Updated Governance Handbook – Friday 22 March 2019

This week I highlight publication of the updated Governance Handbook and reports that Ofsted may rethink plans to give just 150-minutes’ notice of inspectors’ arrival in schools.

Updated Governance Handbook
This morning the DfE published a revised version of the Governance Handbook. The Handbook explains governing boards’ roles and functions, their legal duties, where governors can find support and the main features of effective governance.

The Handbook sits alongside the ‘Competency framework for governance’ which sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that school and academy governing boards need to be effective, and the ‘Competency framework for clerking’ which sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to provide professional clerking to school and academy governing boards.

The most significant updates and changes to the content within the Handbook sections are as follows:

Section 2: Strategic Leadership
Updated section at 2.4 to place stronger emphasis on parental engagement.

Section 3: Accountability
• New sub-section within 3.1 on workload considerations, which draws attention to the latest published workload guidance and workload reduction toolkit which provides support to schools and boards.
• New section 3.2 on the robust oversight of an organisation. Due to insertion other sections have been re-numbered.
• Updated sub-section within 3.4.1 to replace RAISEonline with information on Analyse School Performance.

Section 4: People
• Clarification at section 4.1.2 on criminal records checks and s128 prohibition.
• Updated text at section 4.4 to reflect the clerking competency framework, funded clerking training and the position of a clerk (governance professional) in trusts.

Section 5: Structures
Clarification on LA associated people (LAAPs) serving as Members 5.2.1.

Section 6: Compliance
• Clarification at 6.4.1 on what a maintained school must publish in relation to the curriculum.
• Updated text at 6.4.4 to highlight the future proposed changes being made to Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
• Updated guidance at 6.4.9 following the introduction of statutory Careers guidance, which came into force in 2018.
• Removal of out-dated text at 6.5.
• Updated advice at 6.5.3 on information the board should check as part of the pre appointment process when recruiting potential employees.
• Removal of previous section 6.5.4 on NTCL teacher services.
• Section 6.5.7, new sub section on Executive pay.
• Updated text at 6.6.3 to reflect changes to the Dedicated Schools Grant and the pupil premium.
• Updated guidance at 6.7 to provide further clarity on the board’s responsibilities under safeguarding.
• Clarification at 6.8.3 that the statutory duty to produce and publish a statement of principles applies to maintained schools.
• Updated guidance at 6.8.9 on school food and milk which reflects the updating of entitling benefits for Free School Meals and outlines the board’s responsibilities to ensure the school is complying with its obligations.
• Updated advice at 6.8.16 to alert schools to their fire safety responsibilities.
• Inclusion of additional paragraph at 6.11.2 on the responsibility of schools to ensure that any provide of childcare on site must have in place appropriate polices in relation to safeguarding children.
• Updated section at 6.14.1 to reflect the replacement of Edubase service with Get information about schools (GIAS)
• Updated section at 6.14.5 to reflect the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
• Clarification at 6.15 on dealing with complaints.

Section 7: Evaluation
• Updated to include reference to DfE funded governance development programmes and the clerking competency framework and Ofsted “myths” documentation.
• Updated content on schools causing concern and on coasting schools at section 7.4.
• Section 7.5 has been updated to include DfE areas of support and other information which may be of use to boards.

Ofsted may rethink plan to give just 150-minutes’ notice of inspectors’ arrival
On Tuesday the TES reported that Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s deputy director for schools had informed a Westminster Education Forum that Ofsted could back down on its plans for an inspector to arrive at a school the day before its inspection begins.

The consultation response so far has been very negative towards the proposal and Mr Purves said, “If there is a tidal wave of negativity we need to sit down and think about that, but we really do think that conversation prior to inspection would be a really good idea.”