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NGA Member Newsletter

Latest newsletter

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“More needs to be done” by the government and schools to reassure parents of school safety according to new survey

COVID-19 - daily contact testing in schools

The programme of daily lateral flow tests for pupils and staff who had been in close contact with a positive Covid-19 case has been paused on the advice of Public Health England. The intention of the programme is to provide an alternative to up to a whole class having to isolate if a positive case is detected, therefore increasing the potential of keeping more pupils and staff in school. However, the decision to pause the programme will enable detailed evaluation of changing circumstances and modelling work with participating schools to understand the benefits of daily contact testing in this new phase of the pandemic.

Schools should continue to test their staff regularly (twice weekly where possible and test pupils twice upon return to school) as has been the case since the start of January. Primary, school-based nursery and maintained nursery staff will be supplied test kits to self-swab, which they are asked to take home and carry out the test twice a week. Staff in secondary including special schools and alternative provision will continue to be tested in school.

While testing is not mandatory, it is “strongly encouraged” and staff don’t need to provide proof of a negative test to attend school in person.

GOLD members can raise specific questions through the GOLDline.

If you would like to raise an issue, or provide feedback about COVID-19 issues affecting your school or trust, then you can do so via covidfeedback@nga.org.uk


This page contains useful information for Surrey school governors, trustees and others. The information comes from NGA while some of the material is on our site, much more is by link direct to NGA's own website. This may open in a separate browser, when using the NGA web site you will be subject to their Terms and Conditions of use.

After use you may be able to use the return or you may need to reopen your link to this SGA website dependant on your browser.

Research finds poorer pupils are struggling most in second period of school closures

The Sutton Trust has published new research on how teachers and parents are responding to the second period of school closures.

The intensity of online teaching has increased since the first lockdown and schools are now better prepared. However, the research shows socio-economic gaps remain: 40% of children in middle class homes are learning for over five hours a day, compared to just 26% of those in working class households.

The Trust is concerned that the cumulative impact of school closures on the attainment gap between poorer students and their classmates - on top of 9 months of disrupted schooling – is likely to be of an unprecedented scale.

NGA’s Knowledge Centre provides information on remote learning and how governing boards can monitor their school’s provision. You can also find information on how to reduce the impact of school closures on disadvantaged pupils.


COVID-19: Research reveals wide scale impact on pupils across England

Research conducted by ImpactEd reports on the experiences of more than 62,000 pupils in England over an eight-month period during COVID-19. The research found five key findings:
During the first period of remote teaching, pupil wellbeing was stable.
Challenges with remote learning were felt more strongly by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Pupils in year 10 and 11 experienced the greatest challenges with motivation for learning.
Girls experienced greater anxiety about returning to school and while in school.
Children who struggled the most during lockdown were not always those previously identified as vulnerable.
This large-scale study highlights key issues that teachers and school leaders have faced and aims to be used as wider post-crisis analysis to recover from and move beyond the pandemic.

If you are a parent with school-aged children, the Child Poverty Action Group would like to hear about your experiences in a new survey asking families and pupils about their experience of this academic year as part of their Cost of the School Day project.


Celebrate your achievements and excellent practice in the Outstanding Governance Awards 2021.

If your board, clerk or lead governance professional has made a significant contribution to your school or trust, why not nominate them in NGA's Outstanding Governance Awards, which are now open for entry.

These are the only national awards to recognise the impact of good governance on the education of children and young people. The awards provide entrants with a unique opportunity to gain recognition through a rigorous judging process and to inspire others with their excellent practice.

Six categories are available:
  • Outstanding governance in a single school
  • Outstanding governance in a multi academy trust (sponsored by Forum Strategy)
  • Outstanding governance in a federation
  • Outstanding clerk to a governing board
  • Outstanding lead governance professional
  • Outstanding vision and strategy

  • Entry is free and the awards are open to all state-funded schools in England. The deadline for nominations is 9am on Monday 26 April 2021.

    Nomination forms can be downloaded from the NGA website and should be completed and returned to awards@nga.org.uk along with any supporting information required.


    Research finds detrimental impact on parent mental health while supporting with home learning

    Research from the University of Oxford has investigated the impact of parents’ and carers’ mental health while supporting children with home learning. The study identified that levels of stress, depression and anxiety have increased with the pressures of providing support to children during the national lockdown.

    Many parents expressed that they were worried about their children’s future, particularly those of secondary- age. Higher levels of stress were detected in low-income families, single-parent households, and those with children with special educational needs. Research also found that levels of stress and anxiety fluctuated throughout the year, stress being at its highest before the Christmas break.

    Ensuring stakeholder voices are heard is a core function of governance, and effective communication with parents as an essential component of every schools’ response to, and management of, the COVID-19 pandemic. NGA has produced an information sheet that provides questions and advice for governing boards in relation to parental communication and engagement during this period. Effective communication is essential to provide reassurance and confidence to parents while setting out plans remaining inclusive and sensitive to different cultures and circumstances.


    Huge successes for NGA's DfE- funded Leading Governance programmes

    As nearly 1,500 chairs, vice-chairs and aspiring chairs have now accessed the DfE-funded De- velopment for Chairs programme. NGA’s Leading Governance team and NGA con- sultants are working hard to deliver leadership development training for the 814 board leaders who are signed up to the Development for Chairs programme. Participants are adapt- ing well to virtual delivery with many re- porting that they will be taking the format back to their own governing boards and their places of work. NGA’s Development for Clerks programme has 394 active learners all working towards their ac- credited level 3 qualification, and all of our 96 cohorts are being delivered virtually, spanning the length and breadth of England.

    Secure your place at NGA's webinar on Good Governance

    Places are filling up fast for NGA’s first webinar of 2021. Book your place now to join Emma Knights (NGA’s Chief Executive) next Thursday, 28 January at 4.30-5pm for an introduction to what constitutes good governance.

    The webinar will explore the three pillars of good governance
    • Ethical governance
    • Effective governance
    • Accountable governance

    And how they need to be built on agreed values and a healthy culture.
    To book a free place: see https://www.nga.org.uk/News/Webinars.aspx

    Make governance more visible by taking one small action

    As part of our Visible Governance in Schools campaign, we have created a list of practical things you can do at home, at work and in your school or trust to help raise the visibility of governance. By taking one small action, we can help more people understand the role and the difference it can make in improving the lives of children and young people.

    Find the full list of actions on our Visible Governance action page along with key resources and more information about how you can get involved with the campaign.

    Share your activity and photos with us using #VisibleGovernance on twitter and you can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn, or email us at visible@nga.org.uk.


    COVID-19 - contribute to NGA's Ofqual 2021 exams alternative consultation response

    Following last week’s newsletter update regarding alternative arrangements for the 2021 exams, Ofqual’s consultation on the arrangements for GCSE, AS and A level grades for 2021 has subsequently gone live. NGA will be responding directly and now is your chance to feed your views and concerns discreetly to help form our response. Email NGA’s Director of Policy and Information, sam.henson@nga.org.uk with your thoughts by 27 January in order for us to feed your views through our response in an entirely confidential manner by the consultation closing date on 29 January.

    Tell us your views on the following:
    1. Grades being based on teacher assessment of the evidence of the standard at which their students are performing
    2. When and how teachers make their final assessment of student performance
    3. The evidence that should be used to make these assessments and any time limit placed on the work used as evidence
    4. The use of exam board papers to support teacher assessment and whether this is optional or mandatory
    5. The time period for assessments to be made and whether assessments should be taken within the school
    6. Both the internal and external quality assurance process
    7. Student appeals process, what grounds these should be made on, how and by whom appeals are considered by

    Please send all feedback to the above points, or anything else in relation to the consultation directly to sam.henson@nga.org.uk


    National voucher scheme opens to those eligible for free school meals

    On 18 January, DfE announced that schools can now order vouchers for pupils eligible for free school meals. Vouchers are worth £15 a week per child and schools can order gift cards for supermarkets on behalf of parents and carers. The scheme is run by Edenred, who also ran the scheme between March and August 2020, and ten retailers are part of the scheme.

    Further guidance has been produced by the DfE explaining how schools can order and distribute vouchers which can be found here.

    Alternatively, schools still have the option of providing lunch parcels instead of vouchers if they wish.


    House of Commons Education Select Committee reports on grading system Following the ‘Getting the grades they’ve earned’ report produced by the Education Select Committee last week, the committee has called on Ofqual to demonstrate how they have ensured a level of “fairness” for standardising grades. The report highlights the potential risk of “bias and discrimination against already disadvantaged groups”, noting concerns that the standardisation model “does not appear to include any mechanism to identify” whether groups have been systematically disadvantaged by calculated grades.

    The committee identifies five ways of making the system fairer:
    1. Publishing their standardisation model so that it can be debated and scrutinized as the current model does not seem to acknowledge those who are systemically disadvantaged;
    2. Ofqual to publish the evidence thresholds as while pupils can appeal their grade, the methods for doing this may not be accessible for those who are most at risk;
    3. Provide evidence for grading for SEND pupils’ families so where there are concerns about grades teachers much be able to provide evidence-based reasoning for their decisions;
    4. An advice system and helpline which will be accessible to pupils concerned about their grades and can be used by staff;
    5. Continuing support from the government including guidance now that they have provided pupils with an opportunity to sit exams at the earliest occasion (however, the committee itself does support proposals to delay exams if possible).

    Despite the best efforts of schools to provide continuity of education for all pupils during lockdown, there is no doubt that disadvantaged pupils will have experienced greater challenges than most of their peers. As school leaders and staff deal with the factors outlined in ASCL’s new guidance on results days in 2020, governing boards should be mindful of the challenges school staff face when interacting with students who believe they have been disadvantaged by this year’s process. Governing boards will want to seek assurances that the organisation is doing all it possibly can to support students to progress to the next stage of their education or employment. You can read more on the role of governing boards in reducing the impact of COVID-19 school closures on disadvantaged pupils here.


    Ofsted’s annual report and accounts released This week, Ofsted released their annual report and accounts document which is the first since the implementation of the Education Inspection Framework last Autumn. The report outlines Ofsted’s performance, the structure of Ofsted and the key discussions on the board from 2019-20.

    Key findings according to the report include:
    • The overall response to the new framework was positive following an inspection of over 11,000 education providers in total.
    • Around nine in 10 providers stated that they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the inspection experience.
    • In comparison to independent schools, state schools were less satisfied with their inspections.
    • Initial findings suggest that a minimised focus on data has led to a reduction in teacher workload in some schools and further research will be published later in the year.
    • 81% of parents found their child’s setting’s inspection report useful and nearly nine out of 10 parents know their child’s setting’s Ofsted rating.
    • Over 600 Ofsted staff have been redeployed to support with the response to the coronavirus since March which included support in local authorities, on the frontline and other governmental departments.

    A view from the board: Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework, provides insights and key learning looking directly at the experiences from governors and trustees whose schools had undergone an Ofsted inspection pre-COVID under the new inspection framework. You can also listen to episode 2 of our new podcast series, Governing Chatters, which explores these findings further here.

    NGA continue to follow Ofsted’s most recent announcement about plans for school visits in the autumn term, as stated in last week’s newsletter, many of you have made it very plain that a published letter with next steps might not feel supportive during an exceedingly busy term, and we are in dialogue with Ofsted about the detail of their plans in an effort to ensure the visits are truly collaborative and not inspectorial.

    How NGA can support governors and trustees around Ofsted

    NGA continues to support governors and trustees and work with Ofsted around the new Ofsted inspection framework. Members can find details on guidance, e-learning and research aimed at ensuring that governance remains a prominent element in the Ofsted inspection process.

    Click here to read more.

    New Edition of Welcome to Governance available

    NGA is pleased to announce that the latest edition of its induction guide Welcome to Governance is now available

    Click here to read more.