This is a follow up to the blog I wrote during August about the value of peer to peer challenge and support in a self-improving school system http://wp.me/p4cGdC-1x. At the time I made reference to plans for the Heads and Chairs of Governors of the four schools in our Challenge and Support partnership to meet. That meeting happened this afternoon.
Meeting offsite in a hotel with a nice buffet lunch to greet us was conducive to a welcome where we could introduce ourselves to each other more informally. The invitation to meet had been extended to include vice-chairs too and two of the schools including my own had both both Chairs and Vice Chairs present. On reflection as the afternoon progressed we felt having both there was positive both in terms of discussion during the afternoon and for our next steps for development. The afternoon was facilitated in the same way as our other strategic group meetings which again allowed all of us to fully participate in discussion rather than taking the responsibility of leading and managing the group.
Whilst it was a relaxed and friendly afternoon, in not much more than 2 hours we covered many significant areas of discussion which we had opportunities to discuss both in our own school groups, in mixed school groups and as a whole group. This included:
What are the strength of our own schools and how do we know?
What are the strengths of our governing bodies and how do we know?
( The shared strengths included features such as having a good / well informed clerk, having a ethos where challenge from governors as well as support is encouraged, utilising governor skills and expertise effectively, having well attended meetings and having governors that show genuine passion and care for the school, being well planned and organised e.g. around agendas / subcommittees and having governors who also were willing to learn and develop)
What are the areas of development of the governing body and what are we doing about it?
(The shared areas for development included having more developed succession planning within the governing body and increasing the amount of governors direct involvement in areas of school other than meeting)
We shared and discussed key documentation including the most up to date Ofsted inspection handbook section on leadership and management with particular reference to Governance and also had discussion about governors knowledge and understanding of some of the most recent issues such as assessment without levels and the thorny issue of ‘British Values’
Our afternoon ended with an opportunity to discuss in our own school groups what we felt our priority areas for development are for the next 12 months and what our next steps to reaching those would be.
As for future collaboration: Email addresses have been exchanged and opportunities for Chairs to attend each other’s Governing Body meetings have been established. There has also been some initial discussion about setting up ‘accountability panels’ where heads and governors from one school could present their school self evaluation to a panel of heads and govs from the other schools to extend the level of challenge and support / external self -evaluation…..an idea to be discussed and developed further in due course………………..
Whilst we have lots of discussions on all of the above listed questions / aspects within our own school, having the space and time to do so away from school and with Headteachers, Chairs and Vice-chairs from other schools has been a really valuable way of developing our own thinking. A really good afternoon – I would recommend it!