THE governors of the federated Gislingham and Palgrave Church of
England primary schools in Suffolk have won the National Governors'
Association's top award.
When they received the award, which they share with a governing
body from Bristol, at a House of Commons ceremony last month, they
were named as "Outstanding governing body of the year", and
described as: "strong" and "exceptionally well organised".
But it was not always so. In 2009, the federation was found
barely satisfactory by OFSTED inspectors, who criticised the
governors for allowing standards to slip.
Kit Wells, their chairman, was in post then. The OFSTED report
was a wake-up call, he says. "Not only did we realise we hadn't got
information: we hadn't known what information we should have."
The governors rose to the challenge: shortly afterwards, a new
joint head, Andrew Berry, was appointed, and a new regime, with
clear lines of communication, was put in place.
The governors shared out duties, creating three committees to
oversee finance and premises, curriculum, and personnel matters. At
the same time, a clerk to the governors was appointed, together
with a school business manager. "Both are so good at their job
they're due an award, too," Mr Wells says.
Commenting on the changes, in a recent NGA film, Mr Berry said:
"This isn't my school - it's the governors'. I see myself as their
professional adviser. It's a rare day when the head and his chair
don't exchange emails; and most weeks, Mr Wells, an environmental
consultant, spends some time in school."
"Some of us run our own businesses," Mr Wells says, "which means
we can juggle things around. All of us are very committed to doing
the best for our children." The new regime is clearly working: at
the latest inspection, the federation was also given an