Linked to this change, the SLT had believed that they were performing to a high standard and setting example for other schools in the county. They believed that their practices were effective and successful. The change of Head revealed that this was not the case. Discrepancies between teacher assessments and test results showed that teaching standards had slipped and pupils were making less progress than believed. The Governing Body did not understand data sufficiently to effectively challenge staff assumptions.
Series of reviews and mini-inspection being undertaken to identify current baselines and plans in place to address shortfalls. Training being undertaken.
The Local Authority will have information and guidelines about the headteacher appointment process. Governors Cymru Services also has a useful governor guide to assist you.
In this case study, it is understandable that the deputy headteacher would be disappointed that they were not appointed, this is only natural. Ultimately, the governing body would have appointed the best person for the job based on detailed selection criteria and a thorough appointment and interviewing process.
Unfortunately, disillusionment can set in amongst staff but this could also be for a variety of other reasons. Everyone from parents, staff and governors now need to move on in the best interests of the school. It will be the task of the new headteacher, along with the governing body, to bring everyone together and develop new pathways and whole school strategies, not least for team development. However, this does not happen overnight.
It is inevitable that a new headteacher will want to change and develop certain aspects of school life. How this is achieved needs careful handling in itself, as we can see from this example. Getting everyone on board requires time and diplomacy! Staff training and professional development opportunities will certainly help. Revisiting the school vision using some INSET time and inviting governors to attend can be a useful starting point.
As for the governing body, it is apparent that it was not fulfilling its strategic function effectively, in particular, the critical friend role. Governors need to ensure they have a robust in-depth understanding of school data and they ask questions to challenge the status quo. Governors should not therefore, be surprised when their expectations and understanding of how things are within the school, are challenged.
Here are some useful ways to develop the critical or questioning friend role, in addition to information on how to gain a better understanding of how to use performance data:
Have all the relevant members of the governing body undertaken the mandatory training on school performance data? Check with your clerk and / or the Local Authority to see if you need to attend.
School self-evaluation exercises and a self-review of governing body effectiveness are a great way to reflect on the school strengths and areas for development in a user-friendly way. This in itself, can help to promote discussion, ownership and most importantly create an environment of openness and transparency. As a governor, are you fully involved in the school self-evaluation processes? Does the governing body review its own work looking to how it can improve? Your Local Authority /Regional Consortium will have some information on this to assist you, along with the Governors Cymru Services templates.