External review of governance – you may want to have one before Ofsted tells you to!

As a company which has built its reputation by providing senior leaders and governors with briefings and practical approaches to the fast developing performance pay agenda, we have been surprised by the number of requests we have recently received – usually from schools recently found to require improvement or special measures – to conduct an external review of governance.  The following extract from the National College website explains why:

Following a Section 5 Ofsted inspection, where governance is found to be weak in

a school judged to require improvement, and leadership and management is graded

three, inspectors will recommend that an external review of governance is

conducted. If a school is judged to have serious weaknesses, or to require

special measures, the lead inspector may recommend a review of governance, if

that aspect is judged to be weak.

In some cases, where a school has been judged to be requiring improvement,

subsequent HMI monitoring visits may also result in a recommendation for a

review of governance.

The experience we have gained in conducting these reviews suggests that, for many schools, it may be sensible to arrange an external review of governance well in advance of an Ofsted inspection to check out the likely leadership and management judgement that will result.  You are aiming to be telling the following story….

  • Governors have agreed the level of performance that they expect to see for each pay point in their structure
  • The headteacher audits the professional practice of teachers to ensure that they are meeting these expectations both for their current pay point and for any point to which they hope to progress at the end of the current appraisal round
  • Governors receive anonymised information showing the number of teachers working below expected levels and regular half termly reports on the impact of appraisal support  provided
  • Governors understand the relationship between this information and the head teacher’s pay progression recommendations
  • Governors also receive similar half termly reports on groups of pupils (especially pupil premium!) performing below expectations and half termly updates on the impact of work being done to help them catch up

As the National College says:

Schools do not need to wait for an Ofsted inspection recommendation to seek a

review: any school can arrange a review of governance at any time in order to

improve the effectiveness of the work of the governing body.

The Educate External Review of Governance

The Educate External Review of Governance focusses on the key strategic questions set out above.  It involves a half day visit to the school to meet senior leaders and governors, the study of relevant paperwork and a second visit to present a short report to the governors containing three or four key recommendations.  Depending on the amount of reading required, this usually costs in the range £1500 to £2500 plus VAT.  Arrangements for an external review of governance can be made by contacting nigelmiddleton@educateservices.co.uk