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School’s inspectorate Ofsted has released its annual report, which says that not enough schools have good leadership. 82% of primary schools are now good or outstanding, compared with 70% of secondary schools. The report emphasises the importance of having strong and skilled governing boards that prioritise strategic goals and provide effective challenge and support to headteachers.
Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “It’s good news that primaries are showing improvement, but very disappointing that some secondary schools are falling behind. We completely agree with Ofsted that schools are only as good as their teachers and leaders. This year, many of our members have expressed their disappointment at the quality and quantity of applications for headship and other senior leader posts - this has to change if schools are to continue to improve. We agree with HMCI that under-performance needs to continue to be tackled with better support, training and Continuing Professional Development.
“NGA agrees with Sir Michael Wilshaw, HMCI, that it’s leadership that matters in driving improvement in schools, and we need to stop being fixated about school structures. NGA suggests that within increasingly varied structures an understanding of the principles of good governance, including total clarity of the role and responsibilities of trust boards and governing boards, is fundamental and must extend to robust schemes of delegation, excellent induction and a culture of on-going training and development.”
It is disappointing that Ofsted found 3,500 schools where leadership is not good enough, 23% of secondary schools and 17% primaries. This year Osfted has undertaken a report of 114 schools that had declined from good or outstanding to requires improvement or inadequate: this analysis provides governors with some important lessons.
Effective careers guidance is also vitally important. The duty to secure impartial and independent careers guidance for pupils in years 8-11 was introduced with no additional funding for schools, and the government has only produced substantive guidance relatively recently. Although there are some examples of excellent practice, it is unsurprising, therefore, that some have not met the standards expected, and NGA has produced guidance to support secondary school governors to monitor the provision.
This report confirms what we at NGA say all year round. Schools will not succeed without strong and skilled school governors, confident to ask difficult questions in the interests of children and young people.