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Scrutiny of Individual Schools
17-03-2011, 06:07 PM
Post: #1
RE: Scrutiny of Individual Schools
Back in the day the Schools Organisation Committee (or equivalent) could do this but now you're on shaky legal ground even for a maintained school. Post-2005, even maintained schools are broadly "independent" of direct council control and it is difficult even for the director of education to "haul in" a head or chair of governors of a school that's behaving poorly.

If you were going to do this I would suggest delicate handling - starting with an informal discussion with the chair of governors. It might be better to do any work jointly with them.

Of course, if problems in performance relate to the governing body...

Consult the monitoring officer and the director of children's services - they should be able to give you a steer as to whether this is appropriate.

As usual, what will happen now is that someone will come along saying that they did something like this only last week and it was a fantastic success. Damn my imperfect knowledge of scrutiny.
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18-03-2011, 11:59 AM
Post: #2
RE: Scrutiny of Individual Schools
Hello yes we have done some work with individual schools based upon their Estyn Inspection and resulting action plans, although we are at early stages. The schools have been completely engaged and the head teacher and chair of governors from each school attended a meeting of the Children, Young People and Learning Overview and Scrutiny Board in September. Four schools attended, all giving individual presentations followed by Q&A with members. It was relatively successful although a little ambitious with the number of schools the Board could speak to in one sitting. Members agreed in future to speak to two in a sitting.

At the Board meeting on the 28th March the Board will do some more follow up work with one of the schools they spoke to in September, with the Head teacher and Chair of Governors. You are very welcome to come along.

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18-03-2011, 12:07 PM
Post: #3
RE: Scrutiny of Individual Schools
We discussed but never did a scrutiny of an individual school here in Southwark - ages ago.

It was suggested by our then director of education, who thought there was much to be gained from scrutiny councillors getting under the skin of why a school is not performing well. I agree with Ed about the barriers, and certainly in the case we explored the idea was for the director to persuade the school to voluntarily participate. I can't entirely remember why we didn't do it but suspect members couldn't see the "win" for them if it all has to be very cloaked in protocols and confidentiality.

Switching to my school governor hat now, I would question how much benefit could be brought from a group of scrutiny members who (presumably) don't know the ins and outs of the school's story. Though if it is a poor performing GB, perhaps the intervention would be a useful shot across their bows? Tricky territory re the head teacher too - their governance relationship is pretty tightly locked down with the GB. One avenue worth pursuing is the LA governors - they could be asked about their scrutiny role in the school, and I don't see why they can't be asked to improve the critical friend aspect of their work.
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20-03-2011, 07:01 PM
Post: #4
RE: Scrutiny of Individual Schools

At Blackpool the Committee scrutinises Ofsted Inspection reports from all schools, inviting the Headteacher and Chairman of Governors to address the Committee to add context, informatin and share challenges they face with Members. (This can be time consuming but Members feel it adds value.)

We had one school which was issued with a notice to improve and was invited back at a 6 month interval to address the Committee with regards to the improvements and progress against the school action plan. Members endorsed the support of the LA Officers and Diocese in ensuring continuous improvement.

Officers also delivered, over the course of 3 or 4 meetings, contextual presentations on all Blackpool Schools, covering attendance, performance, SEN, Free School meals etc which informed future scrutiny work on single issues.

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