TheSchoolBus, HCSS Education and our legal experts, Berg, will be hosting a joint event this February to discuss a solution based approach to improving governance and leadership. In anticipation, this blog piece by Berg explores the future of leadership and governance in schools and academies.
Strong leadership and governance are key factors for schools in helping deliver successful educational outcomes for their students. This can be achieved by increasing autonomy for headteachers and schools while providing them with a strong support structure to assist and encourage accountability. This support structure must include a renewed focus on the central role of governing bodies.
Recent governments have taken steps to increase autonomy for schools and headteachers by the introduction of academies, but these growing freedoms also bring an increased responsibility on the part of government to create safeguards that will maintain and improve standards. As such, more needs to be done to increase the support structures that will help to drive improvements and boost young people’s educational achievements. School leaders need a clear framework within which to act and the best way to achieve this is through greater cooperation between schools, an emphasis on professional development and more effective governing bodies.
Education and Industry Working Together
Schools and governing bodies should also acknowledge the value of school leaders with industry experience and encourage a greater exchange between the education sector and industry. This will ensure that senior management teams in academies have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience. Greater efforts must be made by the government, business and education sectors to encourage industry leaders to serve as school governors.
Stronger Governing Bodies
While many academies already enjoy the benefits of a strong and decisive governing body, there are also many that don’t and concerted action is needed to raise standards across the country, including continuing training and support for all governors. Governing bodies should be kept at a reasonable size so as not to hinder their decision-making capabilities, and their focus must always be on clear and relevant issues, both in terms of the day-to-day and the wider strategic picture.
Some governing bodies are failing in their duty to deliver consistently high standards due to a shortage of governors with the right skills and knowledge for the job. Governors recruited from the ranks of British industry can provide qualities, such as confidence and assurance, as well as a wide-ranging set of other skills. These leadership qualities are critical in supporting headteachers and staff in delivering significant improvements to their academy’s performance.
Benefits for Business
Drawing school governors from business not only brings wide-ranging benefits to the academies themselves, but it also brings important benefits to the individuals appointed and to the business organisations in which they work. And of course, in supporting the raising of educational standards, British businesses will benefit from a future workforce of highly educated and multi-skilled young people. Schools and businesses can learn from each other in improving their operations, particularly in areas such as accountability, board composition and succession planning.
Raising performance levels in UK schools to match the best in Europe could increase growth by more than 1% each year, boosting UK GDP by £8 trillion over the lifetime of a child born today. As such, it’s clear that raising educational standards should be a defining goal for the present and also for any future government, as well as for industry and the educational sector.
As employers understand only too well, successful educational outcomes are about more than exam results – school leavers need not only the right skills and knowledge, but also the right attitude to succeed. The business sector can play a vital role in improving educational standards for the benefit of everyone. Support and concerted action from government is required both now and in the future, so as to create the conditions for real improvements in our schools.
In February 2015, Berg will team up with Dame Kathy August DBE to host ‘The Future of Leadership and Governance in Education’ event, in association with HCSS Education and TheSchoolBus. This provides a fantastic opportunity for headteachers, governors and business managers working in academies to discuss practical steps in improving leadership and governance with experts in the field.
Click the link below to register your interest in the event, and let’s work together to make the future of leadership and governance in your academy a successful one.
(The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.)