How to make sure policies are fit for purpose
Insight – Primary School
What was the issue addressed?
Reorganising of the business of school governors – in our case it became clear in the run up to an inspection by Estyn that the governing body was only paying lip service to keeping policies up to date.
The decision was made to create a policy committee. The composition of this committee brought together a number of skills from a range of governors. The committee has systematically worked through the school policies to bring them up to date, and then keep them up to date through annual review. The process means that policies are interrogated as to whether they reflect what actually happens in the school, and whether the policy and the actions within the school need to change.
The committee then forwards the policies, together with observations, to the full governing body for scrutiny and ratification. This process means that policies are scrutinised in a focused way and the full governors meetings are freed up for other matters.
What lessons were learnt?
This has been a successful process, and has made the governing body more effective in the way that it uses its time, and in checking the processes in place in the school.
One of the main responsibilities of governing bodies is “setting policies for the school for achieving the aims and objectives”. Source: The Terms of Reference (Wales) Regulation 2000.
Schools have numerous policies in place, many of which are statutory, which all need to be kept up to date and must be fit for purpose. When governing bodies have a large number of agenda items to discuss at meetings, policies are sometimes rubber-stamped rather than scrutinised and discussed before agreement.
Setting up a committee for reviewing policies is a really good idea, as this leaves more time at full governing body meetings to discuss, monitor and evaluate school improvement priorities.
Local Authorities usually draft policies relating to staffing, which have already been consulted on with the local trade union representatives.
It is best practice to have a review checklist in place, where all the policies are reviewed over a period of time, for example three years. That said, even with a rolling review period in place, policies can be reviewed earlier, if for instance an issue was brought up which highlighted a possible flaw in a policy. Some policies however, must reviewed on an annual basis. Governors Cymru Services has a list of statutory policies and documents that governing bodies need to have in place.
Does your governing body have a strategy in place for reviewing school policies?
Are there ways that your governing body could conduct its business more efficiently and effectively?
Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?