Governing in Special Schools

In addition to responsibilities and accountabilities for educating children in Special Schools, the Governors of Residential Special Schools, have an additional set of social care responsibilities for the accommodation that they provide.

The National Minimum Standards for Residential Special Schools - originally published under the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Care Standards Act 2000 and the Education Act 2011:

  • Contains arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children for whom accommodation is provided;
  • Provides a framework for schools to be inspected against in order to determine whether there is satisfactory compliance;
  • Sets the Minimum standards, not an expections or standardisation of provision;
  • Covers 22 standards that cover the breadth of providing residential accommodation.

There was nothing that supported school Governors to carry out this role.  My experience covers children's social care governance and schools governance, so I was delighted to be asked by three Cheshire Schools to help them to look at ways that they could monitor the provision of residential accommodation, and ensure that they are exceeding the minimum standards.

Governors needed to understand the inspection framework, whether the school is meeting the National Minimum Standards, and how effective the school is.  As with any Ofsted inspection, Governors will be part of the inspection process and therefore needed to be confident in knowing their responsibilities, and in providing evidence that they carried their roles out.

I ran a workshop and similar to my blog yesterday on Multi-Academy Trust Governance, I co-produced with Governors a toolkit that explored what governors needed to know and  how they could provide the challenge to seek assurance.

It was an intensive workshop, but when focused, Governors were able to understand each of the standards, what they needed to see, and how they could evidence and feel assured that the standard was being met or exceeded.

This was the first workshop, I believe of its kind - and the Governor toolkit has been used by the three schools annually ever since.  It's a systematic way to help them to view the provision.  Here you can read about it further from a piece from one of the Headteachers, Ali from Hebden Green School in Cheshire.

So what did I learn that I can pass on to you?

Again, like the MAT blog, I used appreciative approaches, covered in several of my 24 days of celebrating Good Governance, to help governors to understand, reflect and create - so my main tip is to provide additional time, away from the usual meetings, and involve all Governors; using their thoughts and insight to build the toolkit.

If that doesn't work, give me a call and I can help you or point you in the right direction.

Take care,




Posted in Shaping Governance.