National Governance Annual Conference and AGM November 2018

National Governance Annual Conference and AGM November 2018

Attended by Rhoda Hatton and Gillian Santi – members of WSGA executive committee

Emma  Knights, CEO NGA

  • Governance is climbing the DfE priority list – Damien Hinds attended the summer conference (a first!)
  • Funding, especially SEND is a priority and balancing the budget is the biggest piece of work in most schools – only 1 in 5 schools is able to manage finances without affecting the offer to pupils. NGA want feedback for Funding the Future – see the website
  • All governors agreed that they want no more changes from on high. Major Ofsted change will be about the curriculum. Sir John Dunford’s statement at NGA conference in 2012 still rings true – education is about the development of ‘knowledge, skills and personal qualities’.
  • Accountability – current system can and does cause fear. Damian Hinds wants governors to have a 4th core function: Ensuring decisions take account of the views and experience of stakeholders.
  • Responsibility for staff employment – workload and welfare of staff is causing more issues, including more difficulty with recruitment and retention.
  • Request for school leaders (that includes governors) to write a letter jointly to the DfE and Ofsted re: reducing data requirements.
  • Do not allow the governors’ strategy to be constrained by Ofsted’s requirements.
  • Because of fear of Ofsted and over-reliance on data school culture is stopping change.
  • The education “system” needs to value governance more. School leaders generally do not understand governance and the suggestion is that middle leaders ‘do’ governance as a part of their CPD.
  • MATs are an issue re: poor governance, partly because of pupil numbers – NGA has produced guidance to support governance in MATs and federations, with £200 of funding from the DfE.
  • NLGs are not a “system” – they have not been integrated into support services.
  • There is a need for a systematic approach to improvement of governance across England.
  • “inspiring governance” want governors to ask colleagues to register with them if they are interested in recruitment to other GBs – a new initiative and postcard style invitations available.
  • Professional clerking remains a priority – NGA will be looking at clerks’ pay and re-launching their development programme, supported by ICSA. Clerks should inform the DfE that they would like funding for their development – not a fee of £75.
  • Academies need to embrace their charitable status, taking account of the experience and support available across the charitable sector.
  • Headteacher Boards with no governance inclusion are making decisions re: school partnerships and have responsibility across locality groups etc. This is poor practice. NPQH should include governance literacy.

Mick Waters, Professor of Education, University of Wolverhampton

“Balance in all respects”

It is impossible to do justice to Mick’s presentation – you should have been there!!

A few memorable quotes/notes:

  • An 11-year old boy responded to a task set by his teacher with “Manchester United are better than any other team in the premier league and everyone needs to know” – he crossed this out and replaced it with “If it’s your last day alive spend it in school because it feels like an eternity.”
  • Why do schools reward school attendance? Why not link projects to the curriculum and make school enjoyable? An interesting undertaking – in assembly, show our pupils children across the World going to school in eg Nepal, China and the whole class on one bike in India! Then talk about the Global Community where children are desperate to go to school. Resist narrowing the World!
  • Mick’s view on governors’ core responsibilities – the DfE requirement, stakeholders’ views and the curriculum – ethical governance, an irresistible curriculum/learning experience. Ofsted think it’s just about lessons – what about routines, events, learning outside the classroom/out of school, the environment?
  • The Inuit have an amulet – the Circle of Courage – generosity, belonging, proficiency, autonomy. Look at the bigger picture, not just the curriculum.
  • The curriculum never stands alone and the experienced curriculum is not the same as either the planned or taught curriculums.
  • ‘Speaking and Listening’ is not tested – if it were taught, reading and writing would follow.
  • Mick’s 3 Is – integrity, improve, insight. Ofsted’s 3 1’s – intent, implementation, impact.
  • A model pupil is a teacher pleaser. A well-rounded individual should be our aim.
  • How might governors help? Ask for information about effectiveness of the curriculum. Interrogate the information in the light of the school ‘logo’ (vision, etc). Offer insight about the integrity of the curriculum. Link with other schools, to help and to learn. Link with a school in the next phase. Look at EEF research.
  • We have a national curriculum driven by university ‘sifting’ which dictates secondary subjects – children need a scramble net to transition from the horizontal structure of the primary experience to the subject-led secondary curriculum.
  • Re-think learning – it should be a rounded experience – don’t think about add-ons, as they are essentials. Are our most disadvantaged children having the rounded experience?

And we had the privilege of viewing a clip of a pupil who went on the school’s biennial trip to Lesotho – she was an amazing pupil, full of insight and fully engaged with the learning experience of the time she spent with children who do not have the advantages of a free education, but who want to learn despite the barriers. She was a well-rounded individual after just 12 years in school.

Our children have an entitlement to:

‘enjoying one moment in the limelight’

‘joyous and purposeful learning’

We also had an interesting presentation from Carolyn Roberts, Chair of the Ethical Leadership Commission, ASCL.

The commission has pulled together a framework for Ethical Leadership in Education which is designed to give leaders a change to consider what underpins the decisions they make. To further this work, the commission are looking for ‘Pathfinders’ who will commit to completing one of the ‘paths’ to explore ethical leadership. The above provides a CPD opportunity for school leaders and governing boards and will hopefully improve the participating school’s ethical foundation.

Details about the commission are available on the ASCL website and Carolyn can be emailed at If your school wishes to be a pathfinder please contact – there is a light touch approach for early adopters. Submission of interest by 4th January 2019 will attract an invitation to the Ethical Leadership Launch event in London on 25th January 2019.

Nick Brook, Deputy General Secretary, National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), gave a challenging presentation on Improving School Accountability – the report was published in September 2018 with a useful flyer and can be downloaded from the NAHT website. It’s an interesting read.

  • A school cannot be seen as self-improving if a nearby school is struggling and they don’t offer help.
  • Look at Peer Review.
  • The best HMIs are experienced, insightful and have clout. They should be paid more if they are to support struggling schools.
  • The new Ofsted framework should be less data driven. But, the 6-week consultation starts in January 2019 for implementation in September 2019. NAHT are suggesting that it does not go live until January 2020.

Underperformance of pupils is related to deep societal issues and schools are a part of the solution. Underperformance should be mapped with details sent to MPs and local councillors.

We have already invited Nick to attend one of our open meetings and he has accepted – we will need to confirm details!!

The AGM was fairly brief. Governor associations will continue to pay the same fee and a GB subscription will rise to £95 – just a reminder that this fee includes all members of the GB.

Gillian Santi

26th November 2019



NGA South East Regional Meeting

National Governance Association South East Regional Meeting

October 2018

Discussion covered:

  • The website upgrade which may include a ‘library’ and Webinars facility
  • DfE consultation on Relationship and Sex Education – changes to be implemented September 2020. Could the DfE produce a Primary scheme of work? Probably better to buy in support rather than relying on volunteers to deliver SRE.
  • School finances and curriculum planning – LA services and CPD attract a cost
  • Responsibility for wellbeing of pupils and staff
  • Increased wellbeing and mental health issues is leading to higher numbers of exclusions

Policy update:

  • Annual governance survey result – GBs reducing in size
  • Complaints guidance to be updated in January 2019

Effective practice:

  • Integrated curriculum and finance planning – use spreadsheets to demonstrate impact of changing subject budgets
  • SEND and governance/DfE Estates Management guidance – published and should be considered

Comments raised by governors:

  • Timetabling in a primary MAT, with teachers not attached to a classroom, has saved money.
  • What if all schools set a deficit budget? As long as we are all diligent and reduce staff, the DfE will assume we have enough money.