Following up upon the impact of the School Governance Scrutiny Inquiry

The School Governance Scrutiny Panel heard that the inquiry has provided a useful opportunity to reflect upon support for school governance.  It has supported the need for the Governor Support Team to work more closely with Education Through Regional Working (ERW) colleagues.  The Panel were told that it is proving beneficial in helping schools and governing bodies to improve, example of this being that Challenge Advisers now attend all meetings of governing bodies for red and amber schools.

The Panel followed up upon the main recommendations in the Scrutiny report and concluded for example that:

  • Governors have been made aware of the Governors Wales Self-evaluation tool and been advised to undertake a self-evaluation exercise. The Panel felt that in addition to this the council should clearly flag up what we can offer in relation to training and development to assist governing bodies.
  • The Panel were pleased to see the mini booklet for governors and heard that it will be sent out to all new governors and made available on the council’s website.
  • ERW have undertaken a review of information provided to school governors.  Also that Governor’s Wales have undertaken a review following a consultation by Welsh government on the Reform of School Governance: regulatory framework.  The outcome of this consultation is currently delayed due to high levels of response. Swansea is awaiting the outcome and recommendations from this review before this aspect can move forward.  The panel were pleased however that there are links on our website to ERW, Governors Wales and My Local School but felt that the links need more explanation to help governors understand their purpose.
  • Education data packs are available and that ERW has developed a sample Headteacher report.  It was felt that access to this sort of information will help empower governors by developing a better understanding of complex information.  The panel would like to see links to this information flagged up on the Councils website.
  • A flexible package of training was used and the availability of  bespoke training which can be arranged for schools and across clusters.  The panel welcomed termly the meetings being held with the Challenge Advisor for School Governance and the Head of School Support to identify governing bodies in need of support.  they did however feel however that many governors may not be aware of this especially the bespoke and targeted training approaches available for specific purposes and that this could also be flagged up on the Councils website.
  • The governor database has been revised and is now managed on a different system but further work is required to develop an online learning log for governors so they can self-manage training and development.  The panel were pleased to hear that the new system was now up and running and that it is much more user friendly. They are now keen to see the next stage of development: the online learning log for governors.
  • Governor unit plans to deliver governor training in the autumn to improve governor understanding of this core visit process.  We were particularly pleased to hear Challenge Advisors are attending a meeting of the Governing body of all Red and Amber schools.

A letter has been written to the Cabinet member asking her to consider the following issues:

Flagging up information with governors and signposting more on Councils Website particularly in relation to:

  • training and development to assist governing bodies
  • Ensuring mini booklet for governors be sent out to all new governors and made available on the Council’s website
  • Include more explanation to go alongside website links to ERW, Governors Wales and My Local to help them understand what they are for and what they can do for them.
  • Link the education data packs and sample Headteacher report on ERW Website to the Councils website
  • More information for governors about bespoke and targeted training approaches available for specific purposes and that this is put on the Councils website.
  • The panel recommend that ‘what every governor should expect’ and ‘ensuring effective challenge: good practice advice for chairs of governors and headteachers’ are circulated to governors on an annual basis and that they form a part of the mini booklet for new governors. They would also like to see it made available online.
  • Look into a way that positive outcomes from Estyn Inspections that relate to governing bodies can be made available on the Councils website.

The response from the Cabinet Member to the Panels follow up letter is attached: Response from the Cabinet Member school governance

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