Review by Julia Skinner

Retired head and founder of the 100 Word Challenge

5 Oct 2019, 5:00


Julia Skinner’s edu-blogs of the week, 30 September 2019

Performance management – time for a new approach?



There seems to be a change of tone in some areas of educational performance management, or appraisal, or whatever other names it has had in the past. This fact of teachers’ working lives seems to be undergoing a transition to a different approach. Looking for a process that is about “improving, not proving” a system that involves staff, rather than coercing them Rosemary here shares the research that she and her board are undertaking. The trigger for the work she describes is the Ethical Leadership Project, which is rightly popping up more and more in research across the sector.


Joint blog: changes to Ofsted inspection reports



As Ofsted’s new framework rolls out and reports of the first inspections are digested and debated among teachers and school leaders, this blog tackles a less-discussed side of school scrutiny. In a piece that reads like a conversation between them, National Governance Association CEO Emma Knights, and Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s deputy director for schools, explore the role governance will play in the new inspection regime. NGA’s concern is obviously about the emphasis placed on governance and how it will be reported. Much is made of the need for as many board members as possible to attend the detailed final feedback. I’m undecided about what to make of it, but it’s an important consideration, and an informative blog.


The Insularity Vortex



I’m a great fan of Fee Stagg’s writing. Her dry sense of humour may not be for everyone but I love the analogies she conjures up. When it comes to governance advice, there really is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. In this post, she imagines a conversation about governance between Alice and the White Rabbit. Now, you may ask what Wonderland has to do with the running of a school board, but as it turns out there is a great deal in common with an untidy rabbit hole. Governing boards are made up of people with all sorts of literary preferences, so why not enlist Lewis Carroll to help?


Questions, questions, questions



I really like the comparison Jo Penn makes between her roles as a clinical tutor and as a chair of governors. It is all in the questions that are asked. Anyone can ask why. You don’t have to be an expert, and often as a governor you are not, but it means the answer needs to be in simple terms for you to understand. The key to good governance, then, is the effective, ongoing probing of school leaders, and Jo presents a useful framework here for doing just that. At last! A clear connection between health and education.


Black and white or shades of grey?



Neil Yates always gets me thinking. His posts are often a longer read than most blogs and there is often a side story that links “the real world” with that of governance. In this post, he explores a minefield many of us in governance fear: the strategic vs operational divide. One wrong step in that no-man’s-land can bring so much angst and anger if it is not managed properly. As Neil surmises, trust is key, and blurring the line is sometimes necessary to rebuild it.


Festival of Education



Although this post was published at the beginning of the school holidays, I wish to include it here as a useful signpost for those in governance looking to the year ahead. The Festival of Education is perhaps chief among the many and respected events in the educational calendar. However, governors often feel that it is not for them as they are “not educationalists”. Naureen Khalid sets out what a governor or trustee can get out of it, so that hopefully, more governors will attend this and other such events.

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