Ofsted’s guidance to inspectors which highlights signs that schools are ‘gaming’ the system, for example a drop in the number of pupils on roll between entry and year 11 or pupils being entered for qualifications that do not meet their needs.

Ofsted are expecting to publish a report from this investigation later in the year. Ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum that serves the needs of all pupils is central to the role of the governing board: further reading is available in the Guidance Centre. NGA is also aware that funding pressures are forcing governing boards to make difficult choices about curriculum provision – if this is an issue affecting your school(s), please get in touch by emailing fay.holland@nga.org.uk


How reliable are Ofsted inspectors’ judgements?

Ofsted has published the outcome of a study into the reliability of inspectors’ judgements during short inspections of schools previously judged “Good”.

The study saw two inspectors conduct separate short inspections of the same school on the same day. They then came to independent judgements about the effectiveness of the school. This process was completed in 24 primary schools.

In 22 of the 24 inspections, both inspectors agreed on the outcome of the short inspection. In these cases, the inspection was converted to a full two day inspection, which is standard practice where inspectors carrying out short inspections cannot be certain that a school remains “Good”.

Reflecting on the findings in her first monthly commentary, the new Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said “the study provides a welcome positive view of inspector consistency in the particular context studied”. She described the study as “a first step towards a continuing programme of research” and indicated that future work would also look at the validity of inspection judgements.

In last year’s NGA/TES survey, 83% of the 5,000 governors and trustees who responded agreed that their most recent Ofsted report gave a fair and accurate picture of their school. NGA is interested to hear any feedback from governing boards about recent inspections: get in touch by emailing fay.holland@nga.org.uk.


Ofsted School Inspection update: useful information for those governing

This week, Ofsted has released its 9th School Inspection update, providing some useful clarity around “short-inspections”, safeguarding, new GCSE’s, technical qualifications and how inspectors will liaise with executive leaders and the board of trustees in multi-academy trusts (MATs).

In particular, Ofsted has made clear that the in MATs the trust board and senior executive leader will be both informed about an inspection of one of their schools and invited to attend feedback sessions. The lead inspector will also offer to meet with the MAT’s executive leader and the chair of the trust board. NGA welcomes this clarification we have previously pointed out that some inspectors remain unclear about the fact that the trust board is the accountable body in MATs.

A summary of the key points can be found on the Ofsted page in the NGA guidance centre.


New T-levels announced for 16-19 year olds

Announcing the spring budget on Wednesday 8 March, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, launched T-Levels for 16-19 year olds. T-Levels are designed to raise the status of vocational and technical qualifications and eliminate the “lingering doubt about the parity of esteem attached to technical education pursued through the Further Education route”.

The new levels will be based around a “framework of 15 routes to skilled employment extending from level 2 and level 3 up to higher skill levels, with a streamlined set of valuable qualifications”. Each course will last two years – with the first year focusing on core skills and the second on specialisation. As part of the course, students will be expected to achieve a math’s and English qualification.

The Chancellor announced that, in launching these T-levels, the number of training hours would be doubled for 16-19 year olds, with an average of 900 hours per year of training per course. This will require an additional £500 million of funding per year once the scheme is rolled out in 2019-20.

Finally, to encourage students to train in high quality institutions (such as the National Colleges or Institutes of Technology), the government will be offering maintenance grants similar to those offered to University undergraduates.

For governors and trustees, particularly in secondary schools, understanding the options available to school leavers is vital to ensuring that the school offers impartial and informed careers advice. Where appropriate, those governing may want to consider gaining assurances from executive leaders that young people are aware of all post-16 routes and opportunities, including the new T-levels. For more on the governing board’s careers advice duty, visit the NGA guidance centre.


New regional schools commissioner for East Midlands and the Humber

Following the announcement that Jennifer Bexon-Smith will retire, the Department for Education has announced the appointment of a new regional schools commissioner (RSC) for East Midlands and the Humber.

John Edwards will take on the role “later this year”, leaving his current role as Director of Education and Skills at Manchester city council. Before working in local government, he was a teacher and senior leader in schools across Yorkshire.


Calling governors and trustees: participate in a national consultation on assessment

In partnership with the education ‘think-and-action-tank’ LKMco, Pearson have launched an in-depth consultation with teachers, school leaders, governors, parents and pupils to better understand concerns about assessment across the education system and to identify ways of addressing them.

What should assessment look like, and how should it underpin great teaching and learning? Have your say by taking part in LKMco and Pearson’s national consultation. Your response will inform the findings presented in a report, to be published this summer. Further information on the purpose and aims of the consultation can be found at the LMKco website.

The consultation is open to all governors and trustees serving in primary and secondary schools in England and you do not need to be an assessment expert to take part. You can get involved in two ways:

  1. Focus group, 22nd March 2017, Birmingham

NGA will be hosting a focus group run by LMKco in central Birmingham. This one hour session will take place on March 22nd 2017, 17.30 pm – 18.30 pm.

For further details and to book your place, click here.

  1. Take part in the online national consultation survey

This online consultation comprises three short questions about your views on assessment, and some brief questions about you. It will take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.

To take part in the online survey, click here.


State of the Nation survey on religious education (RE) in secondary schools

In February, all secondary schools in England would have received a formal request letter for information on the provision of Religious Education (RE) at their school, as part of the first nationwide project to collect information on RE in all state funded schools in England and Wales.

Led by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC), the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) and RE Today, the information from the survey will be used to “establish a picture of RE provision across the country”. More information about the project can be found here.

Has your school received the RE State of Nation Survey and has the information on RE provision been provided by teaching staff? NGA would like to request that you raise the information request with your headteacher and highlight the deadline for completion of the survey, March 17th 2017. Thank you.


NGA summer conference: book now!

Bookings are open.

This year’s Summer Conference is taking place on Saturday 24 June in London.

Our keynote speaker is Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation.

The workshop topics will include:

  • Conducting your head teacher's appraisal
  • Management of change - GBs role 
  • Risk Assessment
  • SEN- GBs role
  • Balancing your budget for secondary schools
  • Managing governor relationships 

To book your place and view all the workshop options visit our events page.


BETT Academies, 16-17 March 2017, NEC Birmingham

Bett’s first UK-based Senior Leadership Summit, has been developed as a national centre of excellence, providing information, guidance and inspiration for senior leaders in academies, MATs and schools exploring academisation.

 NGA will be attending Bett Academies. Come along for insights on governance:

  • Thursday 16 March – 15.30-16.00

Emma Knights, Chief Executive, National Governors’ Association

MATs: getting your governance right

  • Friday 17 March – 15.15-16.00

Judith Hicks, Head of Inspiring Governance, National Governors’ Association
The right people around the table: How to build a board

Free to attend for school leaders and governors, come and say hello to us on stand D18 @Bett_show #BettAcademies

The programme will address topics such as: change management, recruitment, effective leadership, finance, future-proofing education and governance.

See the full show agenda here.

Attendees and speakers will include leading education professionals, experts and policy makers discussing the key issues facing school leaders, giving delegates access to a vast collective knowledge base, and valuable networking opportunities.

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


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 03/03/2017

Brand new 2017 NGA Skills Audit

NGA has today published a brand new version of its much used skills audit tool. In the 2016 NGA/TES survey, 83% of respondents said their governing board uses a skills audit, with 64% using it to identify training needs and 54% using it for recruitment. The audit can be used to help identify any knowledge, experience, skills and behaviours your governing board still needs to deliver their functions effectively.

How the NGA model has changed and why

In January 2017, the DfE released a new Competency Framework for Governance, structured around the DfE’s newly identified “six features of Effective Governance”. The governance handbook 2017 states that “Boards should carry out regular audits of the skills they possess in the light of the skills and competences they need, taking account of the department’s Competency framework for governance”. 

The Competency framework has been written to cover all possible bases in school governance, from boards governing small standalone primary schools to the trust boards of large MATs overseeing the performance of multiple schools. It should be used to provide clarification of government expectations, rather than as a set prescribed checklist – but NGA is already aware of it being used as a checklist or governor job specification by some. NGA firmly feel that governing boards are best placed themselves to individually assess which areas outlined in the framework are most important for them, and so while the new skills audit is structured around the DfE’s six features of effective governance, it doesn’t attempt to replicate all 200 plus competencies, knowledge skills and behaviours included. Instead it combines the core aspects of the framework with the priceless experience and feedback of our members to inform the skills, experiences and knowledge included.  

To take account of the significant differences of governing as a MAT trustee compared to governing in a single school, NGA has developed two separate models; one for Governors, trustees and academy committee members of single schools and a separate version for trustees of multi-academy trust

You can now access both a word and pdf version of the skills audit. An interactive pdf version and the updated skills matrix will both be published next week.


Governing Matters: March/April edition

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

Cover stories include:

  • In my experience: Primary focus – growing a primary MAT. Clive Lees, chair of The Spring Partnership Trust in Hayes, Kent, describes a journey from a ‘coasting’ maintained school to one of the larger primary-only MATs in the country.
  • Chair’s and Clerks development programmes:  Covers the chairs and clerks professional development programmes – including case studies from two licensees.  One from the chair and vice chair of Portchester community school who undertook the programme through Hampshire County Council and the other through Leading Governance.
  • In my opinion: Challenging school leaders: Professor Colin Richards, a national leader of governance and chair of governors of a Cumbrian secondary school, explores the different ways governors and trustees can hold school leaders to account.
  • Good practice: Career learning and guidance: Nicki Moore, senior lecturer in career development at the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby, explains the vital role career-related learning and guidance plays in schools.
  • Learning curve: The governance year: Clare Collins MBE, NGA’s head of consultancy, emphasises the importance of synchronising board meetings with the school’s management cycle.

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@nga.org.uk.


Funding the future: the latest developments and news relating to NGA’s funding campaign

NGA and NAHT write to the Chancellor

On Monday 27 February, NGA and the school leaders’ union NAHT published an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, calling for more money to be allocated to the education budget.

In the letter, NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby and NGA chief executive Emma Knights, ask for a number of changes to ensure schools can deliver high quality education including:

  • making additional funding available by increasing the basic building blocks proposed per pupil in order to keep the manifesto promise to protect per-pupil funding in real terms
  • ensuring maintained schools are given the same exclusions from the apprenticeship levy as those offered to standalone academies
  • reversing proposals that will leave high needs funding with a £124 million shortfall
  • committing to sufficient funding for sixth forms and early years
  • ensuring that children eligible for the pupil premium are registered automatically

The letter concludes by underlining the urgency of the school funding crisis: “Children get one chance to attend school, so action is needed now. We ask you to use this Budget to commit the resources schools need to provide the highest standard of education for all children.”

The publication of the letter coincided with the release of a new Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report into education spending. The report confirms that spending has fallen in real terms from 2010, and that between 2015/16 and 2019/20, school spending per-pupil will likely suffer its biggest real terms fall for at least the last 30 years. 

MPs share governing boards’ funding concerns with minister

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Education Governance and Leadership met on Thursday 23 February to discuss school funding. Despite the meeting being held on the same day as Storm Doris, the room was full to capacity and contributions were made by MPs, governors, trustees, headteachers, teachers, school business managers and parents, representing constituencies all over the country. The minutes of the meeting are available to download here.

There was a broad recognition that the current funding system is not fit for purpose and a move to a new, fair and transparent system is needed. Most people also agreed that the total amount in the schools budget is insufficient for the number of pupils now being educated and that the current level of funding is unsustainable. Attendees agreed that further cuts would have a direct impact on pupils potentially leading to a fall in standards and restricting the offer to pupils.

Following the APPG, Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s deputy chief executive and four MPs met with the minister for school standards, Nick Gibb MP, to relay the issues and concerns discussed.

Find out more about the Funding the Future campaign.


Teacher recruitment and retention

As concerns surrounding teacher recruitment and retention continue to increase, the last few weeks have seen a number of stories and publications adding to the debate, summarised for you here:

ESC teacher recruitment and retention report

The Education Select Committee has produced a report addressing the government’s failure to meet the challenges of teacher recruitment and outlines how it has consistently failed to meet recruitment targets.

A full summary of the key findings and recommendations can be found here on the NGA news page.

Reducing Teacher Workload

Last week, the Department for Education (DfE) published its documents on reducing workload for teachers. This follows the workload challenge launched by the DfE in October 2014, which was a survey conducted to ascertain the views of teachers on how to reduce unnecessary workload.

These documents will provide information on the government’s policy to help remove unnecessary workload for teachers, including details of the workload challenge:

  • The Reducing Teacher Work Action Plan endeavours to set out what the government will do with regard to addressing significant issues that have emerged from the workload challenge.
  • The DfE Protocol responds to the 2014 survey by setting out the government’s commitment to doing more to consider the workload of staff in schools when introducing significant changes to the curriculum, qualifications and accountability.

To access the policy documents, you can click here.

Flexible Working in Schools

The DfE has also published new guidance on Flexible Working in Schools, aiming to help teachers considering working flexibly and to assist schools and employers consider how best to encourage, support and enable flexible working.

The guidance looks at various flexible working options, such as part time working, job sharing, compressed hours and staggered hours, as well as setting out what teachers need to know in terms of eligibility and the legal position.

The guidance demonstrates through numerous case studies the impact and benefits of flexible working and offers practical advice on how to make part-time and job-sharing arrangements work in practice.

Teachers Working Longer Review

In March 2014 The Secretary of State commissioned a review into the health and deployment implications of teachers working longer as a result of the increase in the normal pension age (NPA) in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.  The Teachers Working Longer Review Steering Group has published an Interim Report which draws the following initial, overarching conclusions:

  • older/experienced teachers are a valuable part of the education workforce and that should be promoted
  • all parties have a part to play in reinforcing the value of older/experienced teachers; promoting ways of best managing the whole workforce; and ensuring that the value of maintaining health and well-being is reinforced from the point of initial teacher training onwards
  • that there is a strong case for the review to continue beyond the original two years envisaged and more work to be undertaken before a final report is produced

Further conclusions relating to specific issues include employment practices what would support teachers working longer and the extent to which workload is a factor in older teachers dropping out of the workforce.

Recruitment and retention remain significant issues for schools and governing boards need to ensure that policies and procedures in their schools are geared to providing the best experience for staff.


Education Select Committee inquiry into primary assessment

On 22 February 2017, MPs on the House of Commons Education Select Committee put their questions to the minister for school standards, Nick Gibb, and representatives of Ofqual and the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) as part of their ongoing inquiry into primary assessment.

The inquiry was launched following concerns about the design and implementation of the new key stage two tests, which pupils took for the first time last summer.

Read NGA’s summary of the previous evidence sessions in this inquiry in December 2016 and January 2017.


Relationships and Sex Education to be made compulsory in all schools

This week the secretary of state for education, Justine Greening, announced her intention to put Relationships and Sex Education (SRE) on a statutory footing, "so every child has access to age appropriate provision". At the moment, all schools in England should have an up to date sex and relationships (SRE) policy. This is a statutory obligation for all maintained schools but an advisory measure for academies and free schools. The move will be made as an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill and will require:

  • all primary schools in England to teach age-appropriate 'relationships education'
  • all secondary schools in England to teach age-appropriate 'relationships and sex education'

The Department for Education will "lead a comprehensive programme of engagement to set out age-appropriate subject content and identify the support schools need to deliver high-quality teaching". The statutory guidance (first introduced in 2000) will be updated and is expected to come into force in September 2019. Parents will continue to have a right to withdraw their children from sex education should they choose to do so.

The amendment will also "create a power enabling the Government to make regulations requiring PSHE to be taught in academies and maintained schools". 

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, welcomed the announcement: “It has long been NGA’s view that age-appropriate SRE, and indeed personal, social and health education (PSHE) should be made statutory in all schools. This is necessary to ensure the subjects are given priority and allocated the appropriate time and resources.”

You can read more on the announcement at the NGA News Page.


ESC report into multi-academy trusts

This week the House of Commons Education Select Committee released a report detailing the findings of its inquiry into the performance of multi-academy trusts. The committee outlined “significant concerns” about the performance, accountability and expansion of MATs and noted there was no evidence to support “large scale expansion”.

The National Governors’ Association took part in the wide-ranging enquiry where evidence was provided by various sources including Schools minister Lord Nash, who praised NGA’s own material on MAT governance, which he described as “really helpful and really thorough.” For more information on the key findings, go to the NGA Latest News.  


National offer day: secondary school places

On Wednesday 1 March, schools and councils released information to pupils and parents about their secondary school allocation for September 2017.

Commentators, including The Telegraph and BBC, have reported on the “high numbers” of pupils missing out on their first “choice”. The official figures will not be released until June by the Department for Education, although many local authorities publish data earlier.

The Telegraph also reported this week on local authorities failing “to allocate one in four special needs students” with a school place by the February deadline.

For more information on admissions, visit the NGA guidance centre.


Information on new soft-drinks levy announced

In 2016 the government launched its “obesity strategy” which announced a “sugar levy” for soft-drinks companies where the money would be used to fund healthy initiatives in schools including PE, healthy diets and extracurricular activities.

On 28 February, the government announced that this “sugar tax” would raise a total of £415 million. For local authority (LA) schools, a proportion of the money will be paid directly to the LA. It is up to the LA to then decide how to allocate the money based on “local context”. Larger MATs will also receive a direct allocation. Smaller Mats and single academy trusts will need to bid for the money through a “healthy pupil’s capital fund”. The funding will not become available until April 2018 and more details will be available later in the year.   

For more information on ensuring that pupils are healthy, visit the “pupil wellbeing” page on the NGA guidance centre.


Research highlights gaps in progress within schools

The Social Mobility Commission has published new research into “the barriers to progress that low income pupils face at secondary school”, emphasising that “decisions and actions taken by schools can have a profound impact on outcomes”

For more details on the findings, see the Research section of the Guidance Centre.


Social selection in comprehensive schools

The Sutton Trust has undertaken a study on the social composition of the top performing comprehensive schools in England. This report considers whether significant changes to education policy over the last few years have impacted social selection in comprehensive schools, including free schools and academies. It found that the highest performing comprehensives remain “highly socially selective”.

The findings and recommendations will be of particular relevance to those governing boards which are their own admission authorities. The key recommendations include: introducing random allocation or banding, rather than geographical proximity, will help to ensure that a diverse range of pupils can access the most academically successful comprehensives.

  1. Banding – where pupils are tested and places allocated equally by ability - is most effective when a co-operative agreement can be reached between schools in an area i.e. through a local admissions forum.
  2. Working with community groups and other agencies to provide information that makes it easier for parents to make an informed decision about their child’s education.
  3. Faith schools needing to reconsider their approach to the admission of disadvantaged pupils so that they better reflect local populations yet maintain the school’s ethos.

By now, all admission authorities must have determined their admission arrangements for 2018/19, but the determination cycle for 2019/20 will begin in the autumn term. The recommendations outlined by the Sutton Trust may be useful to help inform that determination process in order to reduce social selection.

For more information on admissions, visit the NGA guidance centre.


London authorities’ 16-19 area reviews published this week

This week, the Department for Education has released reports and recommendations from a number of 16-19 education area reviews across England. Beginning in 2015, these reviews were designed to “ensure that colleges are financially stable into the longer-term” and “well-positioned to meet the present and future needs of individual students and the demands of employers”.

If you are a governor or trustee of a secondary school, particularly with a sixth-form, it is important that you understand the implications of the review in your area. Depending on the decisions that the review group make, and the willingness of the organisations to implement the changes, the post-16 offer in your area may become significantly different.

Although many of the reviews are still ongoing, the reports for: Central London, South London, West London, East and south-east London have been released this week.

For more information on the area reviews click here. If your post-16 provision has been affected by these reviews we would be interested to hear about it, email tom.fellows@nga.org.uk.


DfE has released advice on managing asbestos in schools

The advice has been published to help schools understand their obligations and duties in relation to asbestos management in schools.

The legal responsibility for the safe management of asbestos lies with the “duty holder”. The duty holder is the person responsible for maintenance and/or repair of the school – typically the employer. For community schools, community special schools, voluntary-controlled schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units, the employer is the local authority. For academies, free schools, voluntary-aided and foundation schools, it will be the school governors or the trust.

Governors and trustee should ensure that their schools have suitable asbestos management procedures in place and receive regular reports so they can be confident that the duties are being complied with.


Bookings are now open for NGA’s Summer Conference

Date: Saturday 24 June 2017

Location: London

Timings: 10 am to 15.30 pm with exhibition from 9 am

NGA is pleased to announce Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, as the keynote speaker.

A range of workshops will also be held throughout the day. To see the full list of what’s on offer and to book your place click here.

Are you a clerk or trustee of a local, schools led, community centred MAT? On Friday 23 June 2017 before the Summer Conference we will be holding our third Community MAT networking event, sign up to this event at the same time click here.

 

Last chance to book…

Places are still available at our Spring Regional Conferences; 

Keynote: Emma Knights, Chief Executive, NGA

Keynote: Janet Renou, Regional Schools Commissioner for North of England

 Keynote: Rebecca Clark, Regional Schools Commissioner for South West of England


Last call: take part in an exclusive BBC survey on school funding

BBC News would like to hear how school governors and trustees in different parts of the country are managing the current pressures on school budgets.

Please take the time to share your views by clicking the link below and taking the short survey. The more governors and trustees that complete it, the more accurate a picture there will be of the pressures on school budgets and the decisions you are facing.

The overall results will be included in the BBC's reporting on school funding issues, and the BBC may ask permission to cover the issues facing some individual schools. The BBC will share anonymous, compiled results with the NGA, but not any personal information or data about individual schools.

Please interpret the question: ‘what is the total budget of your school excluding pupil premium for 2016-17?’ as the total amount in grant funding excluding pupil premium.

Click here to take the survey before it closes midnight Sunday.


Young Governors’ Network: Book now for London and Birmingham

The Young Governors’ Network will meet again on Tuesday 14 March in Birmingham and Tuesday 21 March in London. Book your free place 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 or trustees.

If you’re a young governor or trustee (under 40), it could really help to speak to others about your experiences and network with other young governors.

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.


Free education data webinar supports school governors in their role

School governors and trustees are invited to view the FFT Governor Dashboard and discover how FFT Aspire supports them in their role by joining a free webinar provided by FFT (Fischer Family Trust).

The FFT Aspire Overview Webinar for School Governors takes place on Thursday 16 March, at 16:00pm, and lasts just twenty minutes.

The FFT Governor Dashboard, developed in partnership with the National Governors’ Association and the Wellcome Trust, is available through FFT Aspire, FFT’s reporting and data tool for schools, local authorities and academy trusts.

To book a place on the webinar please click here and choose the online training option. 


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 17/02/2017

Exclusive BBC survey on school funding

BBC News would like to hear how school governors and trustees in different parts of the country are managing the current pressures on school budgets.

Please take the time to share your views by clicking the link below and taking the short survey. The more governors and trustees that complete it, the more accurate a picture NGA will have of the pressures on school budgets and the decisions you are facing.

Over the last few months, many governors and trustees have contacted NGA about the financial challenges facing their schools. Claire Carter’s guest blog, The choice I have to make is an immoral one, which reflects on the hard choices caused by funding pressures, has become NGA’s most commented-on blog. So NGA is pleased to offer members an opportunity to take part in an exclusive BBC survey about school funding. It is a chance for you to make your voice heard in the national media. 

The overall results will be included in the BBC's reporting on school funding issues, and the BBC may ask permission to cover the issues facing some individual schools. The BBC will share anonymous, compiled results with the NGA, but not any personal information or data about individual schools.

Please interpret the question: ‘What is the total budget of your school excluding pupil premium for 2016-17?’ as the total amount in grant funding excluding pupil premium.

Click here to take the survey.


Funding the future: the latest developments and news relating to NGA’s funding campaign

The second part of the national funding formula consultation will close on 22 March 2017, with a final decision made before the summer. More details on the proposals are available to download here. NGA still wants to hear any views or stories from members, to inform the consultation response and help with the NGA Funding the Future campaign. Please email gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk

The next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership will take place at the House of Commons next Thursday, 23 February 2017 at 16.00pm and the topic of discussion will be school funding. The meeting will be chaired by Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the education select committee. Feedback from the meeting will be presented to minister for school standards, Nick Gibb MP, by the APPG’s officers, including Lucy Powell MP.

NGA invite you to write to your MP with your funding case studies, and to encourage them to attend this important event. A template letter can be found here. Please copy your letters and case studies to shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk.


Regional Schools Commissioner opts to stay on

Last week’s newsletter included the resignation of Vicky Beer, RSC for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, who had announced that she would be stepping down in May to lead the newly formed Greater Manchester Learning Trust. However since reporting the story, Ms Beer has reversed her decision to resign and will instead stay on as RSC for the area. 


Replacement for RAISEonline from April

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that a new service to replace RAISEonline (the web-based system used to disseminate school performance data to schools) will launch in April. The DfE led service will “provide schools and other existing user groups with detailed performance analysis to support local school improvement” and the data will also be securely available to other accredited suppliers.

NGA will continue to provide updates and guidance about the new system in the near future.

Blog: The power of data


Justine Greening makes announcements on teacher development

Speaking at the Chartered College of Teaching national conference, the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, made a number of announcements about professional development for teachers and school leaders:

  • Qualified teacher status (QTS) will be retained and a “newly strengthened QTS” will be in place from September 2019.
  • Recently redeveloped national professional qualifications (NPQs) for middle and senior leaders will be available from this September. For the first time, this will include executive leaders. There will be a stronger emphasis on the use of evidence and support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
  • Applications will open for the first round of the £75 million teaching and innovation fund, with a focus on ‘opportunity areas’; £10 million from the fund will be set aside to incentivise take-up of the NPQs in challenging areas.
  • The Department for Education (DfE) will shortly be publishing the outcome of its teacher workload survey alongside an action plan which will include support for schools on tackling workload.

Greening said that her department would have “a new focus on ensuring all teachers have a clear and supported pathway” with clarity about the career pathways available.

Discussion about continuing professional development (CPD) should form a part of headteacher performance management. Governing boards also need to ensure that all staff have access to high quality CPD appropriate to their stage in their career. It is useful to discuss the whole school approach and get feedback from teachers on an annual basis.

Guidance Centre: Staffing


MPs cast doubt on government proposals for grammar schools

This week, the House of Commons Education Select Committee published a report of its ‘evidence check’, scrutinising the government’s proposals on selective (grammar) schools. The report is based on MPs’ questions last November to a panel of experts, minister for school standards Nick Gibb and senior civil servants.

The chair of the committee, Neil Carmichael MP, said: “The Government has yet to prove the case for opening a new wave of grammar schools… if the Government wants to push ahead with new grammar schools it must demonstrate how this aids social mobility and improves educational outcomes for all, most especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds”.

The report recognises that the proposals “differ significantly from the characteristics of grammar schools past and present” and puts forward a number of recommendations:

  • the government should demonstrate how its proposals will meet the economy’s need for a broadly skilled workforce
  • the government “must demonstrate how the creation of new grammar schools will help close the attainment gap within the wider school system, not just for individual pupils”
  • wider socio-economic issues should be taken in account when comparing pupils at selective and non-selective schools
  • admissions to grammar schools should not be based purely on selection tests
  • the government should publish a thorough assessment of the impact of its proposals e.g. consequences for school funding, teacher supply, and “the overall health of schools in England”

Writing in The Times, minister Nick Gibb MP appeared to reaffirm the government’s commitment to expanding the number of grammar school places in England, stating that “the demand is there” and that the Department for Education is “looking forward to setting out the next stage of our proposals”.

NGA responded to the consultation on these proposals last autumn by saying that the government should prioritise the other challenges facing schools currently – such as school funding, assessment changes, and supply of teachers – and that expanding the number of grammar school places is not the right strategy to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.


Renewed calls to make SRE compulsory in all schools

The Local Government Association (LGA) has released a statement this week calling on the government to make Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in all schools. The LGA claim that the lack of compulsory SRE in academies and free schools is “creating a ticking sexual health time bomb”, pointing to sharp increases in the number of people diagnosed with an STI on leaving school. According to Public Health England there were 141,060 new diagnoses for people aged 20 to 25 compared with 78,066 for 15 to 19-year-olds.

The LGA point to the £600 million budgeted each year by councils on sexual health as one of the biggest areas of public health spending for councils, and how this “major health protection issue” could be prevented by SRE in schools.

The statement follows the release of a letter to the secretary of state for education, Justine Greening MP, from the End Violence against Women Coalition. The letter calls on the government to bring forward new legislation in the Children and Social Work Bill “to ensure children are taught at school about what makes a healthy loving relationship.”

Last week, a group of cross-party MPs tabled several amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill going through parliament. The amendments include the requirement to make Relationships Education a statutory subject within the National Curriculum and to extend the duty to provide sex education (currently applied in maintained schools) to academies and free schools.

The NGA thinks that Personal, Social and Health Education including (age-appropriate) Relationships and Sex Education should be statutory in all schools.


ATL survey on support staff workloads

Recently published survey results from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found that an increasing number of support staff are having to teach lessons. The survey, undertaken by almost 1000 support staff, revealed that 72% of respondents believe it is “not possible to supervise a class without delivering a lesson”. It also found that 78% or respondents felt that the work they do as cover supervisors was indistinguishable from that done by supply teachers.

Other significant findings include:

  • 29% of respondents are expected to carry out the “full range of duties of a teacher”
  • 75% of those surveyed felt the workload demanded of them required them to work extra hours with 73% working extra hours for no additional pay

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, commenting on the survey results, stated “support staff are struggling under excessive workloads as much as teachers and this survey shows that, sadly, support staff feel over-utilised and undervalued”.

NGA has produced a set of questions to help governing boards develop an appropriate approach to staffing, which includes asking if the support staff to teaching staff ratio is right. These questions can be found here.


Young Governors’ Network: Book now for London and Birmingham

NGA is pleased to announce that new meeting dates for the Young Governors’ Network have been set for Tuesday 14 March in Birmingham and Tuesday 21 March in London. Book your free place 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.

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.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 10/02/2017

Funding the future: the latest developments and news relating to NGA’s funding campaign  

        I.            Education Questions in the House of Commons

This week, Education Questions in the House of Commons focused on school funding. This session allows MPs of all parties to put their questions to the secretary of state for education, Justine Greening, and the minister of state for school standards, Nick Gibb.

The main questions focused on the National Funding Formula. A full breakdown of the key points discussed can be found on the NGA parliamentary page.

      II.            Write to your MP with your school funding case studies and receive an invitation to our APPG in February

The next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership will take place at the House of Commons on 23 February 2017 at 16.00pm. The meeting will be chaired by Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the education select committee. Angela Rayner MP, shadow secretary of state for education, will also be attending. Feedback from the meeting will be presented to minister for school standards, Nick Gibb, by the APPG’s officers, including Lucy Powell MP.

The APPG provides a forum for parliamentarians to discuss the issues affecting governance in the education sector. The topic of discussion will be school funding, particularly the National Funding Formula consultation, which is open for comment until 22 March 2017. We invite you to write to your MP with your funding case studies, and to encourage them to attend this important event. A template letter can be found here. MPs who engage with the APPG will be able to attend a follow up meeting with Nick Gibb. Copy your letters and case studies to shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk and NGA will extend an invitation to you too.

    III.            Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s deputy chief executive, talks to BBC radio 5 Live

This Week, Gillian Allcroft, NGA’s deputy chief executive, took to BBC radio 5 Live Drive to discuss a news story about a fundraising headteacher. Dave Shaw of Spire Junior School in Chesterfield is running the Great North Run to raise money for a Year 6 residential. He says the school’s budget cannot cover the trip. In this clip, you can hear Gillian explaining why NGA is campaigning for the overall schools’ budget to be increased and that the national funding formula will mean pupils get a ‘fairer share of not enough’. To listen to the clip, skip ahead to 1:20:20. 


Changes to the Regional Schools Commissioners line-up

Two of the eight regional schools commissioners (RSCs) have recently announced their resignation.

Jennifer Bexon-Smith, RSC for East Midlands and the Humber, announced last month that she will be retiring in March. She was the first RSC appointed to the region when the posts were created in September 2014.

Vicky Beer, RSC for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, announced this week that she will be stepping down in May to take up a role as executive head at Parrs Wood High School, leading the newly formed Greater Manchester Learning Trust. Decisions about her new trust will be made by the National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter.


Concern over sponsor capacity to support struggling schools

An article in the Guardian this week has drawn attention to underperforming schools facing a considerable wait before an academy sponsor is established to assume responsibility for the future of the school.

Placing a struggling school with an academy sponsor, usually a multi academy trust (MAT), has been among the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) most frequently used forms of intervention for several years. Since legislation enacted in March last year, all maintained schools judged “inadequate” by Ofsted have been issued an academy order.

The article explains that 60 schools have been left waiting for six months or more and still yet to be provided with an academy sponsor. This includes 12 schools which have been in this situation for more than two years. The article emphasises that MATs may be reluctant to take on particular schools due to concerns about performance or finances, for example where significant repairs to the building are required.

The Local Government Association have called for local authorities and maintained schools to be given powers to support underperforming academies, including by sponsoring schools. They have published a new analysis comparing the performance of maintained schools and academies (for more on this topic, see Governing Matters: Are academies better?).

NGA has previously voiced concern to the DfE that matching some struggling schools with MATs is likely to be difficult, in part due to a lack of high performing MATs with the capacity to take on additional schools.

The DfE has published new research on the cost and effectiveness of formal school interventions (sponsored academisation, interim executive boards, and warning notices): see our research page for details.


Ofqual urges caution when predicting GCSE results

Last week, Ofqual released a blog urging schools to exercise caution when making predictions for GCSE maths and English in the 2016/17 academic year. From 2016/17, maths and English GCSE’s will be awarded on a scale of 1-9 rather than the traditional A*- G scale. Maths and English are the first GCSE’s to be awarded on the new scale. All GCSE’s will be reformed by 2020.

One of the biggest concerns for schools is where the grade boundaries might be set for the new awards. Some organisations have attempted to predict grade boundaries based on mock exams. Ofqual are warning schools not to rely on any such predictions, as the boundaries are not set until after students have sat the exam.

Governing boards, who may be receiving “predictions” of GCSE results in meetings, should bear this advice in mind and discuss the issue with executive leaders.

Visit the NGA guidance centre for the latest guidance on the new GSCE reforms.


New guidance on the Apprenticeship Levy

This week, the Department for Education has released further information on the Apprenticeship Levy, including how employers should pay the Levy and how the Levy can be recouped and used to fund new apprenticeships.

In light of this, NGA has updated its guidance on the Apprenticeship Levy for governors and trustees. Visit the NGA guidance centre for more details.


Wellcome Trust releases first Science Education Tracker report

This week the Wellcome Trust launched the report of the first Science Education Tracker (SET), a survey of “young people’s attitudes and experiences of science education and careers”. The 2016 SET was commissioned by Wellcome and carried out by Kantar Public with support from the Royal Society, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Education.

The survey is based on a “nationally representative sample of 4,081 young people aged 14-18 in education in state-funded schools in England”, and looks to map young people’s engagement and attitudes toward science education and careers to better inform policy, education and public engagement.

The key findings of the 2016 SET include:

  • 68% of young people found science lessons at school “very interesting or fairly interesting”
  • 43% of young people were “very or fairly interested in a science-related career”
  • 35% of young people said “having a good teacher” had encouraged them to learn science
  • 29% of GCSE students reported doing practical science less than once a month

In response to the findings of the report, the Wellcome Trust’s Head of Education and Learning Dr Hillary Leevers has reinforced the need to address inequalities in opportunities for young people to engage in practical science education.


New Schools Network report on uptake of arts GCSEs

A report was published this week by the New Schools Network, a charity that aims to support the delivery of more free schools. The report looks at the impact of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), Progress 8 and Attainment 8 on the study of arts GCSEs in schools between the period 2011/12 and 2015/16.

The key findings include:

  • the proportion of students taking at least one arts GCSE in 2015/16 was 7.4 per cent higher than in 2011/12
  • despite a rise in arts entries, there has been a decline in the number of arts teachers

Writing in the foreword of the report, the Minster of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb MP, affirmed that “this report puts to rest the argument that the EBacc has stifled cultural education in England’s schools”.

In response to the NSN report, the Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA) argues that the “findings differ according to the subjects that are included in the data-set and the baselines that are used”. Notably, unlike the CLA briefing report into the impact of the EBacc on arts GCSE entries, the NSN report does not take into account the significant drop in the uptake of the GCSE Design and Technology.

NGA is 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. Therefore NGA does not support all pupils having to pursue the EBacc. In terms of the overall impact on the “broad and balanced” curriculum offer in schools, the NGA/TES 2016 survey, which received 5000 responses, found that 40.3% of governors and trustees surveyed had reduced their curriculum offer in response to the EBacc and Progress 8 performance measures.


New research comparing socio-economic gaps in the performance of highly able UK pupils

The Sutton Trust, in collaboration with Education Datalab and University College London’s Institute of Education, has produced a report looking at how the socio-economic gap affects highly able pupils across the UK, compared to the other Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries. The report looked specifically at maths, science and reading.

For a summary of the key findings, visit the NGA research page.


New NGA blog: Chairing in 2017

Read our new guest blog by Claire Carter. Claire talks frankly about her experience as a chair of governors coping with hard choices and funding pressures at her school: ‘I did not become a governor to hear about teachers so stressed they can’t teach’.


Are you a trustee or clerk of a multi academy trust? – NGA Community MAT Network

Looking for an opportunity to discuss your experiences with others? The community multi academy trusts (MATs) network will be meeting in Birmingham on Friday 17 February.

The event will be run under Chatham House rules to enable free discussion of any issues. We are planning to focus discussion around two key themes: how trustees hold senior leaders to account for the performance of the MAT and how boards manage their MAT’s finances.

All trustees and clerks of multi academy trusts are welcome to join us for an afternoon of lively discussion. The event is free to members and non-members are able to join for a small fee. Click here to book.

Read more about our Community MATs campaign.


Updating the chairs’ handbook: your ideas please

We will soon begin to update our Chair’s Handbook for a new edition.  We are pleased it was rated so highly by members in last term’s survey, but we are always looking to improve what we do.  So I would be interested to hear from anyone with ideas of what is missing, what you would like more on or indeed less on!  Do you have tips from being a chair which you would like to pass onto to others? Please send any comments to emma.knights@nga.org.uk

GOLD members are entitled to a free copy of each edition, so do make sure we know who your chair is, so we can send them their handbook: membership@nga.org.uk

Top of Page

Calling primary school governors and trustees: would you like to participate in research?

NGA is looking for two schools to participate in a study into how governing boards in primary schools develop a vision for supporting learners with Special Educational Needs.

This project is being carried out Kim Walker as part of a Doctorate in Education (Ed.D) and will be supervised by Dr Michael Strain and Professor Jonathan Rix of The Open University.

For more information about the research and contact details for Kim Walker, please click here.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 03/02/2017

Funding the Future: supporting England’s schools

NGA this week launched its funding campaign: Funding the Future: supporting England’s schools. This page contains information about our campaign for the overall size of the schools budget to be increased to improve the provision of education to children and young people. We want as many governors as possible to get involved in our campaign. You can do this by writing to your MP (a template letter can be found on our campaign page) or getting in touch you’re your stories about funding by emailing shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk.

This week also saw the Education Select Committee hold a one-off evidence session on school funding. In the first session, MPs posed their questions to researchers from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Education Policy Institute, before taking evidence from Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, and a senior civil servant. For a full account of the session, see our parliamentary business page.


Write to your MP with your school funding case studies and receive an invitation to our APPG in February

The next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Education Governance and Leadership will take place at the House of Commons on February 23 2017 at 16.00pm.

The meeting will be chaired by Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee with Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, and NGA President Baroness Howe in attendance. Feedback from the meeting will be presented to Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, by the APPG’s officer MPs.

The APPG aims to provide a forum for parliamentarians to discuss the issues affecting governance in the education sector. The topic of discussion will be school funding with focus on the National Funding Formula consultation which is open for comment until March 22 2017.

NGA invite school governors and trustees with concerns about school funding to write to their MP with their case studies and to encourage them to come to this important event. A template for your use can be found here

Copy your letters and case studies to shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk and we will extend an invitation to you also.

The BBC have recently expressed an interest in collecting case studies on school funding issues and, with your consent, your stories could be collated for research purposes.


NGA comment on reports of governors threatening to ‘strike’

Governors and trustees of 40 schools in West Sussex have written to MPs to warn them that they will refuse to sign off budgets and carry out their supervisory work because of their concerns about funding. The threat to ‘strike’ has come as result of increased worries about the real term cuts to school budgets.

The wider ‘WorthLess’ campaign launched by headteachers is also campaigning about funding for schools and has two aims: firstly, to secure interim funding until the new funding formula takes effect and secondly, campaigning for a new formula that is fairer for pupils in West Sussex than the current one. 

Although NGA shares the concerns of governors, we would remind governors that governing boards of maintained schools and academies have a legal responsibility for the financial oversight of their school, which includes deciding how the budget is spent. It is therefore important that governors continue to carry out their role in schools. NGA urges governors to try and get their voices heard by lobbying their MPs.

School funding is a priority for NGA’s policy work in 2017: find out more about the Funding the Future: supporting England's schools campaign. Examples of the financial pressure facing your schools will be vital to making the case for a larger schools budget, so if you have a story to share please get in touch with shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk.


Concern about pupils being ‘managed out’ of secondary schools

Education Datalab is warning that a minority of “pupils are being ‘managed out’ of mainstream schools… with the effect of boosting the league table performance of the school which the pupil leaves”.

The research group’s investigation found that:

  • only a minority of pupils who leave the roll of a mainstream secondary school go on to achieve five GCSEs at A*-C, including:

    · 29% of those who move to a university technical college or studio school

    · around 1% of those who move to alternative provision or special schools

    · 6% of pupils who are not subsequently registered at any state funded secondary school (in 2014/15, this group included almost 20,000 pupils)

  • some schools have much larger proportions of pupils leaving their roll than others
  • pupils leaving a school can improve a school’s league table results significantly
  • sponsored academies tend to lose more pupils after becoming an academy

Based on their findings, the researchers pose three questions to the Department of Education:

  1. Are they satisfied that enough is being done to prevent gaming of league tables?

  2. Are they satisfied that pupils who leave the rolls of mainstream schools are receiving a suitable education?

  3. Will they consider reweighting league tables – making schools accountable for every child who spent time there?

Governing boards should play a central role in ensuring that their school (or schools) are not ‘gaming’ the system. If you do not already, your governing board could request information on the number of pupils leaving the school (particularly in year 10 and the first term of year 11) and a breakdown of their destinations and reasons for leaving.

Read more about Education Datalab’s “Who’s left?”


Call for powers to make academies take ‘hard to place’ pupils

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for local authorities (LAs) to be given additional powers to direct academy schools to take in ‘hard to place’ pupils, including those excluded from other schools.

This is a response to figures showing that, while the Education Funding Agency (EFA) received 121 requests from LAs for an academy to be directed to admit a child between April 2012 and October 2016, the EFA issued a direction in only 15 of these cases.

The LGA is concerned that some academies are attempting to avoid admitting pupils that are likely to be difficult to teach because they might have a negative impact on school performance figures – the same reason Education Datalab suggest that a minority of secondary schools are ‘managing out’ challenging pupils prior to GCSEs.


Disrespect NoBody Campaign publishes new teaching resources for PSHE

A new teaching resource has been developed by the PSHE Association with the Home Office and Government Equalities Office to support the Disrespect NoBody campaign. The campaign builds on the Government’s previous This is Abuse campaign, and is aimed at preventing abusive behaviours within relationships.

The discussion guides are aimed young people aged 12-16 with additional guidance on how to use the Disrespect Nobody campaign with young people aged 8-12 and 16-18. The resource features session plans that aim help young people to understand what a healthy relationship is, to challenge their views on abuse and consent and to sign-post further advice and resources. It aims to help young people to develop key skills needed to enjoy healthy relationships, such as empathy, respect, communication and negotiation.

NGA welcomes the development of new quality resources to support the provision of PSHE in schools as part of a broad and balanced curriculum that supports the moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils.

You can read more on the Disrespect Nobody website.


How much does your school spend on CPD?

One of the ways governing boards can promote high standards in their school is by ensuring that an appropriate budget is set aside for staff’s continuing professional development (CPD). Despite current pressure on budgets, staff development is key to the long term success of any organisation.

The Teacher Development Trust have analysed schools’ spending on CPD and found that, across the whole sector, on average this accounts for just 0.7% of their income. Schools rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted were spending less on average than others and over 20,000 teachers work in schools where there is no CPD budget. A benchmarking tool allows schools to compare their spending with others.

NGA has produced some questions that governing boards could use as a basis for discussing staff CPD: Questions for governing boards to ask: Staffing


PTA UK survey: parents’ engagement in education policy

PTA UK has published the results of its annual survey of parents. The survey sets out to understand how parents feel about educational issues.

The main findings were:

  • Parents want to be consulted more by government and schools generally
  • Parents have an appetite to be more actively engaged in school-life
  • Among parents, there is a lack of understanding about government education policy

PTA UK found that the majority (84%) of the 1514 parents surveyed wanted to be consulted by their child’s school on a regular basis but found their engagement with “decision making groups” within school was low. Asked whether their child’s school takes action based on their feedback, 46% of respondents disagreed or did not give an opinion. According to PTA UK, this suggests “schools need to improve taking action as a result of parent views or communicating when they have done so”.

Governance

Young parents (aged 25-34) were most likely to have volunteered their time and skills in school by being a school governor or trustee. According to PTA UK, 18% have done so at some point and 8% recently. This contrasts with findings by NGA and TES in 2016, which found only 11% of 5000 respondents were under 40. It should be noted, however, that PTA UK’s sample of younger parents was just 206.

PTA UK also found that younger parents can feel intimidated about getting involved in their child’s school. According to PTA UK, this may go some way towards explaining the lower level of involvement at governance level by young parents compared to other age groups. PTA UK says: “If this is the case, it raises the question as to how schools can effectively support younger parents in stepping up and getting more involved in governance from an earlier stage.”

Click here to read the full PTA UK report

Guidance Centre: Knowing your School: engaging parents, published jointly with PTA UK


Annual report on school admissions arrangements

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA), the agency responsible for clarifying the legal position on admissions policies in schools, has released its annual report which outlines the findings from the admissions cases received from September 2015 to August 2016.

The Chief Adjudicator commented that the new timetable for determining admissions arrangements had “worked well”, with the OSA being able to complete more cases before 31 August which, in turn, has better enabled schools to amend their arrangements before parents begin to apply for school places.


Help improve the DfE’s financial benchmarking websites

The Department for Education is redesigning the two financial benchmarking websites:

It wants to hear from as many governors and trustees as possible about how we use these websites to inform our understanding about the financial health of our schools.

If you’re interested in helping to improve this service, please fill out the user research survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/5C65FTS.


Are you a trustee or clerk of a multi academy trust? – NGA Community MAT Network

Looking for an opportunity to discuss your experiences with others? The community multi academy trusts (MATs) network will be meeting in Birmingham on Friday 17 February.

The event will be run under Chatham House rules to enable free discussion of any issues. We are planning to focus discussion around two key themes: how trustees hold senior leaders to account for the performance of the MAT and how boards manage their MAT’s finances.

All trustees and clerks of multi academy trusts are welcome to join us for an afternoon of lively discussion. The event is free to members and non-members are able to join for a small fee. Click here to book.

Read more about our Community MATs campaign.


The impact of high quality careers education

New research by Education and Employers underlines the long term benefits of high quality careers activities in schools and colleges.

The study is based on a survey of 1,744 young people aged 19-24 and found that “those who need [contact with employers] most get it least”: young people who reported the lowest levels of employer engagement at school came on average from more disadvantaged backgrounds, while the young people reporting the highest levels of engagement were more likely to have been at an independent or grammar school.

The findings suggest that one-off careers activities are not enough, with only 25% of those recalling having taken part in one careers activity at school describing it as very or fairly helpful to their decision making post-16. This proportion rose steadily the more activities the individual had participated in, up to 51% for four or more activities.

The research found that those who undertook four activities while at school were 86% less likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) than those who did none. It also found that good quality careers education had a positive impact on young adults’ wages, with those who described the activities they experienced as ‘helpful in getting a job’ earning up to 16.4% more than those who had not participated in any activities.

Speaking on Monday, the apprenticeships and skills minister, Robert Halfon, reiterated the government’s commitment to publishing “a comprehensive careers strategy for all ages later this year”.

What careers education do pupils in your school receive? How is feedback on its impact collected from students?


Warnings over government’s apprenticeships policies

A new analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) warns that the government’s apprenticeships policies “risk poor value for money”. The IFS found that the government has “failed to make a convincing case for such a large and rapid expansion in apprenticeships” and identified a number of risks, including downward pressure on wages and increasing quantity at the expense of quality.

With the target of creating three million apprenticeships between 2015 and 2020, the government is introducing an ‘apprenticeship levy’ on large employers from April as well as introducing generous subsidies for employers training apprentices. As it stands, the apprenticeship levy will affect maintained schools where the local authority is the employer and NGA has been among those calling for this to be changed. Find out more about the apprenticeship levy.


Young Governors’ Network: upcoming meetings

Due to the possible tube strikes across London next week, we are, unfortunately, postponing the London meeting of the Young Governors’ Network next week on 7 February. Apologies to anyone who has signed up but we will contact attendees directly and provide details of the new meeting when we have them.

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.

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.


NGA Special schools’ advisory group

Just a reminder that the NGA’s special schools’ advisory group will be meeting on Monday 13th February 2017 at 1pm 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 by Wednesday 8th February.


Work for the National Governors’ Association

NGA are recruiting a Chairs’ Development Manager. This new role is part of the Inspiring Governance programme led by our partner Education and Employers which commenced in September 2016.

The post holder will be responsible for delivering the chairs recruitment and development element of the project. This will include promoting the service to recruiting boards and aspiring chairs of governing boards and ensuring that they have access to e-learning, support and training.

The post will be based in Birmingham City Centre.

To find out more about the job and apply visit our website


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 27/01/2017

NGA announces new e-learning for school governors and trustees

NGA has today announced plans for a new online training platform launching in the summer term of 2017.

‘NGA Learning Link’ will provide users with access to over fifty modules curated by NGA’s expert team of policy and information specialists. Modules will be comprehensive and cover a range of governance-related topics including: strategy, team work, assessment, staffing, financial oversight, elements of effective governance, compliance and collaboration to name a few.

There will also be eight new induction modules for governors and trustees. These will be free to all governors and trustees placed with Inspiring Governance, the online governance recruitment service. To deliver this NGA will be working with one of the UK’s top e-learning companies, Virtual College.

NGA Learning Link will support users to learn in a way that suits them - remotely, in the evenings and at the weekend, with 24/7 support.  It will be inexpensive and particularly benefit those new to governance by giving them a head start; immediate access to essential information, guidance and further reading during their first months as a governor or trustee.

Paul Aber, NGA’s Head of Training Development, said: “We continue to look for innovative ways to deliver quality learning and development in a low cost way. In the last few years we have upgraded our training and development offer to include leadership programmes for chairs and clerks, as well as external reviews of governance in schools and multi academy trusts. We’re putting all this experience and expertise into building the best online learning for school governors, trustees and clerks.”

If you are interested in buying NGA Learning Link for your governing board or a group of schools, please contact Bill Kiely today at: bill.kiely@nga.org.uk or call us on: 0121 237 3780.


New blog: Emma Knights reflects on seven years at NGA

A new blog by Chief Executive Emma Knights reflects on her first seven years leading NGA, which have seen the organisation grow from four full-time equivalent members of staff to nearing thirty.

“The best bit of my job has been meeting governors and trustees across the county who are each giving of their time, heart and soul to do such an important and demanding role. We know it is particularly difficult climate at the moment but keep in touch and let us know what NGA can do to make your job easier.”

Read the blog: Seven year itch? Not on your life


 

Public Accounts Committee – Financial Sustainability of Schools

As reported last week, on Monday 23 January the Public Accounts Committee held an oral evidence session on the Financial Sustainability of Schools. The panel consisted of Jonathan Slater, Permanent secretary of the Department for Education, Tony Foot, Director of the Education Funding Group at the DfE, and Chief Executive of the Education Funding Agency, Peter Lauener. The panel heard from witnesses consisting of three headteachers, and General Secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, Russel Hobby.

A summary of the session can be found on the NGA’s parliamentary page.


National Association of Headteachers say schools are at “breaking point”

To coincide with the Public Accounts Committee session, the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) released a report of their survey of school funding, which reveals that school budgets are even closer to ‘breaking point’ than they were last year. The main findings are:

  • nearly three quarters of school leaders said their budgets will be unsustainable by 2019/20
  • the number of schools in deficit more than doubled since NAHT’s 2015 survey, from 8% to 18%
  • the number of schools who were only able to balance their budget by making cuts or using reserves increased from 64% in 2015 to 71% in 2016
  • the key reason for this financial pressure was the increases in employers’ pension and national insurance contributions
  • 47% said the decline in Local Authority services was a cost pressure
  • 65% of academies reported the reduction to the ESG as a concern

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of NAHT, said “the money coming into schools is not keeping up with the expenditure they face. As the IFS pointed out recently, the government's funding commitment equates to the first real terms cut in education spending since the 1990s. Education is an investment in the future, leading eventually to higher productivity, better social outcomes and reduced spending on other public services; cuts to this budget are a false economy.”

NGA’s own 2016 survey of governors and trustees, which had 5000 respondents, found that just over a quarter of schools had made posts redundant in the last academic year and 60% were predicting they would need to do likewise this year. Sadly, one third of schools had already reduced the offer to pupils in order to make savings. The National Governors’ Association has repeatedly called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase the overall size of the schools’ budget or risk the future prosperity of our country.


MPs debate school funding

A debate on school funding was held in the House of Commons on Wednesday and an overview of the session can be found on the NGA parliamentary news page. MPs’ voices will be influential in discussions over the coming months and NGA would encourage governing boards to write to their MP about how the funding crisis is affecting their schools. A template for your use can be found below.


Write to your MP with your school funding case studies and receive an invitation to our APPG in February

The next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership will take place at the House of Commons on February 23 2017 at 16.00pm.

The meeting will be chaired by Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee with Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Standards (invited) and Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education (accepted).

The APPG aims to provide a forum for parliamentarians to discuss the issues affecting governance in the education sector. The topic of discussion will be school funding with focus on the National Funding Formula consultation which is open for comment until March 22 2017.

NGA invite school governors and trustees with concerns about school funding to write to their MP with their case studies and to encourage them to come to this important event. A template for your use can be found here

Copy your letters and case studies to shelby.roberts@nga.uk and we will extend an invitation to you also.

The BBC have recently expressed an interest in collecting case studies on school funding issues and your stories will be collated for research purposes.


HM Treasury takes back funding

The DfE admitted in response to a question that £384m of funding has been ‘reclaimed’ by the Treasury following the decision not to pursue compulsory academy status for all schools.  The funding was announced last March at the same time as the White Paper: Education, Excellence, Everywhere.  At a time when all schools are finding the funding situation increasingly challenging it is disappointing that funding earmarked for education should be removed. You can read more on this story here.


Financial Effectiveness and Efficiency: new DfE resources

I. New School Workforce Planning guidance released by the DfE

This week the Department for Education published new guidance on School Workforce Planning, in response to requests from school leaders.

The publication provides non-statutory guidance for anyone in a strategic leadership position within maintained schools and academies and aims to help school leaders review their staff structures regularly as part of annual school improvement, curriculum and financial planning.

The guidance acknowledges there is no single staff structure, or approach to reviewing staffing, that will suit all schools in order to deliver excellent pupil outcomes. It also explores the contextual factors such as funding, pupil demographics and school improvement priorities that play a key role in decisions around workforce planning.

The guidance includes:

  • A list of options for school leaders to consider
  • Questions for school leaders to consider when reviewing their staff structures
  • An example timeline
  • Links to advice, case studies and tools for school leaders to use

Staffing structures should be reviewed regularly to see if it still fits the school’s priorities, especially if those priorities have recently been changed. Governing boards have a clear strategic role to play in appointments at senior leadership level (headteachers, deputy/assistant headteachers and school business manager), but all other appointments should be delegated to the headteacher. For more on staffing structures, visit the NGA guidance centre.

II. New materials: Schools financial health and efficiency

NGA previously reported on the Department for Education’s (DfE) updated resources on schools financial health and efficiency. This week, the Department has published two guidance videos about maintaining good financial health within academy trusts.

In the first, chief executive officer, Zoe Carr, and chief financial officer, Fiona Hardie of WISE Academies  reflect on the steps that have been taken in their trust to improve their finance functions.

The second video is a panel discussion covering key themes around financial health and efficiency including benchmarking, the role of school business management and sharing good practice.  The DfE’s pages also have specific resources for governing boards.


Latest Need to Know timelines available

 The latest version of the Department for Education’s mandatory and useful timelines for schools was published this week. The timelines set out useful information, including legal requirements that must be met, in order to help governors and senior leaders plan ahead, prepare for, and implement changes during the academic year and beyond.

The timelines help schools find out about future changes, as well as identify upcoming activities that may benefit students.


Maintained Nursery Schools facing funding crisis

A survey conducted on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nursery Schools has revealed that one in 10 maintained nursery schools are facing an imminent threat of closure. The survey received a 75 per cent response rate out of 400 maintained nursery schools in the country. It found that:

  • 45 maintained nursery schools (MNS) think they will close by July 2017
  • 67% of MNS believe they will be unsustainable beyond 2018/19 without the additional government funding which finishes at the end of this Parliament

Lucy Powell MP, the Chair of the APPG on Nursery Schools, stated, “these findings offer a stark warning to government of the threat these outstanding providers face from a toxic mix of reduced funding through the national early years funding formula and drastic cuts to local authority budgets”.

The findings follow the Department for Education’s promise to provide supplementary funding of £55 million a year to local authorities for maintained nursery schools for at least two years, as part of the transitional arrangements in the Early Years Funding Formula.

NGA is concerned at the closure of many maintained nursery schools as these often provide amongst the best quality early years provision.  The legal requirements on staffing maintained nurseries can make them more expensive than other settings and it is for this reason additional transitional funding was provided as part of the EYSFF.


New findings on social mobility

A new report, Social Mobility, the Class Pay Gap and Intergenerational Worklessness, sheds light on the extent to which people’s lives are being shaped by their backgrounds.

Key findings:

  • 48% of people experience upward mobility compared to their parents, while 31% experience downward mobility.
  • The odds of those from professional backgrounds ending up in professional jobs are 2.5 times higher than the odds of those from less advantaged backgrounds.
  • Traditional professions are dominated by those from advantaged backgrounds e.g. 73% of doctors are from professional backgrounds and less than 6% are from working class backgrounds. Technical and public sector professions tend to be more open.
  • There was little evidence of generations of families never working: while people from workless households were more likely to be workless, this was mostly explained by health issues and local rates of employment.

The report found that education does have some equalising effect: “once a person’s educational attainment is taken into account, the class pay gap is reduced by nearly half”. This emphasises the importance of schools using their pupil premium funding wisely to support the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and providing high quality careers advice throughout their time in education.

For more on the pupil premium, visit our guidance centre.  


Industrial strategy Green Paper outlines new STEM and vocational plans for young people

This week the government released the Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper, reaffirming its commitment to apprenticeships and creating “a proper system of technical education”. The Green Paper seeks to outline how the system will help the half of young people who do not take A-levels or go to university, and “those parts of the country where more people take a technical track”.

New plans outlined by the government include:

  • Establishing a new Institutes of Technology to deliver high quality STEM provision and meet local employer demands.
  • Increasing the quality of STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) provision.
  • Creating 15 “technical routes” which match the needs of the labour market, available for 16-19 year olds as two-year courses. Working with FE providers to get “industry specialists” involved in delivering the new courses and encouraging FE colleges to be “centres of excellence” for math’s and English education.
  • Reviewing careers advice in schools and publishing a “comprehensive strategy later this year for careers information, advice and guidance”.

Governors and trustees of secondary schools, particularly those with sixth-forms, should be aware of current reforms around vocational and technical education. Governing boards should ensure that the school is providing impartial and comprehensive careers advice which should include information on vocational and technical pathways.  For more information, visit the NGA website.


Cultural Learning Alliance release two reports on the value of cultural learning

This week, the Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA) released two briefing reports designed for the use of education leaders to advocate the importance of cultural learning to the social, educational, economic and personal health of young people and the nation.

The two documents ImagineNation: the value of Cultural Learning and Key Research Findings: the case for Cultural Learning include key statistics, facts and quotes from leading education and arts policy makers and practitioners to evidence the multiple positive outcomes delivered by cultural learning. It builds on previously published  work of the Department Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The evidence used derives from cohort studies with large sample sizes (typically 12,000) and research with control groups.

The Key Research Findings include:

  • participation in structured arts activities can increase cognitive abilities by 17%
  • learning through arts and culture can improve attainment in Maths and English
  • students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree

In addition, the ImagineNation report sets out the current challenges to cultural learning in the context of education policy reform to accountability and assessment at key stage 4.  The CLA reports that, between 2010 when the EBacc was introduced, and 2016, entries to arts GCSEs fell by 21%.

NGA welcomes the publication of two briefing papers which provide solid evidence of the value of cultural learning.  While many of you will not have the time to read the papers in full you can continue to ask questions of your senior leadership team about how they are ensuring the curriculum remains broad and balanced and includes quality arts education.

NGA will be running a session on the arts education and school improvement at our Spring regional conferences alongside Arts Council England. Book your place here.


Young Governors’ Network: Book now for London and Birmingham

The second meetings of the Young Governors’ Network have been set for 7 February 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.

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.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 20/01/2017

DfE Competency framework for governance – tell NGA what you think!

Last week’s newsletter brought you all the latest on the release of the new Department for Education Competency Framework for Governance – if you missed it you can read all about it here along with a complete summary of key changes to the updated Governance Handbook.

The popular NGA skills audit tool is now in the process of being carefully updated, taking into account both the release of the DfE’s new guidance as well as the vast amount of knowledge and experience members have shared since it was last updated. NGA would now like to hear what you think about the competency framework including how useful you think it is, as well as your feedback and thoughts on what you want to see included in the update to the NGA skills audit – contact Sam.henson@nga.org.uk today. 


Financial sustainability of schools

As NGA reported before Christmas, the National Audit Office (NAO) recently published a report looking at the Department for Education’s (DfE) capability to support state-funded schools in managing the risks to their financial sustainability. This report suggested that the DfE is failing to manage the financial situation schools are facing across the country. In light of this, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) called for written evidence about the current financial sustainability of schools, to which NGA contributed. Once the PAC has published the evidence we will also put it on our website. Members have already reported that finance is a critical issue for them in the coming year and NGA has in turn included this in evidence to the committee.

The Committee is holding an Oral Evidence session on Monday 23 January and this will be available to watch here.

NGA is always interested to hear from members about their experiences with funding and financial sustainability. If you have any comments on this, or on the NAO report, we would like to hear from you. Please email any thoughts to Gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk.


New ‘opportunity areas’ announced

Justine Greening, the secretary of state for education, announced six new ‘opportunity areas’ to encourage programmes targeted at building young people’s skills and providing the best advice and opportunities. This includes providing every secondary school in the areas with an ‘enterprise adviser’.

The newly announced areas are Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland & East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich, and Stoke-on-Trent. This brings the total number to 12 as the first six areas (Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough, and West Somerset) were announced in October. The areas were selected based on the Social Mobility Commission’s social mobility index.

The secretary of state also announced a new joint programme with the Education Endowment Foundation to support the creation of a research school in each opportunity area.

Providing high quality opportunities and advice for pupils is of course a challenge for schools across the country. Updated guidance for governing boards on careers will be available later this year.


Experts have their say on the future of primary assessment

The Assessment Review Group, an independent group established by the NAHT in May last year, has produced a report setting out its vision for the future of assessment in primary schools.

The group make a number of recommendations for a future assessment model, including:

  • statutory assessment should be carried out in reception and year six only
  • end of key stage two statutory assessment should be streamlined
  • consideration should be given to removing hard time limits for statutory assessment
  • national sampling and banks of assessment materials should be introduced
  • pupil performance should be reported as a scaled score and the terminology used in 2016 (‘working towards the expected standard’, ‘working at the expected standard’ and ‘working at greater depth within the expected standard’) should be abandoned
  • the government should accept that data is only one part of the picture of school effectiveness and end floor and coasting standards as determinants of intervention

The publication happened to coincide with a session of the House of Commons Education Select Committee’s inquiry into primary assessment. MPs questioned academics and experts about the purpose, design and implementation of primary assessment. For a full write up, see our parliamentary page.


New GCSE statistics and experimental figures on progress and attainment in MATs

This week, the department for education (DfE) has released a revised breakdown of GCSE and equivalent results for 2016 as well as revised results for key stage 5. Although the provisional results were published in October last year, these statistics now take into account any subsequent grade changes (such as remarked papers). The NGA produced a detailed breakdown of the provisional GCSE results in October and these have now been updated to reflect the revised figures.

Alongside this, the DfE has also released experimental statistics designed to measure the performance of multi-academy trusts (MATs). It includes MATs that have three or more schools and have been open for longer than three years. The headline findings show that “at key stage 2 more than half the MATs had above average progress in writing and maths” with below average progress in reading. More strikingly, at key stage 4, “two thirds of MATs had progress 8 scores that were below average” and 51% performed “significantly below average” in relation to the Progress 8 measure. It is important to note, however, that three-quarters of the secondary academies included in the data were “sponsored” and therefore were statistically more likely to have historically poor results. The data also gives a breakdown of attainment within MATs by pupil group and a breakdown of how each MAT has performed individually.


Understanding progress 8

After it was reported this week that Ofqual had found widespread confusion about the new GCSE system, the DfE produced guidance clarifying Progress 8 and Attainment 8 calculations. The DfE also produced a new tool called the “ready reckoner” for Progress 8, 16-18 grade three qualifications and the English Baccalaureate. This allows schools to input pupil data and receive a bespoke explanation of how these value added calculations are made. As the “ready reckoners” require access to individual pupil data, governors should pass this information to their senior leadership team rather than attempt to make the calculations themselves.

For more information on attainment, including the new progress 8 and attainment 8 measures, visit the NGA guidance centre.


New report into extent of body image anxiety in young people and toolkit for secondary schools launched

The Be Real Campaign, a UK-wide campaign to change attitudes towards body image, has published a report investigating the impact of body image anxiety on young people. The report was undertaken by YMCA with the quantitative fieldwork conducted by EdComs, a specialist education communications agency. 2,018 young people aged between 11 and 16 participated in the survey, alongside 501 teachers from across the UK. Additionally, YMCA undertook qualitative research in the form of focus groups held in 12 locations in the UK.

The major findings of the report include:

  • 52% of 11 to 16 year olds regularly worry about how they look
  • 30% of 11 to 16 year olds isolate themselves because of body image anxiety
  • only 48% of young people surveyed had learned about body confidence in school
  • of those who had learned about body confidence in school, 76% said it made them feel more positive about themselves

The Somebody Like Me report suggests that secondary schools are a key setting for young people to discuss and challenge body confidence issues, with lessons centred on building body confidence having a direct positive impact on students’ academic performance and general wellbeing. 

NGA supports the view that personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) should be compulsory in all schools as part of a broad and balanced curriculum that fosters the spiritual, moral and cultural health of pupils.

In response to the findings of the report, the Be Real Campaign, founded by YMCA and Dove, has launched the Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools. The toolkit is aimed at secondary schools and is made up of essential guidance, materials and advice on teaching body confidence to support the provision of quality PSHE education.

The toolkit is available to download here.


Join the Young Governors’ Network

Three more dates have been set for our Young Governors’ Network pilot in London and Birmingham:

  • Tuesday 7 February
  • Tuesday 11 April
  • Tuesday 20 June

Click here to book your place, find out more information about YGN or to read what happened at our first networking event 


Free event, London: Early Years - Children's Health, Transition to Transformation, 7th February

NGA has been offered a limited number of free event places for members with an interest in early years public health and children’s services policy.

On 7 February 2017, the “Early Years – Children’s Health, Transition to Transformation” event will be held at the Royal Society of Medicine, London.

The event will provide plenary and breakout sessions covering issues relating to many different aspects of early years public health and policy, with an emphasis on the commissioning landscape for the health and wellbeing of children 0-5 years and the high impact areas.

More information about the day can be found here. Places are limited and available on a first-come-first serve basis. Please RSVP to shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk.


Emma Knights speaking at BETT Show, Saturday January 28th

Emma Knights will be speaking on “School governance: the challenges for the year ahead” as part of the School Leaders Summit at the BETT Show on Saturday January 28th at London Excel. Come and visit us on stand F111. The BETT show is free to attend. If you are interested in attending you can register on their website: Bett show

Find out more about this event here.


Work for the National Governors’ Association

NGA are recruiting a Chairs’ Development Manager. This new role is part of the Inspiring Governance programme led by our partner Education and Employers which commenced in September 2016.

The post holder will be responsible for delivering the chairs recruitment and development element of the project. This will include promoting the service to recruiting boards and aspiring chairs of governing boards and ensuring that they have access to e-learning, support and training.

The post will be based in Birmingham City Centre.

To find out more about the job and apply visit our website.


From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 13/01/2017

New Governance Handbook and competency framework published 

On Thursday 12 January the Department for Education (DfE) released a new version of the Governance Handbook, a guide to the roles and functions of those who govern schools in England. The Handbook also includes information about the various legal and compliance duties, as well as where governors, trustees and clerks may find support. With the 2017 update, as well as the content being revised to take account of changes made to the law and policy over the past year, the DfE have also given the handbook a complete restructure.

The restructure coincides with the release of the DfE’s new competency framework, which aims to set out the skills, behaviours and knowledge needed for effective governance. The framework is based around “six features of effective governance”, which are also now used to structure the Governance Handbook, with a chapter allocated for each feature. For more information see the NGA news page.  Many NGA members will have seen earlier versions of the framework as these were topics for discussion at the autumn regional meetings.

NGA has also updated its Governance Handbook page on the Guidance Centre including a summary of key changes and important things to note.


New Governing Matters: January/February edition

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

Cover stories include:

  • Inclusive schools: why we must act to stop covert selection

Vic Goddard, principal of Passmores Academy, Harlow, outlines why school governors and trustees must act to stop covert selection.

  • NGA annual conference: governance in a time of change

NGA staff report on the annual conference which took place in Manchester on 19 November 2016. The report includes highlights from national speakers and NGA workshops.

  • Good practice: Online safety

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety Education (UKCCIS) has produced guidance and suggests some questions for governing boards to ask their school leaders.

  • Oracy: why verbal communication matters

Will Millard, associate at LKMco explains why oracy should be given the same status as literacy in the curriculum.

  • Time to clerk: how long does it really take?

Pauline Williams, an accredited clerk who clerks for several schools, argues why it is essential to allow enough time to carry out the role successfully.

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.


Ofsted: Amanda Spielman takes up her post as Chief Inspector

The new Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, has taken up her post as head of Ofsted. In an interview with the Guardian, she spoke about the “phenomenal amount of change” schools are currently experiencing, parents’ relationship with the inspectorate, and wanting “to get to a point where people just can’t imagine not seeing Ofsted as a force for improvement in any of its remits”. Reflecting on her experience as a founder of Ark multi academy trust, she said: “I’ve seen at very close quarters how the pressures of accountability influence what schools do, and how they lead to trade-offs with what people do”.

From January, there has also been a minor change to the way inspections are staffed, with Ofsted Inspectors (OI) now leading short inspections of ‘good’ schools. Previously these had been led by HMI, who work full time for the inspectorate, rather than OI who are usually serving practitioners working for the inspectorate on a part time basis. Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director of Education, has written a blog explaining the change. Harford encourages school leaders to get in touch with Ofsted with their feedback on these changes or other aspects of the inspection process.

NGA is interested to hear about governing boards’ experience of inspection so that we can raise any issues with Ofsted and ensure our guidance is addressing your needs. Get in touch with Fay: fay.holland@nga.org.uk. GOLD members can also call the advice line with any questions about Ofsted inspections.


Local government association: calls for small maintained schools to be exempt from Apprenticeship Levy

This week, the local government association (LGA) has called on the government to make small local authority (LA) maintained schools exempt from paying the Apprenticeship Levy. All employers with an annual wage bill of over £3million will have to pay to the levy at a rate of 0.5% of the total wage bill. . However, in schools where the local authority is the employer, they will have to contribute to a levy (if there is one) regardless of their individual wage-bill.

For more information on the Levy, and guidance on what steps LA schools will need to take to pay the Levy, visit the NGA guidance centre. It is important that all governors of LA schools read this guidance, regardless of whether the governing board is the employer.


Funding for special educational needs (SEN) support confirmed

This week, the government confirmed funding from April 2017 of nearly £60 million to support children with special educational needs and disability (SEND).

The announced funding includes:

  • £15 million for the Independent Supporters programme in 2017 to 2018, run by the Council for Disabled Children, which the Department for Education (DfE) say has been a “real driver of change” helping families navigating the SEND system
  • £2.3 million for Parent Carer Forums in 2017 to 2018, which aims to give parents a voice in influencing local decision-making
  • £1.8 million to Contact a Family, to support Parent Carer Forums and their National Network, and to run a national helpline for families

The announced funding also includes £40 million intended to assist councils plan for the transition to the new SEND system.

Edward Timpson described the reforms as the “most significant…for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in a generation”.

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. The second stage of the consultation into the proposed high needs national funding formula is now open, and members are encouraged to submit their views, either directly to the DfE, or through NGA.

NGA will be formulating a response, and if you would like to contribute to this please contact Gillian Allcroft (gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk) with any comments. NGA will also shortly be releasing a new suite of SEND guidance; which will be introduced in the March edition of Governing Matters.


Several post 16 area reviews published this week: essential reading for local governors and trustees with post-16 provision

This week, the Department for Education has released reports and recommendations from a number of 16-19 education area reviews across England. Beginning in 2015, these reviews were designed to “ensure that colleges are financially stable into the longer-term” and “well-positioned to meet the present and future needs of individual students and the demands of employers”.

The review group, made up of key stakeholders, were given scope to make recommendations around the restructuring of the further education sector, including making decisions around “rationalised curriculum; fewer, larger and more financially resilient organisations; and, where practicable, shared back office functions and curriculum delivery systems”.

If you are a governor or trustee of a secondary school, particularly with a sixth-form, it is important that you understand the implications of the review in your area. Depending on the decisions that the review group make, and the willingness of the organisations to implement the changes, the post-16 offer in your area may become significantly different.

Although many of the reviews are still ongoing, the reports for the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Cumbria, North and mid-Hampshire and Liverpool have been released this week.

For more information on the area reviews click here. If your post-16 provision has been affected by these reviews we would be interested to hear about it, email tom.fellows@nga.org.uk.


Warning over fraudsters targeting schools

Lloyds Bank’s School team is warning education establishments to “be aware of fraudsters targeting them with ransomware”, a type of malicious software affecting a computer system. Click here for more on how to recognise, prevent, and deal with fraudulent scams.


“The burning injustice of mental health”

NGA previously reported on the Health Committee’s announcement of its inquiry into the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children and young people and preventing the development of mental health problems.

Delivering her speech at the Charity Commission annual lecture earlier this week, the prime minister spoke about building a “shared society” which “overcome[s] division…ensuring everyone has the chance to share in the wealth and opportunity on offer in Britain today.” One element of this is to improve mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities.

The prime minister announced a package of measures to transform mental health support and for schools in particular, such measures include:

  • Offering mental health first aid training for secondary school teachers and staff to help them identify and help those children experiencing mental health problems. Education secretary Justine Greening has suggested a target for every school to train a member of staff in mental health by the end of 2019.
  • Trialling approaches to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff.
  • Undertaking a major thematic review of existing services available to young people.
  • This review will, in turn, help to inform how the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Ofsted’s joint inspections programme can ensure that child and adolescent mental health services are adequately held to account.
  • A green paper on children and young people’s mental health to transform services in education and for families.

As reported previously, NGA are responding to the Health Committee’s inquiry and will publish our response on the website in due course. NGA also covered mental health in the November edition of Governing Matters. This article can be accessed here.


Department for Education announce grant scheme to deliver 30 hours free childcare

This week, Education Secretary Justine Greening announced a £50 million grant scheme to increase childcare places. This follows the recent publication of a new fairer funding formula for early years education.

The £50 million scheme aims to create close to 9,000 free places for eligible 3 and 4 year-olds. The government expects the scheme to help deliver its 30 hours free childcare offer. Around 200 nurseries and pre-schools stand to benefit from the funding which will be used to improve facilities, with some of the funding also being invested in the education secretary’s first 6 opportunity areas, previously reported on by NGA in October.


Co-headship: some considerations for governing boards

An article in this week’s Times reports on how some headteachers are taking job shares to ease workloads and help balance career and family commitments. The article explores the benefits that such working arrangements might offer women looking to apply for leadership roles, or to return to leadership roles after having children. The report cites the importance of sharing values and beliefs, and the positive benefits of being able to share the responsibilities and demands of what can be an “isolating and lonely” job.

Such job sharing arrangements at headteacher level remain relatively rare, although advertising posts or developing roles as job shares is much more common in other industries and sectors. With the often cited recruitment and retention crisis in teaching it is certainly one option that it is worth governing bodies giving thoughtful consideration to.

It’s also possible to have co-governing board chairs. NGA members have in the past told us that they have found it difficult to encourage governors to stand for the role of chair of the governing board. NGA has produced some guidance on co-chairing and some of its “ground rules” apply equally when governing bodies are considering job share arrangements for headteachers.


Get your free training

The National College for Teaching and Leadership is stumping up the money to pay for three governors or trustees (per school) to attend half-day workshops. We’ve updated our website to provide a bit more information about these places and how you and your board can get involved. NGA is delivering these programmes in selected parts of the country through the Leading Governance partnership.


NGA regional conferences

This coming spring, NGA has three regional conferences taking place in the North East (Newcastle), South West (Taunton) and East Midlands (Leicester).

In the North East and South West NGA is pleased to welcome the regional school commissioners, Janet Renou and Rebecca Clark respectively as the keynote speakers. In the East Midlands Emma Knights, NGA‘s Chief Executive, will be delivering the keynote speech on tackling the governance challenges of the coming year together.

Places will go fast, so book here now.


NGA to host session at BETT show on 28 January

On 28 January NGA will be hosting a seminar at the BETT show. BETT is the world’s leading education technology show, encouraging education professionals from around the world to meet face to face, share best practice, learn from experts in the industry and discover the technology to fuel their vision for the future of education. If you would like to find out more about the BETT show follow this link to their website: BETT show.

Find out more about this event here.

From the National Governors' Association (NGA) News Briefing 06/01/2017

Out now: Welcome to Governance, 9th edition

The most popular and widely purchased induction guide for new governors and trustees.

50% discount for members – Only £6 per copy!

Click here to purchase copies online.

NGA’s 9th edition of Welcome to Governance has been updated to reflect changes in education policy and practice. As a corporate member of NGA, you can take advantage of membership discounts on our guides.

Welcome to Governance is an induction guide for new school governors, trustees of standalone academies and those governing at academy committee level in a multi academy trust (MAT). If you are a trustee of a MAT please refer to NGA’s Welcome to a Multi Academy Trust guide specifically tailored for those sitting on a MAT board of trustees.

Bulk discounts: If you order more than 15 copies, you can also take advantage of a bulk discount: 
 

Quantity

Discount

15-29 copies

5%

30-99 copies

10%

100-199 copies

15%

200-499 copies

20%

500 or more

25%

Contact the NGA office for more information or to place a bulk order.

T: 0121 237 3780
E: admin@nga.org.uk


New guidance – Part 3 of Staying in Control of your School’s Destiny

Following the November release of parts 1 and 2 of the updated Staying in Control of your School’s Destiny guidance, produced jointly with ASCL and Browne Jacobson, the third and final instalment has now been published.

Part 3 looks specifically at the practicalities around forming a brand new MAT from conception, exploring how to choose the right partners, things to think about when scoping your new MAT, and how to undertake due diligence.

Access the guides here.


Gongs for governance in New Year Honours list

A huge NGA congratulations to everyone working in education who received an honour in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2017. The list recognises 120 people for their service to education and children’s services. For NGA it is of course a delight to see honours for voluntary contributions, and specifically for school governance.

Among the recipients was Tracey Booth, who was awarded an MBE for her services to education. Tracey was part of the governing board that won NGA’s Outstanding Governance Award in 2015. Congratulations also go to Diane Croston, chair of Morgans Primary School and Nursery in Hertfordshire. Diane's board were finalists in our 2015 awards, and she was awarded a British Empire Medal.

A full list of those receiving awards for school governance can be found on our news page.

We actively encourage honours nominations for those who have made a real difference for pupils in school - even more so where their contribution has spanned across a number of schools. Please consider nominating a governor or trustee for the next round of honours. Take a look at the guidance or if you’d like to find out more about making a nomination for a governor email: shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk.


Have your say on life after levels

Following the publication of primary school performance tables in December, NGA are keen to receive feedback from members on their schools’ experience of the transition to assessment without national curriculum levels.

In last year’s NGA/TES survey, over three quarters of respondents said they were confident that the system their school is using to track progress since the removal of levels is robust. This was a slightly smaller proportion than the previous year. NGA are always looking to share good practice and would be interested to hear from governing boards about how they have evaluated the success of assessment systems used in their school. Get in touch: fay.holland@nga.org.uk.

What form of support on assessment would your governing board find most useful?
 

 

 

 


‘Life chances postcode lottery’– Joseph Rowntree Foundation analysis on deprivation and early years

An analysis of official figures by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) focuses on how the life chances of children are being determined by both their parents’ income and where they live. The findings indicate that the likelihood of children reaching a “good level of development for reading, writing and their social and emotional development” varies significantly depending on their postcode and whether they are born into poor or rich families.

Other key findings include:

  • By age five, children who experienced high-quality childcare for two to three years are nearly eight months ahead in their literacy development compared to children who have not received early years’ education.
  • Less the half of the poorest children in the worst performing local authorities for children eligible for Free School Meals reach a good level of development by age 5.
  • Four of the ten local authorities with the worst overall performance for free school meal children are in areas with the lowest levels of child poverty.
  • The Midlands and the North continue to lag behind the rest of the country.

Improving education standards is part of the JRF’s overall strategy for tackling poverty; calling on the government to build on its childcare reforms by focusing on the quality of early years’ provision. To give children the best start in life, the JRF recommends that the Prime Minister’s social reform cabinet committee:

  • drive up the provision of high-quality early years childcare by promoting a graduate-led workface and ensuring existing staff can train and improve their skills
  • Ofsted should collect more data from inspections, in order to measure the qualifications of nursery staff, turnover and retention rates
  • supporting strong families and relationships, with the government and local authorities establishing a family hub in every area, bringing services for families and children, and creating an effective early intervention network for those in need


School Funding Reform

In November NGA wrote to Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to highlight our concerns over both the delay in introducing school funding reforms and in the total size of the school funding pot.

This week, we received a reply from the Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb – explaining that the education budget had been ‘protected’, the funding consultation had now been issued, but there will be no more money. For more on this see Emma Knights’ latest blog.

Before Christmas, the long-awaited second stage of the consultation about a new national funding formula was released, and we encourage members to respond to this; the closing date is 22 March. NGA will be taking into account members’ views when formulating its own response. Please feel free to send a copy of your response, or any thoughts, to Gillian Allcroft (gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk).


Local Government Association (LGA) issues warning about reductions to Education Services Grant

The LGA has warned this week that future school improvement will be put at risk following the government’s confirmation that just £50 million will be allocated to councils from September 2017.

The LGA argues that this money will have to cover services which have “traditionally received £450 million” worth of government funding in order to meet the costs. The LGA has specified that as well as enabling local authorities to work closely with schools in need of improvement, this grant has helped to ensure children are supported with speech therapy, physiotherapy and good attainment, as well as allowing councils to plan ahead for new school places.

Councillor Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People’s Board, said that councils are key to unlocking improvement, and cutting their budgets “risks the long term work and planning” which have been put in place.


4 out of 5 young carers may not be receiving local authority support according to children’s commissioner

A new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, reveals that just a small fraction of young carers are receiving the support that they need.

The report analyses a survey issued by the Commissioner’s office to all local authorities in England and utilises data on referrals relating to children and young people providing care, and the assessments of support that children receive. Data was received from 86% of local authorities (130 of 152). The report highlights that young carers tend to have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers.

The key findings of the survey are:

  • 4 out of 5 young carers may not be receiving support from their local authority. According to BBC research, there is an estimated 700,000 young carers in England providing care for friends, family and neighbours though many are not identified by local authorities.  
  • Just over a quarter of identified young carers have additional care needs of their own. Of the 60 local authorities where disability was recorded, 27% of young carers had a disability.
  • There are young carers under the age of 5 years. 31 local authorities out of 102 that provided data on age had received young carer referrals for children under 5, and 22 of these LAs had assessed and provided support for young carers.

NGA welcomes the Children’s Commissioner’s report and supports raising awareness among school governors and trustees about young carers and the additional support they require. To read the full findings of the report, click here. NGA has more information on young carers, including an article asking governors and trustees if your school is doing enough and a guidance page with links to further valuable resources.


New ethnicity, gender and social mobility report from the social mobility commission

On 28 December 2016, the social mobility commission released a report exploring the transition from school to the workplace amongst several types of pupil groups. In particular, the commission was interested in why White British males are less likely to be unemployed, and have more social mobility options, than females and those who are Black or from an Asian Muslim background.

An overview of this report can be found on the NGA research page. Please click here.


Careers guidance focus group: 16 January 2017

NGA is supporting the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGs) at the University of Derby, 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.

We invite anyone serving as a governor or trustee in a secondary school in England to join us at a focus group at NGA’s headquarters in central Birmingham on 16 January 2017, 16.30-18.00pm. 

Please RSVP to shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk.


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 be run under Chatham House rules to enable free discussion of any issues. We are planning to focus discussion around two key themes: how trustees hold senior leaders to account of the performance of the MAT and financial issues.

The event will take place in Birmingham (venue to tbc) and will start at 12.00pm (midday). Click here to book.

10 free places to Academies Event 2017: Schooling for the Future, 28 February 2017, Salford

NGA would like to offer 10 free places to our members for the Academies Event 2017: Schooling for the Future which will take place on 28 February 2017 at the A J Bell Stadium, Salford.

Speakers will include: NGA CEO Emma Knights, National Schools Commissioner Sir David Carter, and Chair of the Northern Education Trust, Les Walton, CBE.

Places will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Please RSVP to shelby.roberts@nga.org.uk


NGA to attend BETT show this January

On 28 January the NGA will be attending the BETT show at the EXCEL in London. BETT is the world’s leading education technology show, encouraging education professionals from around the world to meet face to face, share best practice, learn from experts in the industry and discover the technology to fuel their vision for the future of education. If you would like to find out more about the BETT show follow this link to their website: BETT show.

The BETT show runs from 25-28 January. Registration for the show is free of charge for governors, trustees and clerks. If you would like to register to attend BETT follow this link to register: Register to attend BETT.


Funded Training

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 boards. 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.


Free workshops available from January 2017

The National College for Teaching and Leadership workshops remain available for governors and trustees, covering Financial Efficiencies, Performance Related Pay, RAISEonline Primary, RAISEonline Secondary, Forming or Joining a MAT and Disadvantaged Pupils. 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.


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