Devon Association of GovernanceDevon Association of Governance

Effective Chairs – Termly Update

The focus for this Spring term will inevitably be funding as we all work towards setting budgets for 2020/21 and beyond.  It does seem that school funding has been a persistent theme of the last few years and it is likely to be the same for 2020 as the promises made during the election campaign work their way into local authority and school budgets, hopefully


The focus for this Spring term will inevitably be funding as we all work towards setting budgets for 2020/21 and beyond.  It does seem that school funding has been a persistent theme of the last few years and it is likely to be the same for 2020 as the promises made during the election campaign work their way into local authority and school budgets, hopefully.


  1. Funding Key Points:

It is worth noting some recent key funding decisions locally and nationally that will impact on our schools.


High Needs Block: In Devon, the High Needs Block that funds SEND support is still overspent.  This is the same in probably every local authority in the country, but as the number of children requiring SEND support increases and the inevitability that some of those high needs places will need to be funded in the private sector at considerable cost, it is making it hard for Devon to balance its budget.


A very short consultation has been launched regarding a request to transfer 0.5% of Schools Block to High Needs Block with a deadline of 11:45pm Sunday 19th January 2020. The outcome of this consultation will have an impact on your budgets, so please ensure your school responds.  This consultation follows a discussion at Devon Education Forum (20th November 2019) relating to the views given by schools, as part of the autumn term funding consultation process on transferring funding from Schools to High Needs. It was therefore decided to share the following proposal with schools and seek their support via this latest consultation.


Devon County Council requests school approval to transfer 0.5% of the Schools block to High Needs to be used to pump prime additional outreach support for Primary and Secondary schools so that they can accommodate the needs of individuals who have specific provisions identified within their mainstream Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). This proposal is to facilitate this through central support teams or where possible funding to the school to buy in the support needed. This transfer would not be used to offset the current deficit position.

This will have an impact on your budget, so you do need to discuss the proposal within school and respond. The response form can be seen here and further detail of the proposal can be found here.

Teachers’ Pension Scheme:

In April last year the government announced that it would fully fund the increase in teachers pensions when they went up from 16.48% to 23.68% for the year 2019/20, it has subsequently confirmed that the additional funding would be available until 2022/23.


Pay Grant: Schools will continue to be paid separately for the year 2020/21 to cover the difference between what schools are supposed to have allocated to fund the teachers’ pay award and what the award will actually be.


National Funding Formula (NFF): The government had decided that the full implementation of the NFF will be moved forward to 2021/2022, let’s wait and see if that actually happens.  Devon is still sitting at the bottom of the list of worst funded local authorities for education and irrespective of all of the school funding promises that were bandied around in the election, the difficulties still remain.  At present the primary schools within the best funding local authorities receive £1893 per pupil more than a Devon child and for secondary schools within the best funded local authorities receive £2910 per pupil more than a Devon child. So, the f40 campaign continues (40 worst funded local authorities for education) to raise awareness and hopefully correct this iniquity, with Councillor McInnes from Devon County Council as the chair of the group.  We will keep you updated as to the progress. See the f40 tab on this website for more information.


  1. New Ofsted Framework 2019

In September 2019 the new Ofsted Framework came into being and all those that have been through this new framework say how different it is. Recognising the impact Ofsted has on all of our schools and the significance of the changes being implemented, DAG has arranged, in conjunction with Babcock Governance Consultancy and the Diocese of Exeter, a free evening seminar to update governors, trustees and clerks about the new inspection framework following the end of the first term the framework has been used. The Ofsted Seminar is on Tuesday 11th February 2020 at the Tiverton High School, 6.00pm.  Our last seminar on this topic in June 2019 was very popular and delegates were keen to hear more once the new framework had bedded in. The speaker will again be Karl Sampson, Assistant Regional Director in Ofsted’s South West Regional Management Team and Senior HMI Link for Devon. Space is limited so please see our conference page on the DAG website to book your board members in.


  1. Relationships:

‘What governing boards and school leaders should expect from each other’ has been updated by the NGA and its partners. This joint paper aims to improve the effectiveness of school governance. Underpinning it is an expectation that governing boards and school leaders will jointly develop effective working practices which are mutually supportive and respectful of each other’s roles and responsibilities. Find this latest version on the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) website and compare it to your own board’s practice.


When things aren’t quite right between boards and the headteacher it is worth considering how the board approaches challenge.  This is a key role for governors but can be a source of discomfort for heads and boards.  Have a look at the Busy Governor’s Guide to Challenge to remind yourself how it should work and consider circulating this resource to your board members too.


Challenge can also be directed at the chair and it is worth noting that conflict may well be an inevitable part of decision making. Research shows that teams that do not always agree make better decisions and achieve more than teams who are always in agreement.


However, when people become entrenched in their views, the chair has to manage the situation carefully so that relationships are not damaged and the group is not prevented from making a corporate decision. When faced with conflict, it can be easy to become emotionally involved and become challenging or defensive. This sort of reaction can cause long-term damage rather than resolving the situation. Consider this useful advice as a first step:


Listen                         Stop                           Think                         Stop                           Speak


Not always easy to do but still pretty good advice. Other Strategies for resolving conflict include:

  • Asking people who are upset to explain why they feel strongly so that everyone understands
  • Asking for the views of those who are less emotionally involved but who will give a frank answer
  • Summarising the different viewpoints, adding any information which may clarify the situation
  • Remaining emotionally uninvolved
  • Ensuring that the views of all are given a good hearing by not rushing the decision making
  • Being firm about the need to make a decision – if not immediately, then in the very near future
  • Considering a vote to help come to a resolution
  • Securing commitment to a corporate decision so that the disagreement does not continue
  • Being clear about the process for revisiting the decision in the future
  • Being sensitive to those who have lost their argument
  • Being positive about the value of a healthy debate.


  1. Home Schooling

Do you know what elective home education is?  Do you know if any pupils have left your school to be home educated? Do you know if any attend your school under ‘flexi-schooling’?  It is an interesting and current topic, as we are expecting the government’s response to a consultation on home education last year.  Have a look at the latest DAG Busy Governor’s Guides available on the DAG website to see the DAG Busy Governor’s Guide to Elective Home Education.


  1. Devon County Council consultation on governor support

Another consultation, this time Devon County Council are consulting with schools, including governors on the services they require from April 2022 onwards. In 2012 Devon County Council (DCC), after a long consultation with staff and engagement with stakeholders including schools, took the decision to commission out its learner support services (including school improvement and Governor Support).  The delivery model chosen at the time was for a joint venture with a private sector partner. Babcock was successful in this and a new company, Babcock LDP, in which Devon County council retained 20% ownership, was created. All DCC staff moved over to the new company under TUPE.  The service level contract which was put into place with Babcock LDP was for a maximum of ten years and will expire on 31 March 2022.


In order to hear the voice of governors, DCC has prepared a survey which allows governors to comment on the services they would like to see in any new service delivery model and provide any other feedback.   Headteachers have also been asked to complete a survey which includes the wider range of services. Schools and boards are encouraged to have their say by taking part in the consultation before it closes on Fri 17 Jan 2020.


  1. Do we have an up to date policy for…?

Careers Guidance: the Careers guidance and access for education and training providers Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff came out in 2018, but secondary school boards in particular need to ensure compliance by the end of 2020, I know that seems a long way away, but the guidance advises that:


The governing body should provide clear advice and guidance to the head teacher on which he/she can base a strategy for careers education and guidance which meets the school’s legal requirements, is developed in line with the Gatsby Benchmarks and informed by the requirements set out in the above document. Every school should have a member of their governing body who takes a strategic interest in careers education and guidance and encourages employer engagement. The governing body must make sure that arrangements are in place to allow a range of education and training providers to access all pupils in years 8-13 to inform them about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships, and that a policy statement setting out these arrangements is published. This should be part of a broader approach to ensuring that young people are aware of the full range of academic and technical routes available to them at each transition point.


Remember that DAG publishes over 150 articles each year to support governors, trustees and clerks to deliver more informed governance, all free to DAG members, please ensure that your board is accessing all the support it can to deliver better governance leading to better outcomes for all Devon pupils.


All the information relating to all the above is available by following the links and on the DAG website

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