Regional Scrutiny and Schools – good practice learning points shared

Photo credit: City & County of Swansea

Photo credit: City & County of Swansea

The Education Through Regional Working (ERW) Scrutiny Councillor Group met on the 11 March 2016 and one of the issues they discussed was how each local authority carries out its scrutiny of individual schools.  It proved that there are a variety of ways of doing schools scrutiny across the ERW region but all Councillors agreed that the scrutiny sessions with individual schools was important to ensure strong and positive member oversight and challenge of education.

From this session the Group identified a number of ‘learning points’ to share, including:

  1. This type of scrutiny is often best done in smaller working groups rather than larger committees.
  2. Consistency of membership of the scrutiny body is beneficial in order for members can build up their expertise.
  3. That it is important to look at schools that are causing concern but also those that are showing excellent practice.
  4. It is useful to get an assessment of the schools current performance from designated Challenge Adviser before the session with school.
  5. It is important to use a consistent approach for choosing schools to speak to, for example, using the school support categorisation data.
  6. Feedback to the school is important, it is important that the school find it a useful process.  Involvement of pupils in process is also beneficial.
  7. Some felt that the sessions with schools should be held in public while others felt it was more effective for it to be done in an informal but closed session.
  8. It is important to have a clear set of questions/lines of inquiry which are shared with the school in advance and used at the meeting as the basis for discussion.
  9. It is important that sessions with schools look at core issues like, for example:
    • Whether the School is building its capacity to self-improve
    • Whether it has an effective leadership and resilient senior management team
    • Whether the school has effective support and challenge from governing body
    • Whether the school and governing body use data on schools performance effectively
    • What barriers the school faces to continuing to make improvements
  10. The areas of good practice identified should be shared.
  11. The areas for action and improvement identified are taken forward – a clear mechanism in place to do this with the local authority.
  12. Important that the schools/chair of governors understand the purpose of the session and that the session is a forum for an open discussion.

The ERW region comprises of six local authorities and these include Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.  More information about ERW can be found here.

If you would like to find out more about Scrutiny you can visit our website here.

 

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