Clerks News - December 2017

NGA updated 2017 Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct sets out the expectations of and commitment required from school governors, trustees and academy committee members in order for the governing board to properly carry out its work within the school/s and the community. NGA has updated its much used model code for the 2017/18 academic year ahead. You can download this today from the NGA Guidance Centre. Do remember to tailor it to reflect your specific governing board and school structure.

Updated statutory guidance on the constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools

Following amendments to the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012, the Department for Education (DfE) has released an updated version of the accompanying Statutory Guidance.

The guidance has specifically been updated to cover the new power that means from 1 September 2017 maintained school governing bodies have the power to remove elected parent and staff governors in the same way as they can remove co-opted governors – that is, by majority decision of the governing body.

The changes haven’t stopped there. Any person removed as an elected governor from the governing body during their term of office will be disqualified from serving or continuing to serve as a school governor for five years from the date of their removal – not just at the school they have been removed from, but any school. The statutory guidance emphasises that the power to remove an elected governor should only be used in exceptional circumstances, providing some examples which could warrant removal. It also states that governing bodies are expected to provide an appeals procedure to enable any removed governor to test the reasonableness of the governing body’s decision to remove them and advises that an independent panel conducts the appeal.

NGA would reiterate the need for the additional powers to remove elected governors to be used only in exceptional circumstances. It is important that governors are not removed for asking challenging questions and that boards contain a diverse range of viewpoints. The September/October edition of Governing Matters features an article exploring the changes to the regulations which you can access here.

Clerks to governing bodies, in particular, should ensure they are familiar with the guidance document and regulations.

Outstanding Governance Awards 2017

On Tuesday 5 September 2017, the NGA held the Outstanding Governance Awards at the House of Commons. The awards are held every two years to celebrate the unique and inspiring contribution that school governors, trustees and clerks make every day to schools across the country.

Lord Nash, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the School System with ministerial responsibility for school governance presented the awards. Lord Nash commented:

"I was delighted to be part of the NGA outstanding governance awards event. These awards showcase and remind us of the huge importance of governance – we couldn’t run our school system without the support of hundreds of thousands of governors and trustees who give up their time voluntarily, and along with clerks, make such a difference in what is not an easy job."

Awards were presented in four categories:

  • Outstanding clerk to a governing board

Winner: Angie Marchant from Colham Manor Primary School, Hillingdon

  • Outstanding governance in a single school

This award went to three winners: Fairfield Park Lower School, Central Bedfordshire; Millennium Primary School, Greenwich (pictured left) and Sir John Barrow School, Cumbria

  • Outstanding governance in a multi academy trust or federation

Winner: The Spring Partnership Trust, Bromley, Kent

  • Outstanding vision and strategy

Winner: Nexus Multi Academy Trust, Rotherham

You can read all about the finalists and winners on the NGA News Page. Congratulations to all of our winners, runners up and finalists and a huge thank you to all who entered this year’s awards. Nominations for the Outstanding Governance Awards will open again in 2019 and entries from all schools in England are welcomed. 

Analyse school performance (ASP) update

This week the Department for Education (DfE) announced that Key Stage 4 (KS4) 2017 provisional data and Destinations data for 2015/16 is now available in ASP – the official DfE replacement for RAISEonline. A KS4 tab for disadvantaged pupils will also be added to the service in early 2018, along with the Ofsted Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR) for KS4; EYFS; Absence and Exclusions data.

The department is continuing to make improvements to the service following user feedback including: improvements to the content section in the School Performance Summary report; a new KS4 pupil list; and front end improvements to the KS1 and Phonics pupil list. The department has reported that it is dealing with high volumes of helpdesk queries at the moment, meaning complex queries in relation to the service may take up to 20 working days.

More than 50,000 users are now using ASP. You can find out more on the service by accessing the ASP guidance page on the NGA Guidance Centre. Keep an eye out for the release of the Jan/Feb 2018 edition of Governing Matters; our Guidance Centre feature will this time focus on the new service.

Clerks should ensure that those governing are aware that this is a resources they can access although the registration will likely be carried out by a member of staff at the school.

Five new e-learning modules available on NGA Learning Link

For schools which purchase NGA Learning Link there are now five new induction modules available on the system for governors to undertake. These are:

  1. Your organisation: understanding school structures and what children should learn.
  2. Strategy: Living your values, reaching your vision, managing the risk.
  3. Progress and attainment: using data to improve educational outcomes.
  4. Working Together: Building the team and improving the organisation.
  5. Effectiveness: Governance making an impact, changing lives.

For those not yet signed up to Learning Link you can use this link to take you to the Learning Link page of our website for further details including discounts for members and groups.

Learning Link provides a cost effective method of providing relevant training for governing boards and their clerks.

General Data Protection Regulations – what you need to know

From 25th May 2018, the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) will be replaced by the new more stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All governing boards need to be aware of their obligations under the new regulations and will be required to show compliance with the GDPR. The key changes introduced by the GDPR include the following:

  • It will be mandatory for schools to appoint a designated Data Protection Officer
  • Non-compliance will see tough penalties; school will face fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their turnover.
  • It is the schools responsibility to ensure 3rd parties (i.e. catering services, software providers etc.) that process data for you also comply with GDPR.

The GDPR is intended to strengthen and unify the safety and security of all data held by all types of organisations. Schools need to ensure compliance with the GDPR or risk substantial financial penalties from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a 12-step checklist to help prepare for the changes.

In addition, the November/December edition of Governing Matters included a two page article on governing board’s responsibilities.

The Department for Education (DfE) has also released a updated model privacy notices for “schools and local authorities to issue to staff, parents and pupils about the collection of data”. These documents can be used to let relevant stakeholders know how schools process data and how personal data about oneself can be accessed.

To access the model privacy notices, click here.

These model privacy notices were updated to “help schools comply” with the GDPR. 

New service replaces Edubase

On the 18th September, the Department for Education (DfE) launched ‘Get Information About Schools’ (GIAS) - the new register for schools and colleges which replaces the previous Edubase system. 

The new service allows individuals to search, view, and download information on schools via three tabs: ‘find an establishment’; ‘find an establishment group’ and ‘find a governor’.  The latter is used for locating not just governors, but also trustees, accounting officers, chief financial officers and members of an academy trust – NGA have therefore raised this point with the DfE in order to identify a more suitable name.  

Schools, local authorities and academy trusts can update their details by signing into their existing Secure Access Account.

Updates to FFT Aspire system

FFT, a non-profit organisation established as part of the Fischer Family Trust, have updated their Aspire system with the latest 2017 Key Stage 2 results. Schools will be able to analyse their results and look at how various different pupil groups compare with national trends. There is also an eight page FFT School Dashboard for those governing and school leaders, including a new report that compares the performance of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupil groups.

Any governor/trustee can access FFT’s free training modules about the FFT Governor Dashboard at  Once registered you can work through the two Key Stage 2 modules at your own pace, saving your progress as you go.

Updated guidance on strategies schools can employ spend its catch-up premium

On 17 October, the Department for Education updated its guidance on strategies schools can employ to spend the year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium effectively. This money is given to schools “to support year 7 pupils who did not achieve the expected standard in reading or maths at the end of key stage 2”.

The guidance, produced by the DfE, covers several “interventions” that can be used to raise year 7 pupils’ attainment. These include: “literacy interventions”, “summer schools and Saturday classes”, “oral language interventions”, “reading comprehension interventions”, “writing interventions”, “blended literacy interventions” and “numeracy interventions”. For each of these strategies, the document outlines what they are, how effective they are (based on academic evidence), how much they cost and any additional considerations. The DfE also outline some strategies schools can use to ensure a smooth transition from primary to secondary schools for young people.

In 2017-18, schools will receive the same amount of year 7 catch-up premium as they received in 2016-17 (with some variation based on difference in cohort size). To check how much your school received, click here. Like the pupil premium, those governing should hold the leadership team to account for how catch-up premium money is spent and ensure that it is being effectively targeted to reach the correct pupils.

Guidance for schools on meeting their statutory duties in relation to technical and apprenticeship careers advice

The government has released guidance on what schools must do to meet the upcoming requirements of the Technical and Further Education Act 2017. This Act, which will come in to force on 2 January 2018, puts a statutory duty on all maintained schools and academies to “ensure that there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access registered pupils during the relevant phase of their education for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships”.

To meet the requirements of the Act, a school must “explain in a policy statement how providers can get involved with your school and the opportunities you have for them to talk to your pupils”. This must be subsequently “published on the school website”. Details of what should be included in this statement can be found here, with more guidance expected in the New Year.

It is important that young people receive good advice about the options open to them so that they choose the right course for them, rather than struggle on the wrong one. For more on what those governing need to know about providing careers advice in schools, visit the NGA guidance centre.

ASCL guidance on setting executive pay

This week ASCL published a new guidance paper looking at how to set executive pay; this is now available for NGA members to download on the NGA Guidance Centre. The paper explores a number of key areas that should be addressed before pay is set for chief executive officers and executive heads, including leadership models, the pay setting process and pay setting models. Click here to find out more. Executive pay has been a prominent topic over the last year, with soaring executive pay in some multi academy trusts in particular coming under scrutiny from others in the sector, while also receiving a critical reception from both the media and general public. NGA’s very own deputy CEO, Gillian Allcroft blogged on the topic last year, discussing the role that governance plays and specifically how this fits with the board’s moral purpose.

For more information from NGA on executive pay click here.

Changes to Ofsted’s short inspection procedure

It has been announced that Ofsted will go ahead with reform of the short inspections system following a recent consultation. Since 2015, schools previously judged ‘good’ have received short one day inspections that do not result in a full set of judgements but are converted to a full inspection if inspectors do not find sufficient evidence that a school remains ‘good’.

From January 2018, there will be four possible outcomes from a short inspection:

  • if inspectors are confident that the school remains ‘good’, the school will receive a letter confirming this;  another short inspection will take place in approximately 3 years (in line with the existing system);
  • if there are “serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education”, the school will receive a full inspection within 48 hours;
  • if inspectors suspect that there has been a decline and the school is no longer ‘good’, the school will receive a letter setting out the findings and a full inspection will take place “typically within one to two years but no later than five years since the previous full section 5 inspection”;
  • if inspectors believe that there has been an improvement towards ‘outstanding’, the school will receive a letter setting out the findings and a full inspection within two years.

To read Ofsted’s full report on the consultation outcome, click here.

NGA raised concerns about these proposals in our consultation response last month, including concern that they could create the impression that there are different tiers of ‘good’. NGA’s guidance for governing boards on Ofsted will be updated to reflect the changes.

Published: 19/12/2017, by Sam Henson
Last Updated: 19/12/2017, by Sam Henson