Name of Lead Contact: Sêra Evans-Fear
Role of Lead Contact: Chair of Governors
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Context and background of case study:
Whilst conducting a review of the effectiveness of the Governing Body by conducting a self-evaluation, it was identified that the Governing Body felt it was not having sufficient input into the SIP and SER. Whilst Governors felt that they were aware of the SIP and SER targets and objectives, it was evident that they felt a lack of ownership where these important strategic documents were concerned. Governors identified that in their role of providing strategic direction to the Senior Leadership Team, they should have greater involvement in formulating the SER and SIP targets, ensuring they are focused on the school's current performance data and with the ultimate aim of improving teaching and learning in the school. It was also agreed that an effective tool for evaluating progress against SIP and SER targets should be developed, so that staff responsible for each SIP target could easily report back to the Governing Body on the effectiveness of the strategies deployed to achieve the targets, and whether teaching and learning had directly improved as a result.
Nature of strategy or activity:
The first step was simple, yet effective - the Governing Body decided to re-name the Curriculum and Standards Committee to the School Improvement Committee. A work programme was then devised for this Committee, whereby a SIP/ SER target would be the focus of each meeting. The new approach was agreed with the SLT who had initially viewed the Governing Body's renewed strategy with some trepidation. This soon eased as further meetings were held - the Governing Body made it clear to the SLT and the wider staff that their role was very much supportive, as well as challenging.
Impact on provision, teaching and learning and/or leadership:
One of the targets in the SIP and SER was to develop the use of IRIS Connect Technology to enhance teaching and learning. Governors' acknowledged that their own knowledge of IRIS was limited - how could they therefore understand and appreciate the value of IRIS and attribute its use to the improvement of teaching and learning in the school? Governors were given a detailed introduction to the IRIS Connect Technology by two members of the SLT. The Governing Body was also shown videos of two teachers teaching two separate lessons, and a mentoring session between the Deputy Headteacher and the Headteacher, based on what had been observed in the videos. The films demonstrated some areas for improvement; (i) the lesson introductions were often too long, and involved the teacher talking 'at' the class, (ii) the lesson plenaries were not as effective as they could have been in summarising what had been learned during the lesson and (iii) teachers became aware that they often focused on small groups of learners when asking questions of the whole class, therefore not involving all learners, and ensuring equality. As a result of this session, Governors' knowledge of IRIS in developing teaching and learning at Parc Primary vastly improved, and it was agreed that further sessions on the implementation of IRIS would be held for Governors. Governors also conducted lesson observations and monitoring sessions alongside the Headteacher in order to provide feedback and to observe teaching and learning practices in action. When presented with lesson observation outcomes in School Improvement Committee meetings, and full Governing Body meetings, Governors are now able to contextualise the data and understand on what basis lesson judgements are made.
At Parc Primary, all Governors ratify the school's policies using an online forum tool, thus enabling all members of the Governing Body to make comments prior to ratification and view each other's comments. The Governing Body ratified the school's Marking Policy using this method and posed several questions in doing so. A few months later, the Governors requested that the School Improvement Committee undertook an analysis of pupils' books, with the aim of focusing on how the Marking Policy was being implemented across the school. The Policy outlined strategies such as 'What Makes Good' and 'Actions and Reactions.' In scrutinising pupils' books, Governors were able to see these strategies in action, and ensure that they were being applied consistently across the Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2. Some inconsistencies were identified and reported back to the SLT. More importantly, Governors were able to better understand how the Marking Policy was being implemented, and witness first-hand the impact of the marking strategies deployed by the teachers in order to ensure effective assessment for learning.
As part of a School Improvement Committee meeting, Governors focused on the implementation of the LNF and the teaching of literacy and numeracy across the curriculum - a SIP target. Governors were able to witness the LNF in action in pupils' work. Some Governors noted that there was insufficient recording of numeracy in some classes compared to others. This was reported back to the SLT. In order to share good practice and understand how other schools implement the LNF and record literacy and numeracy in pupils' books, the Chair of Governors accompanied staff on a visit to another school in the Central South Consortium region. This was a useful and valuable experience as it enabled the Chair of Governors to experience the implementation of another school's Marking Policy and compare Parc Primary's pupils' records of learning with those of pupils in another school.
All of the above are examples of how the Governing Body has had a direct impact and influence on the school's SIP and SER, and how Governors have developed their knowledge and understanding of key strategies, and how these are having a positive impact on teaching and learning in the school. This has undoubtedly strengthened the relationship between the Governing Body and the staff, and the SLT in particular. This was evidenced in a recent questionnaire the Governing Body conducted with the staff, whereby 100% of staff believe that the Governing Body play an active role in school life.
Where is the effective practice recognised?
Estyn - as evidenced in the recent Inspection Report (January 2017): "Governors are very supportive of the school’s work and co-operate closely and effectively with leaders to ensure a clear and purposeful strategic direction.”
Consortium Challenge Adviser (Sarah Corcoran)
Susan Walker (Head of School Improvement - Primary - RCT)
In-school staff questionnaire on the Governing Body.