Posts Tagged ‘ERAGB’
A Detailed History of ERAGB
by Roy White
The East Riding Association of Governing Bodies (ERAGB) held its inaugural meeting at Bishop Burton College on Saturday 16 July 2005. The formation of the Association was the culmination of a process which had started some 18 months previously.
The idea had been developed following discussion in the Governor Development Steering Group (GDSG). This standing group, established by the Local Authority, comprises representatives of governing bodies and the Adviser with responsibility for governor development and the Senior Governor Development Officer. Clerk governors. In 2004 the Chair was Tony Knight (Chair of Governors, Molescroft Primary School, Beverley) and the LA officers were Andy Barson and Iain Edmiston. The discussion in that group led to the issue of an invitation to Neil Davis, the Chair of the National Governors Council, to come to the East Riding to discuss the aims and purposes of a local governors association. The visit took place in the summer term 2004. Governors of all schools were invited to attend the evening meeting with Neil Davis and he also met the Governors Development Steering Group and officers of the Local Authority. These meetings proved to be fruitful and their outcome was that in the autumn term 2004 a standard item on the agenda of the meetings of all governing bodies was “A proposal to establish a Local Association for Governors in East Riding Schools”. The paper had been prepared by the Chair of the Governor Development Steering Group and gave a balanced presentation of the purposes of such an association. Governors were asked: to consider in principle the formation of a local association: to decide whether or not they wished to support the formation and its affiliation to the NGC: to give their views on how to ensure representation from across the East Riding: and to nominate, if possible, a governor willing to join an initial working group to draw up a constitution and working procedures. The paper was well received by the majority of governing bodies.
The Spring Term 2005 edition of Governor News reported that 60% of governing bodies had supported the formation of a local association and than no fewer than 28 governors had volunteered to serve on the working group established to prepare a draft constitution and procedures. The working group met regularly during the spring term with the target of the formation of the association at the end of the summer term 2005.
At their summer term 2005 meeting all governing bodies received as a standard item a further report entitled “Formation of Local Association”. It was stated that “Sixteen governors and two officers from the local authority met on January 26th to consider a number of documents from other local associations with a view to establishing a draft constitution. Four governors from this meeting and the two officers then met on February 14th to finalise a draft constitution and consider a draft budget………In addition, the group considered the planning of the inaugural Annual General Meeting. The four governors who attended this meeting were: Mrs. Rita Taylor (South Holderness Technology College), Mr. Peter Munn (Wolfreton School), Mr. Roy White (North Ferriby Primary School) and Mr. Richard Marsden (Hessle All Saints Infant School). The officers were Mr. Iain Edmiston and Mr. Andy Barson.”
The report continued “It was agreed that a formal launch of the Association should take place on Saturday, July 16th 2005 at Bishop Burton College starting at 10.00 a.m. and finishing at lunchtime. The event will include a respected speaker from the local area, a welcome from the Director of Children, Family and Adult Services and the inaugural Annual General Meeting to adopt a constitution and elect Officers and members of the Council of the Association…….The proposed constitution has been seen by the Council’s legal department and considered appropriate and fit for purpose. If a decision is made in principle to support and join the Association, there will be the need to formally appoint a representative from the governing body who will attend the AGM and vote on the matters on the agenda.”
Accordingly representatives of 65 governing bodies gathered at Bishop Burton College on Saturday 16 July 2005.
The meeting fell into two parts: (a) the launch by the then Director CFAS and an address by Paul Downey Chair of governors, East Riding College and (b) the Inaugural Meeting and first AGM of the Association
(a) The Launch of the Association
“John Mager welcomed the representatives to the meeting and then spoke briefly about 3 key issues for the education service in the autumn term, namely, Foundation status, Funding levels of East Riding Schools and the Childrens Agenda and associated collaboration between all interested agencies.
He then stated how highly both government ministers and DFES officials at the topmost levels, rated the National Governors Council., and that he believed that the collective opinions of governors, as expressed by the NGC, carry more weight at that level than those of Local Authority representatives.
Finally Mr Mager expressed his genuine support and welcome for the formation of an East Riding Association of Governing Bodies through which it would be possible for the Local Authority both to be held to account by the governors of East Riding schools ‘-and to be informed of their collective views.” (Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting and AGM 2005)
Paul Downey spoke of his experience as a governor of schools and the East Riding college for more than 20 years. He surveyed the ways in which governors ‘make a difference’ to the quality of education in schools and suggested that the key test for all governing bodies and their individual members is the question ‘Have we made a difference?’ He suggested also that the focus of the work of the governing body is the learning process and children’s engagement with that process. He stated that his opinion is that membership of ERAGB is vital to all governing bodies in order to gain an enhanced understanding of the real issues for the education of young people.” (Ibid)
The independence of the Association was immediately demonstrated as Paul Downey and the officers of the Local Authority withdrew from the meeting.
The Inaugural Meeting and first Annual General Meeting then commenced and after adoption of the proposed Constitution the following officers and members of the Council were appointed:
- Chair: Richard Marsden Hessle Infants School
- Vice Chair: Stuart Dransfield, Rawcliffe Primary
- Treasurer: Jacquelin Rushby, Inmans Primary
- Secretary: Roy White, North Ferriby CE Primary
(Subsequently Mrs Rushby found it necessary to resign as Treaurer and Ian McAndrew was appointed to that office in December 2005)
Members of Council:
- Mr Vince Barrett, Driffield Junior
- Mr Tony Briggs, Cottingham Bacon Garth Primary
- Mr Jerry Glover, South Holderness Technology College
- Mrs Karen Longster, Barmby Moor Primary
- Mr Ian McAndrew, Hallgate Infants
- Mr Peter Munn, Wolfreton Languages College
- Mr John Sugden, Kings Mill Special School
- Mr Walter Sweeney, North Cave Primary
- Mr Neil Thompson Dunswell Primary
In his opening remarks, Richard Marsden, Chair, stated “This is the start of a new era for all the Governing Bodies of the schools of the East Riding” and observed that the encouragement of the LA to foster regular contact with officers at Senior level and to hold the Local Authority to account, was an opportunity not to be missed.
ERAGB was seen as the only collective voice of governing bodies in the East Riding. From the beginning it was established that all communication was to be by email and a major problem in those early days was the establishment of a database of members addresses. Eventually that was achieved and, if anything, some members complained that they ‘heard too much from ERAGB’. This resulted from a determination to ensure that members were well informed. Hence they now began to receive the regular monthly bulletins of the National Governors Association (NGA) – which ERAGB had joined by now- together with regular briefing reports issued by the Child Support Network (CSN) which provide succinct summaries of government consultations, regulations, legislation etc. So by the end of the first year ERAGB could justifiably claim that its members were much better informed than non-members and that progress had been made on the priority issues identified by members. These included: fair funding for East Riding Schools; increasing the membership; remodelling the workforce; fair funding for pupils with special educational needs; raising the profile of educational issues in meetings and the clerking of governing bodies. In that first year the Council of the Association met on 7 occasions and established working groups to deal with those issues.
In his report on the year to the AGM 2006 the Secretary stated “Finally, may I express my personal belief that ERAGB is ‘up-and-running’ and that we have laid the foundation for the development of the Association as an effective organisation which can represent the views of governors of the schools of the East Riding to the Local Authority and to the NGA.
In the following year, 2006/7 a key feature was the consolidation and development of the Association’s relationship with the Local Authority. ERAGB was represented in the selection process for the appointment of both a new Director of Children’s, Family and Adult services and the new School Network Adviser with lead responsibility for governor training and development. Officers met on a half-termly basis with the Director in order pursue a wide range of points of mutual interest such as the appointment of SIPS, restructuring of the School Improvement Service, revision of the redundancy policy and other HR policies, Bridlington PFI problems, Fire sprinklers in schools etc. etc. Clearly the Local Authority takes ERAGB seriously.
A new development was that the Council has started to think creatively about what governors needed to do their job. One of the products of that creative thinking was a self-assessment guide for governing bodies. The need for such a ‘tool’ emerged from a conversation with a members who said “What we really want to know is whether we are doing what we are supposed to be doing”. In response, ERAGB Council established a small working group which worked hard during the summer term 2007 to produce a ‘tool’ which could be used by governing bodies to judge how well they are doing on the basis of evidence relating to appropriate criteria. It was aptly entitled, ‘Are we doing what we are supposed to be doing’. The guide was introduced to the Annual Conference 2007. The Local Authority recognised that the guide could make an important contribution to the development of standards of governance and generously decided to meet the cost of printing and distribution to each of the 2500 governors in the East Riding. Encouraged by that success the LA agreed to an ERAGB suggestion that a joint LA/ERAGB working party should be established to revise the induction materials for new governors.
The continuing development of the Association’s relationship with the Local Authority ensured that the voice of governors was heard on the issues which matter to them. Both Alison Waller, Director, and Philip Holmes, Deputy Director of Children’s, Family and Adult services, demonstrated their strong wish to work collaboratively with ERAGB whenever possible. Perhaps the most tangible demonstration of LA support for ERAGB was the first Joint ERAGB/ERYC Governors’ Annual Conference which was funded by the LA. The conference was jointly organised by a working group comprising representatives of ERAGB and Sue Tite, School Network Adviser with lead responsibility for governor training and development.
Building on the success of ‘Are we doing what we are supposed to be doing’ a
a joint LA/ERAGB working group was established to update the old LA information for new governors and the new ‘Information and Guide for New Governors of East Riding Schools’ was launched at the 18 October 2008Conference.
In the same year , work began on “our most ambitious project yet – the production of a 6-part resource pack to help governors evaluate how far they have ensured the implementation in their school of the Every Child Matters Agenda as required by the Education and Inspections Act 2006. Although all governors will have heard of government policies associated with the Children Act 2004 (‘Every Child Matters’) many are probably less that totally clear of the implications for them, as governors, and for their school. The first 3 parts of this ERAGB ‘tool’ will be available at the 18 October Conference. Again they will form the subject of one of the workshops which should help to clarify governor thinking. In my opinion, the completion of this work will be ERAGB’s most outstanding achievement so far. (Secretary’s report to AGM 2008)