Review by Ruby Bhatti

National leader of governance, Yorkshire and the Humber

4 Dec 2021, 5:00


Ruby Bhatti’s blogs of the week, 29 November 2021

Inspection Reports: Scratching the Surface


Former HMI Julie Price Grimshaw was mentored by someone who believed that the quality of written reports was paramount to inspections’ credibility. Here, she analyses 51 recent Ofsted reports for signs of consistency and fairness.

The post is highly critical, highlighting common criticisms of schools, the regularity with which blame is placed on leaders, and the considerable emphasis placed on pupils remembering ‘important knowledge’. However, Price Grimshaw recognises that most of the problems arise from Ofsted’s decision to inspect schools during a pandemic, rather than the shortcomings of inspectors themselves, who she believes should use common sense and be realistic in their expectations of schools still struggling through Covid-19.

As trustees, governors and chairs, we certainly recognise that we are not in a ‘post-pandemic’ world. This blog’s analysis is a stark reminder that the inspectorate is making few allowances for that.  

When Quality Assurance Goes Wrong


This is the first in a series of blogs in which Jonathan Mountstevens explores school quality assurance. Here, he looks at why and how it fails.

The post begins with a definition of quality assurance and an account of its ubiquity in school leadership practice. Mountstevens then goes on to examine the challenges leaders face with implementing it, including looking in the wrong place, seeking the wrong outcome, relying on personnel and resources that are insufficient for the task, and finally having an outright malign intent.  

The blog has already caused me to think again about the potential consequences of quality assurance, what to quality assure and how to go about it, and I’m looking forward to the next two in the series.

The Role of Governors in Schools – and How Parents can get Involved

Nina Sharma via @Parentkind

In this blog, National Governance Association policy officer Nina Sharma writes about the role of governing boards in building positive parent-school relationships. It’s about more than having parents on the board, she argues, centring the easily forgotten fact that parents and carers are key to a child’s education and personal development.

Sharma lists various ways that governing bodies can build stronger relationships with parents, and explains why it’s vital to a school’s success to do so. And for those struggling to go beyond listening and to truly engage, she also reminds us that Parentkind works closely with the NGA to support parents and governing boards to make the most of this mutually beneficial relationship.

A moral call with practical support towards genuine school improvement. What more could you want from a blog?

Pump up the Volume


Here, Fee Stagg raises pertinent questions which I am sure have crossed many chairs’ minds in governing body meetings. Is this the same voice? Why is the same person always asking the questions?

Pointing out that even the layout of the meeting room and where the clerk sits are important factors to encourage participation, Stagg also offers advice on how to encourage quiet governors to get involved. Her simple and effective tips, like offering governors the opportunity to ask questions in advance of meetings and linking governors with key lines of inquiry to build confidence, are sure to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

All of which makes for an important blog, not just for chairs, but for anyone running a meeting in school.

Understanding Wellbeing


Last but not least, Zoe Enser provides a very thought-provoking blog about wellbeing, with useful and practical advice for school leaders on how to promote it (and how not to). Reflecting on the pressures teachers experience during and beyond the school day, she argues that leading for wellbeing can’t be allowed to take the form of add-ons and activities. Instead, careful thought needs to go into supporting “our most valuable resource”.

The same applies to supporting school leaders, something that is always high on my agenda as a governor and trustee and should be for all of us.

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