Enhancing Leadership in Schools; Improving the Headteacher and School Governor Relationship
Helen Frostick, National Leader of Education and Former Head Teacher, St Mary Magdalen's Primary School, shares her thoughts on the impact that a positive Head Teacher-Governor relationship has on all aspects of school life including leadership and governance.
A positive and effective partnership with Governors is essential for all Headteachers and is a prerequisite for enhancing good leadership and governance. Strong leadership is essential to reach an outstanding grade for inspections.
Whether a Head is new to the role, or experienced, like any good relationship, the relationship with Governors needs working on and reviewing. A good place to start is the Headteacher’s Report to Governors. Heads should discuss the contents of their report with the Governing Body to review the scope and the format. Feedback is always useful. It will make the Governors feel valued. After all, they are unpaid volunteers giving generously of their time.
Governors share accountability for outcomes for the pupils, in relation to any strategic plans. The report should be the primary source of this information. Committee reports will work in tandem with the Headteacher’s report, so there is no need to be doubling up on information. Committees are an efficient way of sharing the workload.
Ofsted Inspectors will want to know that the Governors can demonstrate the impact they are having and know the strengths and weaknesses of the school. Governors’ Meeting Minutes should have the question, “how have we improved the outcomes for pupils?” This helps to focus the meetings on impact.
Although all schools will have their own context to consider, I would recommend that the following topics should be included, here arranged alphabetically, rather than in order of importance:
Achievement and standards
- Analysis of internal and external data, rather than the tables of results themselves. It is helpful to present this information as a trend rather than year on year. I would recommend three years’ worth of data to compare, and with similar and local schools, not just with National data.
- Progress reports on vulnerable groups, including details on what interventions are in place. For Pupil Premium Pupils (PP) this could reference the strategy and grant spent to date.
- The Sports Grant priorities and their impact. Success in inter borough and locality sports events, leagues and festivals. Uptake in school and out of school sports clubs.
- This should also include the impact for those pupils who are not as inclined towards sport. What actions are in place to target their health and promote safe exercise? At St. Mary Magdalen’s we have introduced the Daily Mile. Some pupils walk and run, and some pupils walk, rather than run the whole mile.
- The deadline for reporting on the Sports Premium on the website is now the end of the year, July 20th, to allow schools to report retrospectively.
- Other achievements such as local Art competition success or winning the competition to design the Google holding page or a London Eye Pod. Chess Tournament victories or meeting Dame Vivienne Westwood to discuss environmental issues. Celebrations we have enjoyed over the years at St. Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School.
- Details of any changes since the last report in terms of in year admissions and the numbers of pupils who have left the school.
- Plus, a helpful summary of pupils on roll and by year group.
- Actuals overall, against target and then listed in Year Groups to facilitate targeted interventions. For example, is it Reception Class with the highest absence? Are the parents not yet on board about the importance of not taking holidays in term time and therefore is it unauthorised absence? Is it classes with higher percentages of PP pupils?
- A clear Attendance Policy issued to all new parents can go a long way to inform them of the importance of excellent attendance and its link to pupil outcomes.
Continuing Professional Development
- Courses undertaken by the staff since the last Headteacher’s Report.
- It is helpful to highlight those directly related to the School Development Plan priorities.
Effectiveness of Leadership and Management
- Its impact on school improvement priorities and rating of school development action plans into red, amber and green (RAG) to show progress made against targets.
- External reports such as those produced by School Improvement Partners (SIP) could be included in the appendices.
- A statement about the systems in place and their effectiveness, for example a reference to the Schools Financial Value Statement (SFVS).
Quality of Teaching
- Update on monitoring in its many guises: planning, learning walks, book looks, “talk to the learners”, SIP visits, Governor visits and lesson observations.
- The proportion of teaching over time that is at least good and actions to ensure that all teaching is at least good.
- Report on the induction and performance management of staff.
Looked after children (LAC) and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
- Number of LAC
- Number of pupils on school support
- Number of pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and any applications outstanding
- Staffing updates including new staff and staff leaving.
- An update on works completed and works outstanding
- Any grants applied for to cover premises costs
- Number of pupils entitled to pupil premium funding
- Current allocation
- How the money has been spent
- The impact of the spending
Safeguarding, behaviour and safety
- Training update
- Number of incidents
- Exclusions (including internal, permanent and fixed)
- Arising health and safety issues
- Examples of feedback regarding the pupils’ behaviour in school and out of school
Visits and Visitors
- The enriched curriculum
- Educational visits and visitors
- Community cohesiveness; are other schools welcome to visit and be partners in school improvement?
Most importantly, the report should be an interesting read. The Governors will love to know about the contributions the pupils make to school life. Their many prefect roles; Head Gardener, Class Captains, House Captains, Prayer Monitors, School Council, Buddies and Play Leaders. Any charity works or enterprise ventures.
In the appendix, include positive communications. Letters from happy parents and congratulations on exceptional results, for example.
Finally, a letter of thanks acknowledging the hard work and commitment of the Governing Body with an invitation to the upcoming school events to enable the Governors to bear witness to the school community in action and at its best.
Looking for additional support? Join Baroness Barran MBE (Department for Education) and representatives from the National Governance Association (NGA), Governors for Schools, Confederation of School Trusts (CST) and ISBL at the Academies Governance and Leadership Conference 2022: