Review by Ruby Bhatti

National leader of governance, Yorkshire and the Humber

12 Feb 2022, 5:00


Ruby Bhatti’s blogs of the week, 7 February 2022

Talking our school into existence


In this blog, Nick Hart explores the importance and the impact on leaders – and their people – of having the ‘right’ conversations. And with references to the work of Chris Mowles, Peps Mccrea and Daniel Coyle, there is a great deal here that leaders and governors can learn.

I’m a chair and trustee, and Hart’s piece really resonated with me. Good conversations, however short or infrequent, can take a whole team with you and support building a positive culture of trust. But more than that, good conversations bring out passion, lead to personal and professional development and raise everyone’s standards and expectations.

How many hours MUST teachers work to be excellent?


The data presented here juxtaposes teachers’ thoughts on workload against the actual hours they report to be working. The post notes that only 39 per cent of primary teachers think it’s possible to provide quality education while working under 45 hours per week. In secondaries, it was 49 per cent – still less than half! Meanwhile, when asked how many hours they taught last week, 41 per cent across both phases said they worked over 50 hours.

As a chair of governors, I regularly raise questions about teachers’ workload and this has caused me to ask myself a few, too. Do teachers really believe it is possible to reduce workload? Are our leadership conversations supported by the reality on the ground? And how do we get away from this being another accountability question and really make it about wellbeing?

The Clerk’s Elbow: A Sense of Belonging


This is very insightful blog highlighting the need to support new clerks, especially in a system changed by the pandemic. The lack of face-to-face meetings, for example, makes it harder to ensure board members are properly welcomed. The post highlights ways we chairs can do that for our clerks and raises important points for chairs and clerks alike to consider.

This is a post that has made me reflect deeply on my responsibility as chair – not just about the practical aspect of ensuring clerks feel part of the discussions, but also about the wellbeing aspect of what can be a lonely job. Both are made more difficult by virtual meetings which many of us have quickly learned to take for granted as a new and welcome normal.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children: our role, their way


Here, former teacher Husna Kasmani shares some of her reflections on supporting inclusion and promoting equal opportunities for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people in our schools. She starts by identifying the types of support they need (from parental contact and involvement to overcoming language barriers and cultural norms) and then moves on to more systemic concerns.

The post highlights the need for a joined-up approach with other professionals and the importance of listening to what the children and young people themselves say they need. And it’s hard not to share her concern about the lack of training provided for schools supporting these young people, many of whom are experiencing significant social, emotional and mental health needs.

Kasmani’s insights into the challenges and barriers and her summary of suggestions at least help to rectify some of that. An important reminder of our moral duty and a useful post for colleagues trying to find their way to improving outcomes for these children.

What is the UK education climate like for learners with disabilities?


Based on attendance and academic achievement of 15-year-olds, the UK ranks 13th in the world for reading, writing , mathematics and science. But at what cost? Here, inclusive education officer Chris Barnes takes a highly critical look at whether the school system is working for the one to 1.3 million UK children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Barnes believes neurodiverse learners are being failed by a system overly focused on standardised assessments – making classroom inclusion very difficult. With suggestions as to what can be done to improve the situation, this blog’s analysis is a stark reminder of how important inclusion is and an urgent call to revisit our principles.

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