b'GOVERNANCELISTEN INListening to school stakeholders (and each other) should be at the top of every governors agenda for the new academic year. Its an underrated skill. Durell Barnes reportsMost people do not listen with the intent to understand;are still on the right course or if events have closed they listen with the intent to reply.possibilities and/or opened new opportunities. Stephen R Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.As the guardians of the schools aims and values, Governors will doubtless have made a point at the endgoverning boards will need to ask themselves if of the summer term (and previously) of thanking seniorthese have been maintained over the last eighteen leaders and all teaching and support staff for all theymonths, if they have been found wanting, or perhaps have done to ensure that schools have done more thanbeen strengthened; and this discussion will influence survive the pandemic, but in many ways have thrivedstrategic deliberations with the executive.and in some cases taken on new leases of life. New beginningsThese may have arisen through innovative teaching,Governors will have to become used to hearing new creative co-curricular delivery, closer sense ofthings from the executive. Key data will be presented community, consistent and persistent pastoral caredifferently not only from what used to be normal maintained throughout lockdown and limited re- until 2019 but also from what was devised in 2020. opening, or the extension of partnerships, or theMost obviously this will affect academic results: here development of a group of schools, or any number ofis not the place to rehearse how teacher-assessed imaginative developments. Monitoring and oversightgrades have replaced centre-assessed grades and the will have made great demands on boards themselvesdemise of algorithms; but boards will not be able to and I hope you have taken time to make note of andjudge pupils achievements and issues relating to the celebrate your own achievements for your schools atquality of teaching unless they fully comprehend how a time when many governors have themselves beenA-level, IB, GCSE, BTEC, Common Entrance and other greatly burdened at home or work or both. As we allgrades have been awarded and how they cannot be hope that something resembling normality willcompared with past years unless they truly listen with return, even if only in terms of how we meet and whatthe intent to understandand then question. But it we talk about, much of next term will need to bewill also affect data about admissions, safeguarding, spent listening. co-curricular contributions, attendance and much more, each category requiring more than ever a complete All ears understanding of what the data encompasses.Governors will need to listen to each other as decisions are made about what has been learnt from theIn most schools, more data will have been collected pandemic and how it will impact governance in future.last academic year in terms of feedback from pupils, This will affect logistics like the ways in which meetingsparents and teachers than previously. Most schools are to be conducted, surely with a combination ofcollected this in the form of regular light-touch virtual and face-to-face meetings, but with somequestionnaires about online school in the months after decisions made about how hybrid boards are supposedthe first lockdown and many continued it through later to be: if it is agreed that meetings should be face toclosures and to take the pulse of the community about face, will members be deterred from joining by Zoomthe return to school. for convenience or is that cutting off your nose to spite your face?Many of those who have been consulted will expect to continue to have their views sought and their It may affect how individuals contribute as strengthsvoices heard, so a decision needs to be made about may have emerged in recent unusual circumstanceswhether this is the right way to communicate in future. which can be put to good use, and compromises mayWhatever the decision, that will need to be explained to need to be made not to increase individuals workloads.stakeholders (who may, if the decision is to discontinue, While some schools will be able to re-engage withwonder why their views are less important now than strategies which have been to some extent put on hold,they have been latterly). Where schools continue to others will need to draw breath and decide if theyconsult widely they should be aware of the need to www.independentinsight.netIwww.iexcellence.co.ukIwww.i25awards.co.uk 13'