Latest DfE School Governance update – Friday 17 January 2020

This week I highlight the latest school governance update from the DfE and news that Ofsted is in talks with the Government about running longer inspections to improve schools that have been ‘stuck’ i.e. not judged good or better since 2006.

Latest DfE School Governance update
Yesterday the DfE published its third governance update for LA maintained schools and for academies. Lord Agnew, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, provided a new year message indicating the updates would be published approximately twice per term.

He also advised he was looking forward to publishing the response to the consultation on financial transparency which included levelling up the reporting requirements for local authority schools and academies. The update provides the following:

  • Encouragement to participate in the consultation on the removal of the outstanding exemption.
  • Encouragement to take part in the NFER and DfE survey of governance in the sector (5000 schools across England have been invited to take part) with the deadline for responding extended to 24 January.
  • Information highlighting the clerking competency framework which demonstrates the importance of professional clerking and the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to deliver it.
  • An opportunity for clerks to speak to the DfE governance policy team to help develop their policy work.
  • A reminder that seven organisations have been contracted to provided funded training and development programmes for Chairs, Vice Chairs, Committee Chairs and Clerks.
  • Information on how to access the DfE’s financial benchmarking service to compare how much a school is spending on agency staff compared with similar schools.
  • A reminder that keeping governor details on GIAS (Get Information About Schools) up to date will ensure they receive governance update email alerts direct. For governors in academies this year’s Academies Financial Handbook set out a new requirement for all academy trusts to provide a direct email address for all their members and trustees in the governance section of GIAS.

Ofsted in talks with the Government to run longer inspections to improve ‘stuck schools’
New research from Ofsted has found that 415 schools have not been judged as good or better since 2006 and have had at least four full inspections during that time. Common characteristics of these “stuck” schools included that they were resistant to change and were “chaotic” with one school having had 14 different headteachers in 10 years.

Ofsted has said it is “well-placed” to help these schools but that it needs to “increase the depth of diagnosis” it gives. Ofsted is now in talks with the Government over funding a trial of “longer, deeper” inspections with the aim of “not passing judgement but enabling support to improve”.