Friday update – 19 September 2014

This week we highlight the updated version of the Governors’ Handbook,  the revised Ofsted School Inspection Handbook that came into force this month, an updated version of the Department for Education’s Advice on Statutory Policies for Schools, and the announcement of the recruitment of 100 “exceptional school leaders” to support improvement in some of England’s most challenging schools.

NEW GOVERNORS’ HANDBOOK

The Department for Education produced a new edition of the Governors’ Handbook back in May and has now revised it again. A full “Summary of Changes” made in both the May and September editions is given in the appendix. It includes the following additions since May:

  • details of what it means for governors to set and safeguard an appropriate school ethos in keeping with fundamental British values
  • a new section on appointing a headteacher
  • additional text on the importance of appointing new governors with appropriate skills
  • updated information on the curriculum
  • links to advice on providing free school meals for children in the infant phase
  • text on proposed changes to the schools admission code

You will recall that this last point was featured in the 5 September update . The Handbook and its predecessor, the Guide to the Law, have previously confined themselves to current law and practice, as this is currently only a proposal it adds a news element to what has hitherto been a reference work.

REVISED OFSTED SCHOOL INSPECTION HANDBOOK

In July Ofsted published a new edition of the School Inspection Handbook which became operative from the start of this term. It gives inspectors more guidance on the duties and responsibilities of governors (on pages 47–8) and in addition to the points listed in the
previous version about ethos, self-evaluation, performance management, challenge and finance, the new edition includes a requirement that inspectors should consider whether governors:

“ensure that they and the school promote tolerance of and respect for people of all faiths (or those of no faith), cultures and lifestyles; and support and help, through their words, actions and influence within the school and more widely in the community, to prepare children and young people positively for life in modern Britain.”

Some key points have been included in the section on governance that had previously been in the subsidiary guidance.  For example, inspectors will expect governing bodies to be transparent and accountable, including in terms of recruitment of staff, governance structures, attendance at meetings, and contact with parents and carers and that they not only provide challenge but “are providing support for an effective headteacher”.

GUIDANCE ON STATUTORY POLICIES FOR SCHOOLS

The Department for Education (DfE) has published advice for school governing bodies to help them understand their statutory obligations and duties. It outlines the policies and other documents school governing bodies and proprietors of independent schools are legally required to hold.

RECRUITMENT OF 100 EXCEPTIONAL SCHOOL LEADERS

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced the recruitment of 100 “exceptional school leaders” to support improvement in some of England’s most challenging schools. The initiative, called The Talented Leaders programme, will be run on behalf of the DfE by the Future Leaders Trust, a charity which supports leadership in challenging schools. The first cohort will be deployed in schools in north Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Bradford and Blackpool, with additional areas added in the following months.