Review by Julia Skinner

Trustee and founder of the 100 Word Challenge

9 Mar 2019, 5:00


Julia Skinner’s top blogs of the week 4 Mar 2019

Strategic leadership (vision, ethos and strategy)


As the chair of a multi-academy trust and a federation, I found this post really useful. It is often overwhelming to know what you should be doing, but not have a clear plan to achieve it. The author describes the journey of her governing body – and what sings out at all times is how the values of the school are at the heart of what the governors do. For new chairs, this is really a great example of “here is one I made earlier”.

How do we encourage more people to volunteer?


This post has some amazing statistics that explain why governors are hard to find! The fact that people think you have to be a parent and that your role is to arrange fundraising events highlights the huge job that needs to be done to get more skilled people on governing boards. What the post does not do, however, is to suggest ways to appeal to that large group of eligible people. Organisations such as the National Governance Association (NGA) have set up campaigns, but perhaps what we need are high-profile adverts at key viewing times emphasising what governance can give the individual. I’m sure any ideas would be gratefully received, so send them over.

Governance at scale


For many outside multi-academy trust governance, the desire to join other schools can be viewed in terms of the advantages of economies of scale. This post really sets out how different it actually is. Yes, the economies are there, but for the author that is a minor benefit. It sets out some of the reasons MATs have become popular, including career progression for staff – some of whom do not want to become headteachers. It also highlights the problems governance in general has, even when it is working well. In this MAT example there isn’t the problem of not enough bodies around the table, but other practical considerations such as the capacity for trustees to fulfil an ever increasing workload. Time is often the enemy in education. With the increasing responsibility they now have, a question posed is should chairs be paid? That, however, is another discussion.

Relationships between charity boards and executive teams matter


Although this post is a review of an event attended by the author, the content is key to the effective running of a governance board. The relationship between the executive team and governors, which can be full of tension and distrust, is unpicked here with some good suggestions of how to bring about transparency. It goes into useful detail about agendas, papers and relationships, and stresses that all parties need to remember the beneficiaries they are working to support. The pupils can sometimes be forgotten.

Send governance myths


Social media is full of good advice, often from people professing to know the facts. With this post, you know right from the title what you are getting, and it clarifies several areas for those of us involved in governance and SEND. Having references to the accepted SEND Governance Review Guide, funded with DfE support, gives reassurance to its contents and certainly helped get things clear in my thinking.

The sofaology of governance


Occasionally a post gets everyone irate. People who do not usually show any emotion or reveal their views just have to say something. This was the case with the post “Surely it is time to reimagine school governors?’” It certainly created a massive response on Twitter and Facebook. Even Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA, replied. Out of the various expressions, I have chosen this one as it is written with the author’s usual humour and take on life. Do read the original first then enjoy the responses of this “agony aunt”!

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