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Press release: Chief inspector raises the stakes for school governance

27 Feb 2013

Ref: NR2012 – 12

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Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, will today launch a powerful new online tool designed to support governors to hold their schools to account. He will say that there will be ‘no excuses’ for governors who don’t understand and challenge their school robustly. He will call for more paid governors, better training, and for more professional governors drawn from both the public and private sectors. He will also challenge local authorities to take rapid action where governance is weak.

The School Data Dashboard will for the first time provide a simple, publicly available overview on a single page of how effectively a school is performing in test and exam results and attendance compared to other schools. Ofsted will publish a dashboard for over 20,000 mainstream primary and secondary schools. The new dashboards will be updated every year.

Speaking at Policy Exchange, Sir Michael Wilshaw will say it is vital governors can access the right information to understand and challenge their school effectively.

Sir Michael Wilshaw will say:

"The School Data Dashboard I am launching today raises the stakes. Many governors know their school well already. But for those that don’t, there are now no excuses. Inspectors will be very critical of governing bodies who, despite the dashboard, still don’t know their school well enough."

Sir Michael will argue that strong governance has never been more important because of sharper accountability and greater school autonomy that hands governing bodies more power and responsibility than ever before.

Sir Michael Wilshaw will say: "Good governors focus on the big issues: the quality of teaching, the progress and achievement of their pupils, and the culture which supports this. “The best governing boards get the balance right between support and challenge. They ask the right questions, whatever school they’re in – maintained schools, in individual academies, and especially in academy chains, where focused governance has brought about the greatest improvements."

However, he will argue that good governance is far from universal and that the 6,000 schools currently rated less than good usually have weaknesses in leadership, including governance.

He will say: "Poor governance focuses on the marginal rather than the key issues. In other words, too much time spent looking at the quality of school lunches and not enough on maths and English. In the worst cases, governors can be rather like the jury that was dismissed from a high profile trial last week: ill-informed and not able to make good decisions."

Sir Michael will say that Ofsted is playing its part in calling time on weak governance by placing a sharper focus on this in school inspections as well as by running seminars and training sessions for governors and heads. He expects these changes to work alongside the information in the School Data Dashboard to deliver real results going forward.

Speaking at the launch of the School Data Dashboard, Sir Daniel Moynihan, Chief Executive Officer of the Harris Federation, will say:

"The Data Dashboard is a major step forward in the drive to further improve schools by providing key data on performance in an easy to interpret format which is readily available to parents and Governors. It will encourage focused dialogue between school leaders, Governors and parents on what schools need to do to further improve."

Ms Teresa Tunnadine, Headteacher of The Compton School in London, will say:

"I really welcome the introduction of the School Data Dashboard. This short visual tool provides a much easier 'way in' to understanding school data for governors and also parents."

Notes to editors

  1. The School Data Dashboard will be available at http://dashboard.ofsted.gov.uk  
  2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.00pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.
  4. Schools are compared with similar schools, that is schools whose pupils had a similar attainment on entry (prior attainment). For Key Stage 2 schools this will be the Key Stage 1 assessment results, for Key Stage 4 this will be the Key Stage 2 tests and assessments. The similar schools group sizes were chosen by grouping the schools who were very similar on pupil attainment on entry. The number of schools compared with each other will be 60 for secondary schools and 120 for primary.
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