The Power of Reflection

Why Governing Boards should reflect

'The more reflective you are, the more effective you are'!

This quote from Hall and Simeral - sums up my thoughts and should be a regular activity for all governing boards.  And not just because the Department for Education tells us to - but because there is a moral obligation to do so.

As we know, Governing Boards have a huge responsibility and accountability for their school and its children and staff.  Boards are also made up of volunteers, who generally only meet up in meetings - with very little time devoted to a reflection and review process.

So if Boards don't reflect, how do you know you are the best you can be for the children in your school?

We support many Boards to reflect, so we have a little insight into making it meaningful and impactful.  However, most boards review what they have done instead of looking holistically at their role, practice, teamwork, and impact.

I think we need to change from a 'review what we've done this year' Board to one that holds up the mirror and reflects more widely, becoming a learning board.

Nikki, Headteacher at Pebble Brook School in Crewe, articulates this well.  As a school, the staff at Pebble Brook are very effective at self-reflection and have regularly built this into their practice.  Nikki was keen to adopt the same approach for their Governance, and she talks about it here in this short reflection video.

But I thought you would also like our tips for becoming a 'learning board':

Top Tips

  • Understand the value of reflection for your board - not just because the DfE or others tell you to - what's your reason?
  • Explore what you want to get out of any reflection! Is it to learn more, change the way you look at things, change practice, build a team, or to regularly hold the mirror up - or all?
  • Choose the best way of doing this for your board.  There are 'mirrors' of different sizes that provide helpful tools and types of review, ranging in scale from self-review questions you can use internally to review your Board to External Reviews of Governance, which look at your governance from an external point of view and recommend improvements to you.  There are also helpful tools that meet in the middle, such as Shaping Governance, which provides training, team-building and self-reflection with the rigour of  an external view;
  • Learn from what you find!  It's all well and good reflecting and reviewing, but unless you put in place the improvements that you highlight, you will not reap the full benefit - you need to hold yourself to account for doing so;
  • And lastly, make reflection a tool in your governing toolkit.  Building reflection into your ongoing cycle will ensure you stay on track and continue the mantra of being a learning board.

Shaping Governance is used by 100s of schools every year to refresh governor knowledge and review how they can improve further across the year.

If you would like more information about how Shaping Governance could help your school to create a 'learning board', get in touch.

Su Turner, Chief Executive

Su has been a National Leader of Governance  (NLG) for nearly ten years and was an NLG in the recent DfE-funded programme until it ended in October 2023.  Find out more about Su and the Shaping Governance Team here.

Posted in Shaping Governance.