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School governance inside and outside of London

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Recently The Key's London office played host to a meeting of around thirty or so London-based National Leaders of Governance (NLGs), who were catching up with each other and sharing their thoughts on recent changes in the sector (and what lies ahead). I was asked to prepare a few slides on some of the trends emerging in governors' use of The Key so far this year, so I dutifully crunched the numbers on both the national picture as well as across regions to see if London's governance needs were any different.

I started with a bit of a game, asking the NLGs to guess what the most popular question The Key is asked by governors nationwide. Regular readers of The Key's blog may remember from a previous post that the most read article in the spring term was about questions that inspectors might ask governors. Indeed, it has been popular enough as to be #1 for the entire academic year so far. But nobody in the room guessed Ofsted! Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised as it actually turns out that London governors aren't as concerned with information about inspection as in other regions, as you can see from this chart:

Instead, they are more likely to search for articles on other topics. Could this be because of the profile of London schools is weighted more towards 'Good' and 'Outstanding' than other regions? One of the NLGs suggested that the improved standards in London schools mean governors might be less concerned with having to prepare for an inspection. I can also see a clear north-south divide in the data, with governors in the three northernmost regions spending the greatest share of time on articles about inspection.

There were other topics where London governors showed different levels of interest than their counterparts in other regions.

So London governors top the table when it came to looking at information on headteacher performance, appraisal and pay with governors in the east of England and south east not far behind. One NLG spotted that these are also areas that reported the largest struggle to recruit staff in The Key's 2016 State of Education report - emphasising that these two issues, strong leadership and staff retention, are often linked.

It was an enlightening morning to be surrounded by people with so many years of governor experience and hear their thoughts on the changing demands in the sector. It reminded me that behind every article download or search request I compile to generate these sector insights, there is a real-life school leader or governor looking for information and guidance to help them do their role more effectively. And we all need as much help as we can get, whether we've been in the role a day or a decade!

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