The Role of School Governing Bodies - Education Committee Contents

3  Governor effectiveness


52.  A key consideration in ensuring governor effectiveness is the quality and availability of training. Whilst some witnesses suggested that the requirement to undertake training represented an additional burden on volunteer governors in terms of "extra time, commitment, and [...] travelling to other venues",[86] the majority of evidence we heard was supportive of governors undertaking ongoing training during their period of service. However, as Pat Smart of the National College observed, "[training] is fairly optional at the moment. What happens is in weaker governing bodies it does not happen, and in stronger governing bodies it does. It reinforces the dichotomy".[87]

53.  The National Governors' Association asserted that "we know what constitutes effective governance", adding that "there needs to be an emphasis on spreading effective practice". The NGA also supported mandatory induction training for governors, explaining that "one of the reasons why governance is not taken as seriously as board governance is because we are called 'governors'. We are not thought about as non-exec board members; we do not have the same expectations placed upon us when we are recruited that, for example, a magistrate would".[88] In support of a certain degree of mandatory training for school governors, Cambridge Education, Islington, pointed out that

although [training and development] is currently not mandatory, the development of governors through initial and then targeted training is essential, to maximise the effectiveness both of individuals and of the corporate body, as early as possible within the standard 4 year term of office. The statutory responsibilities of GBs (for safeguarding, staffing, finance etc.) which are set out in other than the governance regulations, require more than a casual understanding of the issues.[89]

Cambridge Education recommended that "as a minimum, the national induction course is mandatory within the first year [of being a governor]".[90]

54.  The value of good induction training was also raised by Ofsted, which commented that "good quality induction of new governors was a feature of the outstanding governing bodies in [Ofsted's Learning from the Best] survey".[91] Professor Chris James of the University of Bath asserted that "induction should be mandatory" and "training for chairs should be mandatory and monitored by Ofsted".[92] National Leader of Governance Ruth Agnew concluded that "the government has stated its desire to raise the status of school governing, but I believe this is not possible while training for governors is optional. A mandatory induction module at the very least would go some way both to raising the profile of the role and better supporting the many school governor volunteers to effectively contribute to improving our schools".[93]

55.  The Association of Teachers and Lecturers suggested that "there should be a nationally agreed training package covering the role of governors and the myriad legal, financial, employment and education duties imposed on schools".[94] Bridget Sinclair of NCOGS argued that "it is not sufficient for governors just to attend an odd event once a year, or something; they really need access to a portfolio of training and support and, ideally, substantial face-to-face support alongside other provision".[95] However, the National Governors' Association pointed out that "governors themselves often resist spending school budgets on their own development. NGA has for years encouraged schools to set aside a reasonable budget [for] governor training, but to little avail". The NGA recommended that our inquiry should prioritise making recommendations in this area.[96]

56.  Much of the evidence advocated training via peer-support, with less experienced governors receiving mentoring from those with more experience.[97] The National College for Teaching and Leadership has launched a programme of National Leaders of Governance, to enable the most effective chairs to use their skills and experience to support other chairs. The programme is open to those with at least three years' recent experience as a chair in a good or outstanding leadership team who could commit between ten and twenty days a year to the role.[98]

57.  In oral evidence, the Minister told us that the Government does not intend to make any training mandatory, but will rely on the new Ofsted framework to provide a strong incentive for all governing bodies to ensure that they are appropriately skilled to do their job.[99] Witnesses acknowledged this new focus as helpful: as Nicola Cook of Buckinghamshire County Council explained, Ofsted "is giving quite helpful pointers to governors as to what they expect to see [...] one of the things we will be doing is discussing with the governors and the headteacher how we work and how we strengthen governance. [...] that change of emphasis from Ofsted is a really useful tool for us".[100] Mike Cladingbowl of Ofsted also advised that, from September 2013, Ofsted will be asking specific questions of governors regarding the amount and nature of training they are receiving, and how this is affecting their ability to hold the school to account effectively.[101]

58.  The question of who will provide governor training, in the light of local authority cuts to services, is not clear. Andrew Thraves of GL Education suggested that the quality of basic governor training is being further affected by the academies programme as those schools are tending to spend their money on other things.[102] FASNA (a national forum for self-governing schools, including academies) expressed concern about the nature of training available to governing bodies. It said

A whole range of providers is entering the market place particularly targeting academy converters. Some of this 'training' and 'guidance' that we have seen, particularly that emanating from professional firms (including 'legal firms') which are commercial in approach is inaccurate, misleading or daunting in the interpretation of governing body roles and responsibilities. There is a lack of overall quality control for 'training' and much of it is unfocused, not practical enough and even confusing.[103]

59.  A market of independent providers is established and local authorities are increasingly competing with traded services of their own.[104] The National Governors' Association voiced "concerns that from next April, with the further rounds of local authority cuts, that some governor support services will be reduced further or stopped entirely".[105] The NGA added that "there are few quality alternatives" to local authority provided training at present,[106] and Professor Chris Hill of the University of Bath commented that "I do not think it is clear enough in the marketplace for all governors to know where exactly they would need to go to get the sort of training that they would necessarily need".[107]

60.  The National College for Teaching and Leadership, along with the National Governors' Association, NCOGS and FASNA, all provide training, along with a variety of other providers. When asked how the quality of governor training could be assured in future, the Minister answered:

I do not want to keep mentioning Ofsted, but it is our sharpest tool in the box. Ofsted's criteria will mean that all training has to be driven towards that. There is no point in producing training if it is not going to cut the mustard. I think this will help.[108]

On being asked whether Ofsted would be resourced to take on so much responsibility for maintaining and raising standards in school governance, the Minister replied "Yes".[109]

61.  Too many governors have not had suitable training. The Government says this can be encouraged through Ofsted. Ofsted should report back in due course whether their intervention is effective. If it is not, mandatory training should be considered again. The Government should require schools to offer training to every new governor. We welcome the Minister's assurance that Ofsted will be resourced adequately in order to undertake its increased role in helping to ensure effective governance in schools. Further explanation is required as to how this will be achieved.

62.  We are concerned at suggestions that few quality alternatives are emerging to the training traditionally provided by local authorities. We recommend that Ofsted and the DfE monitor the availability and quality of governor training in the light of greater academisation of schools and reduction of local authority services.

Inspection, self-assessment and peer challenge

63.  Ofsted data for 2010/11 showed that governance judgments are consistently lower than those for school leadership overall.[110] The DfE argued that "a clear and robust system of accountability is as vital to driving up the quality of governing bodies as it is to driving improvement in the quality of the schools they govern".[111] The DfE went on, "governing bodies provide a crucial layer of school-focused accountability for pupil performance and education standards. It is essential that they themselves are also subject to scrutiny and a robust system of accountability based on clear expectations".[112] The majority of witnesses welcomed Ofsted's increased focus on governance, although there were questions from some quarters as to whether it was "realistic" to hold volunteers to account to this extent.[113] The DfE "rejects any suggestion that [governors'] status as volunteers should exempt them from public scrutiny", adding that "high quality governance is essential to driving up pupil and school performance, and weak governance needs to be identified and addressed".[114] Witness Fergal Roche agreed, saying "governors have to be very transparently the governors— or directors; whatever they get called—and stand up alongside the head and be seen".[115]

64.  Part of Ofsted's new approach is to provide a clear description within its inspection framework of the role and characteristics of high quality governance. Providing transparency on this front, along with clear criteria against which governing bodies can assess their performance, was welcomed by a large number of witnesses to our inquiry. The National Governors' Association said that the new Ofsted framework was "likely to have a greater impact on improving governance than perhaps any other measure any government has or could have taken".[116] It added:

The questions for Ofsted inspectors to ask governors in the September 2012 framework are a good guide to the role of governing bodies. These questions are more likely to focus professional school leaders' attention properly on governance than anything which has gone before. Any question correctly asked by an Ofsted inspector of a governor should have previously been asked of the head by the governing body.[117]

65.  According to Ofsted, where governance is ineffective in a school judged as 'requires improvement' and is graded three for leadership and management, inspectors should include an external review of governance in their recommendations for improvement.[118] These reviews will be commissioned by the school and led by a National Leader of Governance (NLG), or an appropriately experienced National Leader of Education (NLE), under the auspices of the National College for Teaching and Leadership. HMI inspectors return to a "requires improvement" school six weeks after a review to see how the governing body has progressed with recommendations from the review.

66.  A pilot of the external reviews was completed by the National College in early 2013 and its findings were written up during the course of our inquiry. DfE said initial feedback from schools was very positive,[119] and written evidence received subsequently from the National College indicated that schools welcomed the reviews, claiming that they would impact positively on outcomes for pupils. Schools supported the continued use of external reviews, albeit with certain modifications.[120] Of particular interest was the fact that schools are tending to use the Ofsted criteria for good governance to undertake self-assessments to identify areas for improvement[121]—something which appeared as an important theme in this inquiry, with many witnesses suggesting that compulsory self-assessment, or skills audits, should become a requirement of all governing bodies. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership's "20 questions for governing bodies" was cited by several witnesses—including the Minister—as being another very useful tool in self-assessment.[122] Frank Newhofer, a governor, told us, "it is certainly part and parcel of the annual regime of a good governing body to engage in such self-evaluation and there are good systems and processes around for doing that".[123] The "20 questions" are now employed in the "supported self review" element of the National College's external reviews of governance. They are also referred to in the new Governors' Handbook, along with links to National College guidance on evaluating governing body effectiveness and to the Wellcome Trust's draft Recommended Code of Governance for Schools.[124] Emma Knights of the NGA highlighted as particularly effective the National College's Chairs' Development Programme which encourages "diagnostic" reviews of chairs—a 360 degree appraisal process which garners the views of other governing body members on the performance of the chair.[125] Fergal Roche, a serving governor, had been through a similar process and felt that its strength lay in the fact that the chair "has to account for weakness".[126]

67.  Some support and challenge to governing bodies has traditionally been provided by local authorities. The National Governors' Association claimed that "despite reductions in local authority support teams supporting governors, there are concerns that school-to-school support has not developed in the way that we would have hoped to fill those gaps". Although the National College's external reviews are welcome, they do not target better performing schools that may also benefit from peer challenge. Similarly, several witnesses argued that the fact Ofsted will not necessarily inspect high performing schools for lengthy periods, is "a weakness in their framework".[127] Neil Calvert, headteacher of Long Eaton School in Derbyshire explained

The question about school­to­school support is quite an interesting one, because it tends to happen with the strong and the weak [...]. There is a danger at the moment with less advice from local authorities that "good" and "outstanding" schools in particular, especially with the inspection regime being such that it may be quite a while until they next get inspected, are at risk of not necessarily having that level of challenge for the governing body. Certainly my own school is looking to put in place an informal arrangement with the governing body of another similar kind of school to have some kind of peer review and exchange of governors. There is a need for that, because there is the possibility that those schools may only get picked up in terms of weaker governance at a point when, for example, there is a risk assessment by Ofsted. That does not pick up weak governance; it picks up the effects of weak governance a year or two down the line when standards start to dip or complaints come in, and young people have already been affected.[128]

68.  Ofsted's written evidence acknowledged this point, saying that "some previously good or outstanding schools decline because governors have taken their eye off the ball".[129] The solution offered by the DfE was that any school can request an external review from the open market at a cost of around £900-£1300. It also pointed to a range of training and support available to governing bodies, including self-assessment tools, which should encourage governing bodies to be more reflective about their own performance and take action where required.[130]

69.  Poor performance by governing bodies should be challenged at the earliest opportunity. We support the obligation placed on schools that "require improvement" to undertake an external review of governance.

70.  We recommend that governing bodies be strongly encouraged in guidance from DfE, Ofsted and the National College to participate in peer-to-peer governance reviews and to undertake self-assessment and skills audits, using tools such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership's 20 questions and other resources identified in the new Governors' Handbook.

Ofsted's Data Dashboard

71.  The primary purpose of governors is to ensure the quality of education provision in schools. Governors need the ability to use data to identify where the quality of teaching is affecting school performance—for better or worse. This will become increasingly important with the introduction of performance related pay for teachers.

72.  The best governing bodies are already adept at accessing and interpreting data, but, as the NCSL commented:

Too often, governors lack the information they need to hold the Executive accountable for standards. There may be an awareness of key exam data, such as the level 4 or five GCSE benchmarks, but there is too often not enough additional information to allow governors to drill beneath the headlines, identifying for example, the strengths and weaknesses of different subject departments or how well students are making progress given their backgrounds.[131]

73.  Ofsted's 2011/12 Annual Report identified that "specific weaknesses in governance include an over-reliance on information from the headteacher. Where governance is not effective, a lack of transparency and accurate information restricts the ability of the governing body to monitor the school's work robustly".[132]

74.  The DfE, along with partners such as the NGA, NAHT and ASCL, is undertaking a range of work to improve the data available to governors, in more user-friendly formats. Of particular note is Ofsted's new Data Dashboard, which was launched during our inquiry and generally welcomed by the majority of witnesses.[133] At its launch, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that the arrival of the dashboard meant there would be "no excuses" for governors who did not understand and challenge their school robustly in future.[134] In oral evidence, the Minister, Lord Nash, told us

I think the dashboard is a big step forward. It is useful for parents and it is something that many governors will know already. Many governors will be well beyond that, but it will be helpful to some governors. Obviously, all governors need to understand RAISEonline, and it is quite complicated. We are working with Ofsted to simplify the RAISE summary report, and we are working in the Department for Education on a whole new data warehouse for all our data, so that the next generation of the RAISE equivalent is more user-friendly [...] So the dashboard is helpful, but it is only one step.[135]

75.  Similarly, Dr Bridget Sinclair of NCOGS welcomed the Dashboard, but warned that

It gives that high-level story about the data and trends over time, which will be a very quick and easy way for governors to begin their journey into delving into unpicking the data. But it must not become the be-all and end-all of data. It certainly is the beginning and will begin to raise questions, because even if that data dashboard is showing favourable trends, there could be deeper underlying stories that need to be explored. We certainly would not want that to become the exclusive source of data, and RAISEonline and further dipping into year-on-year in-house data is incredibly important, because the data dashboard is still looking at the end-of-year summative data, rather than in-house tracking.[136]

76.  Several witnesses called for improved guidance and training for governing bodies in interrogating data. Andrew Thraves of GL Education described the English school system as "data rich but data interpretation poor",[137] and Michael Jeans of The Haberdashers' Company added, "the questions to ask are absolutely crucial; the data alone do not do anything. It comes to training governors".[138]

77.  Many witnesses, including Mark Taylor of Cambridge Education, Islington, believed there were "dangers in letting governors make up the questions themselves" and this guidance would be best developed nationally.[139] In oral evidence, Anne Jackson of the DfE explained that the Department was talking to partners about developing a set of questions that governors could use to interrogate data, including RAISEonline and the Data Dashboard. She also mentioned that the new Governors' Handbook (the replacement for The Governors' Guide to the Law) would contain a suggested headline set of questions that every governing body could use to interrogate data.[140] The Handbook, which has since been published, contains a small number of generic questions and links to NGA guides to help governors make the most of the data held in RAISEonline.[141]

78.  The importance of good data in user-friendly formats for governing bodies cannot be overstated. We welcome Ofsted's Data Dashboard and support the DfE's work to develop questions that governing bodies can use to interrogate data effectively. The generic questions in the new Governors' Handbook are helpful, but will not in themselves provide sufficient assistance to governing bodies in interrogating complex data. We look forward to DfE publishing further questions.

Information, advice and guidance for governing bodies and the role of the clerk

79.  The importance of high quality, dedicated support for governing bodies was a strong theme during our inquiry. Reflecting the views of many witnesses, written evidence from a serving governor explained that "I have witnessed many governors meetings and indeed other boards where the papers are unclear, lack consistency in presentation, certainly don't make clear what the decision if any should be, and are often tabled at the meeting".[142]

80.  A good clerk ensures that the governing body operates properly within legal frameworks, prepares and presents vital data, and provides professional support. Written evidence from NCOGS stated that a clerk "needs to be independent of the school and not a member of the school staff", and advocated "the establishment of a National Association to act as guardian of professional standards as well as being a source of support for clerks".[143]

81.  Evidence showed the role of the clerk to be "hugely important"[144] and a large proportion of witnesses favoured making the role of clerk a professional post, "akin to company secretaries".[145] In oral evidence, the Minister said that this was something the DfE was looking at.[146] The NGA and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives are finalising a project which explores the feasibility of establishing a system for organising and developing governing body clerks as competent and recognised professional advisers.

82.  Witness Frank Newhofer stressed the need for some sort of quality assurance in the recruitment of clerks "to make sure that clerks are as good as possible".[147] SGOSS believed itself to be well-placed to assist with this. The Minister, Lord Nash, acknowledged that "SGOSS have been very successful at recruiting governors. Most clerking at the moment is done through local authorities or through academy chains, but we are keen to encourage other providers if they come forward".[148]

83.  An effective clerk is vital to the success of a governing body. The evidence clearly indicates that this should be a professional role—similar to a company secretary. We recommend that the Government act upon the findings of the project by the National Governors' Association and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives relating to clerks.

84.  The School Governors' One Stop Shop (SGOSS) has been funded for a further two years to recruit governors. We believe that SGOSS may be ideally placed to take on a role in recruiting clerks and we recommend that the Government consider how to facilitate this.

85.  The DfE has rewritten The Governors' Guide to the Law into a "shorter, more concise, plain English handbook for all governors". Many witnesses said that the original Governors' Guide was an invaluable document, and they expressed concern that critical detail has been left out of the new version.[149] Darren Northcott of NASUWT described the Governors' Guide as "a unique document", adding that "you would struggle to find something as concise and accessible as that".[150] Nicola Cook of Buckinghamshire County Council said:

I completely understand the Department is endeavouring to introduce more freedoms for governing bodies. There is a danger that we get to a tipping point where we reduce so much guidance and prescription for them that they are going to be in a position where governing bodies could end up reinventing the wheel in isolation. [...] The Governors' Guide to the Law [...] was a really useful document and not just for governors but for clerks to governors. There is a danger that we are swinging too far the other way.[151]

86.  Dr Bridget Sinclair of NCOGS advised that "the clerk still needs to have that detailed procedural guidance and information [...] otherwise they are going to have to go and refer to guidance and legislation to remind themselves of the detail". Dr Sinclair concluded "that is not very practical or helpful".[152]

87.  In oral evidence, the Minister justified the new handbook saying "if you have a handbook that is too long and too full of legal duties, you will frighten everybody".[153] The National College supported this view, saying that

the current governor manual is an unread document that may fulfil statutory purpose but fails to inspire governors to focus on what should be their key role. [The government] should replace it with a simple easily navigable online alternative, providing genuine support and training.[154]

Anne Jackson of DfE added "we are continuing to talk to the National Governors Association and our other stakeholders about the handbook, in particular the way it links through to more detailed guidance, which is typically what the clerk would need. Governors themselves do not need it up front".[155]

88.  Since we finished taking evidence, the new Governors' Handbook has been published. Emma Knights of the NGA has been reported as saying that the new Handbook was "a missed opportunity" to help governors provide strong strategic leadership and that, in trying to simplify the guidance, the DfE had produced a guide which would only be of use to new governors. Ms Knights added "the first section is a useful introduction for new governors outlining their strategic role and the ways in which governors get to know their schools. There is, however, little for the more experienced governing bodies on the most effective governance practice".[156]

89.  Our inquiry has shown the importance of high quality information and guidance for governing bodies—particularly for clerks. We share the concern of the National Governors' Association that the new Governors' Handbook appears to be aimed only at new governors. The new Handbook has lost much of what was valuable to experienced governors and clerks in the predecessor guide. The Government should work with the NGA to rectify this.

Arrangements for tackling underperformance and failure of governing bodies

90.  Local authorities and the Secretary of State have powers to intervene where governance is failing. Local authorities can issue a Warning Notice to a maintained school. Where this Notice is not complied with—or where Ofsted has judged the school to require special measures or significant improvement—the local authority or Secretary of State may intervene directly and impose an Interim Executive Board (IEB) to replace the governing body. A maintained school's budget may also be suspended by the local authority. In academies, the Secretary of State can give an academy a warning notice which, if not complied with, can result in the Secretary of State invoking a range of powers, including terminating the Funding Agreement to ensure a change in the Trust controlling the academy.

91.  As the Association of School and Colleges Leaders asserted, "inadequate governors can place a whole school at risk",[157] but our evidence suggested that, where governance is weak or failing, the measures available to intervene are not being used effectively in all local authority areas. Ofsted's 2012 Annual Report found that, since 2007, almost half of local authorities had not put in place any Interim Executive Boards and 70 local authorities had not issued any warning notices. The National College reported that some of its members had had experience of IEBs and found that it could take a long time to establish them—up to two years in some cases. Its members were also concerned that IEBs were not being used where academies were failing.[158] The National College has called on Ofsted to recommend IEBs explicitly when placing schools in special measures, with time limits for the IEB's implementation (the National College suggested six weeks).[159] The DfE acknowledged time lags in imposing IEBs as an issue, but merely said that this was "the sort of issue that the Department would pick up in our discussions with local authorities".[160]

92.  Urgency in implementing Interim Executive Boards is critical to address serious failings of governance in schools. Given that urgency, the absence of time limits for the implementation of IEBs is indefensible and should be rectified forthwith. We recommend that if, after an inspection, Ofsted considers that a governing body should be replaced by an IEB, Ofsted should use its power and responsibility to say so explicitly.

93.  Local authority witnesses to our inquiry felt that local authorities' powers to intervene were adequate, but that there was a "culture issue"[161] with local authorities not making use of them. Nicola Cook of Buckinghamshire County Council suggested that the fact Ofsted will now undertake inspections of local authority improvement services will incentivise local authorities to make better use of the powers they hold to challenge poor governance.[162]

94.  Interestingly, Ofsted felt that local authorities' powers to issue warning notices and impose IEBs are "circumscribed", which may account in part for their under-use. Mike Cladingbowl of Ofsted explained that

there are circumstances in which they may [issue warning notices] and circumstances in which they may not and they need to follow proper processes [...] there are questions that might usefully be looked at around the ease with which these things can be issued and whether the circumstances around their issue might need altering.[163]

The Minister told the Committee that the DfE is "thinking about" this challenge.[164]

95.  The Secretary of State has a responsibility to intervene where standards are falling. Mike Cladingbowl of Ofsted acknowledged that there was a specific problem in some converter academies that are "flying solo", away from any sort of central support such as a sponsor or a local authority. However, he believed that Ofsted's inspection of local authority school improvement functions should show how well local authorities will be able to support all schools in future.[165] Local authority witnesses, Mark Taylor and Nicola Cook, agreed that the local authority's role as children's champion would be important in such instances. However, Mark Taylor still voiced "some concerns, potentially, about the internal mechanisms around governance within academies".[166] Nicola Cook added that

Sir Michael Wilshaw, when he was before this Committee, was making it very clear that local authorities do not have the power of intervention in academies, but his expectation is that they would be expressing concerns to the Department. The concern there is that, if there is that loss of local intelligence and the local authorities are relying on publicly published data, then, clearly, they are old data and no up-to-date. Again, it is about that local authority's relationships with its academies and whether information is being shared.[167]

96.  Darren Northcott of the NASUWT added "we have come across examples where academies have simply refused to co-operate with a local authority trying to find out basic information about the governance of a particular academy, and that is quite a profound issue that is worth exploring in a bit more depth".[168]

97.  With less frequent Ofsted inspections for better performing schools, there was some concern that falling standards will not be identified until too late. DfE sees a continuing role for local authorities in monitoring ongoing performance. It argued that local authorities will have sufficient capacity to perform this role as school improvement services are funded based on the number of academies in the area, making the amount of resources available "proportionate".[169] However, many witnesses to the inquiry argued that this role will become increasingly difficult for local authorities to maintain as central services are dismantled due to budget restrictions and lessening demand for services. As Emma Knights of the NGA explained, "there is a slight issue now, with local authority services being pared back, about whether they will have the intelligence that they had in the past; it may make things slower rather than more speedy".[170]

98.  In oral evidence, we heard that the DfE and Education Funding Agency (EFA) have systems in place to monitor the HR and financial health of schools—indicators that can illustrate where weaknesses are appearing in a school. For example, the Academies Financial Handbook—which contains statutory and regulatory guidance with which the academies must comply—provides under section 2.2 that the board of trustees of the Academy Trust must approve a balanced budget for the financial year, and must submit this to the EFA in a form and by a date specified by the EFA. Any significant changes to budget plans must be notified to the EFA. In addition, Academy Trusts are required by law (as companies and charitable trusts) to produce and submit annual accounts setting out their actual financial performance for the previous year. These are submitted to the EFA acting on behalf of the Secretary of State as charitable regulator. The DfE provided further detail on this subject in its written evidence.[171]

99.  Responding to questions posed by us, the Academies Commission observed that "should academisation take off in the primary sector and academy status become the dominant (or total) mode across the school system, it appears unlikely that any of the designated sections at the DfE [...] could have capacity to carry out scrutiny and intervention. At present levels of academisation, it is feasible for the Office of the School Commissioner to monitor attainment (although we believe that more 'local' information could be provided by local authorities to support this)".[172]

100.  We recommend that the Government investigate the reasons why so many local authorities, and the Secretary of State, have historically been reluctant to use their powers of intervention where school governance has become a concern. Any unnecessary restrictions on the use of these powers should be lifted so that they can be used more effectively.

101.  Local authorities continue to have an important role in the monitoring and challenge of school performance between Ofsted inspections. Ofsted's inspections of local authority school improvement functions will be an important gauge of how feasible it is for local authorities to continue to undertake this role. There is a need for greater clarity on the role of local authorities in school improvement within the new school landscape and in the context of reductions to budgets. We recommend that this be addressed by the DfE as a matter of urgency.

86   Ev w4, para 3, see also Ev w22, para 31 Back

87   Q126 Back

88   Q20 (Emma Knights) Back

89   Ev 98, para 3.2 Back

90   Ev 99, para 3.5 Back

91   Ev 67, para 12 Back

92   Ev 85, paras 3.2.5-6 Back

93   Ev w66, para 2.2 Back

94   Ev w80, para 19 Back

95   Q126 Back

96   Ev 71, para 3.4 Back

97   See for example Ev w22, para 31 Back

98   Ev 109, page 9. See also Ev w3, para 10  Back

99   Q229 Back

100   Q160 Back

101   Q66 Back

102   Q125 Back

103   Ev w121, para 3 Back

104   See for example Nicola Cook, Q161 Back

105   Ev 71, para 3.6 Back

106   Ibid., para 3.5 Back

107   Q64 Back

108   Q238 Back

109   Q239 Back

110   Ev 58, para 35 Back

111   Ev 55, para 5 Back

112   Ev 56, para 16 Back

113   Ev w19 Back

114   Ev 58-9, para 40 Back

115   Q34 Back

116   Ev 70, para 2.2 Back

117   Ev 70, footnote to para 2.2 Back

118   Subsidiary guidance supporting the inspection of maintained schools and academies, Ofsted, 28 February 2013 Back

119   Q219, Anne Jackson Back

120   Ev w136 Back

121   Q219 Back

122   See for example Q20 (Fergal Roche), Q220 (Lord Nash) Back

123   Q36 Back

124   Governors' Handbook, para 1.6.2 Back

125   Q3 (Emma Knights) Back

126   Q3 (Fergal Roche) Back

127   Ev w3, para 15, see also Q64 (Chris Hill) Back

128   Q64 Back

129   Ev 68, para 19 Back

130   Q220 (Anne Jackson) Back

131   Ev 111, pages 12-13 Back

132   Ev 68, para 21 Back

133   See for example Q106 (Pat Smart and Bridget Sinclair) Back

134   Chief Inspector raises the stakes for school governance, Ofsted press release, 27 Feb 2013 Back

135   Q222 Back

136   Q106 Back

137   Q107 Back

138   Q155 (Michael Jeans) Back

139   Q155 (Mark Taylor) Back

140   Q223 Back

141   Governors' Handbook, para 1.4.3 Back

142   Ev w8, para 5 Back

143   Ev 88, para 2.3 Back

144   Q69 Back

145   Q15 (Emma Knights) Back

146   Q226 Back

147   Q13 Back

148   Q227 Back

149   Ev 57 Back

150   Q159 (Darren Northcott) Back

151   Q159 Back

152   Qq151-2 Back

153   Q225 Back

154   Ev 112 Back

155   Q225 Back

156   Legal guide a 'missed opportunity' says school governors' leader, Children and Young People Now, 16 May 2013 Back

157   Ev w21, para 12 Back

158   Ev 109, page 9 Back

159   Ev 78, para 4 Back

160   Q211 Back

161   Q174 (Mark Taylor) Back

162   Q173 (Nicola Cook) Back

163   Q93 (Mike Cladingbowl) Back

164   Q206 Back

165   Q70  Back

166   Q175 (Mark Taylor) Back

167   Q175 (Nicola Cook) Back

168   Q176 Back

169   Q216 Back

170   Q45 (Emma Knights) Back

171   Ev 123 Back

172   Academies Commission responses to Committee questions, June 2013 Back

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Prepared 4 July 2013