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On BBC’s Newsnight on 9 June 2014, Sir Michael Wilshaw (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Ofsted) announced that he is in favour of mandatory training for governors. The governors’ complex and demanding role is to set the ethos and vision of the school, the strategic direction, hold the headteacher to account and have oversight of the school’s finances. Understanding this essential is one of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance. NGA has campaigned for mandatory training since its inception and it also has the support of the vast majority of governors. 90% of governors supported mandatory training in the June 2011 survey, and 89% agreed in the 2009 survey, which NGA highlighted in its submission to the House of Commons Education Select Committee on the role of governing bodies. We await a response from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, that training will become mandatory.
In his statement to the House of Commons on June 9th, Michael Gove said: "there are some specific recommendations on strengthening governance from Sir Michael Wilshaw that recommend themselves to me."
NGA’s Chief Executive, Emma Knights, spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (10/06/2014) to welcome the support from Ofsted on this issue, which has been lobbied for by NGA for eight years and is in our manifesto. The recent Governors’ Handbook (May 2014) has a stronger emphasis on the importance of high quality induction and training but we hope that the announcement yesterday will mean that this will go further and become compulsory. Emma also welcomed Sir Michael’s comments that Ofsted should look more closely at the curriculum of all schools to ensure that they remain broad and balanced.
Sir Michael also outlined his concerns about the oversight of schools. At the moment, local authorities oversee maintained schools, while the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency oversee academies and free schools. However, with the number of academies and free schools rising, Ofsted is worried that problems are not picked up until too late, particularly when a change of leadership can result in rapid changes in school.
Finally, Sir Michael announced plans to push forward with no notice inspections; a proposal that was consulted on and abandoned in 2012. The NGA responded to Ofsted’s original consultation, saying that it is important that governors are able to attend the meetings, which might be difficult if they have just a few hours notice. We ask Ofsted to think carefully about the difficulty governors will face in attending the inspection discussion and feedback meetings with no prior notice.
Today programme (1 hour 9 minutes in)