An NLG as a member of an IEB

In December I was asked by the LA to be a member of an IEB for a split site SEBD Special School that had just been put into special measures. The Governing Body was formally replaced with an IEB the following February.

The intention was that this would be for 2 terms after which a sponsor academy identified by the DfE would be responsible for the governance of the school.  However, the original sponsor pulled out and I, in common with the other 4 members of the IEB, was asked to continue in the role until another sponsor was found and agreed.  This continued until July 2016 due to some legal issues regarding buildings.  The IEB was in place for the best part of 5 school terms; an unusually long time for an IEB to operate.

As an IEB takes on all the functions of a Governing Body the work consists of attendance at meetings, monitoring visits to school, meetings with staff and parents, collation and preparation of reports and other documents.

However, in addition to the normal functions of a Governing Body, an IEB is tasked with securing rapid school improvement.  There were many issues to address at this school: attendance was poor (some students were practically unknown to the school staff as they had attended so little); progress and achievement were very low (in fact little was done to measure these prior to the involvement of an IEB); behaviour was poor (exacerbated by the attitude of some staff that this was inevitable); the quality of teaching and learning was extremely low (compounded by the issues around recruitment and retention of staff).

The IEB worked hard with the Acting HT to support her to take the necessary actions to address all these issues.  Notably we:

  • Agreed a new behaviour policy that was manageable for the staff and appropriate for the students which had an immediate effect on the standards of behaviour
  • Pressed the LA to follow up on persistent absentees where the school was unable to make contact and, in some cases, make more appropriate provision for such students
  • Supported the AHT to introduce a method of monitoring students’ progress which could then also be used to identify where teaching and learning were not good
  • Agreed the introduction of a performance management procedure and supported the AHT to use this effectively with staff as a result, while some staff chose to leave, there was an improvement in staff performance and attitude
  • Agreed a revised curriculum that addressed student needs and gave all students the opportunity to leave the school at 16 with some form of formal qualification.

Most importantly the IEB made it totally clear that, despite the fact all students at this school have individual and significant problems and barriers to learning, it is not acceptable to have low (or worse, no) expectations of students’ attendance, behaviour, progress and attainment.  All members of staff have responsibility for ensuring that students achieve the highest standards possible.

When HMI visited in March two years later the monitoring visit was upgraded to a full inspection and the school was taken out of special measures.  The Inspection Report recognised the role of the IEB in moving the school forward despite concerns about its future.  A sponsor was finally agreed and the school became an academy in July of the same year.