Wherever you turn, Governors are in the spotlight. Held to account for everything they should know about ‘their’ schools and expected to have a vast array of expertise and an almost limitless amount of time, Governors are now under increased scrutiny from Ofsted. It might seem surprising therefore that so many still want to become involved, but the national crisis over Governor recruitment is happily not echoed in the Jewish community.
On the contrary, our Governing bodies are flourishing as the recent PaJeS seminar demonstrated when 57 Governors from 25 different schools gathered to hear a range of talks and to exchange their own range of experiences. One of the sessions, led by Clare Collins, head of training for the National Governors Association, was about questioning and boundaries. With Governors expected to know so much about their school, how could they ensure they had sufficient information without Headteachers feeling battered and bruised by ‘overly intrusive’ Governing bodies? Other sessions were on new academy structures, a thought provoking workshop with Dr. Alex Pomson on ‘What are Jewish Schools for?’ and an overview from Dr. Jon Boyd of JPR on data obtained from the 2011 census and how this can be used by schools.
Governors are supposed to be able to take a calm, thoughtful and objective view of their schools but this is often less easy when so many of our school Governors are simultaneously part of the school’s parent body. But Heads are busy people and schools are very busy places, so it’s not always easy to translate school jargon and the demands of an ever present Department for Education into language and data that Governors can readily understand and question. PaJeS therefore is looking to organise some ‘good practice’ visits for Governors, as well as Headteachers, to offer some first-hand experience and an understanding of what is considered outstanding teaching and learning.
Meanwhile, we will try to follow up the issues raised at our event to help all Governors become the thoughtful, supportive and informed kind of critical friends Headteachers and parents deserve.