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The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP, published a new White Paper on Thursday 17 March – “Educational Excellence Everywhere” – setting out the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) plans for the future of the schools system in England.
The document outlined the governments plans for all schools to become academies by 2022. Where schools had not taken steps to convert by 2020 the white paper set out that the DfE would direct them to do so. Along with many others in the education sector, NGA lobbied against the move. On 6 May 2016, Nicky Morgan announced that compulsory academisation, as proposed in the white paper, will not go ahead.
The white paper also outlined DfE plans for the following:
Read the Department for Education press release
While blanket conversion of all schools will no longer be legilsated, the government continues to reaffirm its policy for seeing all schools become acadmies within the next six years. Governing bodies need to carefully consider their next steps. Governing bodies need to take the time to think about the best approach for their pupils. Discussions need to begin now, but there is no need to rush into a decision in the next six months, or even 12 months. This is especially the case as the White Paper envisions that the majority of schools will in future be part of a multi-academy trust (MAT) and all options need need to be thought through.
NGA in conjunction with the Association of School and College Leaders and BrowneJacobson produced the document Governing Groups of Schools: staying in control of your schools destiny, which provides advice and guidance for schools considering the conversion process, particularly as part of a MAT.
For your reference, sections 3.27 – 3.35 below, the paragraphs relating to governance, have been copied below. Read the whole paper here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/educational-excellence-everywhere
Read NGA's white paper release news summary and U-turn updates: http://www.nga.org.uk/News/NGA-News/Jan-April-2016/NGA-comments-on-today%E2%80%99s-White-Paper.aspx
From Chapter 3:
3.27. As we move to a more autonomous school-led system, it is increasingly vital that schools operate under effective governing boards. As the key decision maker and accountable body for their school(s), governing boards have a vital strategic role, which they should deliver in a dynamic and professional manner: focusing strongly on their core functions of setting the vision and ethos for their school(s), holding school leaders to account and making sure money is well spent.
3.28. The growth of MATs will improve the quality of governance – meaning that the best governing boards will take responsibility for more schools. As fewer, more highly skilled boards take more strategic oversight of the trust’s schools, MAT boards will increasingly use professionals to hold individual school-level heads to account for educational standards and the professional management of the school, allowing school-level governing boards to focus on understanding and championing the needs of pupils, parents and the wider local community. This does not mean less accountability – MATs must publish a clear scheme of delegation to set out how their governance is organised, including any functions they choose to delegate to regional or school level.
3.29. In recent years we have given governing boards more freedom to appoint the best possible people with the skills the board needs to be effective.
3.30. We will expect all governing boards to focus on seeking people with the right skills for governance, and so we will no longer require academy trusts to reserve places for elected parents on governing boards. We will offer this freedom to all open and new academies, and as we move towards a system where every school is an academy, fully skills-based governance will become the norm across the education system.
3.31. Parents often have these skills and many parents already play a valuable role in governance – and will always be encouraged to serve on governing boards. We will also expect every academy to put in place arrangements for meaningful engagement with all parents, to listen to their views and feedback.
3.32. To encourage everyone involved in governance to develop their skills, we will work with schools and MATs to develop a competency framework defining the core skills and knowledge needed for governance in different contexts. We will also set a new, stronger requirement on all governing boards to ensure that individuals are properly inducted, and receive the training or development they need to develop the skills set out in the competency framework. We have extended licensed delivery of NCTL training programmes for chairs and clerks until September 2017, and will review our approach to governance training programmes in light of the new competency framework.
3.33. Clear, high quality information about performance is essential for good governance, and so we will make it easier for members of governing boards to access high quality, objective data about their school’s educational and financial performance.
3.34. In March 2016 we launched a new, clearer website displaying school performance tables, making it easier for governing boards, parents and others to find key information and compare the results of schools (see more in chapter 7). We will continue to develop this in response to feedback to make it easier than ever to understand a school’s performance. Where data suggests that there may be an issue within a school or MAT, we will pilot a proactive approach to alert governing boards so that they can investigate and, if necessary, take action.
3.35. We have a long and rich tradition of voluntary trusteeship and we expect the vast majority of those involved in governance will continue to be unpaid, volunteering to serve their community and give their school(s) the benefit of their expertise and commitment. As the scale of the challenge in governing large and growing MATs increases, we may see more of them seeking Charity Commission authorisation to offer payment to attract the very best people into key positions such as the chair of the board.
The crucial role of governance makes it more important than ever to ensure that only the right individuals are involved. So we will extend Edubase to establish a database of everyone involved in governance, requiring schools and MATs to start providing information from September 2016, and we intend to legislate so that we have the power to bar unsuitable individuals from being governors of maintained schools, to mirror the existing barring power for academies and independent schools.
END of last section of Chapter 3.
The contents list of the whole White Paper can be seen below:
Foreword by the Secretary of State for Education
Chapter 1: Our vision for educational excellence everywhere
Significant progress has been made
But this progress isn’t felt everywhere
Our goal is to achieve educational excellence everywhere
Our approach: supported autonomy to drive up standards for all
Seven main elements to educational excellence everywhere
Chapter 2: Great teachers – everywhere they’re needed
Attracting and recruiting world class teachers
Strengthening initial teacher training
Replacing QTS with a new, stronger accreditation
Getting great teachers where they are most needed
Supporting teachers in and beyond the classroom
Fostering a world-leading, evidence-informed teaching profession
Chapter 3: Great leaders running our schools and at the heart of our system 40
Developing the next generation of headteachers and leaders 41
Great leaders where they are most needed 44
Increasing diversity in leadership 49
Strategic leadership and oversight by skilled governing boards 50
Chapter 4: A school-led system with every school an academy, empowered pupils, parents and communities and a clearly defined role for local government 53
Every school an academy 55
Greater collaboration through multi-academy trusts 57
A dynamic, self-improving school system 59
Supporting the creation of new free schools and university technical colleges (UTCs)61
A legal framework fit for the long term 64
Empowering pupils, parents and communities, with a clearly defined role for local government 65
Putting children and parents first 65
Local authorities supporting communities 68
Chapter 5: Preventing underperformance and helping schools go from good to great: school-led improvement, with scaffolding and support where it’s needed 72
Greater collaboration between schools to drive up standards 73
Creating a comprehensive national network of teaching schools and NLEs 74 High quality sponsors, where they’re needed 80
Expanding sponsor capacity 81
Identifying and focusing on ‘Achieving Excellence Areas’ 84
Chapter 6: High expectations and a world-leading curriculum for all 88 A national curriculum for the 21st century 89
World-leading assessments and qualifications 91 Building character and resilience in every child 94
Stretching both the lowest-attaining and most able 98 Improving support for children with additional needs 100
Reforming alternative provision 102 Chapter 7: Fair, stretching accountability, ambitious for every child 104
Focusing on the progress of all pupils 106 Robust, independent inspection 107
Multi-academy trust accountability 110
Accountability to parents and governing boards 110 Regional Schools Commissioners holding trusts to account 111
Chapter 8: The right resources in the right hands: investing every penny where it can do the most good 114
Fairer funding through a national funding formula 115
Evidence-based support for the most disadvantaged through the pupil premium 117
The importance of strong financial health and efficiency 119
Making best use of school resources and the school estate 121 Conclusion 123
Annex A: Department for Education Strategy Overview 2015-20 124
Published: 09/06/2016, by Sam Henson
Last Updated: 09/06/2016, by Sam Henson