Review by Julia Skinner

Trustee and founder of the 100 Word Challenge

18 Nov 2018, 8:00


Julia Skinner’s top blogs of the week 12 Nov 2018

Governors don’t know what they don’t know – but should they?


This is a great blog from a very experienced, knowledgable governor, focusing on what governors should be doing, but many are not. Her description of what governance used to be like is reminiscent of the parish council in The Vicar of Dibley, complete with pipe-smoking. What’s worrying, however, is the revelation from her experience conducting external reviews, that there are still boards that include “the ‘cup of tea, sticky bun and agreeing with the headteacher’ brigade”. Despite being voluntary, the role of a governor now needs real commitment to keep up to date – so ask questions and get your voice heard!

School curriculum change: What is the role for governors?


This post examines the dilemma often faced by governors over how not to stray from the strategic into the operational. The skills that governors bring to the table, often purposely selected, sometimes lead them to cross that hallowed line. In this case, the writer’s expertise is in curriculum design and development. The blog gives advice on “how to frame curriculum discussions governors should be involved in” – the set of questions for governors to ask is particularly useful to help those non-educationists who may feel adrift when it comes to fully understanding what is actually taught in schools.

Governors; necessity or nuisance in pay decisions?


Just where does the power lie when it comes to decisions about teachers’ pay? This post explains that it is the responsibility of the governing board and not the headteacher, as some may think. The process is clearly complicated, and, although the writer does try to set out some of the procedure, I found myself getting a bit lost. Nevertheless, the message is that teachers should not be worried about their pay progression – it should be part of an agreed policy. However, judging from the confusion around, I suspect there may be schools where that policy has not been agreed.

A governor’s view of the bigger picture


This is a very emotive post that not only rallies governors to the cause but also tells the government and society that “governors/trustees have a right to be at the centre of the debate about the future direction of our education system”. The main concern is about funding but it goes deeper than that. It really questions whether governors are doing their job of championing the children in their schools. The set of self-reflective questions at the end will hopefully kickstart the debate.

The thoughts of a newish governor


This is the first foray into blogging by this experienced governor, and it was the issue of funding that got them to reach for the keypad. The post outlines the work and dedication that many governors employ in their role of supporting their schools – not only through attendance at meetings but also from really getting to grips with specific areas, in this case the curriculum. However, the writer’s concern is whether they can continue to support the staff team when the ongoing reduction of finances means that the quality of experience for pupils will be reduced.

Why getting diverse bums on seats is not enough


The posts highlighted this week all have a similar theme, which is the role and voice of governors. However, a school needs a board to begin with. Penny Rabiger is a well-known Twitter presence who advocates for diversity and is prepared to debate the topic when it can feel like there is an elephant in the room. In this blog she is robust in her condemnation of the lack of diversity on school boards, and cites a variety of evidence showing that diverse boards perform more effectively. She reminds us of “the uncomfortable truth that we are all socialised and subtly conditioned”.

However, getting a variety of people of different backgrounds, genders and cultures is not enough. There is an “inherent bias” that we have to counter, which goes way beyond just appointing people who look different from the usual middle-class white male. The gauntlet is thrown down, and help is at hand with a useful reading list to get us started.

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