Navigate Academies Trust is to introduce a new framework for the governance of its primary academies, to be chaired by former Ofsted regional director, Louise Soden.
Two Local Improvement Boards (LIBs) have been set up covering Navigate’s Barnsley and Tees Valley Hubs, following research and recommendations by the Department for Education, the CBI and leading education thinkers.
The boards bring together a number of highly-qualified professionals from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines with proven analytical and management skills intended to support, challenge and scrutinise the way academies are run, in order to improve outcomes across a range of performance areas. Members were chosen, says Navigate’s deputy chief executive, Rachel Singer, for their commitment to furthering education and their “drive and creativity to inspire even greater things.â€
Rachel said: “We have completed an exhaustive recruitment campaign for members of the LIBs and feel we have a team of exceptional members to work with, under the Chair’s direction, to deliver improvements for the benefit of children across Barnsley and the Tees Valley. We were delighted with the phenomenal response, with 70 applicants, nearly half of which we invited for interview. The process enabled us to identify and appoint the very best and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of new a governance model which we believe can achieve great things through a new and creative way of working.â€
Unlike traditional governors, LIB membership is a paid role “We see this as the next logical step in the evolution of professional governance. We believe the LIB is the right mechanism to take the best of what we’ve already got and apply it across all our academies in order to consistently deliver outstanding education.â€
Navigate Academies Trust believes a professional team, chosen for their respective skills, knowledge Â and experience is also more likely to provide effective challenge and support to academy leaders than a potentially less effective volunteer group.
“This move toward the LIB model is a reflection of national inspection findings and what experience tells us that academies and schools fail when governance is weak. Providing support to senior leaders is a key part of the LIB member’s role, as is being able to support and challenge improved performance from all members of the academy community,”said Rachel. “Bringing a new approach to academy governance is long overdue and we now have the chance to use the freedoms and flexibilities afforded to academies in a new and highly innovative way.â€
Local stakeholder groups are also being developed to ensure continuity with existing community members and to support the work of each academy. Navigate Academies Trust’s Principals have been consulted and fully involved in the development of the LIB.
“Our principals have been fully engaged with the process from inception of the idea through to interview and appointment,”said Rachel.
The Barnsley Hub comprises of six academies, which in total serve around 2,000 pupils. Benefiting from the new structure are Carrfield Primary Academy, Gooseacre Primary Academy (judged good by Ofsted in July 2014), Highgate Primary Academy, The Hill Primary Academy, The Darfield Primary Academy and Littleworth Grange Primary Academy.
The Tees Valley Hub comprises of three academies, two of which were judged to be outstanding by Ofsted in the summer of 2014, Middlesbrough’s Brambles Primary Academy, which became part of Navigate Academies Trust in September 2012, alongside Pennyman Primary Academy. Dormanstown Primary Academy in Redcar joined the Trust in September 2013.
LIB Chair, Louise Soden, is a highly respected education professional and brings with her a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise which, it is envisaged, will provide a strong, positive impact on the way academies are governed at local, regional and Trust wide levels.
Said Louise: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the Chair of Navigate’s Local Improvement Boards. Â It is a great opportunity to look afresh at governance; to create governing bodies with the capacity to bring both challenge and support to our academies. These roles are vital in ensuring that all our pupils benefit from the best possible education. This is a chance to do things differently; an exciting and important development.â€
The boards meet for the first time in their new capacity throughout February 2015 and will continue to meet every half term.