Trawling through the byways of the education internet, my attention was recently caught by guidance produced late last year by OFSTED for inspectors under the new inspection regime. With inspections very much in the public eye at the moment, governors of our schools might want to reflect on exactly what their schools will be expected to be teaching and what their roles are.
Under the general heading 'Exploring the school's actions to prevent homophobic and transphobic bullying', I quote, verbatim, the new inspection requirements:
Inspectors should make sure that questions are age-appropriate and asked in the right context.
The recent PaJeS conference for governors certainly raised many thoughts in participants' minds. You only had to listen to the chat between sessions to realise that for some, this was a most timely event. And that set me thinking, as the demands from OFSTED seem to grow ever more rigorous.
At a recent meeting with some senior OFSTED staff, it became even clearer that it now judges governors together with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of the school. The inspection of governance will be rigorous. Recent informal information from OFSTED leadership, gathered at meetings and in discussions, seems to indicate to me that they are significantly 'raising the bar' on governorship, just as they have for schools. So what does this mean in practice?
Well, the message that came out loud and clear was, “No more coasting for Governing Bodies”. The word is that governors should be ‘challenging and scrutinising’. Indeed, this process and even the form of words must be recorded in the minutes. No more can minutes of a governors meeting simply say 'governors noted': that just won't do.
Further, the DfE are keen to ensure that governors have a range of skills to match the needs of the school. It just cannot be acceptable to be well meaning, we have to ‘bring something to the table’, as the OFSTED person said. I’m not sure whether any or our schools fall into the ‘well meaning governors’ category any more, but it is just as well that we all keep it in mind when electing, selecting, or reselecting governors.