“What I would like to see happen in 2019?” by Raj Unsworth (@rrunsworth; Blog 11 2018-19)

What I would like to see happen in 2019?

HTRT colleagues were asked to put together a quick 100 word statement in response to the above question. I’m afraid mine has turned into a short blog so please bear with me!

As an experienced trustee/governor I would like to see more equity, equality, fairness and transparency in education in 2019.

Governance

* The majority of issues highlighted by EFSA reports for MATs and investigations in maintained schools, indicate more effective governance is required. Yet the DfE baulks at mandatory induction, training and CPD for trustees and governors. This has to change.

* Whilst successive ministers and David Carter, ex-NSC have acknowledged the importance of good governance, this does not translate into action on the ground. Until governance is moved higher up the agenda there will be little change. A governance bug bear – why is it that weak governance in cited when things go wrong yet good governance is not mentioned when CEOs are held up as great leaders of successful MATs?

* Whilst there may be more requirement for reporting in MATs, there is little accountability at the top, at both board and executive levels. Why are those responsible for abject failures able to continue as trustees/leaders? This needs to be addressed if confidence is to be restored in system.

* Whether we like it or not, Ofsted is here to stay. It seems inherently unfair that mainstream schools and SAT boards and leaders are held to account by Ofsted, yet MAT boards and exec leaders (which impact far more staff and children) are not. The latest proposals for MAT inspection do not go far enough. Legislation and a framework is required.

* Governing Bodies and boards need to embrace ‘diversity’ in its widest sense. I would like to see more BAME trustees and governors. What are you doing to ensure your GB/board is more representative of society?

Recruitment and retention

* The profession has highlighted issues for a while, with some regions and schools struggling more than others. These are often linked to the current high stakes accountability. One which continues to appal is the firing or enforced resignation of HTs following a poor Ofsted or poor set of results. Sometimes when little or no support has been forthcoming from the MAT/LA for school improvement.

* Inequity of funding, both core and for pupils with SEND means many schools have had to restructure, which often results in the loss of experienced staff. Sometimes in schools which can least afford to lose good staff. Equity in funding is long overdue.

Ethical and moral leadership

* Often referred to with respect to executive leaders although it applies equally to GBs and boards. Of particular concern are the reports of off-rolling which Amanda Spielman, HMCI, has already cited as an issue in her recent report. Are the GBs/boards aware? If not, why not? Why are they failing to hold executive leaders to account? What is Ofsted doing about this?

* Schools exist to educate ALL children. It saddens me that report after report indicates we are letting down the most vulnerable children – SEND, PP, FSM, LAC. We must do better.

Last but not least:

Parents

A failing of the academy system appears to be that parents do not have a voice. This is just plain wrong. Education is a partnership between school and home. Schools must be encouraged to engage with parents.

Thank you for reading.

Raj Unsworth is Specialist Adviser to core group of HTRT. She is passionate about governance and is a chair of a multi-academy trust board of trustees. 

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