External validation allows for a judgement to be made following a scrutiny of the systems and practices in place drawn from evidence presented to a reviewer or assessor. Through self-evaluation, governing boards can make a judgement of their own or their school’s performance; however, an external perspective is also useful and can be seen as having ‘fresh eyes’ on a particular situation or task in hand.
Having somebody external from the governing board to assess their own practices or performance can highlight strengths and also potential areas for improvement which may have been missed. Validation can also back up statements made by the school and governing board and can reassure governors that they are on the right path for improvement.
External Review of Governance
An external review of governance looks at how well a governing board is operating within its strategic core functions. An external reviewer works with the chair of governors, head teacher/principal and a selection of governors to improve the performance of the governing board.
The review is offered as support to improve and develop governance and should not be seen as an additional inspection. It is seen as good practice to engage external validation on a regular basis to ensure improvement and stability. The review will help the governing board identify strengths and weaknesses together with priorities for improvement and development, and provide support on what steps to take. The review will also provide advice and guidance in order to assist to move governance from an Ofsted Inspection rating of ‘requires improvement’ to at least ‘good’.
A Review of Governance will help the governing board to:
- Be more skilled, focused and effective;
- Be more aware of the freedoms that it has to work in different ways;
- Be clear in its vision for the school or academy and how, together with the school leadership team, it can achieve this;
- Be confident that it has a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities;
- Have the right number of skilled and committed governors to meet the needs of the school or academy.
Why request a review?
Governing boards do not need to wait for an Ofsted inspection recommendation to seek a review. A school or academy can arrange a review of governance at any time to improve the effectiveness of the work of the governing board.
A governing board will receive a recommendation for a review of governance if an Ofsted Section 5 Inspection finds that governance is weak in a school judged to require improvement, or that leadership and management is graded as ‘requires improvement’.
In some cases, where a school has been judged as ‘requires improvement’, later monitoring visits may also result in a recommendation for a review of governance.
If an Ofsted inspection report recommends a review of governance, the monitoring inspector will expect it to be undertaken in a timely manner.
It is important to bear in mind that a governing board can choose whoever they want to conduct a review of governance; however, it is highly recommended that they ensure that the reviewer has a good understanding of governance and has successful experience of leading governors and school improvement.
The Bolton Governance Services Team provides experienced officers who have a wealth of experience of working with governing boards on matters of school and academy governance. The Service keeps abreast of all developments affecting governance and work with external partners such as Ofsted, The Department for Education, The National Governors’ Association and The National Co-ordinators of Governor Services, in order to provide the most relevant and up to date advice and support.
Information about the external review process provided by the Bolton Governor Services Team can be downloaded below.
Governor Mark Accreditation
Accreditation such as ‘Governor Mark’ is a nationally recognised award. It is a kite mark which provides external evaluation of the quality of governance in a school, academy or free school.
It is vital that governing boards are able to evidence their own process of self-evaluation and assess their impact upon school improvement. The quality mark has at its core, the work and expectations of Ofsted towards governing boards of schools in England; however, the values promoted have a generic quality that can apply to any school in the UK, including academies and free schools.
The Quality Mark for school governance recognises the Government’s performance management principles and is intended to support schools through a moderated self-review of the governing board’s contribution to leadership and management.
Governor Mark is produced and managed by the GLM Partnership and is an accreditation that lasts for a period of 3 years. Schools wishing to continue to hold this recognition will need to reapply at the end of the three year period.
The Bolton Governor Services Team offers a suite of training to assist governing boards in the preparation for the Governor Mark assessment. The five modular course looks at the accreditation process and provides guidance on what assessors will be looking for.
Further information about this training and the accreditation process, can be gained by contacting Marie Ahmad, Governance Development Officer on 01204 332104 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can download further guidance about the process or information on how to apply for the Governor Mark accreditation directly from the GLM Partnership website via the following ‘link’.