Governance and Ofsted inspections – are you Ofsted ready? - PKF Francis Clark
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Governance and Ofsted inspections – are you Ofsted ready?

The governance landscape in schools can be complicated, with vast amounts of guidance and hoops to jump through. Requirements vary depending on your structure including whether you are a Multi Academy Trust or a Single Academy Trust. However, no matter what the arrangement, governance plays an essential role in our academies education system.

Ofsted’s new education inspection framework came into effect in September 2019 and puts the real substance of education and the curriculum back at the heart of the inspections. There are some key points impacting on governance coming out of the new framework, some of which we discuss below.

The guidance makes reference to the governance handbook which sets out the statutory functions of all board as:

  • ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  • overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure that its money is well spent, including the pupil premium

The inspections will look at how the board execute these responsibilities.

Inspectors will be focused on the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum, ensuring that this has a positive impact on all its pupils – a responsibility of the governing body, the framework seeks inclusivity and ambition. The school’s strategy sets the tone from the top; understanding the roles and responsibilities of those charged with governance and ensuring that these are executed effectively can enhance the overall effectiveness of the school. The inspectors will seek evidence of the impact made by those charged with governance.

The accountability and oversight of senior leaders should be at the forefront of the governance process. The board not only leads the way, but assesses progress against the plan, by asking challenging and searching questions. As a board of governors you need to ask yourselves:

  • Is there sufficient evidence of this in your systems, processes and documentation?
  • Do you have regular information, provided in an accessible format to allow you to understand the educational performance of the school?
  • Are you confident that you have the right information and that a sufficient number of board members have a clear understanding of the reports to allow appropriate conclusions to be formed?
  • Do you have sufficient in depth knowledge to articulate this to an Ofsted inspector?
  • Do you have a broad and diverse board? Does it have sufficient breadth and depth of knowledge to fulfil the board functions?

The inspectors will seek to meet with those charged with governance as part of their basis for forming a judgement on the above – have you asked yourself – Are you Ofsted ready?

By Laura Waycott

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