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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 16 June, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

The Strategic Appointment of Local Education Authority School Governors in Vale of Glamorgan Schools

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek approval from Cabinet to consult with the Vale of Glamorgan school governors on the  implementation of a more strategic approach to the appointment of Local  Authority (LA) governors in our schools.

Recommendations

1.         That members approve the proposal for consultation and implementation in the future.

2.         To refer to Scrutiny (Lifelong Learning) Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure our Governing Bodies are well supported with specific expertise and experience.

2.         To provide opportunity for Scrutiny by members.

Background

3.         The Council appoints approximately 182 Local Authority (LA) school governors.

4.         The recruitment and appointment process for LA governors is set out in the Council’s Policy on the Appointment of LA governors (Appendix 1).

5.         All LA governor vacancies are advertised on the Council’s website in accordance with the Council’s policy. This includes those whose terms of office come to an end as well as any vacancies due to resignations. The term of office for LA governors is four years and after this time the Governor Support Unit (GSU) writes to the governor to inform them that their term of office is due to cease and invites them to reapply if they wish to continue.

6.         The GSU also writes to the Headteacher, Chair of Governors and Clerk to the governing body to inform them that the vacancy will be advertised shortly and gives them the opportunity to make a formal submission in support of an existing governor’s reapplication.

7.         The LA governor must complete a new application form or indicate that they do not wish to re-apply.

8.         The process is managed by the GSU who monitor the governors' data base. Vacancies are listed on the council's website usually twice per year and potential applicants apply directly to the GSU. Applicants are given the opportunity to state their preference of school(s) and sector(s) i.e. primary, secondary, special, nursery and whether or not they would prefer a Welsh Medium school.

9.         Completed application forms are considered by the LA Governor Appointment Panel Chaired by the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and comprising of representatives elected members.

10.      In advance of the panel meeting, members receive completed application forms, policy documentation and guidance. Approximately 20-30 new applicants are usually considered at any one time along with re-applications.

11.      The vast majority of vacancies are filled by the applications received but occasionally positions are deferred to the next panel when there are insufficient applications for the specific number of schools. These tend to be Welsh medium or rural schools. We currently have approximately 35 vacancies that will need to be considered by the next panel in the Autumn.

Relevant Issues and Options

Advertising of current vacancies:

 

12.      At present vacancies are advertised on the council's website but are not always given high priority. It is proposed that the vacancies are given a higher profile and that opportunities are explored with local and regional employers to draw these vacancies to the attention of their staff living in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Potential for panel pre-selection briefing session:

13.      In the current arrangements, there is no briefing provided to the selection panel, although the Head of Governor Support attends the panel meeting to advise where necessary. Such a briefing could provide the panel with information about forthcoming challenges to school leadership and also help determine the nature of additional expertise that governing bodies will need to call upon in future years, particularly in schools facing challenges. 

14.      Additionally, specific advice could be given about individual schools and the nature of specific expertise needed in those schools.

Potential for expertise and skill-set mapping:

15.      Information, as aforementioned, could play an important part in determining the specific expertise required of a governing body. This could provide helpful guidance to the panel and would be supportive of a more strategic approach to the appointment of LA governors.

16.      Developing these approaches further, the GSU could, in advance of LA governor recruitment, request Chairs of governors, to identify if they are experiencing any particular skills or expertise deficits amongst their governing body membership. The GSU could use this information to ‘map and gap’ current expertise against future need in identified schools. Such a register of need could underpin and inform the appointment process of LA Governors.

Vale School Governors’ Association (VSGA):

17.      A VSGA member currently sits on the panel but in a non voting observer capacity. This role could be developed further to inform the work of the panel by sharing intelligence about the challenges and opportunities provided through involvement in the strategic leadership of schools, such as that reflected in the membership of the VSGA.

Potential for Continual Professional Development (CPD) for school leadership for governors:

18.      If the improvement suggestions aforementioned are to be fully realised, then effective leadership development of LA appointed governors would be crucial to success.

19.      Access to current and innovative thinking in school leadership development could enhance the leadership skill-set of our LA governors in our most challenged schools.

20.      Additionally, LA Governors could be brought together at the start and end of each academic year to develop a shared understanding about successes and challenges facing our schools. This may include the collective findings of school inspections, LA and school performance challenges, the intricacies of target setting, the LA post inspection action plan and progress, LA school support programmes, inspection preparation etc.

21.      LA appointed school governors are our key strategic partners in school improvement and need to be recruited, appointed and developed as such. In return they need to feel well supported and informed, up-skilled and valued.

22.      They need to jointly own the school improvement agenda in order to be able to play their important part in it, securing improved outcomes and wellbeing through enhancing the quality of school leadership, collectively and individually.

Recommendations:

23.       Consultation with Vale school governors via the Vale School Governor Association (VSGA) on the following:-

24.      The Chief Officer and/or the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion to attend meetings of the selection panel for LA appointed school governors

25.      The Chief Officer/Head of School Improvement to provide a school/LA briefing to the selection panel in advance of any selection taking place to outline the nature of schools' needs and challenges, where LA governor vacancies exist.

26.       High profile advertising and targeted recruitment should be in place to widen the pool of potential governors.

27.      The GSU to compile an ‘expertise and experience register’ of existing LA school governors

28.      The GSU to compile a ‘register of need’ for LA Governor expertise as expressed by schools/Chairs of governors.

29.      A selection panel utilising a ‘map and gap’ approach based on skills/expertise and school needs, when selecting LA school governors should be established.

30.      The GSU to keep up to date an LA Governors attendance register.

31.      The GSU to work with the HOS/Lead Officer for School Improvement and the JES to devise leadership development opportunities for LA Governors.

32.      The LA governor selection panel to adopt a more strategic and prioritised approach to LA governor selection and one which is more sharply focussed on the needs and challenges of the individual school.

33.      A review and redeployment of existing LA governors to new schools should be carried out to, determine LA governors by needs of the school.

34.      Proposals should be considered by cabinet after consultation has taken place and a new strategy be adopted as soon as possible.

 

Resource Implications (Financial, local, Employment)

35.      To be met from within existing resources within the Council and Central South Consortium Joint Education Service (JES).

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

36.      None in this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

37.      The School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 clarifies the law in relation to intervention in schools causing concern. The provisions in the Act and the accompanying statutory guidance (Schools Causing Concern document 129/2014), provide a single point of reference for local authorities when considering using their powers to intervene in schools causing concern.

38.      LA School Governor Partnership Agreement 2014 -2017 sets out how the local Authority works in partnership with schools.

39.      The appointment of LA governors is contained within the Regulation 7 of the Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005.

Crime and Disorder Implications

40.      None in this report

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

41.      None in this report

Corporate/Service Objectives

42.      The need to secure a high level of school effectiveness and performance is underpinned by high quality leadership which includes that of school Governors. High quality leadership in our schools is at the core of a number of key corporate objectives, especially in the Improvement Plan, Community Strategy, Children and Young People and Lifelong Learning and Skills.

Policy Framework and Budget

43.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

44.      Not required for this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

The Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005.

Council Policy for the appointment of LA governors.

Estyn Common Inspection Framework

School Standards and Organisation Act (Wales) 2013

Schools Causing Concern statutory guidance document: 129/2014

 

 

Contact Officer

Lynette Jones, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

 

Officers Consulted

John Sparks, Head of Governors Support Unit, Vale of Glamorgan

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Chief Learning and Skills Officer

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