Give three cheers for failure - give it a Gold Star

Governors should seek it out and provide an answer to it- here are the whys and an example.


From time to time we all need the challenge of a problem. Often they present themselves when something does not run as smoothly as it should. The exposure of a weakness is often described as failure yet without this failure no one would even try to make anything better, so here is a suggestion. Don’t condemn failure nor those who fail rather welcome that they have given you the golden opportunity to analyse why and how it occurred and to shine as the person who came up with the improvement or resolution.

A question for you - Why is collaboration cooperation and communication so important in the current educational environment within our county? Well it all showed itself in the recent event I was attending. One item on the agenda was a short session on safeguarding. It was in the agenda of this event because the LA was concerned that recent Ofsted inspections had found some schools lacking in this area and consequently despite them being good or outstanding in all other areas of the inspection performance criteria Ofsted had downgraded the schools overall rating and given them only a short term to put things right before a reinspection. in one case, I understand downgraded to special measures. Present at this event, which was actually open free of charge on two dates to some 400 Surrey Governors most of whom, coincidentally to the meetings headline, had a direct responsibility for safeguarding in schools. Of course every one employed in schools and every one in governance which in Surrey is circa 60,000 people has a responsibility for safeguarding. That is not withstanding that we all as citizens have a responsibility for safeguarding. Present at the two events were a total of 25 Governors. at the second date the total present including none Governors was 15 Five people there were at least by name and position known to all attendees one person knew all present, five new between 8 – 11, five would know between 3 – 7 and four between 0 – 2. Across the group there were three people who talked regularly on and or delivered courses on safeguarding and five others who advised on or had been actively reasonability for safeguarding for more than 5 years.

Just concentrating on the three safeguarding presenters one person was known by all present for delivering and having an in-depth knowledge of safeguarding another was expected by all present to have an in-depth knowledge of safe guarding while the third person with an extensive knowledge and who may have delivered the most courses to others on safeguarding over the last 14 years was known for that ability only to me.

Now, if this is beginning to sound like one of those mind bending puzzles then you are right it is. The puzzle is this - How do we all and especially Governors ensure that we get the very best information on all current education issues in the most effective way to the maximum number of people in a timely manner? Then when delivered by what system are we able to recognises the knowledge has been well delivered, well accepted, has been clearly understood and more essentially know that it will be acted on?

So here is the rest of the puzzle - It is on this one topic only and based solely on the last time I saw them make a presentation and I have known them all over the years make several exceptional presentations on a variety of subjects.

    One of the presenters I would rate on this subject as exceptionally good.
    One of the presenters I would rate on this subject as very good
    One of the presenter I would rate as very poor

The next element of the puzzle on the subject is

    One presented for some 14 years but only to a limited audience in one part of the county
    One has presented for some 14 years in many areas of the country but especially across Surrey
    One skilled in presentations for a life time was standing in on the subject for someone else on an important occasion Final element of the puzzle.
    One of them will have significant responsibilities for implementation of suport processes for the next few years of education in Surrey.
    One will no longer be the auto ‘go to’ presenter on the subject though they will still be available to present on the subject if schools wish to purchase independently.
    One has retired .
    So you now have the what – don’t ask for the who, the where and the when they do not matter to the puzzle and would be a distraction. The how is the answer so just one bit more of the why to help you?


Why does this matter to you? Well it may not, if you can justifiably tell me why any child in Surrey is not fully deserving of the best possible education and safeguarding. However if you believe they are then surely the imperative is -How to keep every member of staff in every school, every head teacher, every teacher, every Governor and trustee fully informed, inspired and up to date and aware of all relevant educational requirements? In that, this event had failed – So what is the answer?

While education in its parts is the responsibility of many experts our responsibility as Governors and Trustees is to question and challenge the status quo and to ensure that education at all levels from birth to twenty five happens to the highest standard possible especially in our school but also in every school. Not just because we are told its good or outstanding but by taking the trouble to find out just how good and how outstanding. Then no matter how outstanding, endeavouring to facilitate its improvement before someone else pops in and tells us all differently.

That is why collaboration, cooperation, communication is so important. My experience tells me that this is something you know you are good even brilliant at. So please forget the little puzzle I’ve just set, that’s far too easy a distraction and solving the riddle as interesting as it may be will not make a difference. However if you tell me and all in governance how we make everyone else brilliant at collaboration, cooperation and communication. That way we can all be sure that every child is getting the best education and safeguarding all the time.

Geoffrey Hackett.