Devon County Council Member Visits
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EFFECTIVE CHAIRS – Summer 2022
Welcome to the last term of this academic year.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the displacement of millions of refugees, the UK Government set up two schemes to support those fleeing the war, the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine. All children and young people arriving under these schemes 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. 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.
2.COVID-19 Assessment and attainment
School based assessment and external assessment continue to look different at the moment, but assessment is essential to support school improvement and discussions with school leaders will need to focus on and plan for educational recovery.
The inspection data summary report (IDSR) is a vital piece of independent evidence for boards on how well their school is doing. Due to the impact of COVID-19, 2019 data is the latest available results data, however recently, 2021 key stage 4 and 5 subject entries have been included in the IDSR and briefings.
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. This will be a transitional arrangement for the first year in which primary assessments return. They intend to publish primary assessment data in performance tables again in the 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. KS2 results from 2021 to 2022 will also be used to calculate Progress 8 baselines for future institution-level progress measures.
Primary schools will be able to access their own performance data via the schools checking exercise and Analyse School Performance (ASP). Primary schools will continue to inform parents of their own child’s recent test and assessment results.
Boards to consider: Does your board have at least one governor or trustee with the knowledge and training to independently access the APS and IDSR information?
Much of the COVID funding is likely to expire at the end of this academic year, so to recap:
Recovery Premium: The additional COVID-19 funding for schools this academic year is the Recovery Premium unlike its predecessor the catch-up premium which was for all pupils, this funding 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 2021-22 accountability statement needed to be published on school websites by 31 December 2021, is your up to date pupil premium strategy statement on your school website?
COVID-19 Workforce Fund: This funding was re-introduced this academic year but ceased on 08 April 2022.
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 to source their own tutoring provision for the 2021 to 2022 academic year. In March 2022, it was announced that £65 million extra would be redirected towards school led tutoring to provide further tuition for disadvantaged pupils. In the May 2022 payment, schools will receive this extra funding in addition to their original allocation, schools will then be required to complete the ‘School-Led Tutoring: Year-End 21 Statement form’ provided by EFSA. Schools are being urged to take action now to provide support to pupils over the summer term and through July and August, to help with the transition from primary to secondary school and preparation for public exams in the new academic year. Any funds not used by schools by the end of August 2022 will need to be returned to the department.
Boards to consider: Does our school have a clear and detailed approach to assessment, self-evaluation and recovery during COVID-19?
Attendance continues to be one of the key issues schools face. The government is no longer asking schools to submit data on the number of pupils absent due to Covid-related reasons, signalling an end to regular updates on pandemic disruption as part of ‘learning to live with Covid’. The government announced in its ‘levelling-up’ white paper that it would target support for issues such as attendance at 55 ‘education investment areas’ across England, however Devon is not an education investment area so will not benefit from this initiative. Whilst the attendance rates in schools in Devon tend to be better than the national average there is still worry 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 are 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.
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.
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’?
Review Board vision and strategic plan: Summer term is the time when most boards review their vision and their strategic plan as one of the core functions of governance. Your vision should be supported by your three or five year strategic plan that plots your path to achieving your vision. Does your school vision contain measurable aims? If it does, your board will find it much easier to check whether your strategic plan is on track to deliver your vision in three to five years’ time.
Board to consider: Has your board vision changed during COVID-19 and does your strategic plan still enable you to reach your vision in 3-5 years’ time?
Appraisal: Many boards have a basic appraisal system in place to help board members talk about what they feel is working and what they feel could be improved. If your board doesn’t have an appraisal process it might be worth setting aside some time as chair (or delegating this to your vice chair) to talk to each governor or trustee individually to find out how they are doing. This type of conversation could address what each governor or trustee might need or find helpful to better support them in their role and could be supported by the use of the DAG How Effective Are You? Quiz. It is also an opportunity to find out which board members are considering stepping down and why and which board members would like to step up and avoid any nasty shocks at the start of the next academic year. Consider training requirements based on what has been learnt through the governance appraisal process and take into account changes to governor/trustee training, especially noting that from September 2022 boards will have a duty to ensure that all new governors and trustees receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training at induction and that the training should be regularly updated.
Boards to consider: Do we demonstrate good practice by ensuring that all governors/trustees have up to date safeguarding training?
Succession Planning for key roles: Next term most boards will be electing their chair and vice chair. Are you considering continuing in your role as chair or are you stepping down? It is important that leadership of the board and committees is discussed and planned to support effective governance for the next academic year and to avoid any unwelcome surprises!
Boards to consider: Is there a plan for the leadership of the board and other key roles from the next academic year and are all board members aware of what that plan might be?
Impact: Does your board produce an impact statement at the end of the academic year? Many boards now have an ‘impact’ question at the end of the agenda to provide a statement of the boards’ decisions during the meeting and how they will impact on pupils. Consider gathering these statements together over the year to provide a written annual statement of how your work has impacted on the outcomes of pupils, this can then be circulated to stakeholders, it may even encourage more people to consider becoming a governor.
Boards to consider: How can you prove to stakeholders and Ofsted that you really make a difference to the pupils in your school?
7.Supporting you and your clerk…
DAG Community Networks: DAG supports chairs from across the Devon local authority to come together in two 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. If you haven’t yet attended one of these sessions, then please see below for information on when the next forum will be.
DAG supports clerks to also come together regularly in a forum that recognises that clerks have a key role in delivering effective governance. If your clerk would like to join the next interactive hour-long session, the dates for this term are:
Community network forum for clerks: Wednesday 8th June 2022
Community network forum for chairs: Monday 9th May and Monday 4th July 2022
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 – June 2022. Put the date in your diary for a free Ofsted Framework Seminar, Wednesday 29th June at the Tiverton High School, 6.00pm. If you would like to register your early interest, please do so by following the link from our Conference page on our website www.dagdevon.uk
DAG Conference: While we are talking dates, please hold Saturday morning 12 November 2022 free for the next DAG Conference, 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?