Reports written by heads for governors' benefit vary in style and quality. Some have developed the report into a valuable tool that fulfils accountability needs and supports strategic planning. Used well, reports can promote shared vision and priorities between management and governors. Good governance involves effective scrutiny, and reports should support this function.
Clear reports help governors to monitor, evaluate and make decisions. Capitals, bold print or underlining help to focus on areas where discussion and decisions would help. Numbered paragraphs aid quick reference.
As well as highlighting success, good reports contain information relating to potential or necessary curriculum changes; progress on key priorities; management of resources; emerging areas of concern; evaluative comment on options for tackling challenges; premises and health and safety; analysis and explanation of outcomes; feedback on policy implementation and opinion on impact.
In less well-managed schools, reports still resemble diaries, emphasising only what has gone well and giving minimal coverage of statutory requirements. Difficult issues are omitted or glossed over. But it is precisely these sort of vague or ambiguous statements that governors should follow up.
When I train governors, I hear of reports being tabled at meetings, allowing no time for information to be digested or followed up. This is a waste of time. Reports should prompt discussion. Good reports help heads to pursue school improvement and handle daily challenges knowing that they have the understanding and backing of governors.
Angela Dunkerley, Independent governor trainer, North Lincolnshire.