NGA Annual Conference 2019 - Birmingham ICC - Sarah Connolly 22nd November 2019

Date: 22nd Nov 2019 @ 11:41am

I took a trip to the Annual Conference of the National Governance Association in Birmingham. Following an introduction from the Chief Executive Emma Knights OBE, the subjects covered were The Governance of SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability), Staff Wellbeing in Schools and Strategy as Governance in Action.


There was obviously a lot of information to digest but the take home points for me from each section were as follows:


The Governance of SEND

The speaker, Professor Adam Boddison of nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs) gave five suggestions for Governors and Trustees on how to improve their SEND provision:


1. Give SEND an equivalent status to pupil premium

2. Make SEND everybody’s responsibility (like safeguarding)

3. Ensure every leader is a leader of SEND

4. Coproduction: shift the culture from compliance to meaningful

5. Maximise the impact of the SENCO


Schools can do the above to promote and encourage inclusion by for example:

·        ensuring spending on SEND provision is in line with budgets

·        forming and revisiting a school SEND policy

·        evaluating the accessibility of a school, not just physically, but also in the admission process

·        allowing staff administrative time so that their time working with SEND children is of a high quality. This led on to the next section of the day, being:


Staff Wellbeing in Schools

In a previous blog of mine I talked about Health & Safety in schools, and this section of the conference looked in more depth at one group of stakeholders of the school: the staff. The environment staff work in and pupils learn in depends largely on the wellbeing of the staff in the school. Staff are thrown into all sorts of situations and training and support helps them through these times and lets them in turn deliver the best outcomes for the children while leading a health professional life.


Sometimes staff need support themselves. Sinead McBrearty is the CEO of Education Support, the only charity dedicated to the mental health and wellbeing of the education workforce and she talked about the resources available to staff should they need them. Education Support offer free confidential support to staff in schools and can arrange further help such as counselling.


Strategy as Governance in Action

In this last section Caroline Copeman, from the Cass Centre for Charity Excellence asked us as Governors, and the Clerks in the room how we get the best from our board and encourage quality conversation in meetings and therefore good decision making. Caroline emphasised the importance of the annual strategic cycle, planning when in the year certain subjects needed to be discussed so they are not overlooked or given too little time to consider. She gave this advice to make discussion more efficient:


·        Train the brain to think better – ‘sprinter vs thinker!’

·        Make your intuitive thinking more reliable

·        Learn to become an expert on whatever it is you are focusing on

·        Learn to recognise unconscious biases – be critical of your own decision-making processes!

·        Get clear on facts, seek evidence, test ideas, think it through, test models, what ifs etc

·        Avoid Groupthink – thinking as individuals and challenging each other is more objective and constructive.


The introduction to the day summarised the objective of the National Governance Association as


“… to improve the educational welfare of pupils by promoting high standards and improving governance in state schools”


The National Conference was a useful event, bringing together people who are striving for the same best outcomes for children.


Sarah Connolly

Parent Governor


Our passion for nurturing individuality and respect for the rights of everyone enables members of our community to achieve their potential and be outstanding local and global citizens.


We are proud to hold the UNICEF GOLD Right respecting school award for 2020.

Cherry Grove Primary School

Chapel Lane


Chester, CH3 5EN

01244 478316




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