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

A new survey by Parentkind has found that more than a quarter of parents and carers across England, Wales and North Ireland (26%) reported that they either don’t know or have already decided they will not send their child back to school in the autumn term amidst concern over how social distancing will be managed.

In England, parents were particularly anxious about implementation of social distancing in September with a third of parents (33%) saying they would be happy to send their child back to school without it compared with around half of parents in Wales (53%) and North Ireland (46%). Meanwhile, across all three countries, only a quarter of parents (26%) reported that they had already been consulted on how the arrangements for a September return to schools will look while 65% had not but wanted to be consulted on the matter.

John Jolly, Chief Executive of Parentkind, says these results signal that “more work needs to be done by the government and schools to reassure parents and carers that it is safe for children to return to school”. He also suggests that the government needs to “be understanding of parents’ legitimate concerns” amid the finding that nearly three quarters of parents (74%) wanted the choice as to whether their child would return to school in September. This following the government’s recent guidance on full school reopenings which states that from September, attendance will once again become mandatory and absence fines will be issued.

As covered in NGA’s immediate reaction to the guidance in a previous newsletter, governing boards will need to continue to work with leaders to ensure that the communications going out to parents are clear. This communication will need to continue into the new academic year to ensure parents are as reassured as they can be, and the messaging from leaders takes account of the latest public health developments, both nationally and locally, with parents given the opportunity to share concerns.

In her latest blog - planning for a year of liberation - NGA CEO, Emma Knights reflects on the past few months and shares her thoughts on why the upcoming school year should be liberating for schools.

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.

Clarification on mass testing in secondary schools

Dear member,

We are sorry that we are contacting you at the beginning of the school Christmas holiday period. However, we felt it was important that you receive the following update.

You will be aware that the government last week announced that secondary schools and colleges will have the opportunity to introduce rapid, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for all pupils and staff from 4 January 2021.

Guidance for schools and colleges on this has now been published by NHS test and trace and the Department for Education. Planning support will be offered, training will be provided, and reasonable workforce costs will be reimbursed.

I want to take this opportunity to clarify that mass testing does not need to be in place and ready to go on 4 January: instead, leaders can begin to organise tests – including staffing and logistical matters – from that date.

If you are in conversation with your senior leaders about this, please do reassure them that this is the case and encourage them to take a break over the Christmas period.

Large scale testing is an important priority, and a valuable resource in helping to ensure a continuity of education for as many pupils as possible. In our statement released on Friday, we emphasised concern for the wellbeing and welfare of school leaders as a result of the timing of this announcement and the perceived expectation it places on schools.

NGA continues to represent the views and interests of our members in conversations with other education organisations and with ministers and civil servants. Do get in touch with if you would like to share any comments.

You can access NGA’s full range of COVID-19 recovery resources in the Knowledge Centre.

Steve Edmonds,
Director of advice and guidance, National Governance Association

Update from Emma Knights: influencing education policy

All of us at Governor HQ work hard to promote the interests of the school governance community and amplify the voice of those governing at a national level. We also bring governance expertise, evidence and perspective to many education policy discussions where it might otherwise be missing. This new monthly update is not just to keep members informed of topical issues but also to give you another opportunity to tell us what you know or would like to see.

Our relationship and regular dialogue with colleagues in the Department for Education (DfE) governance team helps ensure that the experiences and concerns of our members are reflected in a number of areas, such as the design of communications and guidance, system leadership, governor and trustee workload and governance in MATS. As a result of our relationship with the DfE they are attending our annual clerks conference on 2 March to gain valuable insight from those attending and discuss the support and professional development required in order to make clerking more consistently effective.

Last month I attended the launch of Ofsted’s annual report, where I not only heard with interest from HMCI Amanda Spielman about the activity of Ofsted over the past year and her current priorities, but also obtained a commitment from Ofsted to work with NGA on their research and review of the new education inspection framework. We continue to monitor governing boards’ experiences of inspection and will be publishing a report with recommendations for some change next month.

I am a member of the Department for Education’s headteacher standards review group which is doing what it says on the tin. As part of that work, NGA organised consultation groups with governors and trustees in London and Birmingham for the DfE to hear their views on the proposed changes, currently still confidential. This input will help shape the final version of the standards which will require Government ministers to sign off.

Steve Edmonds, our director of advice and guidance, participated in Education Support and National Association of Headteachers’ (NAHT’s) roundtable on managing the mental health and wellbeing of school leaders and staff during these compulsory changes. Governing boards will have an instrumental role to play in the new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum, especially in engaging with parents.

We have also responded to the consultation by the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) on teacher and leaders pay. This year policy on remuneration is higher profile than ever. We expect most NGA members would welcome, as we did, the Government’s intention to increase teacher’s starting pay to £30,000 a year nationally by 2022, but might be wondering about affordability and the knock-on effect for more experienced teachers. The governing board’s role in overseeing the school/trust’s budget may be in sharp relief with the role as the employer of staff in many schools. We would very much welcome views on this; this is only the first step in a significant consultation process.

I was also pleased to represent the governance perspective in the Youth Sports Trust consultation about wellness in schools, and to attend a meeting of NAHT’s School Improvement Commission which is considering how schools can be best supported to improve.

If you have views on any of these issues, please email me at

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.

Annual General Meeting notice

To assist with the ongoing and proper governance of the Company, the Annual General Meeting for 2020 will be held online in accordance with government guidance and The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. On Saturday 28 November 2020, Emma Knights will deliver the Annual Address at 2:00 pm followed by the AGM at 3:30 pm. The full notice of the AGM and supporting documents is on our constitution and accounts web page.

To book to attend the AGM

please visit our events web page.

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.

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.

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.