Following on from Libby’s post on governors’ visits it so happens that on Wednesday I was at the teaching and learning sub-committee where I represent the Head. We’re just formulating new policy on visits and have produced guidance and a simple evaluation form for staff and link-governors.
It starts with a paragraph about Governors being the employees of all school staff, far too many mentions of my school and the Education authority to keep that in! I’ve changed the name of the school for the rest of the time, so from now on I’m working at Our Lady’s; the chosen name being my only nod to my working in a church school.
Link governors’ visits to subject areas
We are always pleased to welcome governors into Our Lady’s so that they can become as familiar as time permits with the day to day business of the school. A number of governors are linked to specific subject areas. It is their responsibility to support the subject leaders and teachers to ensure that the highest standards of teaching and learning are delivered for the benefit of pupils of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Governors are not usually professional educationalists; they are laymen and women who have a keen interest in education. The intention is that link-governors will, over time, build a positive relationship with the teachers and subject leader of their designated subject areas. One important way in which governors can develop a fuller understanding of school-life is by visiting during the working-day. All visits will be planned in advance for mutually convenient times.
Questions for teachers
When they visit subject areas, and sit in on lessons, link-governors are likely to seek answers to the following questions:
- What is the ability range in this class?
- How do you differentiate teaching for the range of ability?
- What use do you make of the [interactive] whiteboard? Is it a useful teaching and learning tool?
- What sort of activities do you issue for homework?
- How do you organise your marking of classwork and homework?
- What rewards and sanctions do you use? Are these effective?
Questions for pupils
They are also likely to spend some time talking discreetly to pupils in the course of a lesson. They may ask:
- What are you working on at the moment? Are you enjoying this work?
- What level (for pupils in Years 7,8,9) are you working at? (Currently national average at KS2/aged 11 is level 4; national average at KS3/aged 14 is level 5 but new government guidelines are aiming at two levels of progress between each Key Stage.) Do you know what you have to do to raise your attainment?
- What grade (for pupils in Years 10 and 11) are you working at? (The majority of pupils should aspire to a minimum grade C at GCSE.) Do you know what you have to do to raise your attainment?
- In what type of lessons do you learn the most? Why is that?
Questions for subject leaders
Link-governors will also want to spend time with subject leaders and ask the following questions:
- What are the current strengths, at Our Lady’s, of the KS3/KS4 curriculum in your subject area?
- What aspects of the curriculum are you currently seeking to develop? Why?
- Do you believe that your subject area is adequately resourced? What additional resources would you like to see? How would these enhance learning?
- How are the pupils in your subject area set, at KS3/KS4?
- What percentage of pupils taking the subject at KS4 is likely to gain a grade C or higher, or an A/A*? Are you planning anything to improve that percentage?
- How many teachers are there in this subject team? Are they all specialists? What sort of things, as subject leader, do you do to get the best out of your team?
- What sort of things does your Leader of Teaching/line-manager do to support or guide you?
- Is there anything specific you would like me to take back to the governing body?
A link-governor is expected to write a summary of his or her visit for the next full governors meeting; these occur once a term. The link-governor therefore may well make notes during the visit as an aide memoire. There is no prescribed format for this report as governors’ days in school are likely to vary considerably. However, the following areas may well be covered:
- general impression of the learning experienced
- general impression of the pupils’ enthusiasm for the subject
- general impression of the quality of resources available
- general impression of the quality of the curriculum delivered
- any broad or specific recommendations for the school’s senior leadership group to consider
- specific points, identified by the subject leader, for the notice of the governing body
The report will not refer to specific teachers or pupils by name. The report should be written with the intention of supporting subject leaders and teachers to ensure that teaching and learning are of the highest standard.
Link-governors, and subject leaders and teachers are also invited to complete the appropriate evaluation form to inform future visits.
Libby – hope this provides some food for thought!