Four areas to review before the end of term
Many of us are looking ahead to a well-earned summer break, but before we dig out our sun hats, here are four areas we know boards will be reviewing in the final meetings of this academic year.
1. Pupil outcomes (‘think SEND’)
While governing boards need a good grasp of a wide range of pupil data and performance measures, the areas you focus on will be driven by your strategic priorities and the school/trust development plan. Now is a good time to review key data from this year such as pupil premium impact, attendance and behaviour incidents.
Governing boards are responsible for scrutinising their school’s special educational needs (SEN) information report, which can act as a powerful monitoring tool to help ensure pupils with SEND achieve the best possible outcomes. Our SEND guidance explains more about the report and your wider SEND responsibilities.
Look for trends in the data you receive and make sure you’re clear on what the school/trust is doing to improve pupil outcomes. Importantly, speak up if the data is difficult to interpret – there could be an issue with how it’s presented. Equally, your board might benefit from additional training on using data to improve pupil outcomes.
2. Monitoring visits and link roles
Visits are an essential part of monitoring as well as being one of the most enjoyable aspects of governance. However, the busy nature of school life can make visits tricky to schedule during the year. Our school visits guidance, schedule and report templates are designed to help you take stock of how your board organises visits and ensure you make the most of them.
In many cases, visits are carried out by a link governor or trustee given responsibility for monitoring a strategic priority or area of compliance. Our guidance on link roles can help your board to ensure a clear set of responsibilities is attached to each role and that they are adding value – we’ve included a template link governor/trustee role description to give you a starting point.
"Look for trends in the data you receive and make sure you’re clear on what the school/trust is doing to improve pupil outcomes."
3. Board effectiveness
As we approach the end of the academic year, now is the perfect time to evaluate your board’s practice, celebrate successes and identify areas of focus for next year. Our self-evaluation questions can support this kind of reflection and cover key areas such as board structure, culture and impact.
4. Your clerk’s contribution
We all recognise the impact that clerks and other governance professionals have on helping board business run smoothly. All governance professionals should have an annual appraisal meeting which (as well as regular conversations throughout the year) focuses on increasing effectiveness and undertaking relevant professional development. These conversations often take place during the summer term and provide an opportunity to discuss working relationships, issues to address and, where appropriate, pay and remuneration.
An annual appraisal will likely be carried out by the chair or the relevant line manager, with input from the governing board. For boards who use a third party service provider, this may be a review of your service agreement.
Our appraisal and development form should help clerks to prepare for an annual appraisal meeting and track progress throughout the year.
Knowledge Centre Manager
Ella oversees and develops NGA’s Knowledge Centre, which provides members with information, guidance and resources on a range of governance topics. Ella is a governor at a primary school in Birmingham.