Devon Association of GovernanceDevon Association of Governance

Autumn 2022 Update

EFFECTIVE CHAIRS – Autumn 2022

 Welcome to the start of a new academic year. As the Department for Education continues its churn,  it’s worth checking who the latest Secretary of State for Education is, as I write this it is Kit Malthouse MP,  just in case you blinked and missed it.

 1.Ukraine

The UK Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine scheme support all children and young people arriving under these schemes to have the right to access education and childcare whilst in the UK.  The DfE expectation is that if there are school places available in the local area, even if not in the immediate vicinity of the family’s home, the local authority will work with families arriving from Ukraine to enable the children to attend school as soon as possible. Refugees are being advised that:

“Your teachers at school will understand English is not your first language and they will make sure you get the help you need in order to get the most out of your lessons and achieve your potential.”

It is expected that local authorities should be looking to provide places and where necessary, use the flexibilities to admit above published admission number (PAN) and exceed the infant class size limit, as well as using the in-year Fair Access Protocol.  The latest school guidance Resources to help support children and young people arriving from Ukraine was updated at the end of July 2022.

2.Assessment and attainment

As schools continue to focus on educational recovery it is useful to have a look at Education recovery: guidance for governors and trustees (April 2022) and consider the questions for boards to ask. Boards will also be engaging with the inspection data summary report (IDSR) this term as independent evidence for boards on how well their school is doing.

With GCSE, AS and A level exams now back, the DfE believe it is important to move back to publicly available data about exam results in a school or college, for transparency.  They recognise the uneven impact on schools and colleges of the pandemic and will ensure clear messages are placed on performance measures websites to advise caution when considering the 2021/22 published data. This will include strongly discouraging all users of the data from drawing comparisons with performance data from previous years.

The DfE will still produce the normal suite of KS2 accountability measures at school level and share these securely with primary schools, academy trusts, local authorities and Ofsted for school improvement purposes and to help identify schools most in need of support, but not make them available to the general public. This will be a transitional arrangement during the year primary assessments return.  They intend to publish primary assessment data in performance tables again at the end of academic year 2022 to 2023. Until this point, KS2 performance data for the academic year 2018 to 2019 will continue to be publicly available on compare school and college performance.

Boards to consider: Does your board have at least one governor or trustee with the knowledge and training to independently access the Analyse School Performance and IDSR information?

 3.Funding

Recovery funding has been changing, the key schemes available for this year are:

Recovery Premium: Recovery Premium unlike its predecessor the catch-up premium which was for all pupils, is funding that builds on the pupil premium eligibility. The recovery funding is designed to help schools deliver evidence-based approaches for supporting the most disadvantaged pupils.  Schools must show how they are using their recovery premium effectively by reporting on their use of recovery premium as part of their pupil premium strategy statement.

The National Tutoring Programme: NTP is a government funded initiative designed to support schools to address the impact of COVID-19 on pupils’ progress and attainment with a ring-fenced school led tutoring grant. Any funds not used by schools by the end of August 2022 would be returned to the department.

From May 2022, funding was allocated for around 76% of pupils in Year 1 to 11 eligible for pupil premium, per school. This was additional funding for schools to deliver tuition within 2021/22 academic year with 75% of the cost  subsidised in academic year 2021/22. Schools needed to fund the remaining 25% through other budgets, for example recovery premium or pupil premium. The subsidy rate for 2022/23 will be 60% and for 2023/24 will be 25%.

Boards to consider: Does our school have a clear and detailed approach to assessment, self-evaluation and recovery and does it reference the Education Endowment Foundation’s pupil premium guide?

School Meals. As inflation continues to rise rapidly schools will be looking at how to stabilise budgets. Whilst schools are reluctant to increase the burden on families already caught in the cost of living crisis, some schools are considering putting up the price of school lunches next term for those who pay, especially when set against the increase of 7p per pupil from government for universal infant free school meals.

Staffing. On the staffing front in Devon, schools are starting to find that there are no applicants for support roles that previously would have attracted many applicants.  The difficulties created by the cost of living crisis are forcing applicants to consider jobs that offer more hours, but schools are also reporting that the ‘advantage’ of term time working for families with children in school is less appealing now working from home may provide more flexibility around time commitments.

NFF. The aim is still to move all schools to a direct National Funding Formula, but this requires a change in legislation in order to allow the Secretary of State to determine schools’ funding allocations directly. This forms part of the Schools Bill which was introduced in Parliament on 11 May 2022 so we will need to watch closely how that progresses.

Additional Income. With pressures on school budgets many schools will be considering how to raise additional income, make sure you have a look at DAG Busy Governors Guide to Raising Additional Funds before deciding on a course of action.

Policy: One other consideration is the Governors/Trustees Expenses Policy.  Many boards celebrate the fact that they do not claim any expenses from stretched school budgets, but with many boards also running with long standing vacancies, it is worth discussing whether the board’s attitude may be acting as a barrier to recruiting governors or trustees who might actually need some financial support to be a governor or trustee during this period in particular.

4.Attendance

Attendance continues to be one of the key issues schools face. Working together to improve school attendance was issued last term and comes into effect from September 2022 its useful Summary table of responsibilities clearly informs governors and trustees what their responsibilities are. Whilst the attendance rates in schools in Devon tend to be better than the national average there is still concern around persistent absence and figures are showing a worrying increase especially amongst children in Devon linked to social workers.

Board to consider: Does your board track attendance, behaviour data and intelligence to intervene early and review policies and processes regularly?

5.Schools white paper and SEND green paper

The recent white paper Opportunity for All set out the Government’s long-term vision for our school system. The white paper refers to a ‘stronger and fairer’ school system stating that:

By 2030, all children will benefit from being taught in a family of schools, with their school in a strong multi academy trust or with plans to join or form one

Has your board considered what this will mean for your school or schools? The reasons for considering a formal partnership will vary, but the one piece of advice that all boards will be given is to carry out ‘due diligence’ to find out if the partner organisation they may be considering would be a ‘good fit’. The Devon Association of Governance (DAG) has produced a guide, DAG Busy Governance Guide to Due Diligence to show what due diligence could entail and how boards might carry this out.

The Schools Bill 2022 is currently at the House of Lord stage, more information on how clauses will be amended and or withdrawn as it continues its progress will be available in due course.

Boards to consider: Have we discussed the future of partnership working and the implications for our school(s)?

The SEND green paper proposes new national SEND standards for the provision that children and young people should expect to receive. It includes reforming Education and Health Care Plans with new standardised, digital templates being developed to reduce variations between councils.  The SEND review also proposes reforms to the process that deals with EHCP disputes, after the rise in tribunals demonstrated the increasing frustration of parents and carers with the system. The green paper proposes to make mediation mandatory before appeals.

Here in Devon the Local Authority is running with a very significant overspend of the SEND High Needs Block.  An Ofsted visit last term reported that the local authority had not made sufficient progress in tackling the issues around SEND provision in Devon. Devon schools should expect SEND provision to be in the spotlight this academic year.

Boards to consider: How does the number of SEND children in my school compare with the National average and the Devon average? (noting that Devon has higher rates than National) and are all SEND children within my school supported by a ‘my plan’?

6.Safeguarding: New statutory safeguarding guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education(KCSIE), has been published. This comes into effect on 1 September 2022. Schools and colleges must have regard to this when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Some of this year’s changes specific to governance include:

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that all governors and trustees receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection (including online) training at induction and notes that their training should be regularly updated.

The appropriateness of any internet filters and monitoring systems are a matter for individual schools and colleges and will be informed in part, by the risk assessment required by the Prevent Duty. South West Grid for Learning (swgfl.org.uk) have created a tool to check whether a school or college’s filtering provider is signed up to relevant lists (CSA content, Sexual Content, Terrorist content Your Internet Connection Blocks Child Abuse & Terrorist Content).

Boards to consider: Does every member of the board have up to date safeguarding training?

7.Your Board:

Succession Planning: All new and existing chairs should be considering succession, it is never too early to consider who will take on your chairing duty when you step down. Try to ensure that the way your board works encourages all governors to take on additional roles including leadership ones, having a pool of governors or trustees with leadership experience will help when a new chair of the board is needed.

Once your board has settled into its stride this term it would be worth considering just touching base to find out how well everyone on the board understands their roles and responsibilities. The DAG Quiz: How Effective Are You? has been updated for this term and will help you to establish which governors fully understand their role and which might benefit from some extra support. Three versions of the quiz, one for maintained school boards, one for academy trustees and one for academy local governing bodies.  A quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ quiz, it would only take a few minutes at the start  of a meeting, with links to all the information required available within the quiz for governors or trustees to take away and follow up.

Boards to consider: How do we ensure governors and trustees feel supported to carry out their role and is there a plan for development of the board from skills audit, through to training and appraisal?

8.Appraisal Term: This term staff performance will be carried out by the SLT and by the board. The chair will need to carry out the clerk’s appraisal and the DAG Busy Governors Guide to Clerks Appraisal can support this. The board will also need to ensure that it has at least two governors or trustees trained and ready to undertake the head’s appraisal, with an external advisor appointed to support the process. Has the board considered a simple appraisal process for governors or trustees? This could be as simple as a 15 minute chat with the chair or vice chair, but would be helpful in establishing what training or support each governor might need to be more effective.

9.Supporting you and your clerk…

DAG Community Networks – Chairs: Support for chairs from across the Devon local authority to come together in interactive sessions each term to discuss the latest issues affecting governance. Those who attend are chairs of governing boards, chairs of academy trusts and chairs of local academy bodies, the date for this term is:

Community network forum for chairs:  Monday 3rd October 2022 at 6pm

DAG also supports clerks to come together regularly in a forum that recognises that clerks have a key role in delivering effective governance. If your board’s clerk would like to join the next interactive hour-long session, the date for this term is:

Community network forum for clerks:  Tuesday 18th October 2022 at 5pm 

Each forum will have a theme and will be facilitated by DAG board members or associate members with considerable governance experience. Members are asked to register in advance via [email protected]

Ofsted Framework Seminar If you didn’t attend the DAG Ofsted seminar in June then please have a look at the power point presentation from the regional director of Ofsted, it has valuable information about their inspection process and their requirements around the curriculum. To do so follow the link from our Ofsted page on our website www.dagdevon.uk Ofsted has reviewed and updated its inspection framework, see below.

DAG Conference Series: This year recognising that holding events online may support our members better at this time we will be running a DAG Conference Series of one hour sessions during November with the theme of ‘Levelling the education playing field’  further details to follow.

Questions for you to consider: Are you doing everything you can to take advantage of opportunities to share experiences and concerns to support you, the clerk and other board members to do the same?

Just to be aware…

Keeping children safe in education – updated from 1 September 2022 (see above)

Careers – From this term schools must ensure that pupils are provided with independent careers guidance from year 7 to year 13  as the Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Act 2022 comes into force on 1 September 2022.

Exclusions – From Sep 2022 new guidance for governing boards to ensure that they review data to consider the level of pupil moves and the characteristics of pupils who have been permanently excluded to ensure the sanction is only used when necessary as a last resort . Also new, headteachers may cancel an exclusion that has not been reviewed by the governing board. See Suspension and Permanent Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England, including pupil movement.

Home schooling – The government would like a system of registration to help safeguard some Elective Home Education (EHE) children who require support, but who are currently not visible to those services that are there to keep children safe and supported.  They wish to place a duty on LAs to maintain a register of children of compulsory school age who are not registered at specified categories of schools (state or registered independent or Non-Maintained Special), with the register including some children who are flexi-schooled. Further information is awaited. See also DAG Busy Governors Guide to Elective Home Education (EHE)

Pupil Premium – As part of the pupil premium allocations and conditions of grant for 2022 to 2023, schools are now required to demonstrate how their spending decisions are informed by research evidence.

Admissions – Always a complicated process, but boards do have responsibilities see the DAG Busy Clerks Guide to Admissions. Note also that changes to the admissions appeal code during the coronavirus outbreak will finish on 30 September 2022.

Academies Trust Handbook –  The new Academy Trust Handbook 2022 has just been published and comes into effect on 1 September 2022. New information about: financial reporting, special payments, indemnities and religious character.

Climate Strategy: From 2022, to assess the impact of the government’s action, they will introduce an annual climate literacy survey to benchmark progress in improving the climate knowledge of school leavers. See Sustainability and climate change: a strategy for the education and children’s services systems

Ofsted: The ‘transition arrangements’ grace period to ensure the curriculum is in place have been removed from September 2022.

What Schools Must Publish Online: From this term schools will be required to provide more information about their school uniforms and the hours they are open.  See What Maintained Schools Must Publish Online and What Academies and Free Schools Must Publish Online

Next Event

DAG Community Networks – Chairs Forum Monday 3rd October 2022 at 6pm