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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 8TH SEPTEMBER, 2014

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 17TH JULY, 2014

 

 

           THE STRATEGIC APPOINTMENT OF LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITY SCHOOL GOVERNORS IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN SCHOOLS (REF) –

 

The report had been referred by Cabinet at its meeting on 16th June as part of the consultation process in order to provide opportunity for scrutiny by Members of the Committee. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, in presenting the report, advised that approval had been sought 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 Vale schools.  The Council currently appointed approximately 182 LA school governors and the recruitment and appointment process for LA governors was set out in the Council’s Policy on the Appointment of LA Governors which was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

It was noted that all LA governor vacancies were advertised on the Council’s website in accordance with the Council’s policy.  This included those whose terms of office came to an end as well as any vacancies due to resignations.  The term of office for LA governors was four years and after this time the Governor Support Unit (GSU) wrote to the governor to inform them that their term of office was due to cease with an invitation extended to them to reapply if they wished to continue.  The report highlighted where improvements could be made to the current recruitment system of LA governors under the following headings:

 

 

·               Advertising of current vacancies - At present vacancies were advertised on the Council's website but were not always given high priority. It was proposed that the vacancies were given a higher profile and that opportunities were 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 - In the current arrangements, no briefing was provided to the selection panel, although the Head of Governor Support attended 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 would need to call upon in future years, particularly in schools facing challenges. 

 

·               Potential for expertise and skill-set mapping – 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.

 

·               Vale School Governors’ Association (VSGA) – A VSGA member currently sat 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 – 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.

 

The report also recommended that consultation with Vale school governors via the VSGA should take place in the following areas:

 

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

·               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

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

·               The GSU to compile an “expertise and experience register†of existing LA school governors

·               The GSU to compile a “register of need†for LA governor expertise as expressed by schools / Chairs of governors

·               A selection panel utilising a “map and gap†approach based on skills / expertise and school needs, when selecting LA school governors should be established

·               The GSU to keep up to date an LA governors attendance register

·               The GSU to work with the Head of Service / Lead Officer for School Improvement and the JES to devise leadership development opportunities for LA governors

·               The LA governor selection panel to adopt a more strategic and prioritised approach to LA governor selection and one which was more sharply focused on the needs and challenges of the individual school

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

·               Proposals should be considered by Cabinet after consultation had taken place and a new strategy be adopted as soon as possible.

 

The Scrutiny Committee had itself also requested to discuss the issue of Governor Training at a future meeting and the issue had also been raised following recent School Progress Performance Panel meetings.  A Member of the Committee referred to the fact that the report only appeared to address the role of LA governors.  The Cabinet Member however, advised that parent governors and Foundation governors were not appointed by the Council although he did acknowledge that minority appointed governors could possibly be considered in the same way as LA Governors by discussing the issues with respective Town and Community Councils.

 

The Cabinet Member further stated that he had considered in detail the process for the appointment of LA governors as historically appointments had been made on the basis that an elected Member was appointed as an LA Governor. It had become more and more apparent in relation to school performance issues that governors should be appointed for their particular expertise and skills and to also be provided with opportunities to develop their skills.  The new strategic approach that was to be adopted would allow for appointments to be made based on experience and skills and on a local skills mix for example encouraging local business people to apply  for Governor positions.

 

The application form also needed to be more stringent in order to identify a person’s commitment for the position and the reason why they were applying for the post.  Although the Cabinet Member was fully aware that the positions were voluntary, the ever increasing responsibilities being placed on governors would require further support and training which he considered needed to be addressed.  A number of Members were concerned about the current number of vacancies that existed and that by strengthening the application process, they felt this could mean that people may not wish to apply.  The Cabinet Member, in accepting the comments, stated that nevertheless he still considered the Council needed to actively seek more experienced and skilled governors.

 

Another Member raised a concern that there was currently no mechanism in place for LA governors to report back to the Council and that in his view this should be part of the process.  The Chairman agreed that it was important that any LA representative reported back to the Council any issues that they found in order that these could be addressed as early on in the process as possible.

 

The Cabinet Member recognised and agreed that there were areas that could be improved upon but stated that this strategy was a start in the process. 

 

The Chairman in referring to the responsibility of being a governor and the importance of understanding performance data, stated that there was an urgent need to address training for Governors and concurred with the Cabinet Member that the Council needed to actively seek people with different skills and abilities across a range of experience and that LA representatives needed to be empowered to be an early warning system for the Local Authority. 

 

Following considerable discussion and responses to questions raised, it was subsequently


 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the proposal for consultation and implementation in the future on a more strategic approach for the appointment of Local Authority Governors be  endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the comments of the Scrutiny Committee be referred to Cabinet for consideration as part of the consultation process.

 

(3)       T H A T following the consultation a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Vale of Glamorgan Governing Bodies were well supported with specific expertise and experience.

 

(2)       To apprise Cabinet

 

(3)       For consideration by the Committee following the consultation process.

 

 

 

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