An introduction to leadership for school governors (Wales)
An introduction to leadership for school governors (Wales)

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An introduction to leadership for school governors (Wales)

2. The context of leadership in Wales

In reality, few organisations have completely distinct structures, and different leadership approaches may be practised in different parts of the same organisation. Power may appear to exist in a demarcated, hierarchical structure, and this may reflect forms of perceived expert knowledge. However, those who are not in designated leadership roles may nevertheless exert influence on others through the power of persuasion and interpersonal relationships – this may include proposing refinements or alternatives to leadership plans. When you reflect upon leadership, it’s therefore important to consider not only the institutional features of an organisation but also the relationships between the people.

Estyn inspects Welsh schools and provides feedback on leadership and management as part of the current reporting framework. Although Estyn’s reports provide a summary and grading of the school’s leadership and management, the length of the inspection cycle will often mean that this ‘information’ is several years old.

The pace of change in schools is relentless. The latest Estyn report may be an important reference point, but there may be other external evaluative reports available to schools from a local authority (LA) or regional consortia. These other reports can provide more recent feedback on performance that reflects upon, discusses and analyses specific aspects of leadership.

Activity 2: External evaluation reports

Timing: Allow approximately 30 minutes

Consider the following points:

  1. What external evaluation reports are available to you as a school governor, and how familiar are you with these?
  2. How recent are these documents and what do they tell you about external perceptions of your school’s leadership processes?
  3. Do you feel that they are an accurate reflection of the school’s current leadership, or do you think that there are significant differences? What evidence supports your judgements?

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Every school in Wales will be inspected from time to time. The published report provides several pages of external evaluation from Estyn, the Welsh Inspection organisation. These reports are publicly available documents and can be read by anyone. They are available on the Estyn website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and feature a number of sections that are in line with the format in place at any particular time.

The most recent inspection reports have sections on Standards, Wellbeing and attitudes to learning, Teaching and Learning Experiences, Care support and guidance and Leadership and Management. However, it must be remembered that there are cycles of Inspection and there can be as many as six years between school inspections and published reports. Things can, and often do, change significantly in a six-year period!

Within Wales, public sector schools will also be subject to scrutiny from a more localised evaluation, although this form of reporting is not publicly available. This process takes place for schools on a regular basis, and schools have been colour coded with green, yellow, amber and red signifying four possible outcomes.

My Local School provides limited information on all schools including the latest colour coding categorisation, but within schools there will be more information from external evaluation which can be shared with the school’s governing body.

Each governing body will meet at various times throughout the year and there will be additional committees with specific roles that should contribute to the overall leadership, management and accountability of the school. Whilst there are certain requirements that governing bodies need to adhere to, there will be some idiosyncratic variations that will see individual school priorities receiving different amounts of time, professional development and budget.

The third question is really designed for you to consider and reflect upon whether you feel that there is a regular evidence trail provided or available for you as a Governor to feel confident in the school’s improvement agenda and your role in this process. It is also important to have the opportunity to question the validity of the data and explanation of school approaches. This is part of your role as a Governor.


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