Welcome to the eighth issue of GoverNews, and the first of the new decade. Each term we aim to keep you up to date with information pertinent to governors in all Northumberland schools.

Plenty has happened over the autumn – a general election left us with the same Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education (although a reshuffle is expected around February), and the subsequent Queen’s Speech contained the following announcements:

● “The Government is giving schools a multi-billion pound boost, investing a total of £14 billion more over three years, on top of £4.5 billion for teacher’s pensions. Overall, that translates to £150 million a week. The core schools budget will be £7.1 billion higher in 2022-23 compared to this year.

● Every school will have more money for every child and we will level up minimum per-pupil funding for secondary schools to £5,000, and primary schools to £3,750 next year, and £4,000 the year after.

● From next year, we will legally require all local authorities to deliver the minimum per-pupil funding in their local area. And that will be an important first step towards delivering this funding directly to schools, through a single national formula, so that it is fair and equitable for every school in the country.

● It is vital we ensure that the pay offer for teachers is positioned at the top of the graduate labour market – ensuring we recruit and retain a world class profession – and that is why we have announced plans to significantly raise starting pay to £30,000 nationally by September 2022.

● The Government will also continue to expand the successful free schools programme, promoting choice, innovation and higher standards to kick-start wider improvement.

● The Government will boost Ofsted inspection so that parents can be confident they have the fullest picture of quality at their child’s school. We will consult on lifting the inspection exemption so that outstanding schools are inspected routinely.

● To ensure children are getting an active start to life, The Government will invest in primary school PE teaching and ensure that it is being properly delivered. The Government wants to do more to help schools make good use of their sports facilities and to promote physical literacy and competitive sport.”

There is also a new OfSTED framework to reflect upon! Governors should ensure they are up to speed with the changes (this is a good summary from The School Bus).

Keeping Children Safe in Education has also been amended for the new academic year – another document governors should be familiar with.

Relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education becomes compulsory from September 2020, but schools are being encouraged by the DfE to start teaching to the draft guidance from September 2019. You may wish to consider appointing a RSE/PSHE Link Governor?

Also, the Mayor of North of Tyne has announced that every school in the area would have the opportunity to train a member of staff to give lessons on global warming and the impact of the climate crisis. Launch events are planned for January and February in Northumberland.

Whatever changes may be thrust upon us the role of governors continues to be:

  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
  • Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction

We will continue to offer training to governors – details of the training available will be posted on the training offer page of the website. If there are particular training sessions that you would like to see please let your Clerk know.

The Governor Support Team should be your first port of call with any queries you may have. Their contact details can be found here.

Sandra Hunter is still unwell and so I will continue to manage the Governor Support Team in her absence.

Best wishes.

Dave Cookson (Commissioner for Secondary Education)