Local Leaders of Governance

Local Leaders of Governance is a scheme of school-to-school support for chairs and governing bodies, aimed at raising standards and improving governance.

The scheme in Bradford district:

  • provides appropriate support and challenge to the senior leadership of schools
  • provides support from experienced chairs to inexperienced chairs
  • helps governing bodies in challenging circumstances develop confidence and additional expertise
  • assists school improvement by developing partnerships, supporting and extending good governance models and spreading good practice
  • helps chairs and governing bodies focus on their strategic responsibilities, develop effective monitoring and evaluation systems and ensure accountability to stakeholders
  • raises chairs’ understanding of their accountability in leading change and securing improved schools

The scheme is an extension to the well-established partnership arrangements used for brokering school-to-school support.

Discussion with chairs identified the need to develop partnerships between schools and within localities, and foster effective relationships and shared objectives with school leaders, as a means of leading governing bodies from comparative weaknesses to sustainable improvement.

Chairs expressed the view that governors were sometimes isolated from effectively contributing to partnerships, even when their schools were constructively involved.

Success in launching the initiative and maximising its initial impact was dependent upon effective communication with partners, notably chairs but including the National College for Teaching and Leadership and the Church of England Diocese West Yorkshire and the Dales.

Local Leaders of Governance has assisted 17 fellow chairs and governing bodies to raise the level of challenge and support for school leaders in primary and secondary schools, denominational and community schools, Pupil Referral Units. It has also supported members of Interim Executive Boards (IEBs) and Shadow Governing Bodies.

The scheme helps to improve school performance by supporting chairs to focus on raising standards and leading improvement, understand their strategic role and interpret data, and supporting relationships between headteacher and chair by:

  • coaching chairs in developing solutions to identified issues
  • providing effective challenge to senior leaders
  • assisting chairs develop productive relationships with school leaders

The scheme also improves governance skills and understanding by:

  • assisting chairs evaluate their performance and develop their leadership, effectiveness and confidence
  • observing governing body meeting
  • providing advice on procedures, protocols and behaviours
  • assisting chairs identify priorities and develop action plans
  • mentoring chairs through particular issues
  • providing expertise to assist with a particular aspect of a governing body’s work
  • signposting or brokering training and support

Termly meetings ensure the scheme meets its objectives and responds to new demands.

The impact

The Local Leaders of Governance scheme has successfully met its main objectives and is well placed to grow. As a result, the local authority has access to governors with a wealth of experience who are prepared to be deployed to, or support, governing bodies of schools causing concern or those schools not yet good.

Achievement has risen and governance standards have improved in all schools where Leaders of Governance have been deployed and this is reflected in inspection outcomes. Examples of successful support include Bradford District PRU, Lower Fields Primary School, and Sandal Primary School which together illustrate a range of positive interventions ranging from advice and support for chairs, adding capacity to governing bodies, and individual case work with governors.

Writing to acknowledge Local Leaders of Governance support one chair wrote: “Our meetings helped inspire me to continue with the role, as I was considering resigning. We have just had Ofsted and I think I was able to show good leadership of the governing body.”

Inspectors have commented on the scheme’s positive impact as the following extract indicates: “The IEB has a very clear view of the school’s progress. Meetings focus sharply on monitoring improvement priorities and shaping the strategic direction of the school. The IEB is working closely with the local authority governor service.”

All new chairs are provided with information about the scheme and chairs and governing bodies are matched according to experience or challenge.

Evidence indicates the scheme has assisted in raising school and Academy performance by supporting school improvement, preparing for and responding to inspections, encouraging better governance processes, including developing chairs’ leadership, effectiveness and confidence, and by reviewing governance procedures, protocols and behaviours.

Local Leaders of Governance has provided support to chairs and governing bodies facing a range of challenges including relationships with head teachers, leading schools to Academy status, governance issues, where schools require improvement or are inadequate, and support in using data to monitor and evaluate progress.

Local Leaders of Governance have helped build capacity by joining governing bodies and Interim Executive Boards and modelling good practice. Evidence of success includes improved conduct of governing body, better understanding of statutory responsibilities, evidence of challenge and relationship building.

Get involved

School governing bodies have considerable responsibilities. In order that these responsibilities are carried out effectively, it is essential that every governing body is at full strength, has the appropriate balance of representation and that governors with a range of relevant skills are recruited.

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