Review by Naureen Khalid

Chair of governors and trustee, Connect Schools Academy Trust

26 Jun 2021, 5:00


Naureen Khalid’s blogs of the week, 21 June 2021

Naureen Khalid takes a governor’s perspective a=on the week’s top blogs and focuses on leadership, the reading gap, lesson visits and conducting hybrid meetings


What is school leadership?

@TomRees_77 and @Barker_J

This is the first in a series of blogs in which Tom Rees and Jennifer Barker will explore school leadership. Here, they start by giving us some statistics for context: 200,000 people work in school leadership positions in England, but by 2022 almost one in four schools will be facing a shortage of school leaders.  

When people talk of school leaders, they often focus on CEOs and heads, but the large majority are actually middle leaders. And because their responsibilities and the contexts in which they work vary hugely, knowing how best to support them to develop is not easy.  

Rees and Barker make the point that although classroom teaching is increasingly becoming an evidence-informed profession, more needs to be done as far as school leadership is concerned. They go on to offer three models of leadership: transformational, instructional and distributed. I’m already looking forward to reading examples and exploring the pros and cons of each.


Papering over the reading gap


This is an important blog by James Murphy, in which he sets out his concerns about the use of coloured overlays as an intervention strategy for pupils with reading difficulties. First, he says, there is no scientific evidence for this practice. Then there is the fact that many teachers seem unaware of the research. And lastly, there’s the question of using limited resources on a poorly (or indeed un-) evidenced intervention.  

Murphy goes on to tackle the “even if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t do any harm” defence. He counters, convincingly, that the harm is in medicalising a reading problem, which labels pupils and makes it appear unsolvable by teachers. Instead, Murphy would like us to concentrate on teaching, rather than using this “sticking plaster”.  

As a governor, I will definitely be applying Murphy’s approach to other intervention strategies to ensure that all our resources – including teachers’ time – is deployed as effectively as possible.


What are we doing? Are we all doing it?


This blog is aimed at school leaders, but reading it I was struck by how much governors and trustees could benefit from it too. Here, Ben Newmark writes about lesson visits and what they can and can’t tell us.  

The purpose of lesson visits, he argues, is not to judge whether progress is being made or if pupils have learned anything. Learning is invisible and happens over time. Instead, Newmark proposes that lesson visits should be used as temperature checks to see if the environment is calm and orderly. He also describes using these visits to gauge whether pupils know what they are meant to be doing and if they are doing what the teacher wants them to do.  

A calm, orderly classroom, where pupils are on task and understand what is expected of them, doesn’t necessarily mean learning is taking place. But without those conditions, it almost certainly won’t. That’s an argument I’ll be keeping in mind when I next visit classrooms.


Enunciate darling!


When the country went into lockdown, governors and trustee meetings went online. In this blog, Fee Stagg looks to the future and asks about plans for meetings in a post-lockdown world. Will governors and trustees go back to all meetings being face-to-face, or will some opt for a hybrid model?  

Assuming the latter, Stagg then gives her top tips for effective hybrid meetings. She would like people to remember that even if someone is participating via a video link, they are still in the meeting. Equally important to remember is to speak facing the screen as that makes it easier for people joining in virtually to follow the conversation. Stagg also urges boards to consider investing in technology to support their decision to hold at least some meetings virtually.  

Stagg’s other tips are standard meeting fare, but easy to forget in the context of a hybrid meeting. Which makes it altogether a very useful reminder for all involved.


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