Friday, 19 July 2013

Whatcha Gonna Do About It?

I was a teenage Mod. Fred Perry three button polo shirt. Check. Sta-pressed trousers. Check. Stripy boating blazer. Check. Bowling shoes a-la Paul Weller circa 1982, worn with white socks. Check. Why am I telling you this? Well, it helps to explain the title of this blog post. The slangy spelling isn’t due to my inability to write properly, although some might disagree on that score. It’s the title of a track by sixties Mod heroes, The Small Faces. Their first single, in fact. I’m referencing the song because on reading the school’s latest Ofsted Inspection report, you may be asking the exact same question: ‘Hey govs; ‘Requires Improvement’, whatcha gonna do about it?’

That’s especially the case as governors were singled out for criticism. Apparently “it is only recently that governors have gained a clearer understanding of their roles and responsibilities”. I suppose we could whinge about that, question the validity of the judgement and carry on as before. But that has not been our response. Navel gazing introspection wouldn’t exactly help the cause, but the judgement calls for a bit of reflective self-criticism on our part. We can’t be taken seriously in our role as a ‘critical friend’ of senior leaders if we refuse to subject our own practice to rigorous examination.

So, what are we going to do about it? I revert to proper English lest I bump into head of subject, Mr. McMahon and he punishes my sloppy writing by making me do a hundred lines. Had enough of that when I was in school as a pupil, thanks. Anyway, the important thing is that governors recognise the need to sharpen up our act.

To that end we recently met with Keith Clover for a Governors’ Training Session. Keith is a National Leader of Governance and has helped many a governing body to improve its performance. Our main task was to work our way though the Twenty Questions for Governing Bodies devised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance & Leadership.

We looked at matters such as the composition and structure of the governing body, performance reviews and the importance of having a clear strategic goal for the school. Keith has now devised an improvement plan for governors on the basis of our answers to the questionnaire.

It was a useful exercise that I trust will help us on the journey towards becoming a more effective governing body. Some of newly appointed Parent Governors were able to attend and new head Dr. Simon Riding also dropped in, which was nice.

We’re getting there and after a recent monitoring visit, Her Majesty’s Inspector, James Sage reported that, “The governing body is already much better placed to ask challenging questions to hold the school’s senior leaders to account.”

Yes, we are doing something about it. But we still have work to do in the quest to become a governing body that ensures every student at Matravers fulfils their educational potential. We can rest content with nothing less.

We're grateful to Mrs. Martin for all that has been accomplished under her leadership over the last year and we look forward to working with new Head, Dr. Riding from September. We have recently welcomed six new members to the governing body, all brimming with enthusiasm and determined to make a difference. Exciting times.

Oh, and at the last meeting of the Full Governing Body, I was appointed Chair of Governors.This blog is one of the ways in which we hope to communicate our vision for the school to students, parents, staff and the wider community.   

Guy Davies