What are governors’ priorities?

Mark Edwards

We regularly look at the way members of The Key for School Governors use our website so we can understand their interests and learn about their priorities. Recently our governor members have been particularly interested in skills audits, which documents they must have, and what questions Ofsted could ask them during inspection.
They’ve also been looking at annual work plans, year planners, the 20 key questions for governing bodies we helped develop back in 2012, at using RAISEonline, and at forms to use when visiting schools.

To understand what this tells us about governors’ priorities, we looked at the 20 most popular articles on the website over the autumn term. We found four themes: compliance, strategy, understanding the governor’s role and self-improvement for the governing body.

Governor interest in self-improvement, compliance, the governor's role and strategy

Popular areas of the The Key for School Governors website during Autumn 2013

What’s interesting is that articles which look at what governors must do and how to do it – on compliance and the governor’s role – are slightly more popular than those on the more strategic areas.

If it’s true that some governors are focused on learning about their core role and legal duties, is there any link to where they are on the school improvement journey?

Governor interest by Ofsted grade as of 1 September 2013

Governors’ interest in core topics by the school’s Ofsted grade

Our data (summarised in the graph above) suggests that governors in schools graded ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ are significantly more focused on self-improvement than schools graded ‘requires improvement’.This may seem strange – shouldn’t schools that require improvement be focusing more on self-improvement? Or is it more important that they’re compliant before they start to work on how to improve?

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