Impact of Governance

Impact of Governance
The impact of governance at The Skylark Partnership

 

This impact statement summarises our role as a Trust Board in the development of our Trust and the education offered to the pupils in our academies.

We have recently commissioned a review of Trust governance effectiveness and you can see the report here

You can see our action plan arising from the comments here. This forms the basis of our development plan for the forthcoming year, alongside the development points identified below. 

You can see our current governance structure on our website here. 

Self evaluation

From literature reviews, we know that the following key features have been identified as being part of effective governance. We have used this to outline what we have achieved so far and our intentions for the future.

 

Key feature

Currently

Development planned

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities (governors having a clear understanding of their role and its limits)

All trustees and local advisory board members are given a role description

Revisit in Sept. Ask people to resign codes of conduct

Strong leadership 

Chair of board and finance chair have extensive experience and lead the board meetings

Revisit training required

A chair who can effectively lead and manage the trust board/LAB

The Chair is experienced in governance and has attended various CPD courses to develop her skills

Join Chair’s network meetings nationally

Good communication between the headteacher/CEO and trust board/LAB

Weekly meetings between heads and CEO

Monthly meetings between chairs of trust board and local boards

Ensure dates are set for meetings for the academic year and include finance meetings for heads and chairs.

The headteachers/CEO being supported 

All are offered supervision and coaching. Weekly meetings between CEO and HTs

Ongoing

A shared and common vision for trust and the schools within it

All staff within the trust are consulted about the vision every 2 years. This is due to take place again Sept 2021

Planned for autumn 2021

The regular monitoring of performance data, school improvement plans and targets

Delegated to teaching and learning committees at local board level and supported by trust improvement partner

New 5 year plan and engagement of trust improvement partner are in place

A productive working relationship between the governing body and the senior leadership team an effective chair of governors 

In place

An effective clerk to support the governing body

Local clerks supporting local boards and governance professional centrally employed to support trust governance activities

Governance professional for Trust recently appointed

Having expert governors with specialist skills 

Skills audits completed annually and governor training put in place to address any gaps

Ongoing

Ensuring all governors are well trained 

Use made of local training, governor space and NGA courses

Ongoing

Governors having access to and a good understanding of relevant data

Heads report to local board on data.

School improvement partner to provide training for governors and trustees on how to make best use of data.

Ensuring all governors are well supported

Undertaken by Heads

To be further supported by governance professional

Including governors from the community in which the school is based

In place

To advertise for additional parent governors in Northants

That the size of the governing body is appropriate to the size of the school

In place and ratified in recent governance review

 

GOVERNOR TRAINING

Membership to the National Governors’ Association gives all our Trustees and local advisory access to training materials and guidance via the NGA website. 

Members of the current Governing Body can also access the following training:

  • NGA Governor Induction Training
  • Safeguarding Children and young people
  • Safer Recruitment in Education
  • PREVENT training
  • Cyber security training
  • What to expect in an Ofsted Inspection
  • Finance training for governors

The Board of Trustees also arranged for an audit of its practices and procedures to be completed by the National Governance Association, the results of which will impact on the Governing Body’s action plan for this academic year.  The Trust Board and Local Advisory Boards will also be using the Quality Mark for School Governance audit tool to inform their action plans for 2020-121.  

GOVERNANCE ACTION PLANS

This enables the Trust Board to demonstrate its focus on its three core strategic functions: ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction; holding the CEO to account for educational performance of the Trust and its pupils; overseeing the financial performance of the Trust and making sure its money is well spent.

One of the main objectives in preparing the development plan is to align the trustees’ focus on its three core strategies with the requirements of the Trust improvement plan, training requirements and any requirements arising from any external review or inspection.

Local advisory boards will be following the same procedures, holding their headteachers to account for the educational performance of the pupils and preparing the board development plan. 

THE TRUST IMPROVEMENT PLAN

Trustees work cooperatively with the CEO, headteachers and senior management in the writing and monitoring of the Trust’s Strategic Plan, which sets out the aims for the forthcoming 5 years. Individual academy improvement plans, produced in cooperation with local advisor boards, which sets aims for each academic year. The current plan is based on priorities identified from data, self-evaluation, external monitoring and any Ofsted framework updates or changes: once the academies have been inspected, they will also include Ofsted inspection priorities. The plans are set out with clear aims, the key tasks which will be completed in order to achieve these aims and the success criteria in order to measure outcomes. The plans are monitored by the trust board and local advisory board during meetings.  

TRUSTEE AND LOCAL ADVISORY BOARD VISITS

Trustees and local advisory board members visit the academies in the trust at least once a term as part of their monitoring of the Improvement Plans, Safeguarding and specific projects.  These are considered a valuable opportunity for those in governance roles to be able to work closely with staff members working in a variety of roles across the school. Link board members and trustees follow a cycle which sets out the monitoring activities which they will be undertaking with the academy and staff. 

ACHIEVEMENT OF PUPILS WITHIN THE TRUST

Through visits to academies, termly CEO and Headteacher reports and on-going review of the relevant and appropriate data (note we do not have a data dashboard in line with mainstream schools and academies) we know how the children are performing and where there are issues that need our input to address.

We look at the Trust and academies holistic educational performance against annual targets and longer-term trends, and benchmark our performance against any available national data for alternative provisions. We use this information to constructively challenge the Heateachers and CEO and other school leaders in order to ensure that any potential problems are addressed in a timely way and successes celebrated. 

This ensures that throughout the year we know how we are performing against our priorities and targets.

Key performance indicator information, including progress and attendance is made available to trustees and local board members through termly meetings with verbal and written reports followed by question and answer sessions with the relevant staff.

RAISING STANDARDS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING

Monitoring of teaching and learning is delegated in the Trust Scheme of Delegation, to the local advisory boards and their sub committees. However, there is a teaching and learning trust committee which monitors and reviews pupil progress on behalf of the trust. This board includes the headteachers from the academies within the trust. 

The Trust also works with an independent School Improvement Partner to support leaders in the academies and the trust board in their monitoring activities. Alongside this, our academies are part of the Challenge Partners Scheme and the National Association of Hospital Education Peer review network. Both of these are systems of peer reviewing. The trust welcomes external scrutiny and quality assurance of the teaching and learning within it’s academies. 

At local advisory board level, the types of monitoring activities undertaken include reviewing anonymised data showing evidence pertaining to the quality of teaching within the school; this may include feedback from classroom observations, reports on the progress of specific groups of children and scrutiny of the children’s books. Overall, this allows the local boards to track progress against our aspirational target that 100% of teaching is good or outstanding.

The local boards reviews the Head Teacher’s evidence of staff performance against targets and uses this to determine the level of pay awards, if any, for individual members of staff.   

CEO and HEAD TEACHER’S APPRAISAL

The Trust board carries out the CEO’s annual appraisal and the local advisory board carries out the annual appraisal of the Headteachers; the members of the Appraisal Committee are supported by external advisers to enable a thorough appraisal to be carried out.

The appraisal process allows us to look closely at the performance of the CEO and Headteachers, have discussions about areas of strength and weakness and set new targets against which the CEO and Headteacher’s performance will be reviewed.

This process has been an ongoing key enabler in improving pupil achievement, teaching standards and the overall leadership within theTrust and it’s academies. 

STATUTORY DUTIES

We are very mindful of our statutory duties as a Trust board and over the course of the year we have paid particular attention to Health and Safety requirements, staff and pupil welfare and Safeguarding. 

POLICIES

Trustees review all relevant Trust level policies on a programmed basis to ensure that all guidance is current and up to date.  Specific attention is paid to ensure that the school complies with the Department of Education mandatory policy list and the Local Authority recommended list. Local academies are responsible for policies which sit at the local level and are delegated to them as part of the scheme of delegation.  

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

The finances within the Trust are managed at Trust level, although local boards have some autonomy over local decisions (see finance scheme of delegation for more details). The Finance Committee of the Trust undertakes the role of ensuring that the budget is managed effectively and money is used to secure the best outcomes for our pupils. There is a full finance procedures manual which outlines the processes in more detail Here:  this includes how we secure value for money.  

The Trust also uses an external schools finance specialist team to support us in our financial compliance and reporting. 

STAFF RECRUITMENT

The CEO, Chair of Trustees and key personnel in each academy, including the headteachers, are trained in ‘Safer Recruitment’. 

Local board members are involved in the recruitment and selection of teaching staff and use the appointment process to ensure that high quality members of staff who share the school’s and trust’s vision and ethos are appointed. Trust board members are similarly involved in the recruitment of staff for the central team at the trust.

PARENT REPRESENTATION

Our local boards have representatives from our local communities who are parents: these may be current or ex-parents of pupils who have accessed our academies.  The Trust board has a member who is also a parent.

FUTURE AND CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Following our recent governance review, we know that the Trust board is operating effectively but also aware that we need to be constantly striving to improve and develop the school. As well as the actions identified from the recent review, we are also intending to: 

  • Update the skills audit of trust board and local advisory board members to identify any gaps, and if we need to recruit any more board members.
  • Develop the roles and responsibilities of link trustees and local board members. 
  • review of and implementation of recommendations from the NGA external audit and use the Quality Mark for Governance audit tool to undertake an ongoing self review at local board level
  • Trustees and local board members to attend training using NGA modules which enables us to develop our confidence and experience in our roles;
  • reflect on identified strategic risks and take steps to mitigate them;
  • constantly review policies, processes and systems in line with the statutory requirements and best practice.  
  • Review our Trust vision statement with all stakeholders to continue to ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.

Delapre Learning Centre, Northampton, NN4 8EN, United Kingdom
T: +44 (0)1604 662250
E: enquiries@skylarkpartnershiptrust.co..uk

Our Vision is to Provide access to personalised education and lifelong learning for pupils and young people with medical and mental health needs, accepting the whole child and providing hope to them and their family for an optimistic future, enabling them to make progress and achieve their full potential.

Together we can