Friday Update – 12 June 2015

This week I’m unashamedly focusing on national recognition of outstanding governance at a school I clerk in the Borough, as well as highlighting a free Governor Live session, the publication of a Sutton Trust report on the under-achievement of highly able disadvantaged pupils and the Minister of State for Schools’ recent speech setting out the Government’s plans to reinforce the importance of a core academic curriculum.

CHURCHILL COMMUNITY COLLEGE WINS NATIONAL GOVERNORS’ ASSOCIATION AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING GOVERNANCE 2015
I was immensely proud to attend the national Awards ceremony held on Tuesday, at the House of Commons, with members of Churchill Community College’s Governing body. Having been part of a seven strong group of Governors that met with the judges at the end of March when we were shortlisted, it was fantastic to become national finalists along with five other Governing bodies. Facing stiff competition, Churchill was announced as the winner of the Outstanding Governance Award, presented by the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt MP.

In determining the overall winner, the judges said “Churchill’s governing board’s breadth of experience and skills is wide ranging and their expertise has enabled them to challenge leaders well, holding them to account for the progress made by all. The vision of the college – “excellence for all” – has resulted in an outward-facing school prepared not only to share its experience and knowledge but also to continue to learn in the process. We were very impressed by the way this governing body interacts with its students and gives them the opportunity to share their feedback so that governors have a clear picture of how students feel about their learning experience.”

FREE ON-LINE ‘GOVERNOR LIVE’ EVENT ON 22 JUNE 2015
In this post-election period when the Education Bill is as yet unclear and no one is quite sure how the DfE will define the word ‘coasting’, the NGA and Modern Governor has joined forces to launch a series of ‘Governor Live’ events. These are free, live, on-line sessions for Governors and Academy Trustees and the first one takes place for 1 hour at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 22 June 2015.

Emma Knights, NGA’s Chief Executive will kick off the session with input from Ruth Agnew, a National Leader of Governance and the lead subject matter expert for Modern Governor’s E-learning modules, to help participants consider issues arising from the discussion. To take part using a web browser or on a tablet or smartphone (using the free Adobe Connect mobile app) you will need to go to the registration page, register your details, set a password and will be emailed confirmation of your registration.

NEW REPORT ON THE UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT OF HIGHLY ABLE DISADVANTAGED PUPILS
The Sutton Trust, in collaboration with the FFT Education Datalab, has produced a report looking at disadvantaged pupils who are high achieving in primary schools but end up with comparatively poor GCSE results. The report found that:

  • the majority of ‘missing talent’ pupils are boys in receipt of the pupil premium
  • pupil premium pupils who are ‘highly able’ achieve, on average, half a grade less than their peers who are similarly as able
  • there is a lack of take up for GCSEs in History, Geography, Languages and Triple Science from pupil premium students who are highly able

Of particular significance for Governors, the report recommended that schools ‘must be made accountable for the progress of their most able pupils’. Governing boards should be monitoring different ability groups, and those who find schools that are successful in raising the attainment of the highly able should be invited to deliver extra-curricular activities to help raise the attainment of others in the area.

The report highlighted North Tyneside as one of among the 20 worst-performing local authorities in England and a spokesperson for the Council, as reported in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, said “Having read the research with interest, we think the data for North Tyneside is skewed as a consequence of some of our schools teaching some subjects that do not score in the equation used by Sutton Trust. “This does not mean that the young people have not gone on to achieve well and move on to employment, further education, or training. Affected schools have since changed their curriculum offer.”

SCHOOLS MINISTER SETS OUT THE GOVERNMENT’S PLANS TO REINFORCE THE IMPORTANCE OF A CORE ACADEMIC CURRICULUM FOR ALL PUPILS
Yesterday, speaking at the Policy Exchange in London, the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, set out the Government’s plans for “ensuring that all school children up to the age of 16 are properly educated in those academic subjects that best equip them for their future; either for high-quality vocational education after 16, or further academic education until ultimately going on to engage in training for a vocation.”

With more rigorous GCSE and A Levels, increasing the use and availability of high-quality textbooks in schools, and improving standards of Maths by supporting schools to adopt the proven mastery approach to teaching Maths, the Minister suggested this would continue to raise academic standards so that every pupil received the education to which they were entitled.

In due course, the Government will set out details of its expectation that Secondary school pupils should take English Baccalaureate subjects at age 16. In doing so, the Minister indicated the Government would listen to the views of teachers, Headteachers, and parents on how best to implement this commitment, as well as ensuring schools had adequate lead in time to prepare for any major changes.