Thank you to Sir David Carter, the National Schools Commissioner, for highlighting the crucial role played by those who govern our schools. His article very much emphasises the importance of training and development. We couldn’t agree more, and we know the vast majority of governors and trustees do too.
Only 3% of respondents to last year’s annual survey of school governance disagreed that induction training should be mandatory for new governors and trustees. It is rare that governors speak with one voice; but I can absolutely confidently say the governance community wants high quality, affordable training and development. Volunteers are already giving their time; they shouldn’t be expected to pay for training. It’s why NGA keeps our own events free to members.
So I am very pleased that NGA has been awarded a Department for Education contract to continue delivering their governance programmes for chairs, vice chairs, future chairs and clerks through our Leading Governance partnership. We have over 40 local partners who work with us on the programmes, and would be happy to have more!
Our new revised programmes will be bigger and better than ever, and in some cases work with whole boards is included. Our programmes include face-to-face sessions facilitated by experienced experts as well as a range of other components, including a 360 diagnostic, a mentor, e-learning and a school based project. Each contractor must develop their own methodology and content, and we were determined to maintain face-to-face sessions. We know the best learning happens when leaders meet face-to-face to discuss how to put theory into practice with the support of a knowledgeable facilitator; it can be the beginning of relationships which lead to collaborative learning or as Sir David mentions, board peer review.
As the DfE funding for each clerk is lower than for chairs, and therefore to include face-to-face sessions, we have to make a small charge for our Clerks Development Programme. However this professional development for clerks is accredited by ICSA: the Governance Institute, and so we would argue well worth the £75 to be paid on top of the DfE funding.
The DfE investment in these governance development programmes is planned to be £1.45m in both 2018/19 and the following financial year across a number of contactors. Is that enough? Let’s see what demand is generated, and if the funding runs out, perhaps we may be able to convince the new Secretary of State to invest more in developing governance which David Carter describes as “at the heart of school improvement.”
If you are chair, potential future chair or a clerk, you can start by stimulating that demand by registering your interest.
And while we are on the issue of continuous professional development, let’s not forget that of our school staff, in particular the headteachers and executive leaders that many of you will be appraising. It is vital that they too understand governance. I am pleased that the NGA is working with ASCL Professional Development on their National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership programme, starting at the end of February. If you are a trust with an executive leader of more than one school, do have a look and consider if it would be useful development for them. Making that investment could pay dividends.
High-quality training for both governing boards and executives is crucial in raising the effectiveness of governance. By taking part in these important development opportunities, chairs, clerks and senior leaders can feel confident that they are able to fulfil their role to the highest standard, thereby ensuring the best outcomes for children.