use verbal and non-verbal communication, ie short, simple presentations accompanied by a file of information distributed to each governor and added to at each session
demonstrate we are listening to them too
ask questions to clarify points
allow comment without interruption
evaluate as conversations proceed
In fact, the advantages of FMSiS reflect these considerations. By its nature, it encourages information sharing and increases confidence. It facilitates access to better quality information and makes this information transparent, thus improving management, collaborative working and communication responsiveness.
Team culture and forming a working party
We recognise that we will require a collegial structure in order to share ideas and opinions and to move forward with our plans. Since the governors themselves are a collegial group, the work will benefit from a working party of the same structure. It will consist of two governors, the headteacher and myself (school business manager).
This membership has been decided based upon roles in school, roles on the governing body and expertise and knowledge. All these are pivotal to the understanding and dissemination of FMSiS. The working party interacts by sharing information, best practice and perspectives, enabling each person to perform within their areas of responsibility.
Provided the teamwork is not forced upon people, or worse, that people pay lip service to teamwork by merely appearing at meetings, there are real and wider benefits. Most individuals have an affiliation need – they like to feel part of something. Success or adversity can help the bonding of individuals onto a team. As individuals begin to realise both their own and others’ potential in small working groups, so a better level of understanding and appreciation of others’ strengths can influence relationships within the larger organisation. Once a working relationship has been established, the results are worthwhile and can provide the impetus for further developments and future alliances. I would anticipate, that for the purpose of this work, this would mean continuing liaison in respect of governor development and the formulation of a calendar of governor Inset to include, on a rolling basis, the revision of FMSiS.
Analysis and monitoring
It is useful to analyse the difference between where we are now and where we want to be. I have done this with the help of a gap analysis, as shown below.
In looking at our focus of change, conflict might begin in relation to governor overload and the recognition that they undertake their role in a voluntary capacity with ever increasing responsibility. It will be vital to impress upon the governors that, in fact, the impact they have on FMSiS and certainly the school management is nothing new. The change is the reportable element of the standard and the fact that we will be audited as such; the involvement of governors requires enhancement not additional work. The working party will ensure that monitoring and evaluation is completed, providing clarity and validity to the development.
As mentioned above, the working party will monitor the effectiveness of disseminating the FMSiS requirements. This should ensure that governors understand their development as it progresses and the importance of each stage. The working party will meet regularly to discuss this. Evaluation will be analysed by the same team to ensure we have met the desired outcomes discussed at the start of the project. The full board will be kept abreast of these evaluations so as to maintain their involvement and understanding of the process. In this way, the working party can identify any gaps developing and address them immediately.
We can learn from this experience and should not lose sight of the fact that educational change involves people. Systems seldom fight back, but human beings can and will! All the above strategies refer to the empowerment of individuals, ensuring they have involvement in the process of change, that they are able to work in collaboration with others and they have the necessary skills to implement any change. This form of power sharing is crucial to successful implementation and eventual internalisation of change, but does require a school leader, and for FMSiS a school business manager/bursar, who is secure enough to continue to see the whole picture.
I bring this article to a close by including our governor FMSiS development plan which has arisen from this work. This not only illustrates the practical implementation of our ideas, but also identifies how we can ensure its validity and continuity by re-evaluation and a rolling programme of governor INSET.
Once this process is complete, it might be useful to ensure the enhanced knowledge and experience is reflected at committee level. The re-evaluation by means of a skills audit will highlight those individuals best suited to which committees and/or responsibilities. Even if the governors of a school are ideally qualified and experienced, fully versed in the basics of education finance and keenly aware of the extent and boundaries of their responsibilities, they will only be truly effective if they are provided with the right information at the right time. As they are not employees, they will depend upon the school’s senior leaders for this.
Nina Siddle is business manager at Withernsea Junior School in East Yorkshire.