Archive | December, 2014

How should a governor deal with a parental complaint?

9 Dec

Governors have the responsibility of drawing up a policy for dealing with parental complaints that are not concerned with admissions, exclusions and special educational needs, which are the subjects of separate statutory arrangements.  The policy should be simple, transparent and displayed on the school website.

There is a hierarchy for dealing with grumbles.

  1. School staff and the headteacher handle criticism and concerns informally, in the first instance, when they are not formal complaints.
  2. Formal complaints are made in writing and may be complemented or clarified with oral presentations.
  3. A formal complaint must be investigated and handled as swiftly as possible and the complainant kept fully informed throughout all stages of the investigation, preferably in writing.
  4. Each complainant should receive a formal response in writing once the investigation is complete.
  5. If, in the course of an investigation, the governing body considers that disciplinary action should be taken against a member of staff, disciplinary proceedings must be initiated.

Continue reading

How does the managing of school finances differ from business?

9 Dec

It is not unusual for a governor with an industrial background to seek clarification on how the management of school finances differs from a business.

In brief, a school’s income comes from government – and, where the school is not an academy or free school – via the local education authority.   It is fixed, predicated on the wealth of the nation and reliant on the public taxes. In other words, you and I, who benefit from education, also pay for it.

A business, on the other hand, derives its income from providing goods and services that generate profit.   The better the product is the greater will the income be enabling the business to grow.   The worse the product, the less the income resulting in the company shrinking until it goes to the wall.     Initial success creates the inertia to have future successes.  If nothing succeeds like success, nothing fails like failure. Continue reading

Interactions of Non-Staff Governors with Staff Representatives

9 Dec

The role of a staff governor is unique, in that the staff member is part of a discrete interest group with whom s/he interacts daily.

Colleagues will have expectations of the governor they elect.  They expect her/him to

  • keep them informed about what’s coming up;
  • listen to their concerns;
  • ensure that their concerns are passed on to the governing body; and
  • be briefed about the outcomes of meetings – especially on those aspects that affect their work.

There are dilemmas.  Continue reading

The Education of Summer-Born Children – Keeping Pace with Others

9 Dec

A child in this country is said to be of a particular school age when it is calculated from 1 September of one calendar year to the 31 August of the next.    In some other countries like India, the academic year coincides with the calendar one.

The statutory school age for children in England and Wales is in the term following her/his fifth birthday.  However, most local authorities admit children into the reception age group at the beginning of the academic year in which they turn five.

For summer-born children, this means that they are only from a month to three of having turned four years old. In some cases, children have their birthdays in the latter half of August, which makes them exceedingly young when they start main schools.  In the early years the rate of development is hugely more than the rate at which children develop in the primary and secondary phase.  By the time a human being comes to the age at which this writer is, development virtually ceases if not moves backwards.

Accordingly, parents are concerned that a very young reception pupil – i.e. someone who has just turned four – will be left behind the rest of the class in the learning that is going on.   So what can be done?  Continue reading

Can local schools flourish as local authorities wither?

9 Dec

Local authorities (LAs) appear to be withering on the vine.   Schools, which have chosen to remain with them for different reasons, are in a dilemma because of the increasingly “hands-off” approach the LAs are taking to their institutions.  In the past, whatever the quality of service that an LA offered, the structure was there for schools in an area to link and work together.  This can no more be taken for granted for two reasons.

(i)            First, the much reduced finances of LAs make it very difficult to provide the number of services once offered schools.

(ii)           Second, schools have been forced to compete with one another – for the purposes of attracting pupils – because more pupils mean more money for the school and the better the quality of the pupils admitted means that there is more chance for the schools to climb up the league tables in examination results.  Continue reading

How much time should a school governor spend on governance?

9 Dec

Michael Gove, former Secretary of State for Education, disparagingly spoke of some school governors who volunteer to serve so that they can attend meetings as social gatherings for tea and sympathy and to sing collectively Kumbayah.     This incensed many governors and governor groups, among others, the National Governors’ Association to whom he apologised.   Rightly so.

The work of governors has increased is profound – if done properly.  Duties and responsibilities which formerly were in the purview of the local authority have transferred to governing bodies so that two fundamental requirements for governors are that they

(i)            have skills to contribute to school governance – in areas such as the law, human resources, finance and, of course, the curriculum and pedagogy – and

(ii)           are prepared to give time and energy to the school. Continue reading