Why do some schools succeed and why do some fail?
There are many reasons to answer the question above.
There is however a thread that runs through most organisations, trusts and schools that fail.
In a nutshell, it’s a failure of governance. Most of the well-publicised issues with LA schools, academies and multi-academy trusts all go back to this issue. A failing school? Weak governance. Out of control CEO pay? Weak governance. Mass removal of school staff? Weak governance? Third party transactions? Weak governance. The list goes on.
In 1994, the UK government established a Committee on Standards in Public Life. The committee was chaired by Lord Nolan, and was tasked with making recommendations to improve standards of behaviour in public life. The first report of the committee established the seven principles of public life, also known as the “Nolan principles”.
So what are the Nolan principles of public life? The seven principles are outlined below:
Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
Integrity – Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
Objectivity – In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
Openness – Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
Honesty – Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
Leadership – Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
The Nolan principles were revolutionary at the time because they focused on behaviour and culture, rather than processes. Therefore if someone lives by these values, it will go a long way to improving behaviour.
I am proud to work in a trust that lives and breathes these values. Back in the autumn term one of our governors suggested we put ourselves forward for a National Governance Association (NGA) Award… We completed the nomination form and didn’t expect anything back. Months went by and we forgot about it until we suddenly got a call from the NGA saying not only did we have a nomination but we also were using our nomination to support an award for the Coop Academies Trust.
So on 21st May, we were invited to the House of Commons by the NGA and Lord Agnew (Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the school system). And to cut a long story short… we won! The story is here. https://schoolsweek.co.uk/agnew-governors-dont-get-plaudits-they-deserve/
Governors are the largest volunteer group in the UK and their work is selfless and so important. If you are interested in becoming a governor at one of our academies in Stoke-on-Trent, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire or the Wirral email firstname.lastname@example.org.